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Posted on September 9, 2016 in Attorney Fees

Attorney’s fees and costs in California divorce proceedings are awarded in specific circumstances determined by California code sections. Here are a few code sections commonly used by San Diego family attorneys:

Family Code § 2030 – Need-Based Award

This is the most commonly used code section to request attorney’s fees and costs. This section requires that the judge consider both parties’ relative “need” for attorney’s fees and “ability” to pay attorney’s fees. Very simply put, this requires the judge to look at who has the greater income and assets that could be contributed to the other party’s attorney’s fees and costs. The goal is to level the playing field, so to speak. To learn more about Family Code § 2030 attorney’s fees and costs, read our post on judges on who will order you or your ex to pay the attorney fees.

Family Code §4063(c) – Child Support Enforcement

This code section allows a parent to include a request for attorney’s fees and costs if they have to file a motion to enforce a child support order. In deciding whether to grant the request for attorney’s fees and costs, the judge will look at whether both parties’ conduct is reasonable in relation to the child support obligation.

Family Code § 271 – Sanctions

This code section gives the judge the authority to order one party to pay the other party’s attorney fees as a sanction for bad conduct during the course of the divorce case. The conduct must be determined by the judge to “frustrate the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation and, where possible, to reduce the cost of litigation by encouraging cooperation between the parties and attorneys.” (Fam. Code, § 271(a).) These awards are technically sanctions and are typically reserved for very serious conduct.

Family Code § 6344 – Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) Cases

A prevailing party in a domestic violence case may ask the court to award attorney’s fees and costs, whether that prevailing party was the person seeking the protective order or defending the protective order. The judge will look at the parties’ respective financial circumstances, similar to a Family Code § 2030 attorney fee order.

There may be other circumstances under which you may be able to request, or be liable to pay, attorney’s fees and costs. It’s a good idea to meet with a San Diego divorce lawyer to discuss this subject so that you may learn more and find out how the law applies to your case.

James D Scott from Scott Family Law, CFLS, is a Certified Family Law Specialist with more than 35 years of litigation experience in San Diego County, California. Mr. Scott has been litigating the issue of attorney fees since 1981. If you would like to meet with him to discuss your case, please contact our office at 858-974-4900. We are located in Murphy Canyon, San Diego, California, just north of Mission Valley.