Menezes v. McDaniel: Sanctions; Attorney Fees; Disentitlement Doctrine

Menezes v. McDaniel (Sanctions; Attorney Fees; Disentitlement Doctrine)

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District

Published Opinion, (2019) 44 Cal.App.5th 340

File Date:
Filed 1/15/2020

The wife was sanctioned $200,000 under Family Code section 271 for protracted litigation over the transfer of title to real property following a divorce. The wife challenged the sanctions on appeal, contending that the award of anticipated attorney fees was not property because the fees had not yet been incurred. The appellate court held that Family Code section 271 allows an award of prospective fees as a sanction and the estimated future fees were tethered to the wife’s misconduct. “The court’s inclusion of anticipated attorney fees and costs generated from Wife’s noncompliance would deter her from creating additional delays leading to new charges. This deterrence supports section 271’s stated goal of encouraging cooperation.” The husband wanted the appeal to be dismissed under the disentitlement doctrine because the wife surreptitiously recorded court proceedings, but the request was denied because the family court did not punish the violation.

Menezes v. McDaniel 1-15-20