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LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23978
Experience:  9+ years handling Legal, Real Estate, Criminal Law, Family Law, Traffic matters.
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Can a non-lawyer spouse, or the community property, be liable

Customer Question

Can a non-lawyer spouse, or the community property, be liable for sanction judgments against the lawyer spouse arising out of his litigation activities on behalf of clients?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.
Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help solve your problem.
What sanctions are being imposed against the attorney?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Monetary judgments for engaging in frivolous or groundless litigation.
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.
The attorney spouse is going to need to pay them. If they do not, then the Judge can take other actions, such as jail, to compel the payments, as a result of their actions. The spouse themselves would not be liable but if the court wants to have the attorney pay, they are essentially going to demand it or impose jail, to punish the attorney for what they did.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Your answer is worthless. You say the wife cannot be liable, but no citation of any authority. You say the attorney-spouse can be compelled to pay, without citation of authority and in the face of the fact that debtor prison was abolished eons ago in the U.S.
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.
This is not a debt owed to a collector. It is owed to the court as a result of conduct by the attorney that the Judge decided to sanction him on. Sanctions, can be monetary or jail, if needed, so this is not a debtor prison like you are referring to and both actions by the court are 100% legal.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This is not a debt owed to the Court; it is a Court Order to pay the attorney's fees of the other party(s) in the case.
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the clarification. Yes, if there is no basis to the litigation and it was frivolous, the Judge can order that attorney fees be paid. The reason for this is because the party should not have to have incurred the cost of defending the cause of action when there was no basis to bring it. In addition, I have provided the citation below, since that was never originally requested.
44-2083. Sanctions for abusive litigation
A. In any private action arising under this chapter, on final adjudication of the action, unless the parties stipulate otherwise, the court shall include in the record specific findings regarding compliance by each party and each attorney representing any party with each requirement of rule 11(b) of the Arizona rules of civil procedure or any applicable federal or other jurisdictional counterpart to the rules as to any complaint, responsive pleading or dispositive motion. If the federal or other jurisdictional rules of civil procedure do not have a counterpart to rule 11(b) of the Arizona rules of civil procedure, rule 11(b) of the Arizona rules of civil procedure applies.
B. If the court makes a finding under subsection A that a party or attorney violated any requirement of rule 11(b) of the Arizona rules of civil procedure or any federal or other jurisdictional counterpart to the rules as to any complaint, responsive pleading or dispositive motion, the court shall impose sanctions on that party or attorney in accordance with rule 11 of the Arizona rules of civil procedure or any federal or other jurisdictional counterpart to the rules. Before making a finding that any party or attorney has violated the applicable rules, the court shall give that party or attorney notice and an opportunity to respond.
C. Subject to subsections D and E, for the purposes of subsection B, the court shall adopt a presumption that the appropriate sanctions for:
1. Failure of any responsive pleading or dispositive motion to comply with any requirement of rule 11(b) of the Arizona rules of civil procedure or any applicable federal or other jurisdictional counterpart to the rules is an award to the opposing party of reasonable attorney fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation.
2. Substantial failure of any complaint to comply with any requirement of rule 11(b) of the Arizona rules of civil procedure or any federal or other jurisdictional counterpart to the rules is an award to the opposing party of reasonable attorney fees and other expenses incurred in the action.
D. The presumption prescribed in subsection C may be rebutted only on proof by the party or attorney against whom sanctions are to be imposed that either of the following applies:
1. The award of attorney fees and other expenses will impose an unreasonable burden on that party or attorney and would be unjust, and the failure to make an award would not impose a greater burden on the party in whose favor sanctions are to be imposed.
2. The violation of rule 11(b) of the Arizona rules of civil procedure or federal or other jurisdictional counterpart to the rules was de minimis.
E. If the party or attorney against whom sanctions are to be imposed meets the burden prescribed by subsection D, the court shall award the sanctions that the court deems appropriate pursuant to rule 11 of the Arizona rules of civil procedure or any applicable federal or other jurisdictional counterpart to the rules.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So far, what you have said I know -- but my question remains: is their any liability of the non-attorney spouse, and/or the community property, for any of the judgments against the attorney-spouse? If it would help to talk, call me at(###) ###-####
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.
In community property states, such as Arizona, a husband and wife are each equally responsible for paying each other’s debts as long as one of them acquired them during the marriage. As such, the spouse of the attorney could be liable and have the community property or money taken, to satisfy the court order.