The Family Code provides that the court has the discretion to order one party to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees in a contested divorce proceeding to ensure that each party has access to adequate representation. However, attorney’s fees can also be awarded to sanction a party pursuant to sections 271 and 2107, subdivision (c). In a recent decision, http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/F057696.PDF, the Court of Appeals awarded attorney’s fees to the wife after finding that the husband’s ” dilatory and uncooperative conduct has frustrated the policy of promoting settlement of litigation and cooperation among litigants” and that the husband’s conduct breached his fiduciary duties to the wife. What exactly did the husband do? Well, he continuously failed to fully disclose his assets and falsely asserted that a premarital agreement existed between the parties. Further, the husband failed to cooperate in the discovery process thereby forcing the wife to bring various motions to compel.
The court emphasized in its order that “[s]omewhere along the line, litigation must cease.” The lesson here is clear. If you are going to be uncooperative and engage in conduct that will increase the cost of litigation, be prepared to pay for the costs and fees incurred by the other party as a result of your gamesmanship.
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