Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In Re Marriage of Left (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 23, 2012)

Here's proof that attorneys are no idiots.  They know how to manipulate the law.  Really, really well sometimes.

Andrea Nicole Left was a lawyer when she married her stock trading husband in 2001, and became pregnant that year as well.  She stopped working when she became pregnant, and the couple had two children (quickly).  Their marriage, however, didn't last very long; they didn't even make their five-year anniversary before getting married.

Andrea's to-be ex-husband's no pauper.  So the parties stipulate that Andrew (the ex-) will pay child support of nearly $15,000 a month and spousal support of over $30,000 a month.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

Divorce proceedings sometimes take time, and even three years into this one, there's agreement on some things but not on others.  Meanwhile, Andrea wants to get married again.  This time to Todd.  They get engaged.  Start living together.  Send out wedding invitations.  Register at Bloomingdale's.  Rabbi Haim Asa will conduct the ceremony.  Palm Springs on May 2, 2009.  Should be beautiful.

As indeed it is.  Goes off without a hitch.  Beautiful wedding dress.  Sign a ketubah, which is a Jewish wedding contract.  Tell the kids they're married and Todd's the stepfather.  Just your traditional great southern California wedding.  Everyone has a wonderful time.

Only one thing.  Andrea's spousal support of $30,000 a month would get cut off if she remarried.  So while everyone at the wedding thinks it's a wedding, thirty minutes before the ceremony, Andrea tells the rabbi that there are "problems" with the license -- those problems being, to be honest, that she did not feel like getting one -- so to just go ahead and fake it.  Which indeed happens.

Seven weeks after the wedding, when Andrew wants to then stop paying spousal support, Andrea tells him that he can't, because she didn't "really" get married.  Andrew goes ballistic, Andrea goes ballistic when Andrew's not current on support payments, both sides file motions, and numerous lawyers get a lot of fees.

Andrea's no dummy.  She wins in the trial court.  And wins in the Court of Appeal.  It's not a marriage if you're not actually married.  Nor do principles of estoppel or anything like that operate.  So Andrea still gets her money.

Think about that the next time you're at a lawyer's second wedding.  Maybe it's real.  Or maybe they really know the law quite well.

P.S. - I think that Andrea and Todd are selling their house, if you're interested.  It's really, really nice.