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In re Marriage of Obrecht Summary


Opinion published on February 24, 2016



Factual Background and Trial Court’s Decision


In Obrecht, a marriage dissolution case, the respondent challenged the trial court's personal jurisdiction over him under the minimum contacts doctrine, while the petitioner cited evidence that the respondent had entered a general appearance before the trial court to contest an award of spousal support.  The trial court found respondent made a general appearance.


Decision on Appeal


Because the support order hearing had not been transcribed, the Court of Appeal found that respondent failed to meet his burden of proving that his appearance at the support hearing was not a general appearance.  In so holding, the Court of Appeal expressed serious concern about the impact of the trial court's policy not to provide court reporters:


         “As illustrated by this case, the absence of a verbatim record can preclude effective appellate review, cloaking           the trial court's actions in an impregnable presumption of correctness regardless of what may have actually               transpired. Such a regime can raise grave issues of due process as well as equal protection in light of its                   disparate impact on litigants with limited financial means.... [T]he right to effective appellate review... cannot           be permitted to depend entirely on the means of the parties."


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