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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Los Angeles

    Default Divorce Cause of Action Question

    I have a friend who has been married for a little over 2 years now in the State of California. Recently her husband fell ill and she was informed that he might die in the near future. Before they were married, they both signed a prenuptial agreement granting her 10% of Community Property (primarily the house they live in valued at $800K) each year. So far, since after 2 years of marriage, she has accumulated 20% of her CP rights. However, when he fell ill, his children pressured her to change the agreement to give the children 1/2 of the joint tenancy in the home. Here are some facts if it gets confusing :

    1. Marriage has been a little over 2 years in length
    2. Children tried pressuring her to sign over 50% of the take in the house because if the husband were to die, she would receive 100% of the home as sole survivor under joint tenancy.
    3. She refused to amend the agreement.
    4. Husband survived surgery and hates the wife for not amending the agreement and is now making her life a living hell. He has sold all the furniture in the house they both live in because he claims he bought the furniture with his money.
    5. He has stopped paying her a monthly support allowance which he has been doing for 2 years. She is unemployed because he promised to support her when they first married.
    6. If she files for divorce, her rights are locked in by agreement at only 20% of the value of the house.
    7. If he files for divorce, then her rights vest and she is entitled to 50% of the house.
    8. Neither party wants to file because monetarily it makes no sense. He refuses to file for divorce because he only wants to give her 20% of the home and not 50%.
    9. She refuses to file for divorce because she wants to stick it out and either work it out or stay long enough to get what she is entitled to. However, she waived all normal Community Property rights by the prenuptial agreement.
    10. He has a bank account with over $500K in the account and is more than able to support her but he refuses to do so. Instead, he wants to make living so bad for her in the same home, that she will be forced to file for divorce.

    Now my question is, she does not want to file for dissolution of marriage, but she wants to file a civil complaint for his failure to support her with monthly payments and by moving all the furniture out of the house, what is her cause of action. Would it be some sort of emotional abuse, domestic abuse theory, etc...

    I found a Family Law Code which stipulates the obligor husband needs to support the obligee wife when living together. He is clearly in violation of this, but dont know how to proceed with this action.

    Please help with any info. if possible. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Unpleasant Domestic Situation

    Your friend should speak with a family law specialist in her jurisdiction, ideally one with considerable expertise in prenuptial agreements, and evaluate if the prenuptial agreement is enforceable. Under the circumstances you describe, it sounds like the husband is attempting to coerce the wife into filing for divorce, and it seems quite possible that a court will find that the prenuptial agreement cannot be enforced given his conduct.

    Trying to litigate what would amount to be an action for separate maintenance while the parties cohabitate, particularly on the basis of oral promises, would be sufficiently peculiar that there, also, she would likely benefit from speaking with a family law specialist.

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