TMZ.com reports that Kris Humphries has filed legal documents in his divorce case appointing himself as his own lawyer. Now certainly Humphries, who also according to TMZ.com, makes $8 million dollars a year with the New Jersey Nets, can afford a lawyer. But what if he couldn’t afford a lawyer? Could he request that Kim Kardashian pay his attorney fees and costs?
When one party has a need for attorney fees and costs, and the other party has an ability to pay (or make a contribution to) those attorney fees and costs, the court may grant an attorney fee request.
A new California Rule of Court governs requests for attorney fees and costs based on financial need as described in FC sections 2030, 2032, 3121, 3557 and 7605.
Under the California Rule of court, to request attorney’s fees and costs a party must, with limited exception, complete, file and serve certain forms; specifically:
2. Request for Attorney’s Fees and Costs Attachment (form FL-319) or a comparable declaration that addresses the factors covered in form FL-319. Generally, those factors are the basis for the request (i.e. a need and an ability), who is being requested to pay fees and costs and in what amount, the general purpose for those fees and costs, and prior orders on fees and costs.
3. A current Income and Expense Declaration (form FL-150). An Income and Expense Declaration is considered “current” if it is completed within the past 3 months, provided that no facts have changed.
4. A personal declaration in support of the request for attorney’s fees and costs, either using Supporting Declaration for Attorney’s Fees and Costs Attachment (form FL-158) or a comparable declaration that addresses the factors covered in form FL-158. Generally those factors are sources for payment, facts in support of the request, support orders, and, if applicable, the “Family Code 4320 factors”, which are the same factors a court must consider in modifying a spousal support award. Question: Why might a court be interested in support orders? The answer is because support orders might have the effect of reducing the payor’s ability to pay attorney fees. Sometimes even attorneys overlook this consideration when arguing attorney fee requests. They simply will argue “ability” based on a party’s income, without considering the fact that income available to pay attorney fees would be reduced by any support orders.
5. Any other papers relevant to the relief requested.
In addition, the party requesting attorney’s fees and costs must provide the court with sufficient information about the attorney’s hourly billing rate; the nature of the litigation; the attorney’s experience in the particular type of work demanded; the fees and costs incurred or anticipated; and why the requested fees and costs are just, necessary, and reasonable. This requirement is not new, and is in fact well established by case law. The California Rule of Court and resulting Judicial Counsel forms simply remind those making attorney fee requests that the Court should be provided with this information.
Getting back to Humphries, TMZ later updated that he does in fact plan to be represented in this divorce case. Reportedly, he wants his Minnesota business lawyer to represent him. But, with the case being out of state (in California), he had to have a local attorney also and the California lawyer he initially hired withdrew from the case.
San Diego Family Law Attorney Nancy J. Bickford is the only certified family law specialist in San Diego who is a CPA and also holds an MBA. Don’t settle for less when determining your rights during a divorce. Contact us or call us at 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.