Fraud Blocker

California Family Code 1101

California Family Codes
California Family Code 1101

California Family Code 1101 Attorney

California Family Code Section 1101 outlines the fiduciary duties that spouses owe to each other and how to handle a breach of fiduciary duty in court.

Fiduciary duty commonly refers to the responsibilities that business partners have to each other or the responsibilities of professionals, like trustees and attorneys. Fiduciary duty also refers to the responsibilities that spouses owe each other.

Similar to business partnerships, fiduciary duty in a marriage is the duty of each party to handle marital finances and assets with good faith and integrity. If a spouse were to take unfair advantage of the other, or misuse marital assets for their own gain, this would be a breach of fiduciary duty. The spouse who was a victim of this breach can file a claim for damages.

Understanding Spousal Fiduciary Duty

Section 1101 of the Family Code refers to claims filed when community property is mismanaged, impacting a spouse’s unclaimed half of community property. Community property includes any assets that a couple obtains during their marriage. Both spouses have an equal claim to community property in California. Separate property is any assets a spouse gained prior to marriage or after legal separation has been finalized.

Spousal fiduciary duty includes responsibilities such as:

  • Not taking advantage of the other financially
  • Disclosing financial information to each other
  • Allowing access to all books and records
  • Sharing control of community property
  • Preventing the sale of community property without the spouse’s consent

A spouse can breach fiduciary duty through one or more transactions. If the action harms the other spouse’s portion of community property, that spouse can file a claim.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty for Spouses

A breach of fiduciary duty may include actions such as:

  • Omitting an asset during mandatory financial disclosure
  • Changing an asset from separate to community property, or community to separate property, without a spouse’s knowledge or consent
  • Embezzling business funds as separate property
  • Using marital assets instead of separate assets to pay off separate debts
  • Mismanagement of community assets
  • Actions made with community assets without both spouses’ consent

A breach of spousal fiduciary duty can be very serious.

Court Penalties for Breach of Duty

Even an accidental breach of spousal fiduciary duty is taken very seriously by the court. The court may order penalties such as:

  • Enforce a mandatory disclosure and accounting of separate and community assets by both spouses, even if the disclosure process has already happened.
  • Community assets can be retitled to include the name of the spouse making the claim.
  • One or more separate assets that belong to the breaching spouse can become community property.
  • Award 50% of the value of an asset that was used in the breach of duty to the claimant spouse. This 50% is determined by the highest value lost during the breach of duty.
  • The violating spouse’s consent is no longer required for actions taken with community property.
  • Award the claimant spouse’s attorney and court costs, paid by the violating spouse.

Penalties are significantly more serious when a breach of spousal fiduciary duty is done on purpose. This is when the court determines that fraud, malice, or oppression were used to commit the breach of duty. Then, the penalties are:

  • It is mandatory that the violating spouse cover the claimant spouse’s attorney and court costs.
  • The court awards 100% of any asset used in the breach of duty to the claimant spouse, transferring it to their separate property.

The claimant spouse can also gain additional compensation from their spouse. Talk with a family law attorney to determine the different legal routes open to you if you have been a victim of a breach of spousal fiduciary duty.

Impact of Divorce on Fiduciary Duty

Some couples wrongly assume that fiduciary duties end when they separate. Not only does spousal fiduciary duty carry on throughout the divorce process, but it can also continue past the date of a finalized divorce. The duty continues as long as all assets and liabilities are distributed between spouses.

During the process of divorce, spouses have a duty to provide complete and truthful information about their finances. Even when divorce is finalized, fiduciary duty may still apply. This is true until each spouse has individual control over their own awarded property.


Q: What Is the Family Code 1101 Sanction?

A: California’s Family Code Section 1101 lists the penalties for breaching spousal fiduciary duty. A spouse who has been a victim of a breach may be awarded 50%, or an equal amount, of any asset that was used to commit the breach. This percent is calculated based on the asset’s greatest value when it was being used to breach fiduciary duty. If the breach was done intentionally, the court will award the spouse 100% of the asset, as well as attorney and court fees.

Q: What Is a Breach of Fiduciary Duty to a Spouse in California?

A: A breach of fiduciary duty to a spouse refers to taking advantage of, or failing to disclose, financial information and resources belonging to both spouses. This includes during marriage and during the divorce process. A spouse who uses community assets without their spouse’s consent is breaching their fiduciary duty. Using community assets to pay off separate debt instead of using available separate assets is also a breach.

Q: How Do I Prove Breach of Fiduciary Duty in California?

A: For any breach of fiduciary duty claim, the following must be true:

  1. One party owed the claimant party a fiduciary duty.
  2. That party breached their fiduciary duty.
  3. The claimant suffered damages, which were the result of the breach of duty.

In a marital breach of duty, spouses must have been married or not legally separated, and the claimant spouse’s unclaimed half of marital assets was harmed.

Q: What Is Negligent Fiduciary Duty?

A: Fiduciary negligence refers to a non-action that fails to fulfill a person’s obligations and responsibilities under their fiduciary duty. A breach of duty is a direct action, accidental or purposeful, that harms the party they have a duty to. Fiduciary negligence is the failure to take an action that would prevent harm to the other party.

Legal Representation for Fiduciary Duty

Our attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can protect your interests if your spouse has breached fiduciary duty. We have more than 40 years of experience in family courts. We can help you determine if filing a claim against your spouse is the right choice for you. Our firm can also explain how California laws apply to your situation. Contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, today.

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