TIPS FOR ENSURING ACCURATE INCOME REPORTING FOR CHILD AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Family Code Section 3667:
Attorney Fee Sanctions When A Spouse Or Parent Misrepresents Income
Family Code section 3667 is a little known California Family Code statute that empowers courts
to award attorney fees, and other costs, as sanctions where a party to
a family law proceeding failed to honestly report their income and later
gets caught - by you. It applies to spousal and child support awards in
divorce cases, but equally to child support awards where the parties were
not married - as with paternity cases.
An interesting point about this particular statute is that it is similar
to what lawyers term "private attorney general" enforcement
action remedies. That concept generally involves "whistle-blowers"
getting reimbursed for the costs of uncovering fraud that costs the public
money. This family code section is unusual in the sense that it specifically
includes recovery for non-lawyer fees, like those that are incurred when
someone has so thoroughly lied that a much deeper investigation is required
in order to ferret out the true financial picture - for instance, it mentions
recovering costs for "deposition and subpoenas". I can't
think of any other family code section that does that. Be sure to detail
those expenses in your declaration for attorney fees, and specify how they
Note that this section does not apply to initial support applications.
Instead, it covers situations where a party is seeking to modify earlier
orders (either child or spousal support) or to terminate them (only spousal
support can be terminated).
Be sure to use this section together with a citation to
Family Code section 271, which judges are much more familiar with. Reference to this statute will
be the icing on the cake for judges that have never heard of it, as it
will show how smart you are! (Tell the bad guys Thurman sent you!)
Want to learn about sanctions motions in divorce and support cases?
CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE
FAM. CODE Section 3667
Upon the subsequent filing of a motion for modification or termination
of the support order by the requesting party, if the court finds that
the income and expense declaration submitted by the responding party pursuant
to this article was incomplete, inaccurate, or missing the prior year's
federal and state personal income tax returns, or that the declaration
was not submitted in good faith, the court may order sanctions against
the responding party in the form of payment of all costs of the motion,
including the filing fee and the costs of the depositions and subpoenas
necessary to be utilized in order to obtain complete and accurate information.
This section is applicable regardless of whether a party has utilized
subdivision (b) of Section 3664.