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Standards for Award of Attorney’s Fees and Costs

[1] Respective Income and Needs of Parties

When a party requests an award of attorney’s fees in a dissolution, legal separation, or nullity proceeding, the court must make findings on whether an award of attorney’s fees and costs is appropriate, whether there is a disparity in access to funds to retain counsel, and whether one party is able to pay for some or all of the legal representation of both parties. Fam. Code § 2030(a)(2)

The court must make an order awarding attorney’s fees and costs if its findings demonstrate disparity in access and ability to pay.

In determining what is just and reasonable under the relative circumstances, the court must take into consideration the need for the award to enable each party, to the extent practical, to have sufficient financial resources to adequately present his or her case, taking into consideration the circumstances of the respective parties, as described in Family Code Section 4320.

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