In a divorce both sides are required to disclose their income and assets so that everything is on the table and can be divided between the parties. In relationships where the husband earns a lot more money than the wife, the husband is usually the only one who has access to information about his income and assets, especially when the wife doesn’t work. This makes disclosures all the more important because without it the Court has no idea how to proceed.
This is the type of situation we see in the case of “In Re Marriage of Hofer”. It is unclear exactly how much John Hofer makes in this case but he is doing quite well considering he was able to keep current on payments of over $300,000 of attorneys fees for his own attorney. Lisa Hofer sent her husband a number of requests for financial information through formal discovery but he refused to provide that information, claiming that the companies won’t allow him to do so.
The Court appointed a discovery referee to deal with Lisa’s motions seeking to force John to respond to her discovery requests. The referee ruled in favor of Lisa and recommended that John be sanctioned for his refusal to answer discovery. The Court accepted the recommendation of the referee and imposed sanctions. Lisa then filed a motion with the Court asking for attorneys fees based on California Family Code Section 2030(a)(1), which allows attorneys fees to be granted to ensure that the party with less money can receive the help of an attorney.
The Judge ordered John to pay $200,000 in attorneys fees to pay for Lisa’s attorney. John appealed, claiming that there was not enough evidence about his income for the Court to make such an order. The Court of Appeal dismissed John’s appeal as punishment for John’s failure to comply with multiple court orders to respond to discovery. The Court of Appeal also said that even if they weren’t dismissing the appeal, they would have approved the Court’s sanctions because John clearly had enough money to pay his own substantial fees.
The Court of Appeal also noted that John could have provided his financial information to the Court if he was that worried about the sanctions taking into account his available income.
This case is another example of the astronomically high fees that you may face if you decide to play hard-ball in your divorce. I can only wonder if John’s attorney will continue to get his fees on time now that his appeal has been dismissed. Maybe he will finally try to work things out.
If you want an attorney who will help you focus on ways to work through disagreements with your spouse and try to keep fees low, contact Paul D. McGuire at the Law Office of Paul D. McGuire. Call (858) 242-5667 today to schedule a free consultation.