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Marriage of Steinberger

California Court of Appeal
91 Cal.App.4th 1449 (2001)


Facts

Buff Jones (plaintiff) and James Steinberger (defendant) were married in 1988. Buff and James filed for divorce in December 1998. One of the matters handled during the trial was the appropriate designation of a ring that James had given to Buff as either separate or community property. While they were married, James and Buff bought a loose diamond using community-property funds. James made a ring for Buff using this diamond and gave her the ring after their fifth anniversary, along with a card. The card merely congratulated Buff on a promotion and also mentioned their five years of marriage. James testified at trial that the ring was considered both a gift and an investment in their community property. Buff testified that she was aware the ring was of substantial value and that she considered the ring a gift. The trial court found the ring to be Buff’s separate property. James appealed the trial court’s ruling regarding the designation of the ring as Buff’s separate property because there was no written transmutation regarding the ring as required by section 852 of the California Family Code.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Cottle, 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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