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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12235
Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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Good evening. I have a question for a lawyer that is familiar

Resolved Question:

Good evening. I have a question for a lawyer that is familiar with divorce.
Please follow me here:
I am seperated from my husband. Our divorce has been a very simple one.
We filed jointly because we were married only three years and never co-mingled any funds, etc...
I have moved from our rental apartment on June 1st, 2013 to a new condo of my own.
Per our divorce paperwork I was to continue to pay 1/2 of the rent at the old address for the months of June, July and August.
In September I was to pay 1/2 of the first tw3o weeks of rent to finish out the lease.
HOWEVER,
the apartment complex contacted us about signing a new lease.
Which of course I wasn't going to do.
So my husband signed a form releasing me from the rental argreement and he quailifed for a NEW LEASE beginning SEPEMBER 1st 2013.
There is now a new lease starting on this date of which I am no longer any part of!!!!!
My soon to be ex is telling me per our divorce agreement I am still responsibile for the 1/2 of the first two weeks of the month of September at the old lease rate of $1640.00 per month. Which I was paying $820.00 per month for the last three months and he now wants $410.00 on the first of the month.
I believe that when my soon to be ex husband drew up the papers that we submitted to the courts he had his dates wrong and should have contqacted the apartment complex on when a new lease would need to be signed.
SO after all that.....my QUESTION IS:
DO I OWE THAT $410.00 FOR SEPTEMBER ON A NEW LEASE OR BECAUSE HE SIGNED A NEW LEASE AND OUR LEASE IS FINISHED AUGUST 31ST AM I OFF THE HOOK??????
PLEASE HELP!!!!
He is already telling me how he is going to sue my butt.......argggggg!!!
I just want to do what the law require sme to do and NOTHING more!!!!!
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 11 months ago.

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Customer:

Hi Brandon

Brandon M. :

Hi, thank you for your question.

Brandon M. :

In which state is the apartment located?

Customer:

awful, isn't it

Customer:

CAlifornia

Brandon M. :

Terrific. I am licensed and practicing in California.

Customer:

yea, please help me

Brandon M. :

I don't think that I saw when your original lease was scheduled to terminate. You said that in September, you were to pay 1/2 of the first two weeks to finish out the lease. Was the lease scheduled to terminate in the middle of September?

Customer:

The lease started mid Sepember 2012.

Customer:

Then in August 2013 they wanted to know what we were doing

Brandon M. :

Was it a 1 year lease?

Customer:

They drew up a new lease for him starting September 1st 2013 and the other lease will terminate August 2013

Customer:

yes, a one year lease

Customer:

August 31st 2013

Brandon M. :

You're right to be confused. This is going to require some more information. I appreciate your patience.

Brandon M. :

Is it possible for you to provide to me the exact language of the court's order?

Customer:

I have paperwork from the apartment complex releasing me from everything August 31st AS LONG AS HE QUALIFIED FOR A NEW LEASE which he DID!

Customer:

yes, hold on

Brandon M. :

No hurry. Take your time.

Customer:

we drew up the paperwork ourselves

Customer:

ok here goes

Customer:

the lease for the apartment located at 22482 alma aldea #166 rancho santa margarita ca 92688 is valid until September 15th, 2013 (according to him) It is agreed that both XXXXX XXXXX and XXXXX XXXXX will pay 1/2 of the monthly lease amount on or before the due date of the lease payment, in the amount of $1`640.00 for the months of june, july and august. For the month of september 2013 it is agreed that Deborah TRhomas will pay $410.00 toward the lease.

Brandon M. :

What was the context of this order... was it part of the judgment of dissolution?

Brandon M. :

If you're not sure, just let me know and we can figure it out together.

Customer:

it was a judgement of dissolution and notice of entry of judgement

Customer:

we both are petitioners together

Customer:

we did that quick file where we dont have to go to court

Customer:

the divorce has been granted

Customer:

just waiting until november 24th for it to be final

Brandon M. :

The order should have addressed spousal support. What did the order say with regard to spousal support?


 

Brandon M. :

I do appreciate your patience--a few of these questions may seem unrelated, but I'm considering possible defenses that may be raised.

Customer:

no spousal support waived

Customer:

I didn't ask for any

Brandon M. :

Was there community property divided? What did the order say about property division?

Customer:

ok, hold on

Brandon M. :

Check the form FL-180.

Customer:

a car that is leagally ours but that i have received

Brandon M. :

It would be under paragraph "m" on page 2.

Customer:

i owe the payments on it

Customer:

he put in the paperwork that the chevy malibu is the personal property of me

Brandon M. :

Ok, these are my thoughts:

Customer:

ok, hold on

Customer:

no page 2 with m

Customer:

used form FL 825

Brandon M. :

FL-825 is the notice of the judgment. FL-180 is the judgment.

Customer:

ok,

Brandon M. :

If the court entered a judgment of dissolution, there would have to be a form FL-180. I'll assume that you have one even if you can't locate it right now.

Customer:

i haven't gotten anything but on the court website it says it has been granted and that we have to wait until the 6 months are up

Customer:

all i have is thr FL-825 and the paperwork we drew up together

Brandon M. :

You have said that the language in your marital settlement agreement reads as follows:

the lease for the apartment located at 22482 alma aldea #166 rancho santa margarita ca 92688 is valid until September 15th, 2013 (according to him) It is agreed that both XXXXX XXXXX and XXXXX XXXXX will pay 1/2 of the monthly lease amount on or before the due date of the lease payment, in the amount of $1`640.00 for the months of june, july and august. For the month of september 2013 it is agreed that Deborah TRhomas will pay $410.00 toward the lease.

I should start by saying that because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with counsel. Interpreting a clause of a contract is a lot like identifying an elephant by its trunk--you can say that it appears to be the trunk of an elephant, and that it is most likely an elephant's trunk, but you can't truly say it is an elephant without examining the entire animal.

That said, there are two things about this clause that stand out to me. First, the language of the clause does seem to suggest that the rent obligation is contingent on the existing lease obligation. When a married couple has a joint contractual obligation, it makes sense that they would share the obligation after separation. Although his continuing to live at the residence while you lived elsewhere would tend to prove an uneven distribution of the obligation (since he is essentially getting to live in what is essentially a home subsidized by you), the fact that there was some other unequal division would tend to prove that it was a negotiated settlement. So although he got the better end of the deal on this item, it's part of a bigger picture.

However, my concern for your case...

Brandon M. :

...is threefold. First, the language in the agreement does not specifically say that the obligation to contribute half is based on the existing lease obligation. If read literally and strictly, the obligation continues until September 15, 2013 no matter what...

Customer:

ok,

Customer:

ok

Brandon M. :

second, even if it was contingent on the existing lease obligation, he could probably successfully argue that his decision to renew the lease early (as opposed to doing it later or moving elsewhere) was based on this literal interpretation....

Customer:

ok

Customer:

ok, so in a court room would he win???

Brandon M. :

..third, he could also argue that it was a component of the property division. This would probably be the weaker of his arguments, but it can't be ignored.

In short, you would be asking the court to find meaning in the order that is not clearly written into it. That's a tough sell. I'm not saying its impossible, but when the court has the choice between a literal, straightforward interpretation and an implied interpretation, the straightforward interpretation will be favored unless doing so clearly would clearly not make sense. I understand what your intention was, and you probably didn't contemplate this scenario, but your ex-husband generally has the right to rely on the literal language of the order.

Customer:

great, so I lose again.....

Brandon M. :

That is not unlikely.

Customer:

not unlikey that I lose

Brandon M. :

Correct.

Customer:

on a scale from 1-100 what would be the change I could win

Customer:

chance sorry

Brandon M. :

It's not possible to make a reliable estimate without being involved in the entire case, but in similar cases I would estimate your chance of winning at around 10-20%.

Customer:

ok, thanks

Brandon M. :

The nuances of every situation are different, and those nuances can make a big difference in the outcome, but 10-20% would normally be expected.

Customer:

It's funny he just sent me a text message about how I better pay part of HIS rent for september.

Customer:

I really got screwed.....I appreciate your time

Brandon M. :

I'm glad that I could help, even if I didn't get to deliver good news.

Brandon M. :

Did you have any other question? Anything else this evening?

Customer:

hey it is what it is... you're the messenger...I promise not to shoot you!!!!

Customer:

no I am good thanks

Brandon M. :

I appreciate those words VERY much... we messengers only get to deliver good news half the time.

Customer:

amen

Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12235
Experience: Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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