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Bill to Protect Rape Victims Moves Forward

Legislation authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins (pictured), and co-sponsored by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, to amend a portion of the state’s family law code has gained the Assembly Judiciary committee’s approval.

The bill, which passed yesterday with a 7 to 1 vote, will amend state legislation so that an individual convicted of a violent sexual felony against his or her spouse forfeits all rights to spousal support, attorney’s fees, and his or her community property interest in the injured spouse’s retirement, pension, and insurance benefits.

A 2008 case involving a San Diego woman was the impetus for the bill. Her husband, who is currently serving a six-year prison sentence, violently sexually assaulted her.

During the subsequent divorce proceedings, because she was the primary income-earner, making over $11,000 a month, while her husband, mostly unemployed, made roughly $400 a month, she was ordered to pay $1,000 per month in spousal support and $47,000 in attorney’s fees.

The judge stayed the award while the husband remains in prison, but noted that he took the income disparity as well as the 12-year duration of the marriage into consideration.

Supporters of the bill, which include Senator Christine Kehoe, the San Diego Board of Supervisors, and law enforcement and victims groups, all claim the bill will prevent victims from being re-victimized by being forced to provide financial support to their abusers.

The Association of Certified Family Law opposed the bill because they feel that the family courts are not a place to decide such matters.

They argue that if for example, one spouse agrees to plead guilty to such charges early on in the marriage, but then the couple reconciles and spends many years together before divorcing, the guilty spouse would be forfeiting rights early on, that he or she is entitled to under current state law.

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Legislation authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins (pictured), and co-sponsored by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, to amend a portion of the state’s family law code has gained the Assembly Judiciary committee’s approval.

The bill, which passed yesterday with a 7 to 1 vote, will amend state legislation so that an individual convicted of a violent sexual felony against his or her spouse forfeits all rights to spousal support, attorney’s fees, and his or her community property interest in the injured spouse’s retirement, pension, and insurance benefits.

A 2008 case involving a San Diego woman was the impetus for the bill. Her husband, who is currently serving a six-year prison sentence, violently sexually assaulted her.

During the subsequent divorce proceedings, because she was the primary income-earner, making over $11,000 a month, while her husband, mostly unemployed, made roughly $400 a month, she was ordered to pay $1,000 per month in spousal support and $47,000 in attorney’s fees.

The judge stayed the award while the husband remains in prison, but noted that he took the income disparity as well as the 12-year duration of the marriage into consideration.

Supporters of the bill, which include Senator Christine Kehoe, the San Diego Board of Supervisors, and law enforcement and victims groups, all claim the bill will prevent victims from being re-victimized by being forced to provide financial support to their abusers.

The Association of Certified Family Law opposed the bill because they feel that the family courts are not a place to decide such matters.

They argue that if for example, one spouse agrees to plead guilty to such charges early on in the marriage, but then the couple reconciles and spends many years together before divorcing, the guilty spouse would be forfeiting rights early on, that he or she is entitled to under current state law.

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Comments
1

This will have its unintended consequences, as all laws do. Wait until some innocent is left destitute after a divorce because of some miscarriage of justice in a criminal case. Oh yeah, it won't take long either if this becomes law.

March 21, 2012

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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