Pratt v. FergusonAnnotate this Case
David Pratt obtained court orders requiring his ex-wife, Cynthia Vedder, to pay child support and expenses. Vedder was the beneficiary of a trust established by her grandparents. Pratt filed a petition to compel Robert Ferguson, the trustee of the Borgert Vedder and Nellie A. Vedder Revocable Trust, to satisfy the orders from Vedder's share of the trust estate. The trial court denied the petition based on a clause in the trust that prohibited the Trustee from making certain distributions if they would become subject to Vedder's creditors' claims (the shutdown clause). After review, the Court of Appeal held that, notwithstanding the shutdown clause, Probate Code section 15305 gave the trial court discretion to order a trustee to make distributions of income and principal to satisfy the final child support orders. Pratt's petition also sought the imposition of a judgment lien on Vedder's interest in the trust estate to satisfy a community property judgment that he held against her. The trial court relied on the shutdown clause to deny the petition for a lien. Because Pratt was entitled to a judgment lien on the trust to satisfy the community property judgment, pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Probate Code and the Code of Civil Procedure, the Court of Appeal reversed that portion of the trial court's order too.