Family Law Tentative Rulings
The following Tentative Rulings will become the ruling of the Court unless a party desires to be heard. If you desire to appear and present oral argument as to any motion, it will be necessary for you to contact the Judicial Assistant by telephone at (707) 521-6732 by 4:00 p.m. on the day before the hearing. Any party requesting an appearance must notify all other opposing parties of their intent to appear.
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1. Ehmann v. Pile-Ouimette
Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel is granted. Petitioner’s attorney of record, James K. Carroll, is hereby relieved as counsel.
2., 3. Fischer v. Zarba
Motion for Change of Venue is granted. As neither party resides in Sonoma County and both parties reside in Los Angeles County, upon payment of appropriate fees, the case is hereby transferred to Los Angeles County. Any pending motions shall be decided in Los Angeles County.
4. IRMO Weigandt
Don Weigandt’s (“Respondent”) motion to quash the petition for legal separation filed by Carolyn “Betsy” Weigandt (“Petitioner”) is GRANTED without leave to amend per California Rules of Court (“C.R.C”), rule 5.63(b) and Code of Civil Procedure (“C.C.P”) section 410.10.
The parties married in New York on August 17, 1974, and parties resided together in California from 1979 to 2016 when they moved out of state. (Memorandum of Points and Authorities, 1:20-27.) Currently, Respondent resides in North Carolina and has continued to reside there since August 22, 2022. (Ibid.) Petitioner has lived in various states, including California, since the parties separated in June of 2021 and is currently residing in Texas. (Supplemental Declaration, ¶ 3.)
Petitioner filed the petition for legal separation with this Court on February 28, 2023. (Motion to Quash, Declaration, ¶ 7.) Respondent filed for divorce and equitable distribution of marital property on March 23, 2023, in Lincoln County, North Carolina. (Supplemental Declaration, ¶ 2.) Respondent thus filed a motion to quash Petitioner’s petition based on a lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens over Respondent. (Motion to Quash, ¶ 8.) Respondent has complied with service requirements of the motion to quash, rescheduling of this Court’s hearing on the motion, and for the supplemental declaration filed at the Court’s request. (See Proof of Service by Mail dated August 25, 2023; See Proof of Service by Mail dated August 19, 2023.)
Per Rule 5.63(b), a Respondent may move to quash a proceeding, in whole or in part, when: (1) they lack legal capacity to sue; (2) a prior judgment or another action is pending between the same parties for the same cause; (3) there is failure to meet the residence requirement of Family Code section 2320; or (4) due to the statute of limitations in Family Code section 2211.
Per Family Code section 2320, a judgment of dissolution of marriage cannot typically be entered “unless one of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of this state for six months and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months next preceding the filing of the petition.” If neither spouse is a resident of or maintains a domicile in California, a judgment for dissolution, nullity, or legal separation may still be entered if: (A) the marriage was entered in California; and (B) neither party to the marriage resides in a jurisdiction that will dissolve the marriage. (Fam. Code. § 2320(b)(1)(A)-(B).)
Scope of Motion
Respondent moves per Code of Civil Procedure section 410.10 to quash the petition on the basis that no party lives in California, that it would not be a convenient forum for either party, that there are divorce proceedings currently pending in North Carolina where Respondent resides and Petitioner has not filed any response there yet, and because Respondent filed a notice of hearing for entry of absolute divorce to be heard on September 11, 2023.
On April 26, 2023, Petitioner voluntarily and intentionally forwarded her confidential email communications with her prior legal counsel, Bret Campoy, to Respondent explaining that she attempted to tell him to “put a hold on” this action because California “has no jurisdiction over Don whatsoever.” (Supplemental Declaration, Exhibit A.) On May 19, 2023, she emailed Respondent’s counsel stating the following:
“Stacey, I am advising my legal separation attorney, Bret Campoy’s office, to send any paperwork re this case to you. He knows the current status of the situation, being told by me many times and by you. He knows that dismissal of the legal separation case by me will be likely. I have no attorney at this moment even in NC…”
(Supplemental Declaration, Exhibit B.)
Based on this communication, the withdrawal of Bret Campoy as counsel, the pending North Carolina divorce proceeding, and Petitioner’s failure to file any Responsive Declaration to the motion to quash, Respondent requests that the motion to quash be granted and that the case be dismissed.
The Court finds that Respondent’s motion is warranted for the following reasons: (1) there is a divorce proceeding pending in North Carolina in which the Respondent has filed for entry of absolute divorce; (2) neither party resides in California and Respondent did not reside in California at the time Petitioner filed the petition here; (3) the parties were not married in California; and (3) Petitioner has not filed any responsive declaration to demonstrate that the residence requirement of Family Code section 2320 has been met.
Based on the foregoing, Respondent’s motion to quash the petition for legal separation filed Petitioner is GRANTED without leave to amend per California Rules of Court (“C.R.C”), rule 5.63(b) and Code of Civil Procedure (“C.C.P”) section 410.10.
End of Tentative Rulings