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Requesting Need-Based Attorney’s Fees and Costs: What Do I Need to Submit?

DISCLAIMER: The following is not meant to be legal advice. It offers alternatives, tips, and resources for those with no means to hire an attorney. For a more thorough explanation of the process for requesting attorney’s fees and costs, please review the applicable sections in the California Family Code and the California Rules of Court.

Litigation is an expensive process. For some people, it is a process that they cannot afford to navigate with an Orange County divorce lawyer. In family law matters, however, there are statutes in place that are meant to assist individuals who would otherwise not have sufficient funds to secure representation. California Family Code §2030 was passed to ensure that each party to a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, or legal separation has access to legal representation. If so requested, the court will examine whether there is a disparity in access to funds to retain an attorney and whether one party is able to pay for the legal representation of both parties. If the court finds a disparity in access and the ability to pay, the court will order the appropriate party to pay to the other party, or the other party’s attorney, whatever amount the court determines to be reasonably necessary for attorney’s fees and costs.

Documentary Requirements

In order for the court to hear your motion requesting attorney’s fees and costs, the following documents must be completed:

  1. Request for Order (FL-300);
    1. Note that under CA Rule of Court 5.92(b)(2) the responding papers to a Request for Order (FL-300) may request relief related to the orders requested in the moving papers, but unrelated relief must be sought through a separate Request for Order (FL-300).
  2. Request for Attorney’s Fees and Costs Attachment (FL-319) or a comparable declaration;
  3. A Current Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150);
    1. “Current” means that the Income and Expense Declaration must have been completed within the past three months, unless the facts on the form have changed. If the facts have changed, you will need to file a new Income and Expense Declaration. Additionally, CA Rule of Court 5.427(d) states that the form must be “sufficiently completed to allow determination of the issues.”
  4. Supporting Declaration for Attorney’s Fees and Costs Attachment (FL-158) or a comparable declaration; and
  5. Any other papers relevant to the relief requested.

Exception to the Documentary Requirements

It is important to note that there is a special rule dispensing with advance notice and the need to provide most of the above documentation. If you are requesting a temporary order making, augmenting, or modifying a fee award, that request can be made orally in open court without notice, either at the hearing of the cause on its merits, or at any time prior to judgment against a party whose default has been entered. However, it is still necessary to file an Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) and provide sufficient evidence demonstrating the other party’s ability to pay.

Helpful Family Law Resources

Family law can be complex, but there are plenty of resources available to assist you. Browse through the various resources our team provides to help simplify your legal process in every way possible.

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