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In re Marriage of Goodwin-Mitchell

California Court of Appeals, First District, Third Division

September 24, 2019

In re the Marriage of CAROLYN GOODWIN-MITCHELL and MICHAEL MITCHELL. CAROLYN GOODWIN-MITCHELL, Respondent,
v.
MICHAEL MITCHELL, Appellant.

          Superior Court Alameda County No. HF17862586 Honorable Lupe C. Garcia Trial Judge

          Kathleen L. Morgan for Appellant.

          Siggins, P.J.

         Michael Mitchell appeals from a judgment annulling his marriage to Carolyn Goodwin-Mitchell.[1] Uncontradicted evidence shows that Carolyn did not prove the requirements for annulment under Family Code section 2210, subdivision (d), [2] so we reverse the judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         In June 2017, Carolyn filed a petition for nullity or, in the alternative, dissolution of the parties’ marriage on the basis of fraud. Both parties appeared in pro per and testified at the one-day evidentiary hearing.

         Carolyn’s Testimony

         Before she met Michael, Carolyn helped obtain a green card for her Jamaican first husband. That marriage ended in divorce.

         Michael is also from Jamaica. In January 2015, Carolyn met him online and they began dating over the internet. Michael started discussing marriage in February or March. Around the same time, he told Carolyn he wanted to move to the United States so that he could live with her, start a restaurant business, and join the U.S. army. In June 2015, Carolyn went to Jamaica and met Michael for the first time. The couple married during that visit.

         Carolyn returned home and applied for a two-year conditional visa for Michael. The visa was approved in September 2016. In November 2016, Michael flew to the United States and moved in with Carolyn.

         Within a week of Michael’s arrival, he “was soliciting call girls, prostitution, and other women off of sites.” In February 2017, he was jailed for a day and a half and a restraining order was issued after an incident of domestic violence between the parties.[3] While he was in jail, Carolyn discovered text messages to his mother in Jamaica on his phone. Michael wrote, “Me na lef, me na lef til me get my rass papers” and “Cody n u affi fuck reach.” Carolyn interpreted these to mean Michael was “not leaving [Carolyn’s] house until he gets his papers, and “his brother and his mom has to reach the United States.” Carolyn also found extensive text messages between Michael and DeAndra. From the nature of the messages, Carolyn believed DeAndra to be Michael’s girlfriend. Michael repeatedly told DeAndra he loved her. He wrote, “Wife call police how I hit her[.] [¶] Pure fuckery” and that he was “[j]ust waiting for army to come through[.]” Referring to Carolyn, he wrote, “By right she should treat me better but immigration will look at it n I can get divorce quicker [¶]... [¶] I have rights to here as she signed for it[.] [¶]... [¶] If I left immigration gonna be after me... [¶] Just waiting papers then I can move[.]” DeAndra urged Michael to leave Carolyn. He responded, “Am here soon move out. Just waiting on my papers ok[.] [¶]... [¶] If I [move] I’ll av to marry some one else.”

         The restraining order was lifted not long after Michael was released from jail. Michael moved back in with Carolyn. According to Carolyn, this was because Michael had nowhere to go and she believed she was legally responsible for him until he obtained permanent resident status. The couple continued their sexual relationship, but they “did not act as a couple to other people.”

         In March 2017, Michael had sex with another woman in Carolyn’s home. In June Carolyn filed divorce papers. Nonetheless, the couple continued to live together and maintained their sexual relationship until November, when Michael’s temper worsened, and Carolyn asked him to move out. Michael complied.

         Michael’s ...


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