There are two ways in which your divorce fees will be paid in a California divorce, and they will depend on the circumstances of your case. The first falls under Family Code Section 2030. Under this section, the judge will have a need-based award amount issued. This is how the court ensures that each party has access to ample legal representation, including early access in proceedings in order to preserve their rights. If it is necessary, the judge overseeing your case can base the attorney’s fees and reimbursement of those fees based on the income and needs of a spouse – so the judge could essentially force one spouse to pay the fees of another spouse, based on income.

When you initiate your divorce, your attorney will look at the options for paying your fees. He or she uses these family law codes to help determine how to seek payment from an income-earning spouse, or how one may have to pay for the spouse’s attorney’s fees due to a higher income.

Understanding the Family Code

Under Section 2030 of the California Family Code, it is important that both parties have a level playing field during the divorce – meaning that one spouse could not be left without any legal representation simply because he or she cannot afford an attorney. These motions, known as a request for order, are not easy to bring to court. Instead, your attorney will need to establish a declaration of needs showing that the work that he or she has completed would justify the award earned, and that the other spouse’s income is more than adequate to cover those costs.

There is also a second way to get attorney’s costs covered, which falls under Family Code Section 271. This code doesn’t rely on the need of the party requesting it; instead, it looks to award fees against a spouse who has violated the code section’s mandates. The court can impose an award of attorney’s fees and associated costs to the extent in which the other party’s violation warrants such. Basically, the court is punishing one spouse for bad behavior. If a spouse frustrates the court’s policies or unnecessarily drives up litigation costs to drain the other spouse, the judge can issue a reward to the victimized spouse in order to punish the other. And, that spouse will be sanctioned by the courts to pay a specific amount (sometimes all) of the attorney’s fees and costs associated with the bad behavior.

The amount that one spouse would be forced to pay in either situation depends on the circumstances of the case. If one spouse is not working, then the courts may require that the working spouse pay for the attorney’s fees. If, however, the non-working spouse forces litigation or refuses to cooperate in mediation – thus driving up costs – the courts may not reimburse or force the other spouse to cover any expenses.

Explore Your Options with Your Family Law Attorney

The only way to decide how your fees will be covered – whether by yourself or your spouse – is to openly discuss the issue with your attorney. Your attorney will go over things like your income, your spouse’s income, the amount of fees and costs that will be associated with your case, etc. Once he or she has devised a plan, the attorney will petition to the court for assistance – if it is needed.

To get assistance with your divorce or custody costs, contact Sarieh Law Offices. We understand that everyone has the right to ample legal representation, and we can work with you to find a way to not only cover your costs, but give you the representation that you deserve. Call us to schedule a free 30-minute consultation at 714-542-6200, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.