Wife Also Found in Contempt of Court Orders and Sanctioned $10,000.00 Additionally!
Following protracted postjudgment litigation over the transfer of title of real property from Natache Goncalves Menezes (Wife) to Tim McDaniel (Husband), the court issued $200,000 in sanctions against Wife, pursuant to Family Code,section 271.
Wife challenges the sanctions, contending they improperly include anticipated attorney fees and costs, and the amount is not supported by substantial evidence showing they are tethered to attorney fees and costs.
Imposing sanctions under section 271 is within the discretion of the trial court. (In re Marriage of Feldman (2007) 153 Cal.App.4th 1470, 1478 (Feldman).) The The Callifornia Court of Appeal reverse the award on appeal “only on a showing of abuse of that discretion, that is ‘only if, considering all of the evidence viewed more favorably in its support and indulging all reasonable inferences in its favor, no judge could reasonably make the order.’ ” (In re Marriage of Davenport (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 1507, 1524.) The Callifornia Court of Appeal review findings of fact forming the basis of a sanctions award for substantial evidence. (In re Marriage of Corona (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 1205, 1226 (Corona).) ” ‘The trial court’s order will be upheld on appeal unless the reviewing court, “considering all of the evidence viewed most favorably in its support and indulging all reasonable inferences in its favor, no judge could reasonably make the order.” [Citation.]’ ” (Sagonowsky v. Kekoa (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 1142, 1152 (Sagonowsky).)
There is nothing in the statute that requires the attorney fees and costs to have been incurred or charged at the time of the award. Section 271 does not use past tense; it does not reference the timing of the attorney fees and costs at all. The explicitly stated purpose of section 271 is ” ‘to promote settlement and to encourage cooperation which will reduce the cost of litigation.’ [Citation.]” (In re Marriage of Petropoulos (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 161, 177 (Petropoulos); § 271.) ” ‘Thus, a party who individually, or by counsel, engages in conduct frustrating or obstructing the public policy is thereby exposed to liability for the adverse party’s costs and attorney fees such conduct generates.’ [Citation.]” (In re Marriage of Tharp (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1295, 1319.) This includes anticipated expenses that result from the offending individual’s behavior.
The California Court of Appeal concluded the superior court did not abuse its discretion by awarding the sanctions, including the anticipated fees and costs. However, The California Court of Appeal remanded the matter for review to ensure that the bases for the $200,000 award include only expenses tethered to attorney fees and costs.
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