Judges have the power to impose financial sanctions on litigants and their attorneys for clear, excessive and frivolous abuse of the legal system. Claims that are without any possible merit, that cannot be supported by any reasonable argument or that are undertaken principally for delay or to harass a person may lead to costs or sanctions. A Westchester Judge issued a $60,000 fine against a former wife who insisted upon continuing meritless, baseless litigation even though the contested divorce had been settled over seven years ago.
The ex-wife, representing herself, sued 23 people including her ex-husband, her children, her former in-laws, former attorneys and others claiming that they had all in various ways wronged her to the tune of Thirty Million Dollars. She admitted that she "discovered" some of her information upon which she based her fraud claim by rummaging through her ex-husband's garbage cans that were left outside his residence. The court reviewed the 81 page complaint which came even after prior attempts by the ex-wife to set aside the settlement agreement and divorce judgment failed.
The Judge stated that even though she had received a considerable divorce monetary settlement, it was likely that she would continue to litigate into the "forseeable future" that a decision to issue sanctions and attorney's fees to the ex-husband would perhaps send a clear message and hopefully deter future litigation.
While many people who are in the midst of a divorce may think that the court should sanction their spouse, it usually takes very clear, frivolous, meritless conduct to so infuriate a judge to issue sanctions. Suing 23 people after repeated failures and making the courts utilize limited resources for a claim that was without any merit apparently was enough.
Retaining excellent legal counsel and being guided by the advice given during the divorce will help lead to a fair resolution. Therefore, there will be no need to seek to return to court to renegotiate the settlement and to continue to litigate years after the divorce is finished.