A Court is Authorized to Enter an Order to Transfer Title Pursuant to a Stipulation in Proceedings Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act

In 1986, Linda Rayan and Claude Dykeman, as joint tenants, took title to residential real property. In 1988, Rayan filed an order to show cause and a temporary restraining order under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, and obtained an order removing Dykeman from the residence. Dykeman obtained an ex parte order concerning his personal property in the residence and restraining Rayan from contacting him. At the hearing to show cause, the parties entered into a stipulation, which provided for the transfer of the title of the property to Dykeman once Rayan’s bankruptcy matters were situated. The family law court signed and filed an order after a hearing incorporating the terms of the stipulation.

In May 1988, the family law court denied Rayan’s order to show cause and motion to set aside the order after the hearing. In the meantime, in January 1988, Rayan filed a petition in bankruptcy which listed Dykeman among the unsecured creditors. The petition listed a joint tenancy interest in the residence worth $120,000 as Rayan’s real property. On May 27, 1988, Rayan’s debts were discharged in the bankruptcy proceeding. Notice of the discharge was sent to Dykeman. In September 1988, Rayan refused to sign a deed transferring her interest in the residence to Dykeman, and in March 1989, Dykeman obtained an ex parte order appointing alternate elisors for the purpose of signing Rayan’s name to all documents necessary to transfer her interest in the residence to Dykeman. On appeal, Rayan argued that, in proceedings under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, only certain remedies are specified, and those do not include, for example, an order transferring title to real estate and an order enforcing the first order by appointment of an elisor. Thus, Rayan argued that the family law court had no authority in these proceedings under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act to permanently affect ownership of the parties’ real property.

The Domestic Violence Prevention Act does not provide a remedy involving permanent transfer of real property from one party to the other. Section 547 sets forth certain orders the court may make under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act and includes a reference to Civil Code section 4359, which permits a family law court to issue ex parte orders “determining the temporary use, possession, and control of real or personal property of the parties and the payment of any liens or encumbrances coming due during the pendency of the order.” In light of the nonexclusive remedies provision under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, and the clear stipulation which Rayan agreed to, the family law court was authorized to enter the order of transfer carrying out the stipulation. Section 664.6 states, “If parties to pending litigation stipulate…before the court, for settlement of the case…the court…may enter judgment pursuant to the terms of the settlement.” Thus, the family law court possessed ample authority to accept the stipulation and enter the order having the effect of a judgment effectuating the stipulation. Considering that the domestic violence in the case occurred inside the very residence stipulated and ordered transferred, the order was in aid of preventing recurrence of the violence, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act ‘s purposes. Thus, the family law court was authorized to enter the order to transfer title to the residence pursuant to the stipulation under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.

Rayan v. Dykeman (1990) 224 Cal. App. 3d 1629