January 30, 2024 In Family Law (General)

Obtaining Attorneys’ Fees in Family Law Can Be Challenging

Insights from a Family Law Lawyer

Navigating family law matters in California can be complex and emotionally taxing. One of the concerns often faced by parties in these disputes is the cost of legal representation. Many wonder why it can be particularly challenging to get attorneys’ fees granted in family law cases. Here’s a closer look at this issue.

1.  The Standard for Awarding Fees

In California, family law courts adhere to specific standards when awarding attorneys’ fees. The court must consider the need for financial assistance and the ability to pay. This means if both parties have relatively equal financial standing, the court may not see a compelling reason to order one party to pay the other’s legal fees.

2. Burden of Proof

The party requesting attorneys’ fees bears the burden of proof. They must convincingly demonstrate their financial inability to pay and the other party’s capacity to assist. This often requires detailed financial disclosures, which can be a complex and invasive process.

3. Judicial Discretion

Judges have considerable discretion in family law cases, including decisions regarding attorneys’ fees. Each judge may interpret the circumstances differently, leading to varied outcomes in similar cases. The subjective nature of these decisions adds to the difficulty of predicting or securing fee awards.

4. Encouraging Settlements

Courts often encourage parties to settle disputes outside of court to reduce legal costs and court time. Therefore, judges may be hesitant to award attorneys’ fees in a way that could be perceived as penalizing one party, as it might discourage amicable settlements.

5. Complexity and Length of Proceedings

Family law cases can vary greatly in complexity and duration. In cases where both parties are equally engaged in prolonged or complex litigation, the court may find that each party should bear their own costs, particularly if both have contributed to the prolongation of the process.

6. Fairness and Equity

Family courts aim to make decisions that are fair and equitable to both parties. Awarding attorneys’ fees to one party can sometimes be seen as creating an unfair advantage, especially if both parties have similar financial resources or legal needs.


While obtaining attorneys’ fees in family law cases can be challenging, it’s not impossible. It requires a thorough understanding of the legal standards and a strong presentation of the case.






This information is for educational purposes and is not legal advice. For specific guidance on a family law matter in Los Angeles or California, and to explore your options including the pursuit of attorneys’ fees, contact The Mines Law Firm at 888-700-0093.