Penalties for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

When two people marry, they enter into a financial relationship in which each spouse owes a fiduciary duty to the other to protect and preserve the assets of the marriage and not to dispose of them without the consent of the other. In the event of a divorce, it is not uncommon for the spouse who has the greater control of marital assets to take some kind of action to retain more assets than he or she is entitled to. Under the California Family Code, when this occurs, the injured spouse has a claim against the other for breach of fiduciary duty if it results in impairment of that spouse’s fifty percent interest in the community property of the marriage. This is frequently an issue in high-asset divorces.

What the California Family Code Says

The court has the option of ordering a full accounting and classification of the property of the parties to the marriage.

If the breach was unintentional, the penalty will include but not be limited to fifty percent of the asset’s value added to the claimant spouse’s community property, plus attorney fees and court costs. However, if it can be shown to have been an intentional attempt to reduce the other spouse’s fair share, the penalty will include but not be limited to an award of one hundred percent of the value of the asset, plus court costs and attorney fees.

Identify the Breach of Fiduciary with the Help of an Experienced Family Law Attorney

In these situations it is usually necessary to have an experienced family law attorney working on your behalf to identify the breach of fiduciary duty and the amounts involved and demonstrate the breach to the court.

Family law attorney Nicole Aeschleman brings to her practice formal education in finance and experience as a financial professional before attending law school, as well as her expertise as a family law practitioner. This places her in a strong position to handle divorces in which there has been a breach of fiduciary duty. She is frequently able to obtain for her client the additional settlement funds the law allows. Additionally, when required, she has access to top forensic accounting experts who can do an in-depth analysis of complex financial situations in high asset divorces where improper treatment of marital assets is suspected.

If you are involved in a divorce and believe that assets of the marriage have been disposed of or hidden, call Aeschleman Law to schedule a consultation. Our phone number is (408) 724-8930. Or, you can send Nicole an email at

Aeschleman Law is located in San Jose and serves Santa Clara, Alameda, and San Mateo Counties.  Call us today for an initial consultation at (408) 724-8930.  You may also contact us by filling out the form on the bottom of this site.