The family law code allows the judge in a dissolution case to award attorney fees to any party in the litigation. The court must find that the paying party has the ability to pay and the party who is requesting fees needs help to pay his or her fees. The court is not required to determine whether the receiving party will be prevail on the merits of the divorce case.
A court may order one party to pay the attorney fees of the other party in a divorce. The court must consider three factors: (1) whether the party receiving the payment is in need of financial assistance, (2) whether the paying party has the ability to pay for the other’s attorney fees, and (3) whether the attorney fees are reasonable. If all these factors are met, the court will order the attorney fees of the spouse who is in financial need to be paid. However, the court will not order a third party to pay the attorney fees of the disadvantaged spouse if the payor does not in and of himself or herself have the ability to pay. For example, if the payor’s parents are helping him or her pay his own attorney fees and can afford to pay the other party’s attorney fees, the court will not order the parents to make the payment.
A family law court in Orange County my order one party to pay the other party’s attorney fees. The purpose of California Family Code §§ 2030 and 2032 is parity to ensure a fair hearing where two sides are equally represented. The family law judge will assess the need for help with attorney’s fees by one party and the ability to pay by the other party. The court may consider assets in its assessment of the payment of attorney fees. Although, the family court may also consider the other party’s trial tactics, these statutes do not contemplate sanctions for actions which prevent settlement and increase the cost of litigation. The court looks to whether the party requesting the attorney fees is in need of help so that he or she can afford an attorney. It also looks to whether or not the paying party has the ability to pay. Family Code section 271 authorizes attorney fees as sanctions. This requires a showing that one party frustrates settlement. It is more likely to be awarded when one party takes overt actions that frustrate settlement.
If you need a divorce attorney in the Orange County area to discuss a transmutation issue or any other dissolution matter such as child support, custody, spousal support and property division, contact Treviño Law. Conveniently located off of the 5 and 405 freeway at Lake Forest.
Please note that this blog is advisory only. Facts and circumstances may alter the divorce trial outcome. Please contact a family law attorney in Orange County to discuss your case in detail.