Epstein stands for the proposition that equity requires the payer spouse to be reimbursed for such payments unless the spouses had an agreement otherwise, the payment was intended as a gift to the other spouse, the payer was actually using the asset for which the funds were expended, or the payment or payments were made to discharge a support obligation. Marriage of Epstein (1979) 24 Cal.3d 76, 84; 154 Cal.Rptr. 413.
If the paying spouse is using the community property at the time they were paying the debt, for example the community property residence and its utilities, in those situations reimbursement would be inequitable, because the paying spouse is receiving a benefit from the payments such that the other spouse should not be obligated to compensate the payer. There would be no Epstein credits in these situations.
Additionally, Marriage of Watts (1985) 171 CA3d 366, 217 CR 301, established that the community may have a right to reimbursement for one spouse’s exclusive use of a community asset after separation and to the date of trial. The “use value” of the asset is the touchstone of the inquiry regarding a Watts charge, and the determination of that value depends on the nature of the asset for which the charge is incurred.
When it comes to a divorce and property issues are at stake, you need a highly skilled attorney as your advocate and adviser.
Robert Rodriguez has litigated well over 100 family law cases and civil litigation matters including personal injury motor vehicle cases, dog bite and slip & fall cases, breach of contract, defamation & invasion of privacy, fraud, unfair business practice, malicious prosecution, workplace and employment matters including sexual harassment, wrongful termination, wage & hour violations, discrimination pursuant to the FEHA, Gov’t Code §§ 12940 et seq., violations of the FMLA & Pregnancy Leave, Civil Rights discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the State of California and California federal district courts.
* Disclaimer – Robert Rodriguez is licensed to practice only in the State of California & this analysis is applied only under State of California law. Robert D. Rodriguez is also admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts, Central, Northern & Eastern Districts of California. Robert Rodriguez has practiced in the State of California Court of Appeal.
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