Paul and Jeanette got divorced in 1999. As part of their settlement certain properties were divided, and there were agreement to sell certain properties. Also, Paul was to pay spousal support to Jeanette. Subsequently Paul married Patricia, and he got behind in his spousal support payments to Jeanette. Paul also transferred certain properties that were part of his settlement with Jeannette to his new wife Patricia.
Jeanette joined Patricia (i.e., brought her in to the case as a party) in the family law case between her and Paul. Jeannette then sued Patricia alleging that the property transfers to her were fraudulent. Eventually the disputes were settled. Then Jeannette went after Patricia for attorney’s fees. The trial judge issued an order compelling Patricia to pay attorney’s fees to Jeanette. On appeal Patricia argued that the court did not have the ability to make the attorney’s fees award. She loses.
The Appellate Court held that when a third party is effectively brought into a family law proceeding; combined Jeannie’ need for an attorney’s fees award and Patricia’s ability to pay attorney’s fees, the family law court can make an attorney’s fees award against the third party.
Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.