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What happens when one spouse doesn’t have access to funds to pay attorney fees?

According to California Family Codes 2030 and 2032, the court will ensure that both parties has access to legal representation, starting early in the proceedings. 

The court will look at income and needs of each party and can order, if necessary, that one spouse pay a reasonable amount to the other spouse or other spouse’s attorney.  The amount is based on what is necessary to maintain or defend the proceeding.

Upon request for attorney’s fees and costs, the court decides whether to award attorney’s fees and costs depending on if there is a disparity in access to funds to retain counsel and if one spouse can afford to pay for the legal representation of both.

The amount of the award is determined by the court and must be just and reasonable under the relative circumstances of the spouses.  Financial resources, in other words, the amount a spouse has access to, is not the only factor that the court takes into consideration.

The payment may be ordered to come from any type of property, principal, income, community or separate.

What happens if a spouse causes delays and takes unreasonable positions that is making the divorce more expensive than it should be?

As a “punishment” or sanction, the court may award attorney’s fees against the spouse that has “frustrated” the divorce case.  However, this sanction will not impose an unreasonable financial burden on the spouse.  The requesting spouse does not need to show financial need to receive the award ordered by the court.

The award of attorney’s fees must come from the property or income of the person paying the award or their share of community property.

Call the Law Offices of Aaron O. Anguiano to use his many years of experience in the divorce process and family law as an attorney in the Modesto, CA area.

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