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Could You Be Stiffed With Your Spouse’s Attorney Fees?

attorney fees

Whether it comes as a threat or as a simple request, it’s common for one spouse to ask the other for help in covering attorney fees. But what does California law say about that?

Two Ways to Seek Attorney’s Fees in California

California Family Law is fairly straight forward with guidelines and requirements that must be met in order to determine who pays what.

Need-Based Fee Award

California Family Code 2030 – 2032 clearly states that “the Court shall ensure that each party has access to legal representation by ordering – if necessary – one party to pay or contribute to the other party’s attorney fees based on income and needs assessments.”

Simply put, this means that the Court will try to create an equal playing field so that one spouse will not have a significant advantage over the other. In doing this, the Court will take a look at the income of both spouses and the assets available to them.

Known as a “request for order,” the motion to receive help with legal fees will also require a demonstration of need and the specific work performed by the spouse’s lawyer up to that point.

Bad Behavior Can Cost You

Through Family Code 271, the Court can mandate one spouse pay for or contribute to the other’s attorney fees because of bad behavior.

The exact wording states in part that “the Court may base an award of attorney’s fees and costs on the extent to which the conduct of each party or attorney frustrates the policy of the law.”

For example, if one spouse is being particularly difficult in trying to finalize the divorce or if they’re proven to be simply trying to drive up the legal costs of the other spouse, the Court can punish the offending party by requiring them to cover the fees.

Because the overriding goal of the statute is for fairness to both parties, the Court will look at a host of things – including the offending spouse’s financial situation to see if the amount would lead to an unfair hardship – before making such a decision.

To Make Sure Your Divorce Goes as Smooth as Possible, Call The Men’s Legal Center

The divorce process is often one packed with emotion, stress and difficult decisions. This is definitely not a time to go it alone. Instead, you need a skilled lawyer on your side to make sure you get a fair shake.

Call The Men’s Legal Center at 619-234-3838 or get in touch via email.