Attorney Fees

If one spouse or partner earns significantly more than the other partner or has control of more assets or savings than the other spouse, the Court may order payment of attorney fees to the lower income or lower asset spouse/partner’s attorney. However, before the Court can make these “need-based” orders, the Court usually requires that both parties file income and expense information before making an attorney fee order. Frequently, in cases where the incomes are low, the Court waits until the end of the case to make the attorney fees order.

This is why a party frequently needs to borrow money from friends or family to retain (hire) a lawyer. If you have fairly good information about both parties’ income and obligations, an experienced family law attorney can advise you whether the Court is likely to make an attorney fees order.

The Court has special powers to make an attorney fee order when one party or the party’s attorney acts in a wrongful manner. These are called Family Code section 271 fees.

A party cannot be awarded attorney fees if he or she did not hire an attorney!