Garfein v. Garfein

Decision Date19 March 1971
PartiesJack GARFEIN, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Carroll Baker GARFEIN, Defendant and Respondent. Civ. 36654.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

Belcher, Henzie & Biegenzahn, and George M. Henzie, Los Angeles, for plaintiff and appellant.

David G. Licht, Beverly Hills, for defendant and respondent.

KINGSLEY, Associate Justice.

The is an appeal by the husband from an interlocutory decree of divorce. The decree granted a divorce to each party, found that there was no community property not previously divided by mutual arrangement, and made other orders hereinafter discussed. The husband does not here contest the granting of a divorce, nor does he object to provisions in the decree for child support; his attack is directed solely to the provisions dealing with community property and community debts. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decree.

The husband is, and during the marriage was, a motion picture director; the wife is, and was, a motion picture actress. During the marriage, the huband was active in procuring employment for the wife, including assisting in negotiating a 'play or pay' contract for her with Paramount Pictures, under which she appeared in, and was paid for her appearance in, the motion picture 'Harlow.' The contract entitled Paramount to the services of the wife for six additional pictures, at the rate of one picture each twelve months, 1 commencing in May of 1966, and obligated Paramount to pay to her compensation (whether or not she was called to work) at the following rate:

                Year  1  (until May 1966)  $200,000
                      2  (until May 1967)   200,000
                      3  (until May 1968)   300,000
                      4  (until May 1969)   300,000
                      5  (until May 1970)   300,000
                      6  (until May 1971)   300,000

For reasons known to it, Paramount did not call on the wife to appear in any pictures after 'Harlow' was completed. Litigation took place, resulting in a judgment declaring the obligation of Paramount to comply with the 'pay' clauses of the agreement; thereafter, payments have been made as above provided. 2 The litigation cost the marital community in excess of $126,000 for attorney fees and costs.

The husband contended in the trial court, and contends here: (a) that there existed a 'marital partnership' between him and his wife, whereby all of their property and property rights became partnership property; (b) that, at the time of separation (June 30, 1967) they had entered into an oral property settlement agreement, whereby the payments for the first two years of the six-year period were to be used to pay community debts, the balance (if any) to be equally divided, and the payments for the final four years were to be divided 60 per cent to the wife and 40 per cent to the husband; (c) that, if the first two contentions were not sustained, the entire payments under the Paramount contract were community property to be dealt with as such.

The trial court made fact findings adverse to the husband on the first two contentions, and held as a matter of law that the payments received by the wife after the separation were her own separate property.


We cannot say that the trial court erred in its factual findings. There was substantial evidence negating the alleged 'marital partnership' and substantial evidence that the alleged oral separation agreement not only was merely tentative and subject to being reduced to writing, but that it had been unfairly secured by the husband from a distraught and unadvised wife, and entered into by her under a mistake as to the applicable law. Appellant's lengthy and detailed brief does no more than to show that the trial court might (but did not) have resolved the evidence more favorably to the husband. It is not our function, nor our power, to review fact findings having substantial support in the record.


The judgment against Paramount was not one which, itself, called for the payment of any fixed sum; it established the validity and enforceability of that contract according to its terms. Those terms, so far as herein material, required the wife to hold herself available for service in one picture 3 each twelve-month period; without the consent of Paramount she could not accept other potentially conflicting engagements, business or social. 4 Although counsel has not directed us to any cases directly in point, and although we have found none, we conclude that the trial court correctly held that the payments falling due after the date of separation (June 30, 1967)--I.e., the final $1,200,000--were the separate property of the wife. Section 169 of the Civil Code (as it read at...

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  • Finby v. Finby (In re Ofmark)
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • March 12, 2014
    ...notes. It found the reasoning in In re Marriage of Doherty (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 895, 126 Cal.Rptr.2d 919 and Garfein v. Garfein (1971) 16 Cal.App.3d 155, 93 Cal.Rptr. 714 supported its findings.DISCUSSION1. Introduction The issues presented in this appeal are the trial court's characteriz......
  • In re Marriage of Drapeau, A090032.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • October 30, 2001, the cases on which he relies preceded Lehman, supra, and are also otherwise distinguishable. In Garfein v. Garfein (1971) 16 Cal.App.3d 155, 93 Cal.Rptr. 714, the employee spouse was an actress who signed a multi-year contract under which a motion picture studio agreed to pay her ......
  • In re Marriage of Norviel
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • October 15, 2002
    ...and anniversary cards"].) As a reviewing court, it is not our place to reweigh the evidence. (See, e.g., Garfein v. Garfein (1971) 16 Cal.App.3d 155, 158, 93 Cal.Rptr. 714. But see, e.g., In re Marriage of von der Nuell, supra, 23 Cal. App.4th at p. 736, 28 Cal.Rptr.2d 447 [on undisputed fa......
  • In re Marriage of Foley
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • October 21, 2010
    ...825, 955 P.2d 451 [discussing different methods of apportionment].) Nonetheless, Martin relies on Garfein v. Garfein (1971) 16 Cal.App.3d 155, 93 Cal.Rptr. 714 ( Garfein ), where one spouse was a movie actress who had a contract with Paramount Pictures to make six movies, one per year over ......
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