Who pays for a divorce in California?

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2022 | Divorce

Couples may disagree about many things during the divorce process. Sometimes they even disagree about who should pay for it.

Most of the time, each spouse is responsible for paying for their own costs, but there are circumstances where one spouse can ask the judge to order the other to pay for all of the costs.

When can you ask for your spouse to pay your divorce costs?

Often, a spouse who feels like the other spouse’s actions, such as infidelity, caused the divorce may want to force the other party to pay. However, the court will not force your spouse to pay your costs for this reason.

If your spouse has considerably more income and assets than you and you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, the court may order your spouse to pay your fees based on several factors. They could include your income and expenses, your spouse’s ability to pay for your costs, and whether your spouse has access to more money than you.

The purpose of this provision is to ensure both parties have access to legal representation so that a wealthier spouse does not have an unfair advantage.

How do you ask your spouse to pay?

To ask the court to order your spouse to pay your costs, you must follow these steps:

  1. Complete form FL-300.
  2. Attach forms FL-319, FL-158 and FL-157.
  3. Complete form FL-150 and attach proof of your income for the past two months.
  4. Attach any other documentation that supports your request.
  5. Make copies of your forms.
  6. File your forms with the court and pay the fee.

The California court system does not allow a spouse to force the other to pay divorce costs as a punitive measure. However, this process can make the divorce process fairer for spouses who have unequal assets.

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