California Family Law Attorney


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?


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.