Breach of Fiduciary Duty by Spouse Results in Fee Award

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The Second District California Court of Appeal reversed the ruling of the trial court concerning a fee award in a case captioned, In re Marriage of Fossum, 2011 DJDAR 1692 (2011).

In 1994, Edward and Sandra Fossum were married, but agreed to a separation in 2002. Divorce proceedings commenced in early 2003. Prior to their separation, Sandra misappropriated $24,000 in community property assets and deposited it in her personal bank account. She did not disclose that fact to her former husband.

Based on the surreptitious cash advance taken by Sandra, the trial court found that she violated her statutory fiduciary duties set forth in Family Code Section 721. However, the court ruled her violation did not rise to the level of an award of attorney fees as sanctions. She was ordered to reimburse half the sums which had been misappropriated. The court denied the separate request for attorney fees.

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