Appellate Frivolous Sanctions Also Awarded Against Appellant/Her Counsel.
Marriage of Wahl and Perkins, Case No. H035712 (6th Dist. Feb. 2, 2012) (certified for publication) is a situation where an ex-wife was ordered to pay $552,153.28 as a fee “sanctions” to ex-husband under Family Code section 271. (For any newbees or anyone who might need reminding, this is a statutory section in the family law area allowing an award of fees against a litigant--without any real showing of injury but indicating that the litigant can financially bear the award--for not furthering settlement or making the matter more litigious in nature.) It is an interesting opinion to show how the abuse of discretion standard will result in affirmance, as well as show how appellate courts may be pulling the “trigger” more often on frivolous appeals--awarding expenses to the clerk of the court for the costs of processing such appeals.
Based on the record, ex-wife had assets of $7 million, $5 million of which were accessible. So, she certainly could bear the consequences of a loss given the facts recited in the opinion--including numerous custody/visitation battles both in California and Pennsylvania. However, the real ouch was ex-wife who had to pay $15,000 to the clerk for a frivolous appeal and her two attorneys had to pay $5,000 each for the same reason.