Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney
Family Law and Spousal Abuse Lawyer


 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FAQ #11


11.  Attorney Fee and Costs Orders

The court may issue an order for the payment of attorney fees and costs of the prevailing party. Fam C
§6344(a).  This is within the court's discretion.

However, when the petitioner prevails and cannot afford to pay for the attorney fees and costs, the court
must, if appropriate based on the parties' respective abilities to pay, order the respondent to pay
petitioner's attorney fees and costs for commencing and maintaining the proceeding. The court must
make its determination based on the respective incomes and needs of the parties, and any factors
affecting the parties' respective abilities to pay. Fam C §6344(b)

There is a strong argument that as a statutory rule of construction, Fam C §6344(b) pre-empts the
Court's inherant power to award fees under FC section 2030 based on need and ability.  In other words if
a spouse within a dissolution proceeding applies for a DVPA restraining order and loses, she is not the
prevailing party, and is not entitled to any attorney fees in relation to the DVPA application. Fam. C
section 2030 only applies to "a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, or legal
separation of the parties, and in any proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment."  The
Commentary to FC 6200 states that "these orders may be issued in a proceeding for dissolution…"



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