Posts Tagged ‘Law’


In Klumb v. Goan, a Tennesse case, the wife Goan, was hit with $20,000 in damages, $10,000 in damages and $10,000 in punitive damages for her egregious conduct, after she installed a spyware program called eBlaster on several of the computers that husband, Klumb used.  Klumb was also awarded fees and costs.

Goan also intercepted three emails sent to Klumb and altered the emails to make it look like “[the sender] and [Klumb] were having an affair.” Apparently a finding of infidelity altered the split of property between the parties under the prenuptial agreement in place between the parties and under an agreed order entered in the divorce case that was initiated when the marriage soured.

As far as the legal issues, the court does not have any trouble finding that Goan’s interception of Klumb’s email violates the federal Wiretap Act and its Tennessee counterpart.

The most interesting part of this story is Goan is an attorney and should have known better.  The message here is clear, don’t spy on anyone’s, including your spouses email.  It can cost you Big Bucks!


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On August ,8,2012, it looks like AB 1476, the new Family Law Parentage bill, was approved by members of the Assembly in an 11-5 vote.  For more detail on this bill, see my previous post here.   For details on who voted yes and no, I have included the information below.   On August 15th, it was ordered to its third reading .  If you would like to follow this bill, you can do so here.

Measure: SB 1476 (Leno): Family law: parentage.
Location: Asm Appropriations
Date: 08/08/12
Motion: Do pass.
Result: 11-5 (PASS)

Ayes – 11

Blumenfield, Bradford, Campos, Davis, Fuentes, Gatto, Hall, Hill, Lara, Mitchell, Solorio

Noes – 5

Donnelly, Harkey, Nielsen, Norby, Wagner

Absent, Abstention or Not Voting – 1

Charles Calderon

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Family Law attorney Judith Soley, 65, and her client were gunned down at a Bass Lake restaurant Feb. 16 by the client’s husband, who later turned the gun on himself.  Ms. Soley and Sandra Williamson, 65, her client, were leaving a restaurant during a break in court proceedings when Williamson’s estranged husband, James, began beating Soley, who was in her van at that time, and then shot her in the head.  He chased his wife into the kitchen of the restaurant, where he shot her in the head, before fleeing in a pickup.  Officers later found Williamson in his home, where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ms. Soley was the first woman president of the Fresno County Bar Association, and was active in both legal and community circles and was one of the first women to be certified as a family law specialist by the State Bar.  Ms. Soley became a lawyer when women didn’t frequently join the profession and she built a successful practice and, as a single mother, raised her daughter, who became her law partner. Judith Soley, Esq.

Ms. Soley used a wheelchair all her life, but traveled the world, including visits to the Great Wall of China, Russia, England and Hawaii, as well as stints in Italy and Mexico to perfect her language skills. She graduated from UCLA and received her law degree from Boalt Hall, beginning her practice in 1971.

Ms. Williamson was a labor and delivery coach for 15 years and Mr. Williamson was a retired Los Angeles firefighter.  Friends of the couple said that Mr. Williamson was manic depressive and refused to take his medication, per reports to them by Ms. Williamson several years ago.  The parties’ divorce was an on again, off again action for the last seven years.  The initial divorce was filed in 2004 and the couple reconciled only to separate in 2007 when Ms. Williamson obtained a restraining order for domestic violence.  In 2010, she tried to have the restraining order renewed but was unable to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Williamson and was unable to have it served.

Sandra Williamson

There was also a civil action between the parties in which Mr. Williamson obtained a loan after he forged his wife’s signature on a deed to gain sole possession of the family home.  Ms. Williamson later had the deed voided in court — but not before Williamson took out a $942,000 bank loan based on the forged deed and transferred the money to a joint account he had with a nephew.  The civil suit was still pending at the time of the divorce proceeding.  This was by no means a simple divorce.  You can read the trial brief here prepared by Ms. Soley, which details the many alleged actions of Mr. Williamson.

Family Law can sometimes become very volatile when dealing with very emotional issues and those of us in family law are aware of the dangers that sometimes occur in divorce and custody matters.  If you talk to a Family Law attorney, you will no doubt hear of some opposing party who has become angry with the soon to be ex’s attorney, and has made some threatening comment or threatened some action against that attorney.

Working in family law, I have witnessed many times when this has occurred and have had to call in police assistance to escort the opposing party out of the law office during heated moments.  One former attorney I worked for has had to be escorted along with the client, from the courthouse to their vehicles by the bailiff, after being threatened in the hallway during negotiations with the opposing party, his counsel and the client.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Soley’s family and staff and Ms. Williamson’s family and co-workers.

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Just when you thought you were paying more in spousal support than you thought was fair, along comes this story from Australia.  As a high-earning professional, the husband took home almost $2 million, including a six-figure bonus, in the last year.  After their split he moved out of the $2.7 million family home and into another property worth more than $1.1 million, which he bought without his wife’s knowledge before their separation.  Hmm, here we call that a fiduciary duty to disclose, but I digress.  It was intended as an investment property if the marriage lasted; instead, he lived there with his children as their primary care-giver.

His former wife hoped to earn up to $50,000 annually working in community services and wanted him to support her financially for two years while she obtained her qualifications.  He objected, arguing that she was employable and could return to her former career as a legal secretary or personal assistant, earning up to $75,000 annually. Her choice of occupation was effectively ”a luxury she cannot afford and which would be at his cost”, he said.

But Justice Fowler noted that the woman ”says she has had enough of the law and lawyers for the time being”.  She told the court the distress of the marriage breakdown and subsequent litigation have made her averse to ”having anything further to do with employment in the legal profession”.  More than two years after the couple separated, after costly proceedings in the Family Court, a judge made parenting orders for the care of their children.”  Given the history of this matter and its attendant costs, one can understand from her point of view that she would wish to distance herself from that profession,” Justice Fowler said.  Her decision not to pursue her former career was not unreasonable, he said, and he ordered the husband to pay her $1000 a week for two years while she retrained.

Now, I agree that the husband makes great money and the wife is probably entitled to spousal support, although there is no indication of how long the marriage was, but I think this is a little over the top.  At $4,000 a month for 2 years, she will receive $96,000 in spousal support and will get to go back to school to boot.  So, next time you write that spousal support check, just think, it could be worse.

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a new law late Thursday night that California’s kindergartners of 2014 must turn five before Sept. 1 of that year to enroll in Kindergarten.

The provision in existing law that allows parents to enroll younger students on a case-by-case basis will remain in place.

The new law will be phased in. The cutoff date will be rolled back one month per year beginning in 2012 until all students in kindergarten will have turned five by Sept. 1.  The law, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, also establishes a transitional kindergarten program on existing elementary school campuses for those students born between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.

The plan is intended to create savings by keeping more than 100,000 so-called “young fives” out of traditional kindergarten and establishing a transitional kindergarten for them on existing elementary campuses. The program would be limited to just those children born between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.

However, the non-partisan Legislative Analysts Office estimates that the law could cost California between $700 million and $900 million annually when the original smaller kindergarten class graduates from high school. At that point, the state will have committed to extending public education from 13 years to 14.

More information will be given to parents of young children as the school districts figure out how to phase this new law into the educational system.

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ALBANY, NY - MARCH 17: New York Governor David...
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As reported in, the Governor of New York, David Paterson, signed into law the no fault divorce in New York yesterday.   Previously, parties had to point fingers at the other side alleging cruelty, adultery or abandonment to get a divorce.

The change goes into effect in 60 days and will govern the divorces filed then or later.  Current divorce actions will go forward with the existing law.  New York has a history of lagging behind other states in allowing divorces.  From 1787 to a reform bill of 1966, the only ground was adultery.  Under a more recent reform, a couple could get an uncontested divorce after living apart for a year and agreeing to settlement terms. That option wasn’t open to everyone, because many couples agree only that the marriage is over, not on what happens to children and assets.

Of 56,937 divorce filings in New York State last year, 43,724 were uncontested and 13,213, or 23 percent, were contested, according to state court system data.

While this change will probably make a financial impact on attorneys in New York as the need for trials will diminish, those that want to fight will continue to do so, which will keep the attorneys employed.

In California, even with no fault divorce, there are still plenty of attorneys who are kept busy with hearings and trials for custody, visitation and the division of assets and debts.

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In case you haven’t heard of AB 2486, it is a bill introduced by Assembly Member Feuer, which will make changes to Section 1714 of the Civil Code in California.

Under existing California law, a social host who furnishes alcoholic beverages to any person may not be held legally accountable for damages suffered by that person, or for injury to the person or property of, or death of, any 3rd person, resulting from the consumption of those beverages.

This bill would provide that the above provisions do not preclude a claim against a parent, guardian, or another adult who knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person under 21 years of age and that furnishing the alcoholic beverages may be found to be the proximate cause of resulting injuries or death, as provided .

Since the 1970s, state law has prevented parents and other adults who furnish alcohol to minors from being sued in civil court for negligence.  The change to the bill will allow suits to now be filed against parents and other adults.  This bill also got a big push from the parents of a 17-year old Redding girl, Shelby Allen, who died of alcohol poisoning at a friend’s house.

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Assemblymember Marty Block

Assembly Bill 2674 was passed into law on July 16, 2010.  In case you don’t know what Assembly Bill 2674 is about, AB 2674 is based upon the personal experience of Detective John Pomroy of the Pomona Police Department who was forced to turn over part of his CalPERS retirement and deferred compensation proceeds to his former wife convicted of soliciting his murder. Detective Pomroy sought a legislative remedy so that no one else would suffer this injustice.

“This bill updates our laws to close a loophole to ensure that community property claims are forfeited if one spouse tries to destroy the community through the solicitation of a third party to murder the other spouse,” said Assemblymember Marty Block, who wrote this bill.

Under existing law, when a spouse is convicted of attempting to murder their spouse, the victimized spouse is entitled to an award of 100% of the community property interest in the retirement and pension benefits. The victimized spouse is also entitled to prohibit any temporary or permanent award for spousal support, medical, life or other insurance benefits or payments to the convicted spouse as well and is entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs.

While this doesn’t help John Pomroy, he acknowledged in an April interview that “maybe some poor sap in the future won’t have to go through this.”

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New York State Senate Chamber in the New York ...
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New York is the only state in the country that does not allow no-fault divorce, creating what divorce lawyers call institutionalized perjury by forcing couples in failing marriages to essentially lie to a judge.  I wrote not to long ago about a case in New York in which the wife threatened the husband with a samurai sword and was denied a divorce and how ludicrous this was.

The New York state senate has approved a bill that would permit no-fault divorce, allowing couples to cite irreconcilable differences as grounds for ending a marriage instead of having to assign blame to one party.

The state assembly, or lower house, should take up the matter in the coming weeks. Backers of the law are hopeful it will pass and reach the desk of Governor David Paterson, who is expected to support it.

California was the first state to pass the no-fault divorce in 1969, and many other states followed soon after.  The Catholic Church has fought changes to the law in New York in an effort to keep married couples together and has found an ally in the National Organization for Women (NOW), normally at odds politically with the church on issues such as abortion.

It was only a matter of time that this law went into effect, and I wonder how many new divorces will be filed once this law is on the books. It will certainly be interesting to see.

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