BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 681
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          Date of Hearing:  August 27, 2013

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                Bob Wieckowski, Chair
              AB 681 (Melendez and Skinner) - As Amended:  July 8, 2013

                         FOR CONCURRENCE (PROPOSED CONSENT)
           
          SUBJECT  :  SPOUSAL SUPPORT: CHILD ABUSE

           KEY ISSUE  :  WHEN MAKING AN AWARD FOR SPOUSAL SUPPORT, SHOULD A  
          COURT BE REQUIRED TO CONSIDER EITHER PARTY'S HISTORY OF DOMESTIC  
          VIOLENCE AGAINST THEIR CHILDREN?

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed  
          non-fiscal.

                                      SYNOPSIS

          In making spousal support awards, the court is required to  
          consider, among other factors, the marketable skills of each  
          party, the parties' ability to pay spousal support, the needs of  
          each party, the assets of each party and the ability of each  
          party to engage in employment considering the interests of  
          dependent children.  In addition, the court is specifically  
          required to consider documented evidence of any history of  
          domestic violence between the parties, including convictions  
          resulting from that violence.  This bill specifically ensures  
          that a court consider any documented evidence of abuse against  
          either of the parties' children when considering a spousal  
          support order.  This non-controversial bill is supported by the  
          Association of Certified Family Law Specialists and has no known  
          opposition.
           
          SUMMARY  :  Requires the court, when making an award of spousal  
          support, to consider either party's history of domestic violence  
          against either party's children.  

           The Senate amendments  delete the Assembly version of this bill,  
          and instead require the court, when making an award of spousal  
          support, to consider a history of domestic violence against  
          either of the party's children.  

           EXISTING LAW  :









                                                                  AB 681
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          1)Allows a court to order one party to a dissolution or legal  
            separation to pay spousal support to the other party for a  
            period of time that the court determines is just and  
            reasonable, as provided.  (Family Code Section 4330.  Unless  
            stated otherwise, all further statutory references are to that  
            code.)

          2)Requires the court, when determining whether to award spousal  
            support, to consider specified circumstances, including a  
            documented history of domestic violence and any criminal  
            convictions of an abusive spouse.  In addition to the  
            specified factors, authorizes the court to consider any other  
            factors that the court determines are just and equitable in  
            determining a spousal support award.  (Section 4320.)

          3)Creates a rebuttable presumption against an award for  
            temporary or permanent spousal support to a spouse convicted  
            of domestic violence against the other spouse within five  
            years of filing for dissolution of the marriage, or any time  
            thereafter.  (Section 4325.)

          4)Provides, in addition to any other remedy, when a spouse is  
            convicted of attempting to murder the other spouse, or  
            soliciting the murder of the other spouse, the convicted  
            spouse shall be prohibited from receiving any temporary or  
            permanent award of spousal, medical, life or other insurance  
            benefits or payments from the injured spouse.  (Section 4324.)

          5)Provides that in any proceeding for dissolution of a marriage,  
            where there is a criminal conviction for a violent sexual  
            felony perpetrated by one spouse against the other, an award  
            of spousal support to the convicted spouse is prohibited  
            provided the dissolution is filed within five years of the  
            conviction or time served, as specified.  (Section 4324.5.) 

           COMMENTS  :  This bill is a response to a recent Los Angeles case.  
           In 2007, petitioner filed for divorce after her daughter  
          disclosed that her step-father had been raping her for years.   
          The court reasoned that in determining spousal support it could  
          not rely on mere allegations of abuse, and ordered the  
          petitioner to pay her ex-husband $1300 per month in support.   
          Last year, her ex-husband pleaded guilty to one of the five rape  
          charges and was sentenced to more than a year in jail, during  
          which time spousal support payments were suspended.  Once out of  
          jail, he sought to have the spousal support reinstated, and  








                                                                  AB 681
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          asked for $33,000 in past due support.

          In California, spousal support is awardable without regard to  
          the merits or procedural posture of the case, and torts and  
          criminal acts are dealt with in their respective courts.  (See  
          Marriage of Askmo (2000) 85 Cal.4th 1032.)  Courts are instead  
          required to order spousal support in an amount, and for a period  
          of time, that the court determines is just and reasonable, based  
          on the standard of living established during the marriage.  In  
          making spousal support awards, the court is required to  
          consider, among other factors, the marketable skills of each  
          party, the parties' ability to pay spousal support, the needs of  
          each party, the assets of each party, the ability of each party  
          to engage in employment considering the interests of dependent  
          children, and any other factors that the court determines are  
          just and equitable.  Of particular relevance here, the court is  
          also required to consider documented evidence of any history of  
          domestic violence between the parties.  

          For the most part, spousal support is discretionary.  However,  
          existing law specifically restricts a court's ability to award  
          spousal support in a few situations.  First, when a spouse is  
          convicted of attempted murder of a spouse, no award of spousal  
          support is available to the convicted spouse.  Secondly, when a  
          spouse is convicted of a violent sexual felony against the other  
          spouse, as specified, the convicted spouse is prohibited from  
          receiving an award of spousal support.  When a spouse is  
          convicted of domestic violence against the other, a presumption  
          is created against an award of spousal support to the convicted  
          spouse.  Finally, in ordering a spousal support award, a court  
          must consider a documented history of domestic violence,  
          including but not limited to consideration of emotional distress  
          or violence committed by the supported spouse against the  
          supporting spouse.  

          This bill specifically ensures that a court consider any  
          documented evidence of abuse against either of the parties'  
          children when considering a spousal support order.  This will  
          make sure that a judge appropriately considers any evidence that  
          one party committed child abuse against one of their children  
          when making a support order.  This non-controversial bill is  
          supported by the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists  
          and has no known opposition.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   








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           Support 
           
          Association of Certified Family Law Specialists

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Leora Gershenzon / JUD. / (916)  
          319-2334