In Pont v. Pont the family law court ordered the ex-wife to pay $90,000 in attorney fees and costs based on a complaint she filed in civil court.
In this case, the parties filed for a divorce and entered into a stipulated judgment. The stipulated judgment stated that none of the community assets had been transferred to the ex-husband’s new wife and that all property had been ascertained. Several years later, the ex-wife filed a complaint in civil court alleging fraud in that her ex-husband had in fact transferred money to his current wife.
The ex-husband filed a demurrer to the civil action alleging that the family court had jurisdiction to enforce the family law judgment, and the civil court dismissed the complaint. The ex-husband then filed a motion in family law court seeking attorney fees under the “prevailing party” clause of the parties’ stipulated judgment. The ex-wife argued that the “prevailing party” clause did not apply to civil courts. The ex-husband argued that the clause applied to the civil case, because the stipulated judgment said that the “prevailing party” clause applied to anything “in connection herewith”. The family law judge agreed with the ex-husband and ordered the ex-wife to pay her ex-husband’s attorney fees and costs in the amount of $90,000. The ex-wife appealed the order.
The appellate court affirmed the order. It defined prevailing as anyone who gains more than the other party or whose action is dismissed. The court also held that the attorney fee award of $90,000 was reasonable.
If you need legal advice and are looking for a family law lawyer in Orange County to address attorney fees in a dissolution or any other divorce matter such as legal separation, annulment, custody, child support, spousal support and/or property division, please consider Treviño Law in your divorce attorney search. We are located in Laguna Hills right off Lake Forest exit to both the 405 and 5 freeway.
Although the posting of this information can be considered free legal advice for a divorce in Orange County, it does not guarantee that there are other facts which may play a significant part in a dissolution. Circumstances in a divorce case may alter the required action and analysis taken by a family law attorney in California.
Please note that this legal advice does not establish a family law attorney-client relationship. This is a legal advertisement for Treviño Law, Inc.