Marriage of BrandesAnnotate this Case
Linda Brandes appealed a judgment awarding Charles Brandes a business he founded before the parties married, Brandes Investment Partners (BIP), as his separate property, and awarding the community an equitable allocation (under the "Pereira" approach for the early period during which the growth was primarily attributable to his personal efforts, and under the "Van Camp" approach for the later period during which the growth was primarily attributable to other factors). Under a variety of theories, Linda argued the court erred by not determining the community owns all or most of BIP. In addition, Linda argued the court erred by denying her prejudgment interest on her share of the community's interest in BIP as of the end of the Pereira period, by characterizing profit distributions BIP labeled as W-2 income as Charles's separate property, and by awarding Charles 10,000 shares of BIP stock he purchased from a third party in two transactions during the marriage. Linda claimed 4,000 of the shares are community property because Charles used community funds to purchase them. She contended the remaining shares were presumptively community property under the lender's intent doctrine, because the purchase was financed under a promissory note entered into during the marriage, and Charles did not rebut the presumption by showing the seller relied primarily on his separate property for payment. Charles also appealed, contending the court erred by awarding Linda $450,000 per month in spousal support. Alternatively, he argued the support was excessive given her actual expenses. After review, the Court of Appeal partially agreed with Linda on the lender's intent doctrine: the doctrine applied to the percentage of the 6,000 shares purchased under the promissory note, and the court erred by not finding in accordance with the community property presumption since Charles did not rebut it. In all other respects, the Court disagreed with Linda's theories. The Court declined to address Charles's issue raised on appeal, because on remand it might become moot. On remand, the trial court had to revisit the spousal support issue, because the order was based, in part, on a spouse's separate estate, and Linda's separate estate might increase.