How Do California Courts Award Attorney's Fees Pending a Divorce?

In a divorce, sometimes one spouse makes substantially more money than the other spouse. Thus, when the couple gets divorced one party might have enough resources to hire a divorce attorney, while the other party does not. In these situations, a court can order a party to pay their spouse’s attorney’s fees. This article explains how California courts to award attorney’s fees pending divorce proceedings.

Pendente Lite Awards

At any time during the litigation, a court can order a party to pay their spouse an amount reasonably necessary to cover their attorney’s fees and the costs for maintaining or defending the divorce. This type of order is considered to be “pendent lite” – which means “awaiting litigation” in Latin.

A party requesting pendent lite attorney’s fees must show that there is a disparity in income and that the other party can pay. The court will consider the respective wealth and income of each party to ensure that they have access to legal representation in the litigation to preserve their rights. The award can be crafted to pay for fees and costs that were incurred before and after making a request.

Factors Determining the Amount Attorney’s Fees

Under Rule 5.427(b)(2) of the California Rules of Court, a request for attorney’s fees must be accompanied by information about:

  • “The attorney’s hourly billing rate;
  • The nature of the litigation;
  • The attorney’s experience in the particular type of work demanded;
  • The fees and costs incurred or anticipated; and
  • Why the requested fees and costs are just, necessary, and reasonable.”

Going Through a Divorce? The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff Can Help

The thought of spending money on a divorce can be emotionally overwhelming. However, financial concerns should not prevent you from hiring a competent Westlake Village divorce attorney to preserve your rights during litigation. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff, we have more than 3 decades of experience litigating family law matters, including divorce cases. We are dedicated to helping you during each stage of the litigation process, so you can rest easy knowing that you and your family’s rights and interests are protected.

To set up a complimentary case evaluation with Attorney Graff, call us at (805) 633-4999 or contact us online today!

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