FC section 271 - Attorney Fees as Sanctions

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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?

For the Most Recent Appellate Court Decision Discussing 271 Sanctions, Visit Us Here!


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.

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