Seeking Sanctions Against Your Spouse in Divorce Cases
In California, it is possible for you to seek sanctions against your spouse. You can evoke Family Code section 271 to make such a request. Requests made on the basis of Family Code section 271 are not considered as ‘need-based’ attorney’s fees by the court, but as sanctions for improper conduct in the case. You can use Family Code section 271 only if you can prove that your spouse has violated the mandates of the code section.
Mandates of Family Code section 271
Family Code section 271 states that the California family court has the right to grant sanctions against a party if one of the spouses or their attorney has intentionally tried to hinder or delay the proceedings of the divorce. The court will also try and encourage the attorneys and the parties to promote cooperation and faster settlement of disputes.
Simply put, Family Code section 271 allows California family courts to penalize certain behavior. If a spouse or the attorney tries to cause unnecessary delay and drive up the litigation costs, the accused spouse will have to pay the attorney fees of the innocent spouse. Attorney fee orders under Section 271 are in the form of a sanction.
Depending on the situation of violation of the Family Code, the court may ask the guilty spouse to pay either full or a part of the innocent spouse’s attorney fees. It also depends on the spouses financial abilities to pay. If it appears that the guilty spouse will find it difficult to meet the ruling of the court, the court will ask for a reasonable amount to be paid to the affected spouse. Even though the court is punishing the violator of a mandate, it would still want the circumstances to be fair and practical to both the parties.
Sanctions against the spouse’s lawyer
Yes it is possible to request for attorney fees against your spouse’s lawyer. Though this is a rarity, there have been instances when such demands have been made. Sometimes it may happen that your spouse’s lawyer will file numerous completely unnecessary documents or useless motions with the court that have no relation with your divorce case.
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