Family Code § 271 Sanctions: Court Must Consider Parties Incomes, Assets and Liabilities and Comparative Wealth - Court Should Consider Effect of Wealth Disparities on Litigation

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  • 8/9/2019 Family Code § 271 Sanctions: Court Must Consider Parties Incomes, Assets and Liabilities and Comparative Wealth - Court Should Consider Effect of Wealth Disparities on Litigation Behavior

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    Cal. Prac. Guide Family L. Ch. 14-A

    California Practice Guide: Family Law

    Judge William P. Hogoboom (Ret.), Justice Donald B. King (Ret.), Contributing Authors: Judge Kenneth A. Black (Ret.), Judge Thomas Trent Lewis, Michael Asimow, Bruce E. Cooperman

    Chapter 14. Attorney Fees, Costs And Sanctions

     A. Fees And Costs Awards

    h. Amount of sanction

    (1) [14:245] Not limited to consequential expenses: Fam.C. § 271, unlike other sanctions statutes (e.g., CCP § 128.7, ¶ 14:89), does not require a direct correlation between the amount of the sanction imposed and expenses

    incurred in resisting the sanctionable conduct. Thus, potentially greater sanctions are awardable under Fam.C. § 271. [ Marriage of Corona (2009) 172 CA4th 1205, 1226–1227, 92 CR3d 17, 35; see Marriage of Falcone & Fyke  (2012) 203 CA4th 964, 138 CR3d 44 —“it is of no moment” that some portion of § 271 sanctions can be “pigeon-

    holed” outside actual costs incurred by moving party in resisting sanctionable conduct]

    Moreover, under appropriate circumstances, the family court may impose § 271 sanctions for attorney fees incurred in a different  case. [See Burkle v. Burkle (2006) 144 CA4th 387, 400, 403, 50 CR3d 436, 445, 448, fn. 7] 

    (a) [14:245.1] Compensation for all consequential fees/costs not required:  By the same token, there is no

    “minimum” limit on a § 271 sanctions assessment. Thus, nothing in the statute requires that the sanction imposed

    compensate for all fees and costs expended as a result of the sanctionable conduct. [ Marriage of Battenburg  (1994) 28 CA4th 1338, 1345–1346, 33 CR2d 871, 875] 

  • 8/9/2019 Family Code § 271 Sanctions: Court Must Consider Parties Incomes, Assets and Liabilities and Comparative Wealth - Court Should Consider Effect of Wealth Disparities on Litigation Behavior

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    (b) [14:248] Distinguish—“comparative wealth” irrelevant to propriety  of sanction award:  “Comparative

    wealth” bears only on the amount   of the § 271  sanctions assessment. Unlike § 2030  need-based awards, the  parties’ “relative circumstances” are irrelevant   to the determination of whether   to make the award. [Fam.C. § 271(a) —applicant spouse need not demonstrate financial need]

    [14:249] Reserved .

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