Even if you are not the high-income earner in your marriage, you may still be able to afford legal representation in a divorce, legal separation or nullity action and in any related subsequent proceedings. Family Code Sections 2030 through 2032 provide that a party in certain family law matters can ask the court to order the other party to pay for his or her reasonable attorney’s fees to “ensure that each party has access to legal representation.” Family Code Section 2030. In determining whether to award attorney’s fees to one party, the court must assess as to “whether there is a disparity in access to funds to retain counsel, and whether one party is able to pay for legal representation of both parties.” Family Code Section 2030. In layman’s terms, the court will have to examine each party’s needs and ability to pay the requested attorney’s fees to determine whether an order for fees is warranted.
The court must also consider several important factors in fixing a reasonable
attorney’s fee such as:
1. the nature of the litigation;
2. Its difficulty;
3. The amount of attorney’s fees involved;
4. The legal skill required to litigate the matter;
5. The skill employed in handling the litigation;
6. The attention given to the matter;
7. The success of the attorney’s efforts;
8. The attorney’s learning, age, and experience in the particular type of work demanded;
9. The intricacies and importance of the litigation; and
10. The labor and the necessity for skilled legal training and ability in trying the cause, and the time consumed.
In re Marriage of Keech (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 860, 870.
Procedurally, a party seeking an order for attorney’s fees must submit along with his or her request the appropriate judicial council forms which list the aforementioned factors. (FL-319, FL-310, FL-157 and FL-158). The requesting party must also complete another judicial council form called the Income and Expense Declaration which can be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm. Remember that the court may grant REASONABLE attorney’s fees upon request if the facts of the case warrant such an order.
To find out whether you can ask the court for an attorney’s fees order, contact our office today.
****The opinion above is not intended to be legal advice and absolutely does not create any attorney-client relationship between its author and the readers. Please consult an attorney for information or advice specific to your legal issue.****
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