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Mandatory Sanctions in an Arizona Family Law Case

Posted on : January 31, 2018, By:  Christopher Hildebrand
Mandatory Sanctions in an Arizona Family Law Case.

Mandatory Sanctions in an Arizona Family Law Case

The Arizona Court of appeals in the case of Grow vs. Grow addressed in a memorandum decision the issue of mandatory sanctions in an Arizona family law case. The trial court dismissed Jared Robert Grow (father)’s petition to enforce court-ordered child care but denied Jennifer Marie Grow (mother)’s request for sanctions. For the following reasons, we affirm the dismissal of father’s petition but impose a sanction against the father and his attorney.

Mother and father were divorced in 2010. They have two minor children together. The consent decree provided that “[t]he parties shall share the cost of unreimbursed . . . childcare . . . in proportion to his/her respective income as indicated on the child support worksheet.” In 2015, the court recalculated father’s child support obligation and filed a child support worksheet and order. The court ordered each party to pay their respective share of childcare directly to the provider. Under the 2015 worksheet, father’s share was seventy percent and mother’s share was thirty percent.

Mandatory Sanctions in an Arizona Family Law Case.

Mandatory Sanctions in an Arizona Family Law Case.

In April 2016, father filed a petition to enforce court-ordered child care/request for clarification asking the court to order mother to pay fifty percent of the children’s child care expenses because “[c]hild care is used equally by both parties during their parenting time . . . .” Mother filed a motion to dismiss the petition and request for sanctions seeking an award of her costs and document preparation fees. Father filed a response. He subsequently filed a motion to withdraw his petition with prejudice, stating that he did not wish to proceed with his petition. On the same day father filed his motion to withdraw, the trial court granted mother’s motion to dismiss without awarding sanctions.

The court found that there was “nothing vague” about the court’s 2015 order. The court also previously ordered the parties to pay their pro rata shares for daycare in 2012 and 2015. Based on the 2015 child support worksheet wherein father’s share was seventy percent and mother’s share was thirty. After the court dismissed father’s petition, the mother filed a motion for judgment on her request for sanctions seeking $3145.50. The trial court denied the motion. Mother timely appealed from the portion of the judgment that denied her request for sanctions.

Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
A Google User
A Google User
20:31 20 Sep 17
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
A Google User
A Google User
21:41 07 Nov 17
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
Google User
Google User
14:58 04 Oct 17
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
A Google User
A Google User
16:03 22 Nov 17
I was a client of Attorney Kevin Park for the dissolution of a divorce in 2016. And since I had never had the need to hire an attorney before for any purpose, I was somewhat apprehensive of the process. But the very calm and professional demeanor of Mr. Park eased my fears. He adeptly answered all my questions and I clearly knew the process and what to expect. And the skilled manner he communicated with opposing counsel was perfect. When it came down to negotiating with my spouse’s counsel, I knew I had selected the best attorney for my situation. What I noticed and appreciated was that he was using just the right amount of pressure with opposing counsel as was necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a seasoned professional like Mr. Park on your side. I'm very grateful that he was my attorney and not the opposition!
A Google User
A Google User
22:14 28 Jun 17
Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
A Google User
A Google User
18:16 18 Sep 17
Kevin Park of Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys was just what I needed for my divorce. He was very approachable and personable. He was quick to recognize what I needed and provided it quickly and efficiently. I hope to never need a divorce lawyer again, but if I know anyone else who does, I will definitely recommend Kevin.
A Google User
A Google User
19:22 23 Aug 17
I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
A Google User
A Google User
17:44 23 Jun 16
I retained Hildebrand Law after interview a number of firms in the valley. Working with Michael C. was incredibly easy and informative. My case progressed in such a organized and thought out way to ensure that my needs were met. Michael was incredibly proactive and was able to see far ahead into my case to steer clear of some roadblocks. I would not hesitate to recommend Michael Clancy, and Hildebrand Law in general, to anyone.
Bassam Ziadeh
Bassam Ziadeh
21:20 02 Apr 18
I have worked with Hildebrand law for about 8 years. They are always ready to serve, provide guidance and give you a few options. When they provide you options they also take the time to walk you through the pros and cons of each and give you a recommendation of what is best, but will listen to you and support whatever course you choose after making and educated choice. I’d recommend them to my closest friends and feel Chris Hildebrand is now a friend to me.
Larry Flint
Larry Flint
21:53 27 Feb 18
Despite the unfortunate situation I found myself in, Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law helped me maneuver every step with professionalism, expertise, and even a sensitivity that was an added bonus.Chris and his staff helped me even when I didn't know I needed the help. In other words. . . they made sure we did not leave anything undone. And in the rare instance we needed the expertise of another professional, Chris knew exactly who to recommend.Chris also knew, because of his experience, what to anticipate down the road of litigation. That meant we were better prepared to meet the challenges head on, which lead to a more equitable and fair outcome. I appreciated that Chris did his best to meet my every need in a timely fashion, even if I had a simple question that required only a phone call or e-mail or if we needed to talk face-to-face.I highly recommend Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law, PC.
Sam Franchimone
Sam Franchimone
22:09 12 Sep 13

Mother argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her request for sanctions. We review all aspects of a court’s decision related to sanctions under Arizona Rule of Family Law Procedure 31 for an abuse of discretion. See James, Cooke & Hobson, Inc. v. Lake Havasu Plumbing & Fire Prot., 177 Ariz. 316, 319 (App. 1993) (considering Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 11, on which Rule 31 is predicated, as stated in Ariz. R. Fam. LP. 31, Committee Comment). Mother argues that Arizona Rule of Family Law Procedure 31(A), Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 11, and Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 25-324 (2017) required the court to award sanctions in this case, in light of the court’s finding that there was nothing vague about the court’s order that father was to pay seventy percent of childcare costs and mother was to pay thirty percent.

Sanctions in a Family Law Case in Arizona.

Sanctions in a Family Law Case in Arizona.

Section 25-324(B)(2) directs, among other things, that if a court determines that a party filed a petition “not grounded in fact or based on law,” “the court shall award reasonable costs and attorney fees to the other party.” Similarly, Arizona Rule of Family Law Procedure 31 is violated when a party or attorney files a pleading or paper and knows or should have known after reasonable inquiry that the claim or defense is legally or factually groundless or when the paper filed is intended to cause delay, harassment, or some other improper purpose.

Father has failed to file an answering brief in this matter. “[A] failure to file an answering brief is equivalent to a confession of error by appellee.” Welch v. United Mut. Benefit Ass’n, 48 Ariz. 173 (1936) (citations omitted). Because the trial court did not award sanctions, we affirm the dismissal of father’s petition but modify the trial court’s order to impose a sanction against the father and his attorney in the amount of $1000. For the foregoing reasons, we affirm but modify the trial court’s order.

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Hildebrand Law, PC | Voted Best of Our Valley in Arizona Foothills Magazine.

Hildebrand Law, PC | Voted Best of Our Valley in Arizona Foothills Magazine.