Plenty of Blame To Go Around On All Sides, Appellate Court Agreed in Sustaining Trial Court Perspective.
Husband in Marriage of Sun, Case No. A128964 (1st Dist., Div. 2 Sept. 11, 2012) (unpublished) appealed, among other things, a trial judge’s determination that neither side was worthy of an attorney’s fees award, even though he prevailed on two of eleven issues.
The trial court found that both sides had expended about $250,000 in fees (husband--about $95,000; wife--about $155,000) in fighting over funds worth at most $425,000. (Ouch!) He found “[t]here is enough blame to go around on all sides.” Because the parties were sharing equity in their house about equally, and were somewhat on parity on the fee score, the trial judge found it unreasonable to award fees to either side.
The appellate court agreed with the lower court’s assessment, chastising husband for cherry-picking a couple of points but ignoring the entire picture. The trial judge’s summit conclusion to deny fees was found to be no abuse of discretion, if not a very pragmatic result given what occurred during the progress of the dissolution proceeding.