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Celebrity Family Law – Anthony Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci, who served a "blink and you missed it" tenure as White House Communications Director over the summer, recently escalated his divorce proceedings with a shocking allegation. Scaramucci's wife, Deidre Ball, filed for divorce in July during his tenture in the White House, and while she was nine months pregnant. She gave birth to their son a couple weeks later though, Scaramucci did not come home for the birth and only congratulated his estranged wife via text message. Now, Scaramucci is claiming the child is not his and demanding a paternity test. Anthony Scaramucci wants paternity test for newborn son, by Emily Smith, pagesix.com, September 13, 2017. For her part, Ball is said to be "horrified" by Scaramucci's allegation and has hired powerful Manhattan divorce attorneys to fight it. According to a source with knowledge of the case, "You don't make that sort of claim unless you are nuts. He will be easily proven wrong." So, can Scaramucci make an outrageous claim like this with no evidence just to antagonize his estranged wife with no penalty or consequence? The answer is no.

In Georgia, parties can be penalized for frivolous litigation. (Though the Scaramucci case is in New York, each state has laws prohibiting frivolous litigation.) Specifically, "In any civil action in any court of record of this state, reasonable and necessary attorney's fees and expenses of litigation shall be awarded to any party against whom another party has asserted a claim, defense, or other position with respect to which there existed such a complete absence of any justiciable issue of law or fact that it could not be reasonably believed that a court would accept the asserted claim, defense, or other position." OCGA §9-15-14(a). In addition, "The court may assess reasonable and necessary attorney's fees and expenses of litigation in any civil action in any court of record if, upon the motion of any party or the court itself, it finds that an attorney or party brought or defended an action, or any part thereof, that lacked substantial justification or that the action, or any part thereof, was interposed for delay or harassment, or if it finds that an attorney or party unnecessarily expanded the proceeding by other improper conduct…" OCGA §9-15-14(b).
An award of attorney's fees under subsection (a) is difficult to receive because a party can likely always come up with some reason that he/she asserted the claim (i.e. the"complete absence of any justiciable issue of law or fact" is extremely difficult to prove). However, (the New York equivalent of) subsection (b) would likely apply in this case. The results of the paternity test will be black and white and his allegation will likely be quickly shut down. Unless Scaramucci can present factual evidence of an extramarital affair by Ball, the court is likely to see his allegation as "lacking substantial justification" and "interposed for delay or harassment." If he continues to force the issue in this case, he will most likely be ordered to pay Ball's fees and expenses incurred in defending the claim.

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