Fee Award Directed Payment Of Money, So It Was Final For Appealability Purposes Even Though Order Said Future Adjustments Could Be Made.
In Marriage of Bustillo, Case No. G048816 (4th Dist., Div. 3 Dec. 15, 2014) (unpublished), husband appealed a $5,000 needs-based fee award to wife, entered in May 2012, directing payment of money by a specified deadline. However, he waited until August 2013 to appeal based on a July 2013 later order reinstating the May 2012 fee order in an attachment to the 2013 order.
Our local Santa Ana court, in a 3-0 decision authored by Justice Aronson, dismissed the appeal as untimely. The reason was that the May 2012 order was appealable at the time it was entered because it satisfied the collateral order doctrine by directing the payment of money. Even though the order said the court could “make adjustments,” this language simply recognized the family judge reserved authority to make further attorney’s fees orders. However, husband appealed way past the 180-day maximum appeal deadline (given no notice was given of the ruling by either side). Appeal dismissed, with the appellate court also denying wife’s request for appellate sanctions.