In re the Marriage of O'Connell

8 Cal. App. 4th 565, 10 Cal. Rptr. 2d 334 (1992)

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In re the Marriage of O'Connell

California Court of Appeal
8 Cal. App. 4th 565, 10 Cal. Rptr. 2d 334 (1992)

  • Written by Sheryl McGrath, JD

Facts

John O’Connell divorced his spouse, Raytha, in 1986. The same year, John married another woman, Nona, and John then named Nona as the beneficiary of his life-insurance policies. The following year, the divorce court entered a property and support order on John’s divorce from Raytha. The judgment required John to pay spousal support and to pay child support for two minor children. The judgment did not address John’s life insurance, but the court reserved jurisdiction over remaining issues. About three years later, in 1990, John was disabled, and he filed a motion for reduction of child and spousal support. In response, Raytha informally offered to accept reductions in support if John named Raytha, or Raytha and the children, as his life-insurance beneficiaries. The divorce court held a hearing on John’s motion. John did not attend the hearing because of illness. At the hearing, John’s counsel objected to any modification of the life insurance, arguing that a modification would be inappropriate on two grounds: Raytha had not filed a formal response to John’s motion; and modification would be unfair to Nona. The divorce court rejected counsel’s argument, reduced the support obligations, and ordered John to add Raytha and the remaining minor child as beneficiaries on John’s life insurance. John died in late 1990 without changing the beneficiaries on his policies. Raytha filed a motion in the divorce court to enforce the order regarding the life-insurance beneficiaries; Nona filed a countermotion to vacate the same order. The divorce court ruled in favor of Raytha. Nona appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cottle, J.)

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