California Family Law Attorney

THURMAN'S TIPS FOR WINNING OR DEFENDING AGAINST SANCTIONS AWARDS IN DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW CASES

Very few self-represented family law litigants, and even relatively few "expert" divorce and family law attorneys, realize that in pressing or resisting a claim for sanctions that they must comply with Cal. Rules of Court, 5.14.

They also don't understand the "meet and confer" process that is used to set up such claims, or - again - to oppose them. Please read Rule of Court, 5.98, and attempt to comply with it. You will note that rule 5.98 requires some authentic efforts to speak face to face or by phone; nasty or self-serving letters is NOT enough! Some folks who are overly myopic are afraid that the other side will back down if a serious effort to resolve the dispute is attempted, but keep in mind that is better for everyone if they done. Lying in wait to riff the other side is an unpleasant and uncertain endeavor. BTW, note the irony that a 5.14 sanctions' request is appropriate for a failure to do a rule 5.98 meet and confer (but of a guppy variety).

As a general proposition, knowing the family code statutes and rules of court that are relevant to sanction's requests are more useful for those who are resisting or opposing such claims. This is because these rules are an effective shield where the other party or attorney doesn't know they exist, if you can point out their failure to comply to the Court. It is essential that you cross the "t's" and dot the "i's" when you are drafting your moving or opposition sanction related papers, and that you demonstrate to the Court that you have done so. This demonstration may take the form of recounting in your moving or reply papers how you tried, oh so hard, to avoid having to bring all this nastiness to the Court for appropriate punishment (punishment can include a refusal to award sanctions, after-all), or if you want to surprise the other side, beginning with the presentation of your case in oral argument by describing the same good-faith efforts to avoid having to bother the judge with the whole thing.

In my experience, almost every time, if you specifically point out to the judge how the other side failed to follow the rules, the likelihood of you winning is much improved! So, in particular, know the applicable Rules of Court in advance and comply with them! And when you win, please come back and "Like" this page!

Here are some further thoughts on sanctions issues in Divorce~!


CALIFORNIA RULES OF COURT

Rule 5.14. Sanctions for violations of rules of court in family law cases
(a) Application
This sanctions rule applies to any action or proceeding brought under the Family Code.
(b) Definition
For purposes of the rules in this division:
(1) "Sanctions" means a monetary fine or penalty ordered by the court.

(2) "Person" means a party, a party's attorney, a law firm, a witness, or any other individual or entity whose consent is necessary for the disposition of the case.

(c) Sanctions imposed on a person

In addition to any other sanctions permitted by law, the court may order a person, after written notice and an opportunity to be heard, to pay reasonable monetary sanctions to the court or to an aggrieved person, or both, for failure without good cause to comply with the applicable rules. The sanction must not put an unreasonable financial burden on the person ordered to pay.
(d) Notice and procedure
Sanctions must not be imposed under this rule except on a request for order by the person seeking sanctions or on the court's own motion after the court has provided notice and an opportunity to be heard.

(1) A party's request for sanctions must:

(A) State the applicable rule of court that has been violated;
(B) Describe the specific conduct that is alleged to have violated the rule; and

(C) Identify the party, attorney, law firm, witness, or other person against whom sanctions are sought.

(2) The court on its own motion may issue an order to show cause that must:
(A) State the applicable rule of court that has been violated;
(B) Describe the specific conduct that appears to have violated the rule; and
(C) Direct the attorney, law firm, party, witness, or other person to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for violation of the rule.
(e) Award of expenses
In addition to the sanctions awardable under this rule, the court may order the person who has violated an applicable rule of court to pay to the party aggrieved by the violation that party's reasonable expenses, including reasonable attorney's fees and costs, incurred in connection with the motion or request for order for sanctions.
(f) Order
A court order awarding sanctions must be in writing and must recite in detail the conduct or circumstances justifying the order.