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In Re the Marriage of Kim M. Roberts and Glen R. Roberts. v. Glen R. Roberts

December 15, 2010

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF KIM M. ROBERTS AND GLEN R. ROBERTS. KIM M. ROBERTS, RESPONDENT,
v.
GLEN R. ROBERTS, APPELLANT.



APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Jeannie Lowe, Commissioner. Affirmed. (Super. Ct. No. DN133226)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nares, Acting P. J.

Marriage of Roberts CA4/1

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

In this marital dissolution action, Glen R. Roberts (Glen)*fn1 sought to set aside a stipulated judgment of dissolution (stipulated judgment) of his marriage to Kim M. Roberts (Kim). Specifically, Glen sought to set aside that portion of the judgment obligating him to pay credit card debt of approximately $27,000 and that portion awarding spousal support. The motion was based upon Glen's claim that (1) no final declarations of disclosure were served by either party before entry of judgment so he was unaware of the credit card debt; (2) he entered into the stipulated judgment under duress; (3) he was mistaken about the terms of the stipulated judgment relating to spousal support in that he believed it could not be modified; and (4) he was mistaken about his obligation to pay Kim's credit card debt of approximately $27,000 because it was her separate debt.

In its initial tentative decision, the court granted in part Glen's motion to set aside the judgment, finding (1) he was not aware of the credit card debt because no final declarations of disclosure were served by the parties, and (2) he was under the mistaken belief that spousal support could not be modified. Thereafter, before the decision became final, Kim filed a "motion for reconsideration/further hearing on tentative decision." In that motion, Kim submitted evidence that Glen was aware of the credit card debt. Based upon this information, the court reversed its tentative decision and denied Glen's motion to set aside the judgment as to the credit card debts.

Glen appeals, in propria persona,*fn2 asserting the court erred in denying his motion to set aside the stipulated judgment as to the credit card debts because (1) at the time he entered into the stipulated judgment he was unaware that he would be responsible for paying Kim's separate property debts, (2) the motion for reconsideration was an improper vehicle to set aside the court's original decision, and (3) the stipulated judgment was entered into under duress. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Stipulated Judgment

At a hearing held on May 12, 2006, before San Diego Superior Court Commissioner Adam Wertheimer, Glen and Kim entered into a stipulated judgment. As part of that stipulation, Glen agreed to assume all debts of the marriage. Specifically, the stipulated judgment read: "Respondent shall assume and hold Petitioner harmless therefrom all debts and any and all unpaid tax obligations owing to the IRS or Franchise Tax Board." That paragraph of the stipulated judgment originally stated "all separate and community business and personal debts," but that language was stricken, and the final order read "all debts." At the hearing, under questioning from Commissioner Wertheimer, Glen indicated that he understood all terms of the stipulated judgment, he had no questions about any of the terms, and he agreed to be bound by them.

Thereafter, Glen attempted to refinance his residence. During that process, Kim submitted a demand to escrow that Glen pay her credit card debts of $35,914.40.

In response, in February 2007, Glen brought an order to show cause before Commissioner Wertheimer, wherein he sought to challenge his liability for the credit card debts, arguing he did not know of those debts prior to the stipulated judgment. He also argued he understood that language in the stipulated judgment meant he was only to assume community property debts, not her separate property debts, citing the court's striking out of the language "all separate and community business and personal debts." The court rejected Glen's claim, finding that the language of the stipulated judgment that he was to assume "all debts" was intended by the parties to include Kim's credit card debts, but reduced the amount he was liable for to $27,160.40. The court ruled that the term "all debts" meant both community and separate property debts.

B. Motion To Set Aside Stipulated Judgment

Thereafter, in October 2007, Glen brought a motion to set aside the stipulated judgment. He argued that he agreed to the stipulated judgment under duress because of pending contempt charges he was facing based upon unpaid child support. He also asserted he did not understand the stipulation meant that he would be liable for Kim's outstanding credit card debts totaling more than $30,000. Glen asserted that the parties never executed or served final "Declarations of Disclosure" prior to entry of the stipulated judgment and because of that he was unaware of the credit card debts.

A hearing was held on the motion to set aside the stipulated judgment before San Diego Superior Court Commissioner Jeannie Lowe. At that hearing, Commissioner Lowe and Glen focused on the fact that he allegedly did not know about the credit card debts because the parties did not execute and serve final declarations of disclosure. The court stated that the "pretty narrow" focus of the hearing was whether the judgment should be set aside based upon duress and/or the failure to provide final declarations of disclosure. Glen argued that under Family Code*fn3 sections 2106 and 2107, because no final declarations of disclosure were filed, the court was required to set aside the judgment.

Glen also testified at the hearing. He stated he was mistaken when he entered into the stipulated judgment with regard to his obligation to pay the credit card debts. He then stated that, "If there had been a disclosure declaration, it would have been required to list all of the community and/or separate obligations, and I would have known what we were talking about. [ΒΆ] I think that is a good ...


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