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Marriage of Ettefagh

California Court of Appeal
150 Cal.App.4th 1578 (2007)


Facts

In 1972, Semrin Ettefagh (plaintiff) and Vahid Ettefagh (defendant) were married in the United States. The Ettefaghs moved to Iran, Vahid’s native land, in 1977. Semrin and Vahid separated in 1996. Semrin moved back to California and filed for divorce. Vahid’s father, Hashem Ettefagh (defendant), was joined as a party to the suit. One of the main issues at trial was whether real estate acquired by Vahid during the Ettefaghs’ marriage was community or separate property. Several pieces of land were at issue. Each piece had either been gifted solely to Vahid or been purchased by Hashem with title to the property placed in Vahid’s name. The evidence at trial indicated that Hashem had purchased the real estate with his own money and then transferred title to Vahid. Vahid testified that none of the Ettefaghs’ community funds were used to purchase the properties. Both Semrin and Vahid agreed that because the real estate was acquired during the marriage, the real estate was presumed to be community property. Semrin contended, however, that Vahid had to overcome this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. The trial court disagreed, finding the appropriate burden to be a preponderance of the evidence. The trial court found that the real estate had been gifted to Vahid and that the real estate was thus Vahid’s separate property. Semrin appealed the trial court’s ruling.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Simons, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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