(Super. Ct. No. PFL20040162)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Raye , P. J.
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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
Appellant Jacqueline Redden appeals from the trial court's judgment dividing the assets of her marriage to Robert Redden. On two occasions during the marriage, Jacqueline executed quitclaim deeds transferring her interest in real property to Robert in order to secure loans, the proceeds of which were used to fund the acquisition of other real and personal property. Jacqueline challenges the effectiveness of a 1993 quitclaim and argues the trial court erred in dividing the property of the marriage and in determining reimbursements. We shall remand for a recalculation of reimbursements to Robert, but in all other respects we affirm the judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The couple married in 1991. Prior to the marriage, Jacqueline inherited a house in Sacramento. During the early part of their marriage, the couple lived in the house.
In 1992 the couple decided to buy a house in Garden Valley for $88,500. In order to purchase the Garden Valley home, they agreed to borrow against Jacqueline's Sacramento home. At the time, Jacqueline had $110,000 in equity in her separate residence, but her very poor credit prevented her from securing a loan. To facilitate their home financing plans, Jacqueline transferred title in the Sacramento home to Robert as his sole and separate property (by grant deed) so he could use his credit to secure a loan. An $88,000 loan was secured against the Sacramento home, $64,512 of which was applied to the purchase price for the Garden Valley home; the sellers took back a $28,000 note for the remainder, signed by both Jacqueline and Robert. Title was taken as community property. Of the remaining loan proceeds, $7,752 went to pay off Robert's truck, $3,504 paid off Jacqueline's old debts, and $9,632 paid off the prior owner of the Sacramento home.*fn1
In August 1993 Jacqueline quitclaimed her interest in the Garden Valley home to Robert to allow Robert to obtain a loan against that residence. Jacqueline's credit remained poor. The quitclaim deed states that Jacqueline quitclaimed all her right, title, and interest in the Garden Valley home. Robert obtained a $50,000 loan against the property.
In 1995 the couple decided to borrow more money against the Garden Valley home and to put the existing loan in both their names. However, the loan was denied and Jacqueline's name was not put back on the title to the Garden Valley home.
The following year, Robert recorded a grant deed transferring title to the Sacramento home to himself and Jacqueline as joint tenants. The couple then borrowed $23,100 against the property to purchase equipment for Redden Engineering.*fn2 Later that year, the couple borrowed another $5,637, secured by the Sacramento home.
In March 1998 the couple refinanced the $5,637 loan and borrowed an additional $7,500, secured again by the Sacramento property, for a total of $12,877. The couple used $4,626 to purchase a dump truck for the business.
The following year, the couple borrowed an additional $10,000 against the Garden Valley home to pay off Robert's truck loan and purchase a car for Jacqueline. Both parties signed the deed of trust securing the loan.
The Separation and Aftermath
The couple separated in June 2001. Four days after the separation, the couple borrowed $35,000 against the Garden Valley home. They used $13,647 to pay off the March 1998 loan, $9,218 to pay off credit cards, and $10,232 for Jacqueline's living expenses. Jacqueline, suffering from an injury, was not working.
In June 2002 the couple sold the Sacramento home for $167,000. A portion of that amount, $78,683, was used to pay off the first note holder, and $23,182 paid off the second. An additional $38,700 paid off another loan. Jacqueline kept the remaining $23,186.
That fall, Jacqueline purchased a home in Pollock Pines as her separate property. Robert signed a grant deed stating he had no interest in the property.
A few months later, Robert purchased a bulldozer for $8,311, using post-separation earnings. In 2002 Robert claimed the bulldozer as a partnership expense.
At the time of trial, $42,671 was owed on the Garden Valley home on a credit union line of credit, and an additional $9,700 was owed to Bank of America. Robert estimated the Garden Valley home was currently worth $160,000. Since the separation, Robert had paid $17,281 toward the line of credit secured by the Garden Valley home.
The Trial Court's Decision
Following a court trial, the court issued a tentative ruling. The court valued Redden Engineering at $27,500, based on the equipment owned by the partnership and cash in the business account.
The court found the Sacramento home had been Jacqueline's separate property but that she deeded it to Robert to obtain a better interest rate. In doing so, Jacqueline "had full knowledge of the effect of the grant deed at the time she executed and recorded it. There is no evidence of undue influence or that [Jacqueline] did not understand what she was doing." The court determined the Sacramento home had been deeded to both parties as joint tenants, and at the time of sale, the property was community property. The couple agreed that Jacqueline would receive the proceeds from the sale of the Sacramento home and $10,232 from the Beneficial loan, in exchange for Robert's receiving the Garden Valley home.
The court noted that in August 1993 Jacqueline relinquished " 'all her right title and interest' " in the Garden Valley house. Again, the court found no evidence Jacqueline was coerced or that she did not understand the effect of the quitclaim deed.
The court found the Chevrolet Blazer was in Jacqueline's possession following the separation and that Robert made payments of $12,959 post-separation. Jacqueline owed Robert for those payments. The court denied Jacqueline reimbursement for paying off Robert's truck in the amount of $7,752. The court awarded Robert the 1984 bulldozer as his separate property.
The court filed a proposed statement and decision. Following a hearing, the court filed ...