Can a parties’ attorney be liable for attorney’s fees in a California dissolution of marriage/paternity action?

This was the very finding in the case of Marriage of Anka & Yeager (2/5/19). The Court in this case held that an attorney, in certain circumstances, can be liable for the imposition of attorney’s fees imposed by the Court. The attorney, in this case, “for disclosed information contained in a confidential child custody evaluation report” in violation of Family Code §3025.5 and FC §3111. The Court went on to say that an attorney, “besides being an advocate to advance the interest of the client, ....is also an officer of the court,” the Court affirmed an order for $50,000 in sanctions against an attorney. The trial court found the disclosures were made maliciously, recklessly, without substantial justification, and were not in the best interest of the child. The court ordered Anna and Meyer to pay jointly and severally a fine of $50,000. The court found that the fine was large enough to deter repetition of the conduct; and that in absence of evidence to the contrary, the fine would not impose an unreasonable financial burden on the parties.

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