ATTORNEY FEES FOR PREVAILING PARTY IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESTRAINING ORDER REQUESTS
Pursuant to section Family Code section 6344:
“(a) After notice and a hearing, a court, upon request, shall issue an order for the payment of attorney’s fees and costs for a prevailing petitioner.
(b) After notice and a hearing, the court, upon request, may issue an order for the payment of attorney’s fees and costs for a prevailing respondent only if the respondent establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the petition or request is frivolous or solely intended to abuse, intimidate, or cause unnecessary delay.
(c) Before a court awards attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to this section, the court shall first determine pursuant to Section 270 that the party ordered to pay has, or is reasonably likely to have, the ability to pay.
F.C. 6344 requires the court to award fees to a prevailing petitioner, subject only to the respondent’s ability to pay. The newly enacted statute obviates the need for a prevailing petitioner to show inability to afford attorney’s fees and eliminates the requirement to show a disparity in access to funds.