The cost of hiring an attorney in a divorce case can be very expensive, depending on the circumstances and complexities surrounding your situation.
Sometimes, the court will order one party to pay a portion of the attorney fees incurred by the other party, especially if one party earns more than the other; however, the family court will almost never order one spouse to pay all of the other spouse’s fees.
What can you do when you need to hire a divorce attorney but cannot afford the retainer because your spouse earns all the family income and holds the purse strings?
The problem of finding the money to retain an attorney is commonly a source of great anxiety for divorcing couples. So, how do you get an attorney to help you get through this process? Questions arise, including:
- Can you use the funds from your joint bank accounts?
- Can you use your joint credit card?
- Do you need to borrow the money from a family member or friend?
- Should your soon-to-be ex-spouse pay or contribute towards your attorney fees?
Should your spouse pay for attorney fees and costs? The answer to this question is, “it depends on the facts in your case.”
According to the California Family Code Section 2030, the court is “empowered to order the payment of fees and costs as between the parties, based on their relative circumstances (i.e. respective incomes and needs and abilities to pay) in order to ensure a parity of legal representation in the action.”
In addition, Family Code Section 1100 allows you to access joint funds before family law proceedings are actually filed. It provides that,“either spouse has the right to management and control of the community personal property.”
When a joint bank account exists, you might be wise to use some of those funds to hire your attorney before your spouse empties the account. However, it is not wise for you to take all the joint funds. Don’t appear greedy in front of the family court judge.
If you have questions regarding possible attorney fee awards in your divorce case, please contact the family law offices of Holstrom, Sissung, Marks & Anderson for the help you need. We are located in Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties.