THURMAN'S TIPS FOR RECOVERING ATTORNEY FEES IN DIVORCE
Family Code Section 2031:
Oral Motions for Attorney Fees in Divorce and Family Law
Family Code section 2031 is often ignored by family court judges in that I never see a court rule
upon an attorney fee application within 15 days. This statute references
"an order to show cause" and these are no longer utilized -
effective July, 2012, the proper application is called a "request
for order". I've provided the Judicial Council form in our
Family Law Forms Library.
Probably the most important provision in section 2031 is subsection (b),
which authorizes parties to make a request for fees in "open court."
If you are a self-represented party and you find yourself at a hearing
where you are over your head, my recommendation is that you make this
request (cite the section) and also point out that
Family Code section 2030 (a)(2) also directs family courts to issue fee awards to unrepresented
parties so that they can hire an attorney. Argue to the court that the
hearing should be set within 15 days per section 2031, and if both sides
have not filed their Income and Expense Declaration (form FL-150), request
that each party be required to file one with the court at least five days
before the next hearing date.
CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE
Family Code section 2031
(a) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (b), during the pendency of a
proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, for legal
separation of the parties, or any proceeding subsequent to entry of a
related judgment, an application for a temporary order making, augmenting,
or modifying an award of attorney' s fees, including a reasonable
retainer to hire an attorney, or costs or both shall be made by motion
on notice or by an order to show cause.
(2) The court shall rule on an application within 15 days of the hearing
on the motion or order to show cause.
(b) An order described in subdivision (a) may be made without notice by
an oral motion in open court at either of the following times:
(1) At the time of the hearing of the cause on the merits.
(2) At any time before entry of judgment against a party whose default
has been entered pursuant to Section 585 or 586 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
The court shall rule on any motion made pursuant to this subdivision within
15 days and prior to the entry of any judgment.