Chapter 3.5. Attorney’s Fees And Costs of California Family Law Code >> Division 6. >> Part 1. >> Chapter 3.5.
(a) (1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, nullity
of marriage, or legal separation of the parties, and in any
proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment, the court shall
ensure that each party has access to legal representation, including
access early in the proceedings, to preserve each party's rights by
ordering, if necessary based on the income and needs assessments, one
party, except a governmental entity, to pay to the other party, or
to the other party's attorney, whatever amount is reasonably
necessary for attorney's fees and for the cost of maintaining or
defending the proceeding during the pendency of the proceeding.
(2) When a request for attorney's fees and costs is made, the
court shall make findings on whether an award of attorney's fees and
costs under this section is appropriate, whether there is a disparity
in access to funds to retain counsel, and whether one party is able
to pay for legal representation of both parties. If the findings
demonstrate disparity in access and ability to pay, the court shall
make an order awarding attorney's fees and costs. A party who lacks
the financial ability to hire an attorney may request, as an in pro
per litigant, that the court order the other party, if that other
party has the financial ability, to pay a reasonable amount to allow
the unrepresented party to retain an attorney in a timely manner
before proceedings in the matter go forward.
(b) Attorney's fees and costs within this section may be awarded
for legal services rendered or costs incurred before or after the
commencement of the proceeding.
(c) The court shall augment or modify the original award for
attorney's fees and costs as may be reasonably necessary for the
prosecution or defense of the proceeding, or any proceeding related
thereto, including after any appeal has been concluded.
(d) Any order requiring a party who is not the spouse of another
party to the proceeding to pay attorney's fees or costs shall be
limited to an amount reasonably necessary to maintain or defend the
action on the issues relating to that party.
(e) The Judicial Council shall, by January 1, 2012, adopt a
statewide rule of court to implement this section and develop a form
for the information that shall be submitted to the court to obtain an
award of attorney's fees under this section.
(a) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (b), during the
pendency of a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of
marriage, for legal separation of the parties, or any proceeding
subsequent to entry of a related judgment, an application for a
temporary order making, augmenting, or modifying an award of attorney'
s fees, including a reasonable retainer to hire an attorney, or costs
or both shall be made by motion on notice or by an order to show
(2) The court shall rule on an application within 15 days of the
hearing on the motion or order to show cause.
(b) An order described in subdivision (a) may be made without
notice by an oral motion in open court at either of the following
(1) At the time of the hearing of the cause on the merits.
(2) At any time before entry of judgment against a party whose
default has been entered pursuant to Section 585 or 586 of the Code
of Civil Procedure. The court shall rule on any motion made pursuant
to this subdivision within 15 days and prior to the entry of any
(a) The court may make an award of attorney's fees and costs
under Section 2030 or 2031 where the making of the award, and the
amount of the award, are just and reasonable under the relative
circumstances of the respective parties.
(b) In determining what is just and reasonable under the relative
circumstances, the court shall take into consideration the need for
the award to enable each party, to the extent practical, to have
sufficient financial resources to present the party's case
adequately, taking into consideration, to the extent relevant, the
circumstances of the respective parties described in Section 4320.
The fact that the party requesting an award of attorney's fees and
costs has resources from which the party could pay the party's own
attorney's fees and costs is not itself a bar to an order that the
other party pay part or all of the fees and costs requested.
Financial resources are only one factor for the court to consider in
determining how to apportion the overall cost of the litigation
equitably between the parties under their relative circumstances.
(c) The court may order payment of an award of attorney's fees and
costs from any type of property, whether community or separate,
principal or income.
(d) Either party may, at any time before the hearing of the cause
on the merits, on noticed motion, request the court to make a finding
that the case involves complex or substantial issues of fact or law
related to property rights, visitation, custody, or support. Upon
that finding, the court may in its discretion determine the
appropriate, equitable allocation of attorney's fees, court costs,
expert fees, and consultant fees between the parties. The court order
may provide for the allocation of separate or community assets,
security against these assets, and for payments from income or
anticipated income of either party for the purpose described in this
subdivision and for the benefit of one or both parties. Payments
shall be authorized only on agreement of the parties or, in the
absence thereof, by court order. The court may order that a referee
be appointed pursuant to Section 639 of the Code of Civil Procedure
to oversee the allocation of fees and costs.
(a) Either party may encumber his or her interest in
community real property to pay reasonable attorney's fees in order to
retain or maintain legal counsel in a proceeding for dissolution of
marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the
parties. This encumbrance shall be known as a "family law attorney's
real property lien" and attaches only to the encumbering party's
interest in the community real property.
(b) Notice of a family law attorney's real property lien shall be
served either personally or on the other party's attorney of record
at least 15 days before the encumbrance is recorded. This notice
shall contain a declaration signed under penalty of perjury
containing all of the following:
(1) A full description of the real property.
(2) The party's belief as to the fair market value of the property
and documentation supporting that belief.
(3) Encumbrances on the property as of the date of the
(4) A list of community assets and liabilities and their estimated
values as of the date of the declaration.
(5) The amount of the family law attorney's real property lien.
(c) The nonencumbering party may file an ex parte objection to the
family law attorney's real property lien. The objection shall
include a request to stay the recordation until further notice of the
court and shall contain a copy of the notice received. The objection
shall also include a declaration signed under penalty of perjury as
to all of the following:
(1) Specific objections to the family law attorney's real property
lien and to the specific items in the notice.
(2) The objector's belief as to the appropriate items or value and
any documentation supporting that belief.
(3) A declaration specifically stating why recordation of the
encumbrance at this time would likely result in an unequal division
of property or would otherwise be unjust under the circumstances of
(d) Except as otherwise provided by this section, general
procedural rules regarding ex parte motions apply.
(e) An attorney for whom a family law attorney's real property
lien is obtained shall comply with Rule 3-300 of the Rules of
Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California.
(a) On application of either party, the court may deny the
family law attorney's real property lien described in Section 2033
based on a finding that the encumbrance would likely result in an
unequal division of property because it would impair the encumbering
party's ability to meet his or her fair share of the community
obligations or would otherwise be unjust under the circumstances of
the case. The court may also for good cause limit the amount of the
family law attorney's real property lien. A limitation by the court
is not to be construed as a determination of reasonable attorney's
(b) On receiving an objection to the establishment of a family law
attorney's real property lien, the court may on its own motion
determine whether the case involves complex or substantial issues of
fact or law related to property rights, visitation, custody, or
support. If the court finds that the case involves one or more of
these complex or substantial issues, the court may determine the
appropriate, equitable allocation of fees and costs as provided in
subdivision (d) of Section 2032.
(c) The court has jurisdiction to resolve any dispute arising from
the existence of a family law attorney's real property lien.