What is Family Code 2030?

The California legislature has a measure, Code 2030, that authorizes the CA Family Courts to require a party to pay a reasonable portion of the opposing party’s attorney fees in certain circumstances in a divorce case proceeding. The courts will look at each party’s need versus ability to pay before making this award.

Family Code 2030 helps ensure every party has access to legal representation during divorce proceedings in California. If necessary, one party may pay the other party or the other party’s attorney an amount that is reasonably necessary for attorney’s fees and the costs of defending/maintaining the proceeding. Family Code 2030 helps make divorce court fair, regardless of each party’s financial situation.

Who Can Use Family Code 2030?

Family Code 2030 is specifically for proceedings for dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, or legal separation. There are separate California family codes that deal with attorney fees in domestic violence and custody cases. To apply Code 2030, the courts look at whether there is a disparity of income between the two parties or the liquid resources available to each party. If there is a great disparity, there is a high likelihood of an award order. The amount of money the court might award for attorney fees isn’t related to income, but rather to how much a party needs for the opportunity to fully defend or represent his or her case.

How Family Code 2030 Works

During your divorce hearing, you need to request for attorney’s fees and costs with the courts under the stipulations of California Family Law Code 2030. Your Sacramento divorce attorney can help you with the request process during case proceedings. The court will look at whether an award of the fees and costs under Section 2030 is appropriate depending on whether there is a disparity in access to funds to retain an attorney, and if one party is financially able to pay for legal representation for both parties. The award is needs based, meaning that the courts must find that the party making the request needs representation for which he or she is unable to pay.

When looking at whether a party qualifies for this award, the courts will consider both parties’ assets, current income, income-producing properties, and investments. The court will total up the income and assets of both parties and determine if there is a sufficient disparity to call for the need of an award based on Section 2030. If there is a need, the court will limit the award amount to a number that’s necessary to efficiently handle an immediate matter at hand.

The courts can only order an award for attorney’s fees and costs if the other party can afford to pay the award. Again, the court will look at all sources of income, sometimes including the income of a new partner, to determine if a party has the ability to pay the award. If the party that receives the award has an attorney that purposefully and unnecessarily prolongs litigation to continue receiving funds from the other party, the offending party is unlikely to receive attorney’s fees awards.

Other Information About Code 2030

If the courts order you to pay your ex-spouse’s attorney’s fees and costs after a needs analysis, you have no choice but to pay the amount. However, there is an appeals process if you believe you shouldn’t have to pay or should pay a smaller amount. The courts will only overturn a decision if you can prove the trial court’s abuse of discretion. This is a high burden of proof to meet in the Court of Appeals and requires the help of an experienced trial lawyer. If your divorce case deals with California Family Law Code 2030, contact an attorney for help.