Foreign Court Order Ruled Unenforceable: Court Nullifies Award of Attorneys Fees

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In the litigation captioned In Re the Marriage of Natalija and Nikolai Solomon Lyustiger, 2009 DJDAR 14245 (2009) the Third District Court of Appeal decided an action based on the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act (Act).

Natalija Lyustiger (Wife) sought to enforce two orders of a British domestic relations court requiring Nikolai Solomon Lyustiger (Husband) to pay a total of 50,000 pounds for Wife’s attorney fees arising from dissolution proceedings. After trial, the California trial court (Yolo County) determined that enforcement of the British orders was proper under the Act and entered judgment accordingly.

On appeal the Third District reversed the lower court’s ruling noting that the Act specifically excludes from its scope the enforcement of “support in matrimonial or family matters.” Moreover the Act contains a broad definition of “support.” The court stated that the award of fees was for purposes of the Act, in the nature of “support;” therefore, the trial court erred by enforcing the award of attorney fees.

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