California Family Law Attorney


CAL Family Code Section 3557:

Can I Be Awarded Attorney Fees To Collect Support!

Family Code section 3557 directs the family court to award attorney fees to a party who is forced to file some form of delinquent child or spousal support enforcement action, "absent good cause." It is hard for me to think of a good example of why there would not always be good cause where a party has ignored their support obligations unless they truly didn't have the money, through no fault of their own. This seems somewhat circular, since this attorney fees-for-enforcing support statute also states that fees won't be awarded where the respective incomes of the parties is otherwise sufficient to enable them each to retain counsel. There are better statutes to cite then this one, but it is worth knowing about.

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Family Code section 3557

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, absent good cause to the contrary, the court, upon (1) determining an ability to pay and (2) consideration of the respective incomes and needs of the parties in order to ensure that each party has access to legal representation to preserve all of the party's rights, shall award reasonable attorney's fees to any of the following persons:
(1) A custodial parent or other person to whom payments should be made in any action to enforce any of the following:
(A) An existing order for child support.
(B) A penalty incurred pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 4720) of Part 5 of Division 9.
(2) A supported spouse in an action to enforce an existing order for spousal support.
(b) This section shall not be construed to allow an award of attorney's fees to or against a governmental entity.