YOU and your spouse may have gone through a lengthy and contentious divorce proceeding. This is usually the most difficult period of a person’s life. Finally, time heals all pain. You and your spouse get tired of bickering and being mean to one another that you both decide to compromise each other positions and resolve all issues in your divorce case through settlement. Shortly thereafter, the divorce judgment is finally entered by the Court and you get a sigh of relief. Later you discovery that “Oops!,” your ex-spouse had community asset and/or debt that was left out of the divorce judgment. This may be a pension, retirement account, a hidden bank account, or a piece of real estate property which was not divided in the judgment. What is one to do in this situation? The answer can be found in California Family Code §2556.
California Family Code §2556 provides “In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the parties, the court has continuing jurisdiction to award community estate assets or community estate liabilities to the parties that have not been previously adjudicated by a judgment in the proceeding.” California Family Code §2556. Even if the parties did not expressly reserve jurisdiction on that piece of asset, the Court retains the power to divide a specific property if there is a community interest in it.
The Court’s “continuing jurisdiction” over omitted community estate assets or debts is invoked by filing a post judgment Motion, or Request for Order in the divorce case. Family Code §2556 provides “A party may file a postjudgment motion or request for order in the proceeding in order to obtain adjudication of any community estate asset or liability omitted or not adjudicated by the judgment.” The postjudgment partition of the unadjudicated community estate claims is properly entertained by the court even absent an express reservation of jurisdiction in its prior judgment. Marriage of Moore & Ferrie (1993) 14 CA4th 1472, 1483, 18 CR2d 543, 549, fn. 9. The postjudgment motion is available to any omitted asset or debt not adjudicated by the divorce judgment. However, Family Code §2556 does not extend to division and adjudication of any separate property. Marriage of Klug (2005) 130 CA4th 1389, 1396, 31 CR3d 327, 331–332.
If an asset was partially omitted, the Court can still divide and adjudicate the portion that has been omitted postjudgment under family code §2566. Community Property adjudicated under § 2556 shall be divided equally “unless the court finds upon good cause shown that the interests of justice require an unequal division of the asset or liability.” Family Code §2556.
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Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does create any attorney client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.
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Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He was President of the Philippine American Bar Association. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 747, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected] or visit our website at Kenreyeslaw.com