Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, September 19, 2022


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Order to Pay Ex-Spouses’ Attorney Fees May Be Based on Loans Previously Received—C.A.


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Court of Appeal for this district on Friday affirmed an order that a man pay $400,000 to one ex-wife and $60,000 to another cover attorney fees incurred in their actions against him to obtain domestic violence restraining orders, rejecting his contention that income was improperly imputed to him based on past loans and gifts from his parents which were being cut off.

In an unpublished opinion for Div. Three, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge contention Rashida A. Adams, sitting on assignment, said “that the court’s reliance on past financial contributions” from the parents “was not inappropriate and that substantial evidence supports the court’s award of fees.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark A. Juhas ordered Michael Regalbuto to make the payment pursuant to Family Code §271(a). It provides that “the court may base an award of attorney’s fees and costs on the extent to which the conduct of each party or attorney furthers or frustrates the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation and, where possible, to reduce the cost of litigation by encouraging cooperation between the parties and attorneys.”

Adams’s opinion rejects Regalbuto’s contention of appellant erred in ordering him to make the payments based on loans from his parents is improper because they have no obligation to pay attorney fees incurred by his past wives. The visiting jurist said that “the purported loans were relevant ‘evidence concerning the parties’ incomes, assets, and liabilities’,” under §271(a).

She said that the case “involves regular and substantial infusions of cash from Michael’s parents” and that “substantial evidence supports the conclusion that Michael’s parents have contributed significant sums” toward his attorney fees.”

Adams said that “we presume” Juhas “viewed the loans either as gifts” or as obligations that were “unlikely to be enforced.”

The case is Marriage of Regalbuto, B310897.


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