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Marriage of Elfmont

Supreme Court of California
9 Cal. 4th 1026 (1995)


John (defendant) and Edie (plaintiff) Elfmont were married in 1975. John was employed as a physician during the marriage. In 1977, John purchased disability insurance coverage. John increased the disability coverage in 1980 and again in 1983. Subsequently, John purchased two additional disability insurance policies. All of the disability insurance plans were term insurance plans. As long as the policy premiums were paid on time, the policies automatically renewed. On May 1, 1987, John and Edie separated. Prior to the separation, all policy premiums for the disability insurance were paid using community funds. After separation, John paid the insurance premiums using John’s separate-property funds. In 1989, John became disabled and unable to continue his work as a physician. In 1990, John applied for the disability insurance benefits, and the benefits became payable. The trial court held that the initial disability insurance coverage and the increase purchased in 1980 were John’s separate property. The trial court determined that John intended for the coverage to replace John’s earnings. The trial court held that the coverage increase purchased in 1983 and the additional coverage purchased through additional policies were community property. The trial court determined that John intended for the additional coverage to be retirement income. John appealed the trial court’s ruling. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling. John petitioned the Supreme Court of California for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Werdegar, J.)

Concurrence (Baxter, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (George, J.)

Dissent (Kennard, J.)

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