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Marriage of Smith

Court of Appeal of California
79 Cal. App. 3d 725 (1978)


Sieglinde Smith (defendant) and Wayde Smith (plaintiff) separated on April 1, 1975, after approximately 19 years of marriage. The trial court entered a judgment for dissolution of marriage on September 2, 1976. The Smiths operated a family business together and owned several properties. During the marriage, Sieglinde inherited $14,000 from an uncle and deposited the money into a bank account held jointly with Wayde. Sieglinde used some of the funds to put a down payment on a piece of property called the Costa Mesa property. Sieglinde also used a portion of the funds to install a swimming pool at the family residence. While Sieglinde was out of the country, Wayde used some of the funds to purchase a piece of equipment for the family business. The trial court found that the Costa Mesa property, the improvement value of the pool, and the equipment were all community property. The court thus denied Sieglinde’s claim for reimbursement from those acquisitions. At trial, both parties indicated that they considered the property to be community property. Wayde testified that there were never any discussions about the funds or whether the property purchased with those funds retained its character as separate property. Sieglinde testified that she did not intend to gift the funds to the community. The trial court held that the property was acquired with assets that had been merged with the community estate and were considered a gift to the community. Sieglinde appealed the trial court’s ruling.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kaufman, J.)

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