Hon. MARY FINGAL SCHULTE

TYPES OF FAMILY LAW CASES HANDLED:

  • Child custody cases
  • Division of property
  • Business evaluations
  • Equalization issues
  • Violations of ATRO’s
  • Date of Separation issues
  • Fiduciary duties between spouses
  • Spousal support orders per Family Code section 4320
  • Attorney fee orders under Family Code sections 271 and 2030


REPRESENTATIVE CASES

  • High conflict divorce where there were $300,000 in attorney fees incurred by both sides. Family Code sections 1101(g), 2030, 2032 and 271 issues evaluated in ordering husband to pay half of wife’s fees.

  • Spousal support orders using the Family Code factors set forth in section 4320 et. seq. Husband had stipulated to spousal support of $1,500 then quit his job. Numerous violations of ATRO’s.

  • Wife incurred fees and costs in the sum of $285,527. She claimed entitlement of contributory attorneys’ fees and costs based on her need and Husband’s ability to pay per Family Code section 2030. She also claimed fees as sanctions under Family Code section 271, as well as in the nature of penalties for violation of fiduciary duties and nondisclosure of assets per Family Code section 1101(g). Case also involved equalization issues and whether Wife unreasonably failed to engage in settlement negotiations or that her conduct frustrated public policy favoring cooperation between the parties and resolution of disputes.

  • High conflict divorce involving cash flow issues, imputation of income, Watts charges, equalization, calculation of arrears, award of residence, vehicles and other property, bank accounts, business evaluation, attorney fees and sanctions.

  • High conflict dissolution involving issues of allocation of debt, division of personal property, multiple residences, determination of medical reimbursements, award of custody of children, timeshare allocations, child and spousal support, attorneys’ fees.

  • Multi-issue matter: business evaluations, five (5) homes plus one ( 1) in Mexico, determination of separate and community property, Epstein credits, equalization issues, IRA’s, pensions, life insurance, Watts charges, child and spousal support, attorney fees.

  • Divorce involving Evidence Code section 662 presumptions, transmutations of property, Moore-Marsden calculations.

  • Dispute involving issues of cash flow, earning capacity, child and spousal support, division of property, and issues re: breach of fiduciary duties. Issues of equalization owed by Wife to Husband and offsets by arrearages in child support.

  • Dissolution where the evidence was clear that Wife was “in charge” of the money and accounts and finances during the marriage. While many of the 45+ accounts were in her name, the evidence supported a conclusion that all accounts held in her name were community accounts. Both spouses contributed funds to the accounts, which were used for community obligations. To the extent that any separate assets went into any account, they were hopelessly commingled. There were personal injury settlements and an inheritance of Husband’s which were all commingled. Wife admitted she read and understood the documents when she was served, and that thereafter she transferred $800,000 out of the accounts. Issues of spousal support, violation of ATRO’s, division of property and equalization of same.

  • Involved issues of income, date of separation, as well as the division of property, issues of credits and reimbursements, attorneys’ fees, and spousal support. One of the main reasons parties were anxious to affix the date of separation had to do with the presumption concerning spousal support. If the earlier date was accepted, the marriage was not deemed “long term” under the Family Code. The parties lived under the same roof until the community home was sold. The marriage, by both parties’ testimony, clearly was over much earlier. Yet for another 16 months, they continued to use community accounts and commingle their money. The parties lived separately in the family home. But, when it came to finances, they acted in many respects as an in tact family, with bills being paid from the community accounts, money going in and out of the community accounts for the family. The couple maintained joint bank accounts and credit cards, filed joint tax returns, and took joint title to property, even after the date wife claimed as the date of separation - in fact for 18 months after that date.

  • Involved issues of child support arrearages, credits for payments on mortgage, fair rental value (Watts credits), Family Code section 721 issues, involving the ongoing fiduciary duty that exists until the asset is disposed of. Evidence Code 662 and Family Code section 842 issues were implicated where Wife put her name on the house to refinance and to keep taxes down. She paid the mortgage, which was in husband’s name. She waived Moore-Marsden credits by a pre-nuptial agreement. Wife asked for award of the house as an offset for unpaid child support. Multiple issues of offsets/credits owed to each party.

  • Dispute involving issue of family law court’s continuing jurisdiction over the parties’ unadjudicated community estate, whether or not jurisdiction is expressly reserved in the prior judgment. Family Code section 2566. Parties asked the Court to “adjudicate and divide an after discovered and undisposed of community property asset...” The asset was a foreign company including China land rights. Issue was whether it was “after discovered” and “undisposed of.” It was not mentioned in the judgment, so moving party argued that the asset was unadjudicated. The weight of the evidence suggested that the reason for this was that it was disposed of by agreement (drafted by petitioner) between the parties prior to the dissolution. Husband knowingly and voluntarily gave up any rights to his share of China business holdings before he prepared the judgment in the case, and before judgment was entered. Issue was whether there was a community property interest in the China business holdings to divide when the judgment was entered.

  • Question as to whether a large sum of money from husband’s mother was his separate property. He argued it was either a gift or an inheritance. Either way it would be presumed to be separate property. The mother purportedly “lent” it for “safekeeping.” Whether the money was or was not a community asset in the first place was found to be irrelevant, but the transfer back to the mother was a clear violation of the mutual restraining order.

  • High conflict custody case. Father ended up shooting mother and taking child to Mexico, where he committed suicide. Evidence Code 730 evaluator recommended 50/50 custody, child testified he was nervous around his father.

  • Property division case. Disclosure issues involving property acquired during the marriage, which is presumed to be community property. Issues of the burden shifting to the separate property proponent to show the asset is section 770 property. Also issues of earnings and accumulations of a spouse while living separate and apart from the other spouse, which are considered the separate property of the spouse. Family Code section 771. 

FAMILY LAW

Representative Cases


Judge, Orange County Superior Court (Ret.)