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2011: New Law for Attorney Fees for Annulment, Legal Separation, Paternity and Divorce

In San Diego, many spouses ask for an attorney fee contribution in a paternity, legal separation, divorce or annulment case. There are many Family Law Code Sections which apply but one of the main attorney fee codes is Section 2030. In divorce, legal separation, paternity and annulment cases, attorney fees can be a significant issue. Attorneys can assist in obtaining these attorney fee contributions with a filed motion stating the basis and the law. If you cannot afford an attorney, a request can be made in pro per for an attorney fee contribution so that you can hire an attorney. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Below is a summary of some provisions of the law which was in effect and also that which is starting January 1, 2011.

The Court shall ensure that each litigant has the ability to access legal representation so that each parties rights are protected. Many pro per litigants do not know the law and need legal assistance in order to present their case. The Court has the ability to order a portion, or all, of the attorney fees necessary in order for a party to hire an attorney. This is based on the ability of each party to pay as well as assets each party has for the hiring of an attorney.

At the time a request is made for an attorney fee contribution or order, the Court will make findings whether one of the parties [or both] are able to pay for attorney fees, whether there is access to funds to pay for an attorney and whether it is appropriate for the Judge to make this order. If a party is self represented, or in pro per as it is called, then the Judge has the ability to make an order for funds to be used to hire an attorney to represent before the matter proceeds. In this way, the rights of the litigants will be protected.

Attorney fee requests can be made either after or before the proceedings commence. If there is a need for additional attorney fees, the Court can award further fees during the pendency of the litigation. This shall be done in a noticed motion so that due process is satisfied and both parties have an opportunity to be heard. Under this code section, the Judge shall make a ruling within 15 days of the hearing if not at the hearing itself. By January of 2012, the California Judicial Council shall develop a form which will be submitted to the Court for an award of attorney fees.

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