Custody lawyer

Parties Cannot Waive Attorney Fee Awards for Custody Matters

A marital settlement agreement can waive a future right to attorney fees as long as the issue in future litigation does not involve custody of the minor children according to In re Marriage of Joseph.

The parties entered into a marital settlement agreement which stated that each party should pay their respective attorney fees in the future. Both parties requested a modification of the original custody order. Mother wanted an order allowing her to move to another city and Father sought an order which allowed him full custody of the minor children. Mother’s request was granted and she asked the court for attorney fees. Father challenged the request for attorney fees by stating that the marital settlement agreement prevented the award of attorney fees.

The trial court found that the marital settlement agreement did not bar the award of attorney fees for the modification of custody. It allowed the mother to seek an award of attorney fees in her modification of custody. Father appealed the judge’s order.

The First Appellate District Court upheld the trial court’s decision. It reasoned that a waiver of attorney fees would prohibit courts from looking into the best interests of the minor children due to the financial circumstances of the parties. Therefore, based upon the best interests of the minor children, such waivers would be invalid and unenforceable.

If you need a divorce attorney in the Orange County area to address a modification of custody or any other divorce matter such as legal separation, annulment, child custody, spousal support and/or property division, contact our law office located in Laguna Hills at (949) 716-2102. Conveniently located off of the 5 and 405 freeway at Lake Forest.

Please note that the posting of this information does not constitute legal advice for a divorce in Orange County. Facts and circumstances of the dissolution proceedings may alter the required action and analysis in any given family law case.

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