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Marriage of Lafkas

Court of Appeal of California
188 Cal. Rptr. 3d 484 (2015)


John Lafkas (plaintiff) owned one-third of a real estate partnership, Smile Enterprises, when he married Jean Doane (defendant). During the marriage, Smile Enterprises’s partnership agreement was modified to include Doane as well as the wives of the other two original partners. The agreement stated that Lafkas and Doane had a one-third interest in Smile Enterprises as husband and wife. Lafkas filed a petition for legal separation from Doane. Doane responded to the petition with a request for dissolution of the marriage. The marriage was dissolved, and Lafkas filed a motion for a separate trial on the classification of the one-third interest in Smile Enterprises. Lafkas claimed that the interest was his separate property. Doane claimed that the interest was community property on account of the partnership-modification agreement. Doane argued that partnership law, not community property law, applied. The trial court found that the partnership-modification agreement satisfied the statutory transmutation requirement that a transmutation be made in writing and expressly state that the agreement is effecting a change in the character of the property. Lafkas appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kriegler, J.)

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