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Grappo v. Coventry Financial Corporation

Court of Appeal of California
235 Cal. App. 3d 496 (1991)


Facts

Michael Grappo (plaintiff) and Tillie Grappo (defendant) were married in 1974. From 1974 through 1979, Michael and Tillie lived in Alameda, California. In 1977, Tillie obtained a loan from a bank and purchased three undeveloped lots in Nevada using separate-property funds. Tillie built a house on one of those lots. In 1979, Michael and Tillie separated. Tillie moved into the home in Nevada. Michael filed for divorce in 1983. In the trial court, Michael testified that he and Tillie kept their property isolated during the marriage to ensure each party’s individual property remained separate property. Michael and Tillie understood that property acquired by either of them during marriage was to be considered separate property. The trial court applied California, not Nevada, law in determining whether Michael had any property interest in Tillie’s Nevada properties. The trial court held that Michael did not have a community-property interest in Tillie’s Nevada properties. Michael appealed the trial court’s judgment and challenged the trial court’s choice of California law over Nevada law in evaluating the Nevada properties.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Merrill, J.)

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