Family Matters: The California Hitman Law

 I was watching television the other night, trying to pretend I could still stay up late and function the next day when I came across a show called “Who the bleep did I marry.” In this episode, California police detective John Pomroy was detailing how his ex-wife Tina received half of their marital estate even though she tried to hire a hitman to kill him.

Tina was physically abusive and suffered from addictions to prescription medications, alcohol, and illegal drugs, so it was no surprise that John was awarded custody of the couple’s children in their 2002 divorce action. Most individuals would be very upset in this situation, but Tina took it a step further. 
Conveniently, some members of a biker gang lived nearby and she tried to hire them to kill her husband. Unfortunately for Tina, she solicited members with scruples, as they quickly ratted her out to the police. Undercover officers then caught Tina in the act and she was eventually convicted of solicitation for murder.
Due to California law at the time, a spouse was only barred from receiving assets if she personally attempted the murder, not if she hired someone. As one would imagine, John was quite irritated by this legal loophole, so he made it his mission to get the law changed.
John’s goal became reality – California Family Code Section 4324 states “when a spouse is convicted of attempting to murder the other spouse…or of soliciting the murder of the other spouse…the injured spouse shall be entitled to a prohibition of any temporary or permanent award for spousal support or medical, life, or other insurance benefits or payments from the injured spouse to the other spouse.” The injured spouse need not actually be physically injured for this to apply.
It seems ridiculous that this law had not always been in effect or that the judge in the Pomroy case wouldn’t have been a trailblazer and set new precedent, but just watching the news will tell you there’s a lot of ridiculousness out there. In fact, I think that’s even a television show.
Marie Matyjaszek is a family law attorney whose blog site is: She can be reached by e-mailing her at 

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