CA Family Code
Division 6. Nullity, Dissolution, and Legal Separation
Chapter 3.5 - Attorneys' Fees

2030. (a) (1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, or legal separation of the parties, and in any proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment, the court shall ensure that each party has access to legal representation to preserve each party's rights by ordering, if necessary based on the income and needs assessments, one party, except a governmental entity, to pay to the other party, or to the other party's attorney, whatever amount is reasonably necessary for attorney's fees and for the cost of maintaining or defending the proceeding during the pendency of the proceeding.

(2) Whether one party shall be ordered to pay attorney's fees and costs for another party, and what amount shall be paid, shall be determined based upon, (A) the respective incomes and needs of the parties, and (B) any factors affecting the parties' respective abilities to pay. A party who lacks the financial ability to hire an attorney may request, as an in pro per litigant, that the court order the other party, if that other party has the financial ability, to pay a reasonable amount to allow the unrepresented party to retain an attorney in a timely manner before proceedings in the matter go forward.

(b) Attorney's fees and costs within this section may be awarded for legal services rendered or costs incurred before or after the commencement of the proceeding.

(c) The court shall augment or modify the original award for attorney's fees and costs as may be reasonably necessary for the prosecution or defense of the proceeding, or any proceeding related thereto, including after any appeal has been concluded.

(d) Any order requiring a party who is not the spouse of another party to the proceeding to pay attorney's fees or costs shall be limited to an amount reasonably necessary to maintain or defend the action on the issues relating to that party.

2031. (a) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (b), during the pendency of a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, for legal separation of the parties, or any proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment, an application for a temporary order making, augmenting, or modifying an award of attorney' s fees, including a reasonable retainer to hire an attorney, or costs or both shall be made by motion on notice or by an order to show cause.

        (2) The court shall rule on an application within 15 days of the hearing on the motion or order to show cause.

(b) An order described in subdivision (a) may be made without notice by an oral motion in open court at either of the following times:

       (1) At the time of the hearing of the cause on the merits.

       (2) At any time before entry of judgment against a party whose default has been entered pursuant to Section 585 or 586 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The court shall rule on any motion made pursuant to this subdivision within 15 days and prior to the entry of any judgment.

2032. (a) The court may make an award of attorney's fees and costs under Section 2030 or 2031 where the making of the award, and the amount of the award, are just and reasonable under the relative circumstances of the respective parties.

(b) In determining what is just and reasonable under the relative circumstances, the court shall take into consideration the need for the award to enable each party, to the extent practical, to have sufficient financial resources to present the party's case adequately, taking into consideration, to the extent relevant, the circumstances of the respective parties described in Section 4320. The fact that the party requesting an award of attorney's fees and costs has resources from which the party could pay the party's own attorney's fees and costs is not itself a bar to an order that the other party pay part or all of the fees and costs requested. Financial resources are only one factor for the court to consider in determining how to apportion the overall cost of the litigation equitably between the parties under their relative circumstances.

(c) The court may order payment of an award of attorney's fees and costs from any type of property, whether community or separate, principal or income.

(d) Either party may, at any time before the hearing of the cause on the merits, on noticed motion, request the court to make a finding that the case involves complex or substantial issues of fact or law related to property rights, visitation, custody, or support. Upon that finding, the court may in its discretion direct the implementation of a case management plan for the purpose of allocating attorney's fees, court costs, expert fees, and consultant fees equitably between the parties. The case management plan shall focus on specific, designated issues. The plan may provide for the allocation of separate or community assets, security against these assets, and for payments from income or anticipated income of either party for the purpose described in this subdivision and for the benefit of one or both parties. Payments shall be authorized only on agreement of the parties or, in the absence thereof, by court order. The court may order that a referee be appointed pursuant to Section 639 of the Code of Civil Procedure to oversee the case management plan.

2033. (a) Either party may encumber his or her interest in community real property to pay reasonable attorney's fees in order to retain or maintain legal counsel in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the parties. This encumbrance shall be known as a "family law attorney's real property lien" and attaches only to the encumbering party's interest in the community real property.

(b) Notice of a family law attorney's real property lien shall be served either personally or on the other party's attorney of record at least 15 days before the encumbrance is recorded. This notice shall contain a declaration signed under penalty of perjury containing all of the following:

          (1) A full description of the real property.

          (2) The party's belief as to the fair market value of the property and documentation supporting that belief.

          (3) Encumbrances on the property as of the date of the declaration.

          (4) A list of community assets and liabilities and their estimated values as of the date of the declaration.

         (5) The amount of the family law attorney's real property lien.

(c) The nonencumbering party may file an ex parte objection to the family law attorney's real property lien. The objection shall include a request to stay the recordation until further notice of the court and shall contain a copy of the notice received. The objection shall also include a declaration signed under penalty of perjury as to all of the following:

          (1) Specific objections to the family law attorney's real property lien and to the specific items in the notice.

          (2) The objector's belief as to the appropriate items or value and any documentation supporting that belief.

          (3) A declaration specifically stating why recordation of the encumbrance at this time would likely result in an unequal division of property or would otherwise be unjust under the circumstances of the case.

(d) Except as otherwise provided by this section, general procedural rules regarding ex parte motions apply.

(e) An attorney for whom a family law attorney's real property lien is obtained shall comply with Rule 3-300 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California.

2034. (a) On application of either party, the court may deny the family law attorney's real property lien described in Section 2033 based on a finding that the encumbrance would likely result in an unequal division of property because it would impair the encumbering party's ability to meet his or her fair share of the community obligations or would otherwise be unjust under the circumstances of the case. The court may also for good cause limit the amount of the family law attorney's real property lien. A limitation by the court is not to be construed as a determination of reasonable attorney's fees.

(b) On receiving an objection to the establishment of a family law attorney's real property lien, the court may on its own motion determine whether the case involves complex or substantial issues of fact or law related to property rights, visitation, custody, or support. If the court finds that the case involves one or more of these complex or substantial issues, the court may direct the implementation of a case management plan as provided in subdivision (d) of Section 2032.

(c) The court has jurisdiction to resolve any dispute arising from the existence of a family law attorney's real property lien.


Special provisions of the Family Code govern attorney's fees and costs in particular circumstances. Some of those provisions are listed below:

  • 271 — extent to which the conduct of each party or attorney furthers or frustrates the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation
  • 916 — attorney's fees in enforcing right to reimbursement after division of community property.
  • 1101(g) — breach of fiduciary duty.
  • 2255 — attorney's fees and costs in proceeding for judgment of nullity of marriage.
  • 2334 - order for attorney's fees during period of continuance for reconciliation.
  • 3027 - attorney's fees in proceeding to recover monetary sanction for false accusation of child abuse or neglect.
  • 3028 - attorney's fees in proceeding to recover compensation for failure to assume caretaker responsibility or for thwarting other parent's visitation or custody rights.
  • 3114, 3150-3153, 3184 - appointment of counsel to represent child in custody or visitation proceeding.
  • 3407 - attorney's fees where custody or visitation proceeding commenced in clearly inappropriate forum.
  • 3408 - attorney's fees where jurisdiction declined by reason of conduct.
  • 3557 - attorney's fees for enforcing support order or civil penalty.
  • 3652 - attorney's fees for modifying, terminating, or setting aside a support order.
  • 4002 - attorney's fees for county enforcement of child support.
  • 4303 - attorney's fees for county enforcement of spousal support.
  • 4403 - attorney's fees for county enforcement of parent's right to support.
  • 6344, 6386 - attorney's fees in proceeding under Domestic Violence Prevention Act.
  • 6602 - contract for attorney's fees for services in litigation for minor.
  • 7640 - counsel fees and costs under Uniform Parentage Act.
  • 7827, 7860-7864, 7895 - appointment of counsel in proceeding to declare child free from parental custody and control.
  • 8800 - independent adoption.

       Your evidence in support of a request to the court for an award of attorneys' fees should detail such information as the types of issues involved, the services performed, the number of hours worked, the billing rates and why those rates are justified (demonstrating counsel's experience and expertise in particular areas, etc.), how much and what work needs to be done and the reasons therefor, and why the requested amount is 'just and reasonable' under the parties' relative circumstances.

 



To schedule a consultation

click the green button

or call us at

626-301-9327

 

  Did you know?
The value you place on yourself determines the price you will pay for good legal advice.

 

 

©2004-2010. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Attorneys' Fees

Special provisions of the Family Code govern attorney's fees and costs in particular circumstances. Some of those provisions are listed below:

  • 2030 - relative "needs" of the parties

  • 271 — extent to which the conduct of each party or attorney furthers or frustrates the policy of the law to promote settlement of litigation

  • 916 — attorney's fees in enforcing right to reimbursement after division of community property

  • 1101(g) — breach of fiduciary duty

  • 2255 — attorney's fees and costs in proceeding for judgment of nullity of marriage

  • 2334 - order for attorney's fees during period of continuance for reconciliation

  • 3027 - attorney's fees in proceeding to recover monetary sanction for false accusation of child abuse or neglect

  • 3028 - attorney's fees in proceeding to recover compensation for failure to assume caretaker responsibility or for thwarting other parent's visitation or custody rights

  • 3114, 3150-3153, 3184 - appointment of counsel to represent child in custody or visitation proceeding

  • 3407 - attorney's fees where custody or visitation proceeding commenced in clearly inappropriate forum

  • 3408 - attorney's fees where jurisdiction declined by reason of conduct

  • 3557 - attorney's fees for enforcing support order or civil penalty

  • 3652 - attorney's fees for modifying, terminating, or setting aside a support order

  • 4002 - attorney's fees for county enforcement of child support

  • 4303 - attorney's fees for county enforcement of spousal support

  • 4403 - attorney's fees for county enforcement of parent's right to support

  • 6344, 6386 - attorney's fees in proceeding under Domestic Violence Prevention Act

  • 6602 - contract for attorney's fees for services in litigation for minor

  • 7640 - counsel fees and costs under Uniform Parentage Act

  • 7827, 7860-7864, 7895 - appointment of counsel in proceeding to declare child free from parental custody and control

  • 8800 - independent adoption.