In re Marriage of CooperAnnotate this Case
In this marital dissolution case, the trial court found four investment accounts held in joint title by wife Billie Miller and husband Dane Cooper during their marriage to be wife's separate property. The trial court also ordered that wife be reimbursed for her down payment on the marital residence on the ground her separate property was the source of the down payment. After the parties separated, wife lived in the marital residence for approximately eight years. For this time period, the trial court determined wife should have been reimbursed for monies she paid to maintain the residence. On appeal, husband contended: (1) the jointly titled investment accounts were community property for which wife was not entitled to any reimbursement; (2) wife introduced insufficient evidence to show the separate property nature of the funds used to purchase the marital residence; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion by allowing wife to live rent-free in the marital residence during the years after separation while making husband pay half of the maintenance and repairs for which the community received no benefit. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred in ordering her to be reimbursed for the down payment, and that wife owed the community "Watts" charges for periods when she had exclusive use of the marital residents. Wife was entitled to "Epstein" credits for the periods when she owed "Watts" charges. The Court affirmed in all other respects; the case was remanded for further proceedings.