Benjamin Franklin once said, “[i]n this world nothing can be said to be certain, except for death and taxes.” What if death happens in the midst of a divorce or after judgment has been entered in a divorce case? California law provides that if a party dies while a divorce case is pending, then the matter is abated by operation of law. In other words, the parties’ marriage is automatically dissolved by one party’s death and any issues concerning community property assets can be determined by probate court. However, if the court has entered judgment in the divorce case but reserved jurisdiction to determine other pending issues at a later time, then the living party can still litigate these issues as if the death did not occur. The estate of the deceased party will have to substitute in the divorce case to litigate on behalf of the deceased party. See Family Law Code section 2337(f).
What happens when the marriage has been dissolved and the court reserved jurisdiction to determine property issues at a later time and both parties died before the determination was made? According to Estate of Layton (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 1337, 1339, the probate court now has jurisdiction to make those determinations notwithstanding the reservation of jurisdiction by the family law court. The family law court’s reservation of jurisdiction does not survive the death of both parties.
We are Southbay premier family law office and we can help you with your case. Please direct all inquiries to our office at (310) 212-7109.
Disclaimer: Regal Law & Mediation, APC and their attorney do not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or timeliness of any information provided herein. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. Online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal help specific to their case.