THURMAN'S TIPS FOR "DIVORCE RELATED SANCTIONS" APPLICATIONS
Family Code section 271 is possibly the one California Family Code statute
that gives family court judges the power to reign in out of control litigants
- and more importantly - their lawyers through awards of attorney's
fees and costs. It is my favorite statute. Its stated purpose is to enable
judges to sanction conduct that increases the costs of litigation through
uncooperative tactics which otherwise extends the misery of (frequently,
but not always) of the less monied spouse or non-marital family law litigant.
The poster-child case for illustrating and outlining abusive attorney misconduct is the
Marriage of Davenport decision. It is a fascinating case, and you will likely enjoy reading my Blog.
Want to read more about attorney fee issues in California divorce and family law?
CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE
Family Code section 271
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, the court may base
an award of attorney's fees and costs on the extent to which the conduct
of each party or attorney furthers or frustrates the policy of the law
to promote settlement of litigation and, where possible, to reduce the
cost of litigation by encouraging cooperation between the parties and
attorneys. An award of attorney's fees and costs pursuant to this
section is in the nature of a sanction. In making an award pursuant to
this section, the court shall take into consideration all evidence concerning
the parties' incomes, assets, and liabilities. The court shall not
impose a sanction pursuant to this section that imposes an unreasonable
financial burden on the party against whom the sanction is imposed. In
order to obtain an award under this section, the party requesting an award
of attorney's fees and costs is not required to demonstrate any financial
need for the award.
(b) An award of attorney's fees and costs as a sanction pursuant to
this section shall be imposed only after notice to the party against whom
the sanction is proposed to be imposed and opportunity for that party
to be heard.
(c) An award of attorney's fees and costs as a sanction pursuant to
this section is payable only from the property or income of the party
against whom the sanction is imposed, except that the award may be against
the sanctioned party's share of the community property.