A sanction in the form of an award of attorney's fees may be imposed for a party's frustration of settlement and for employing tactics that increase the cost of litigation.
In a recent case, IRMO Wahl vs. Perkins (2012), the parties divorced in 1999. In 2006, Wife filed a motion to modify the custodial orders in the judgment of dissolution. A child custody evaluator recommended that Husband be given custody of the children for at least a year.
In 2009, the parties and their attorneys stipulated to orders that Husband and Wife would have joint legal custody of the two children and Wife would have sole physical custody. A general visitation schedule was specified for Husband and provisions were made for him to have parenting time on specified holidays, school breaks, and summer vacation.
One day after the entry of the court's orders, Wife claimed they were "coerced and invalid." She refused to comply with court process and terminated agreements that she had previously made. Wife created various other confrontations and made a variety of demands, all to limit Husband's access to the children. She refused to take Husband's calls or respond to his messages. Wife thwarted Husband's effort to contact the children on their cell phones. She repeatedly announced her "rescission of the coerced, rushed, involuntary signature under severe duress".
Furthermore, Wife made many requests for relief in both state and federal courts in Pennsylvania that required Husband to employ counsel to resist the onslaught. After Wife was sanctioned in Pennsylvania for asking for the same relief three times, she filed a federal lawsuit against the judge. In February of 2010, while Husband was in flight from California for a visit with the children, Wife demanded $250,000 plus a $250,000 retainer. She also informed Husband, "No further week long visits will be permitted until this rescission is addressed, and prompt payment as outlined with repayment of any [and] all losses/costs and retainers is received.
The court may impose sanctions against one party in a child custody or dissolution action pursuant to Family Code (FC) § 271 (a) which provides that a sanction in the form of an award of attorney's fees and costs can be based upon the extent to which each party or attorney furthers or frustrates the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation and reduce the cost of litigation. The court must consider the parties' incomes, assets, and liabilities and find the sanction imposed is not an unreasonable financial burden.
It was clear from Wife’s conduct that she met the requirements for imposing a serious sanctions against her to not online restore Husband financially, but to discourage the above misconduct by the Wife.
If you have concerns as to how the other party is acting or postruring themselves in a Ca Family Law case and the need the assistance of an aggressive attorney ro assist you in determining whether sanctions are appropriate, please contact Covina attorney, Paul A. Eads today at (626) 524-8418.