Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Case Law Development: Conviction of Domestic Violence Basis for Termination of Alimony Even Though Agreement Makes Support Nonmodifiable
The California Court of Appeals has held that the rebuttable presumption its Family Code that an award of spousal support not be made to a spouse who has been convicted of intraspousal domestic violence applies where Wife was convicted of domesic battery, stalking, and violation of a protective order in Florida, even though the parties' settlement agreement provided that spousal support was not subject to modification or termination. "We conclude that the public policy against enforcement of the nonmodifiable spousal support provision clearly outweighs any interest in its enforcement. Though there is a strong public policy in favor of enforcing the spousal support provisions of the parties' settlement agreement and appellant would forfeit a substantial amount of spousal support if there were no enforcement, the parties could not have reasonably expected that respondent would finance his own abuse by appellant. Balanced against these factors, we note that there is a significant public policy against domestic violence. ... Refusal to enforce the spousal support provision will further this policy against domestic violence, because appellant will have fewer financial resources to continue her harassment of respondent. We must also emphasize that appellant's misconduct is extremely serious and has continued despite incarceration and court orders in California and Florida. Moreover, there is a direct connection between appellant's misconduct and the nonmodifiable spousal support provision."
In re Marriage of Cauley, 2006 Cal. App. LEXIS 566 (April 24, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited April 25, 2006 bgf)