CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE
Family Code section 7605
(a) In any proceeding to establish physical or legal custody of a child
or a visitation order under this part, and in any proceeding subsequent
to entry of a related judgment, the court shall ensure that each party
has access to legal representation to preserve each party's rights
by ordering, if necessary based on the income and needs assessments, one
party, except a government entity, to pay to the other party, or to the
other party's attorney, whatever amount is reasonably necessary for
attorney's fees and for the cost of maintaining or defending the proceeding
during the pendency of the proceeding.
(b) Whether one party shall be ordered to pay attorney's fees and costs
for another party, and what amount shall be paid, shall be determined
based upon (1) the respective incomes and needs of the parties, and (2)
any factors affecting the parties' respective abilities to pay. A
party who lacks the financial ability to hire an attorney may request,
as an in pro per litigant, that the court order the other party, if that
other party has the financial ability, to pay a reasonable amount to allow
the unrepresented party to retain an attorney in a timely manner before
proceedings in the matter go forward.
(c) Attorney's fees and costs within this section may be awarded for
legal services rendered or costs incurred before or after the commencement
of the proceeding.
(d) The court shall augment or modify the original award for attorney's
fees and costs as may be reasonably necessary for the prosecution or defense
of a proceeding described in subdivision (a), or any proceeding related
thereto, including after any appeal has been concluded.
(e) Except as provided in subdivision (f), 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 during
the pendency of any proceeding described in subdivision (a).
(f) The court shall rule on an application for fees under this section
within 15 days of the hearing on the motion or order to show cause. 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.