Court Rejects Suggestion That Fee Award and Sanction Cannot Be Made Against an Unemployed Person As “An Obviously Dangerous Rule”
After a family law judge found that a marriage nullification petition by wife was “not that close,” he ordered $5,000 in fees to be paid to husband under Family Code section 2255 (successfully defending against a claim of fraud) and an additional $10,000 of his fees as a sanction for wasteful litigation tactics under Family Code section 271.
Wife’s appeal of these awards was unsuccessful in Marriage of Aaronson and Oslica, Case No. A128516 (1st Dist., Div. 2 May 22, 2012) (unpublished).
Although wife claimed that she was unemployed and this alone dictated a reversal, the appellate court was unconvinced. Rather, the appellate record demonstrated that wife had much less fees to be paid to her attorney than husband as well as retirement funds she could tap into. It rebuffed the concept, based on no authority, that “as a matter of law, a fee award and sanction cannot be made against an unemployed individual,” something it characterized as “an obviously dangerous rule.” (Slip Opn., p. 7.)
Above: “Forgotten women”, unemployed and single, in job demand parade. 1933. Library of Congress.
Also, the appellate court soundly rejected the argument that the settlement privilege of Evidence Code section 1152 precluded consideration of settlement discussions for purposes of evaluating whether to impose a family law sanction under Family Code section 271.