Friday, October 25, 2013

In Re Marriage of Davis (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 25, 2013)

The details of another couple's marriage are often unknown outside of that marriage:

"The parties were married on June 12, 1993. They have two children, a daughter born in August 1995 and a son born in November 1999. The couple stopped being sexually intimate in 1999, after their son was conceived. They also did not go out on any 'dates' after their son was born. The parties disagreed as to when they stopped sharing a bedroom. Xavier testified Sheryl moved to another bedroom in 2001, while Sheryl testified this happened in 2004. . . .

Sheryl testified she believed the marriage was over in March 2000, but that she kept up appearances for the sake of the children for eight years before filing for divorce. She explained that the parties agreed to stay together because they both came from two-parent households and did not want their children to experience separation from either parent. . . .

In June 2006, when the school year had concluded, she announced to Xavier that the marriage was over. She told him she would continue contribute to her half of the household expenses. In order to segregate the parties‘ finances, she developed a spreadsheet that itemized every single household expense and the anticipated expenses for the children, of which they were to each pay 50 percent by making deposits into the community account. Any other money would be kept by each as their own money to spend as they wished.

After June 1, 2006, Sheryl took Xavier off of her credit card and ceased making any charges on his credit cards. Each person became responsible for his or her personal expenses for gas, food, personal credit cards, gym memberships, and life insurance premiums. When he failed to contribute enough to the community bank account to cover his half of their joint costs, she decided to divide and allocate the individual community expenses. She created the ledger to show which bill each person was responsible for paying.

Sheryl testified that she continued to live in the home after June 2006 because it was her home just as much as Xavier‘s, but she made an effort to keep their interactions to a minimum. The job that she started in July 2006 was based in Los Angeles, and she would go there every week and stay at a hotel between three to five nights each time. In her mind, the parties became more like roommates, and she participated in family events solely for the sake of the children. This testimony is supported by an e-mail message Xavier sent to her in March 2007 (before he claims the separation took place) stating: 'Its [sic] not about us desiring to have dinner together when we are all in the same house but about a need that our children have to develop a good healthy sense of family dinner. Its [sic] not about us desiring any particular thing but agreeing to be functional as long as we are in the same home. . . . I don’t have any reason in the world to be positive or friendly with regard to you (your motives are clear) but until we are engaged in dissolution, we both need to be selfless to protect our children’s perspective of family.'

Family togetherness was minimized as much as possible. The family had a prepaid trip to Hawaii in 2006 and the parties did not want to disappoint their children because they were accustomed to going to Hawaii every year. The parties slept in the same hotel room, but they did not share a bed. Instead, they would get a room with two beds and each parent would sleep with one of the children. From that point on, Sheryl took the children on two vacations every year, one to Las Vegas and the other to Hawaii. She also took them to a family reunion. In 2008, she took the children to Las Vegas and Hawaii again. Xavier took them on a train excursion. Sheryl did not accompany him on that trip because 'as far as I was concerned we were no longer a family.'

The parties also drove separate cars to back-to-school nights. Sheryl would not ride in the same car as Xavier unless the children begged her to do so. He would invite her to go on family vacations with him and the children, but she would always decline to go. She never invited him to go on her vacations with the children. The parties continued to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions by going out to restaurants together. December 2010 was the first year they did not exchange Christmas gifts.

Sheryl reassessed her living situation after she was forced to pay all of the community expenses beginning in February 2011, when Xavier said he did not have any money. She paid these expenses from that point on until when she moved out in July 2011."

Of course, now that the opinion is published, everyone -- including Sheryl and Keith's children -- get to view all of the sordid details.

Which makes you wonder whether the candle was really worth the wick.