2

I read in this article:

What caught me by surprise, and forced me to seek emergency loans from friends, were the enormous legal fees I had to pay my ex-wife's divorce lawyers. In a California divorce, the wealthier spouse must pay both sides of the battle even if they are not the aggressor.

Is there any cap in California on how much the less wealthy spouse can spend on legal fees (e.g., lawyers) in case of a divorce?

4

The "less wealthy" spouse can spend as much as they want on legal fees.

The article is oversimplifying, though. It's not just about wealth, and the order won't necessarily be for all of the legal fees. Look at California's Family Code §2030-2034:

2032 (a) The court may make an award of attorney's fees and costs under Section 2030 or 2031 where the making of the award, and the amount of the award, are just and reasonable under the relative circumstances of the respective parties.

2032 (b) In determining what is just and reasonable under the relative circumstances, the court shall take into consideration the need for the award to enable each party, to the extent practical, to have sufficient financial resources to present the party's case adequately, taking into consideration, to the extent relevant, the circumstances of the respective parties described in Section 4320.

Further reading:

  • Maiden, Jan (2001) "Winning By Financial Attrition: A Study of Attorney Fees Under California Family Code Sections 2030 and 2032," California Western Law Review: Vol. 38: No. 1, Article 9. Available at: http://scholarlycommons.law.cwsl.edu/cwlr/vol38/iss1/9

    It leads with an example where a party's fees were $115,000 but the party was only awarded $45,000.

    It also gives an example where a court found that "[e]ven where need is established, if the other spouse does not have the ability to pay, it is an abuse of discretion for a court to impose such an obligation upon one of the destitute parties which will hang as a sword over the obligor".

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