Monday, December 07, 2015

In Re Marriage of Smith (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 20, 2015)

This is an ugly divorce.  Made slightly less ugly by the equitable (and eminently correct) decisions of the trial court and Court of Appeal.  But ugly nonetheless.  A taste:

"The marriage of Mark and Kierstin was dissolved in 2002, but they have remained engaged in litigation regarding child custody and support, which has expanded to involve Cindy, who is Mark‟s current wife. . . . The trial court heard argument regarding attorney fees and sanctions on July 3, 2013. On November 4, 2013, it filed its order, making findings of fact and awarding $124,352 to Cindy, and $151,967, minus a specified offset, to Mark. . . .

The trial court‟s findings of fact included the observations that “[Kierstin] and her counsels‟ zealous advocacy crossed the line and became unreasonable, unduly burdensome and at times an exercise in bad faith. [¶] The court finds that the underlying case was not complicated but was made complicated by the overzealous litigation on [Kierstin‟s] counsels‟ part and [Kierstin‟s] complete abandonment of the litigation process.” The trial court described the proceedings as a “morass of litigation, the primary purpose of which was to ruin [Cindy and Mark] financially.”

The trial court further found Kierstin to have “no concern about the level of her attorney fees because her father [Robert Hemborg] was committed to paying those fees and costs whatever the amount.” 3 The trial court noted that “Robert Hemborg testified at trial that [Kierstin] was due to inherit six (6) million dollars upon his death,” and found that the amounts given to Kierstin for her fees and costs were “a loan against [Kierstin‟s] inheritance” . . . . The trial court further described Mr. Hemborg as testifying that “he intended on paying all of [Kierstin‟s] prospective fees that she incurred for her attorneys as well as any attorney fees and/or sanctions that may be ordered against her regardless of the amount,” as well as any fees and costs on appeal. In contrast, the trial court described Mark and Cindy as having “no savings or other liquidity that would enable them to finance the litigation on the same level as [Kierstin],” and observed that they “were forced to use credit cards to finance their attorney fees and costs.”

[Footnote]:  The trial court found Kierstin‟s attorneys had already been paid $322,653.39, and were owed another $19,975.50, as of July 3, 2013. In comparison, as of that date Mark had paid $123,257.65 to his attorneys, and owed another $103,559.30. As of June 20, 2013, Cindy had paid $54,009.06 to her attorneys, and owed another $122,660.34."

What a waste.