Getting Help With Your Divorce

Do Your Finances Matter When It Comes To Child Support?

How much do your finances matter when you are fighting for child custody? Depending on where you live, the answer could vary quite a bit -- but if you happen to be a resident of California, the law is designed to make things fairer between couples of different financial means. Here's what you should know:

Child custody can easily end up going to the parent who can afford the bigger legal fees.

In many states, child custody is as much a financial war as it is a battle over who makes the better parent. Your ability -- or inability -- to keep paying an attorney to keep filing motion after motion with the court, to delay, to change your requests or add new ones, all for the purpose of dragging along the legal proceedings as much as possible, can heavily tilt the odds of your success in any custody battle.

Essentially, he -- or she -- with the most time and money often wins the war.

California's Family Code 2030 addresses the financial disparities and levels the playing field.

Justice, whether it's involving a criminal trial or a custody matter, isn't supposed to be something that can be bought. In order to keep that from happening, the California legislature enacted Family Code 2030

The law has several main points that help level the playing field both during the divorce and during post-divorce motions:

  • Each spouse must have access to legal representation. If necessary, the spouse with the higher income may be ordered to pay reasonable attorney fees for the spouse with the lower income. 
  • The decision is not based on a spouse's total inability to afford attorney fees. Rather, it's based on his or her inability to afford attorney fees that are on par with what the other spouse can afford. For example, if your spouse can afford expert witnesses to testify on his or her behalf but you cannot, the court can order your spouse to contribute toward your legal fees so that you can also afford expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.
  • Attorney fees can be awarded at the beginning of a custody case or during the case. An initial award can be increased according to need.

California Family Code 2031 and 2032 also have similar provisions and clarifications that pertain to these basic rules. They are often cited in conjunction with Family Code 2030 when requests for attorney fees are made in a custody case.

In essence, California's rules prevent one parent from bullying the other through money and legal fees. If you have any questions how you can make a request for attorney fees, ask your attorney today.