San Jose Divorce Attorney Discusses Need-Based Attorney Fee and Cost Award
Under the Family Code, any award of attorney fees or costs in a marital action must be based on a determination of ability to pay and consideration of the parties’ respective incomes and needs in order to ensure each party’s access to legal representation. For example, a spouse who was primarily supported by the other spouse during the marriage, and who does not himself or herself have the financial means to retain an attorney, may be able to obtain a court order requiring the sole or higher earner spouse to pay their attorney fees. The fact that the party requesting the award has the resources to pay his or her own attorney fees and costs, however, is not itself a bar to ordering the other party to pay part of all of the fees and costs requested. For example, the fact that one spouse has a net worth of $2 million would not necessarily bar a need based attorney fee request, if the other spouse has a net worth of $40 million.
Moreover, the scope of costs recoverable in a divorce is broader than most civil actions generally because the Family Code permits the court to award any amount reasonably necessary for attorney fees and for the costs of maintaining or defend the proceeding. Therefore, family courts may consider applications for cost awards associated with items such as accountant, actuary and appraiser; none of which are generally recoverable in other civil actions.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, or have questions regarding other family law issues, the team of attorneys at Sagaria Law may be able to assist you with your case. We handle cases throughout the Bay Area and have offices in Santa Clara, Alameda and Monterey counties. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.