Attorney fees in a family law case can be awarded by the court. There are various statutes that can be used to obtain an attorney fee award.
One of the most common statutes used in obtaining attorney fee awards in a California family court, is based on disparity of income. Generally, the courts will award attorney fees to a party that has a significantly lower income than other party. The purpose of this is to give equal access to the courts for parties with a lesser income.
Another aspect of attorney fees is the amount of fees that a client will incur in a case. Given the volatile nature of representing family law cases, it is extremely unusual for a family law attorney to charge a set rate to handle an entire case. I will typically offer to charge a set rate for one hearing. I also offer my clients numerous suggestions on how to keep their attorney fees from becoming excessive.