What are Attorney Fees in general?
Generally speaking each party in a divorce in California is responsible for their own attorney’s fees and costs. However, a spouse that is impaired by their economic condition may be eligible for an attorney fee and costs award (Fam. Code §§2030,2032, 3121, 6344). A party can make an attorney’s fee request based on need at any stage in Family Law litigation. However any fees received will be measured against the other spouse’s ability to pay (Fam. Code §270, 2030(a)(2), 3121(b), 6344(b).
However, some litigants cannot file a motion for attorney’s fees because they do not even have the money to file a Response. The good news is that people that are in really bad financial condition can sometimes qualify for a waiver of court fees. A lot of attorney’s will not handle this kind of case because they don’t understand fee waivers and don’t want to take on client’s that may not be able to pay them. At the Law Office of Margaret D. Wilson we work with our clients to help them during the financial difficult time of divorce. We can help you with the Fee Waiver paperwork and can set up a payment plan so that you can have an attorney to represent you during the difficult divorce process. In addition, if we determine that your spouse could help pay your attorney’s fees and costs we will file a motion for attorney’s fees so that you can be on equal footing with your spouse during the divorce process.
Attorney Fees for Misconduct
A party can also obtain attorney fees and costs and even sanctions for certain types of misconduct of the other party such as filing frivolous motions and continued refusals to comply with discovery requests.
Use of Community Property for Attorney Fees
When a party files for divorce (dissolution of marriage) there are automatic temporary restraining orders (commonly referred to as ATRO’s) that are issues as part of the summons and when you are served with the summons those ATRO’s take effect. If you look at the back of the Summons you will see a section titled “Standard Family Law Restraining Orders”. These restraining orders prevent you and your spouse from doing a wide variety of things such as cashing, borrowing against, concealing, transferring, or disposing of property. So you may wonder how you can pay for an attorney in the first place. Well, if you look at that end of that section you will also see that “you may use community property, quasi-community property, or your own separate property to pay an attorney to help you or to pay court costs. If you have concerns and regarding ATRO’s than you should.