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In Re the Marriage of Bindiya W. and Ajay L. Chawla. v. Ajay L. Chawla

December 17, 2010

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF BINDIYA W. AND AJAY L. CHAWLA.
BINDIYA W. CHAWLA, RESPONDENT,
v.
AJAY L. CHAWLA, APPELLANT



Contra Costa County Super. Ct. No. D06-04845

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Needham, J.

Marr. of Chawla CA1/5

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Ajay L. Chawla (husband) appeals from a final judgment on reserved issues in this marital dissolution action. He contends: (1) the court should not have ordered him to reimburse Bindiya Chawla (wife) for her uninsured medical expenses when she presented no evidence that she had actually paid her health care providers; (2) wife failed to disclose that she received income from renting the marital residence to a third party before losing the house in foreclosure; and (3) the court did not consider the factors listed in Family Code section 4320*fn1 when it awarded wife $500 per month in permanent spousal support. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Husband and wife married in 1991and have two children. Husband was employed at CV Therapeutics and the couple also operated a jewelry business. They enjoyed an upper middle class lifestyle that seemed to surpass the income they reported on their tax returns.

In August 2006, husband traveled to India, where he had been born, raised and educated. Wife filed this dissolution action on October 12, 2006, while husband was gone. Husband stopped working for CV Therapeutics in January 2007, but was hired as a business development manager with a firm headquartered in Dubai in May 2007. Wife leased the family home in Walnut Creek without first contacting husband and moved to India with the children. Eventually, the house was lost in foreclosure.

On November 30, 2007, the court entered a judgment of dissolution as to status only, "subject to Family Code section 2337 protections." On December 24, 2007, the court issued an order stating "if [husband] can obtain medical insurance for [wife] through his employment he shall do so. If he cannot then he shall obtain a policy of medical insurance equivalent to the coverage provided while he was an employee of [CV Therapeutics]. In the event that [wife] incurs uninsured medical expenses [husband] shall reimburse her for those expenses up[on] presentation of satisfactory written proof that such expenses were necessarily incurred by her."

During the court trial on reserved issues conducted June 16 and 17, 2009, wife testified that she had incurred approximately $130,000 in uninsured medical expenses for the treatment of malaria at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek. She presented copies of the bills for that treatment as trial exhibits. Wife explained that she could not procure her own insurance due to her pre-existing medical conditions and she had been unable to secure COBRA benefits through husband's former employer. Although husband had e-mailed wife in January 2007 regarding COBRA benefits, when wife called the insurance company she was told that husband had left the country and they had no way of contacting him. Wife also testified that she had leased their Walnut Creek home without notifying husband because she did not know where to reach him.

The court issued a ruling and written statement of decision on a number of reserved issues including child custody, child support, visitation, division of community property and spousal support. The court found that husband had an affirmative duty to provide medical insurance coverage for wife and, because he did not fulfill that duty, he was responsible for her uncovered medical expenses in an amount of $111,086. The court rejected husband's claim that he was entitled to credit for the fair rental value of the property or for the rent received on that property, noting that wife's spousal support was not sufficient to allow her to make the payments on that property. (See In re Marriage of Watts (1985) 171 Cal.App.3d 366, 374.) It awarded wife permanent spousal support at $500 per month.

DISCUSSION

I. Reimbursement for Uninsured Medical Expenses

Husband argues that he should not be required to pay for wife's uninsured medical expenses when she presented no evidence showing she actually paid the bills of her health care providers. We disagree ...


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