October 15, 2012 By Paul Wallin

In the past few years, the California legislature has recognized a need for parties involved in family law proceedings to have equal access to legal representation. Because family law cases can be complex and filled with discovery, numerous hearings and experts, the legislature wanted to ensure that there was a level playing field between the two parties. Therefore in any family law proceeding, it is vital that you speak with an experienced family law lawyer from Wallin & Klarich.

Family Code Section 2030(a)(1) states, “the court shall ensure that each party has access to legal representation…by ordering, if necessary based on income and needs assessments, one party…to pay to the other party…whatever amount is reasonably necessary for attorney’s fees and for the costs of maintaining…the proceeding….” Therefore, under this code section, the court has broad discretion in deciding how much the paying party will pay in attorney fees and costs. The court must determine a reasonable amount to be paid.

How does the court rule who pays attorney fees?

The court must make a finding that the paying party has the ability to pay when ordering attorney fees to the non-paying party, and that there is an inequality between each party’s ability to access funds in order to hire an attorney. Furthermore, when evaluating the paying party’s ability to pay, the court can consider the paying party’s income, assets and ability to earn—not only the party’s current income. For example, if one party currently earns $5,000 a month, but based on the evidence presented, the court finds that the party has the ability to earn $10,000 a month, the court can use the $10,000 amount when awarding attorney fees.

If you have an ongoing case or plan on starting a case in a family law court, it is important that you hire an experienced and knowledgeable family law lawyer who can help you with the complex and detailed family law issues. Wallin & Klarich has experienced family law attorneys who can help you today.  If you have questions or concerns about your case, call us at 888-749-7428. With offices throughout Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange Counties, we are able to be there for you wherever you happen to live. We will be there when you call.

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