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California Family Code section 271 sanctions

A request for California Family Code section 271 sanctions is the topic of this blog post. An award of sanctions under Family Code section 271 may be requested in any dissolution (divorce), legal separation, nullity or paternity action in California.

Section 271 sanctions can be requested whenever the opposing party has breached their fiduciary duty or their conduct and whenever the opposing party and/or their attorney has frustrated any expeditious settlement of the case and caused the moving party to have to incur additional costs and attorney’s fees as a result of the obstreperous conduct.

Used in the right situations section 271 sanctions can be a very powerful lever to convince the opposing party to disclose all known assets and obligations and to convince the opposing party and/or their attorney to cease and desist from unreasonable conduct that cannot be justified and that frustrates any reasonable settlement.

Family Code § 271 states that,

“(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, the court may base an award of attorney’s fees and costs on the extent to which the conduct of each party or attorney furthers or frustrates the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation and, where possible, to reduce the cost of litigation by encouraging cooperation between the parties and attorneys. An award of attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to this section is in the nature of a sanction. In making an award pursuant to this section, the court shall take into consideration all evidence concerning the parties’ incomes, assets, and liabilities. The court shall not impose a sanction pursuant to this section that imposes an unreasonable financial burden on the party against whom the sanction is imposed. In order to obtain an award under this section, the party requesting an award of attorney’s fees and costs is not required to demonstrate any financial need for the award.

(b) An award of attorney’s fees and costs as a sanction pursuant to this section shall be imposed only after notice to the party against whom the sanction is proposed to be imposed and opportunity for that party to be heard.

(c) An award of attorney’s fees and costs as a sanction pursuant to this section is payable only from the property or income of the party against whom the sanction is imposed, except that the award may be against the sanctioned party’s share of the community property.”

The public policy in California strongly favors settlement as the primary means of resolving legal disputes and one California Court of Appeal has stated that settlement is particularly favored in divorce litigation where it is clearly in the best interests of both parties to reach an expeditious and final resolution of their disputes.

A California Court of Appeal decision recently stated that an award of sanctions under section 271 does not require any actual injury to be shown and that no direct relationship between the expenses of the moving party and the amount of the sanctions requested or awarded needs to be shown.

Another recent California Court of Appeal recently stated that egregious conduct is not required to warrant imposing sanctions under section 271.

There is no specific statutory requirement in section 271 for the form of notice to be provided although one California Court of Appeal has stated that the other party must be provided with notice and an opportunity to be heard.

One California Court of Appeal case recently stated that there is a requirement of a “minimum level of professionalism and cooperation” in family law matters under Family Code § 271.

And a party may have to pay for the conduct of their attorney as case law has stated that even if that person’s attorney causes the excessive fees that conduct is attributable to the party in a divorce or paternity case.

And there is no statutory requirement that sanctions be awarded at any particular state of the litigation. In other words a party is not required to wait until the end of the litigation to seek sanctions.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like to view a portion of a sample 15 motion for Family Code section 271 sanctions containing brief instructions, a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority and sample declaration sold by the author can see below.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like more information on a California divorce litigation document package containing over 45 sample documents including a sample motion for sanctions under Family Code section 271 can use the link shown below.

California divorce litigation document package

To view over 300 sample legal documents created by the author of this blog post visit: http://www.scribd.com/LegalDocsPro

The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is an entrepreneur and freelance paralegal that has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation.

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://www.legaldocspro.net/newsletter.htm for more information.

Follow the author on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/LegalDocsPro

You can view sample legal document packages for sale by visiting http://www.legaldocspro.net

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

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