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Socorro Abarca v. Harold Joe Ferber

January 20, 2011

SOCORRO ABARCA, PLAINTIFF, CROSS-DEFENDANT AND RESPONDENT,
v.
HAROLD JOE FERBER, DEFENDANT, CROSS-COMPLAINANT AND APPELLANT.



Super. Ct. No. CV026399

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz ,j.

Abarca v. Ferber CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 action, the trial court split equally between two former longtime cohabitants the sale proceeds from a house they had purchased together. One of the cohabitants, appellant Harold Joe Ferber (Harold), claims he was entitled to more.*fn1 We shall affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Harold and his girlfriend, Socorro Abarca (Socorro), along with Socorro's two young daughters from another relationship, began living together around early 1989, and they continued to do so until the Fall of 2004.

In July 2000, after living in various rental properties, Harold and Socorro bought a house in Lathrop for $187,000. They split the $8,000 down payment equally, and took title jointly as tenants in common. They refinanced the property in 2003, taking out $40,000 in cash.

Harold and Socorro's relationship ended in the Fall of 2004 when he was excluded from the residence pursuant to a domestic violence restraining order.

Based on her status as a tenant in common, Socorro sued Harold in 2005, seeking an equal partition of the residential property by sale. Harold responded with a cross-complaint for partition, accounting, waste, contribution, and chattel conversion/trespass to chattels.

In a bench trial, Socorro testified that she and Harold did not have a formal or exact agreement about how they would share housing and living expenses after they purchased their house. The two never specified a "certain amount" along these lines. According to Socorro, "there was no one way"; she would pay Harold more than what was needed for one month, and less for another, depending on financial circumstances. Socorro acknowledged being responsible for paying her personal expenses and those of her daughters. She submitted checks showing that she had paid nearly $100,000 in housing and living expenses after she and Harold bought the residence.

Harold, at trial, presented a spreadsheet accounting based on his and Socorro's bank records from their Wells Fargo checking and credit card accounts, which he claimed showed that Socorro owed him about $50,000 for housing and living expenses. However, these accounts were "joint" between Harold and Socorro, and were used for paying car, housing, and other living expenses. As the trial court found, there was evidence that Harold and Socorro pooled their resources and commingled their assets and debts as if they were married; their income was deposited into the Wells Fargo joint checking account, and debts, liabilities, purchases, and expenses were paid from this account without being apportioned between them.

The Lathrop residence had been sold in early 2006 for $370,000. The listing realtor opined at trial that the property's diminished condition reduced the purchase price by $30,000.

The trial court divided the residential sale proceeds equally between Socorro and Harold, and denied Harold any ...


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