[COLUMN] Prevailing parties and attorney’s fees under California Family Code section 6344

The impact of new requirements on frivolous domestic violence restraining orders

California Family Code Section 6344 provides a mechanism for the prevailing party in a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) proceeding to seek attorney’s fees and costs. The recent amendment to this section introduces a new requirement, stating that the DVRO must be found to be frivolous before the prevailing party can be awarded attorney’s fees. This article examines the implications of this requirement and its impact on DVRO cases in California.

California Family Code Section 6344 allows a prevailing party in a DVRO proceeding to request attorney’s fees and costs. The purpose of this provision is to ensure that victims of domestic violence have access to legal representation and to deter frivolous or unfounded allegations of domestic violence. The section previously allowed prevailing parties to seek attorney’s fees without any requirement of proving the frivolous nature of the DVRO.

Under the amended California Family Code Section 6344, a party seeking attorney’s fees must demonstrate that the DVRO was frivolous. This means that the party must show that the allegations made in the DVRO were made in bad faith or without any basis in fact. The burden of proving frivolousness lies with the party seeking attorney’s fees.

The introduction of this new requirement creates a higher threshold for prevailing parties to be awarded attorney’s fees. It aims to prevent the misuse of DVROs as a tactical or retaliatory tool in family law proceedings. By requiring proof of frivolousness, the court aims to discourage false or exaggerated allegations of domestic violence and protect the rights of the accused party.

For the party seeking attorney’s fees, it is essential to gather evidence and present a strong case demonstrating that the DVRO was frivolous. This may include providing documentation, witness testimonies, or other evidence that undermines the credibility or validity of the allegations made in the DVRO.

On the other hand, for the party defending against a claim for attorney’s fees, it is crucial to challenge the allegations and present evidence to counter the claim of frivolousness. This may involve presenting evidence of the validity of the allegations, demonstrating a genuine fear of domestic violence, or challenging the credibility of the evidence presented by the opposing party.

The court plays a critical role in determining whether a DVRO is frivolous and awarding attorney’s fees accordingly. The court will carefully evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by both parties to determine whether the allegations in the DVRO were made in bad faith or lacked a factual basis.

It is important to note that the court’s decision regarding the award of attorney’s fees is discretionary. Even if the court finds that the DVRO was frivolous, it may still choose not to award attorney’s fees if it determines that the requesting party has sufficient financial resources to pay their own fees or if there are other equitable considerations. Parties involved in DVRO proceedings should be prepared to present evidence and arguments to support their position regarding the frivolousness or validity of the DVRO. The court will carefully evaluate the evidence and make a discretionary decision regarding the award of attorney’s fees based on the specific circumstances of the case.

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Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice.  The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information.  This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed.  The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does create any attorney client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, APC.  This article is not a solicitation.

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Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist.  He was President of the Philippine American Bar Association.  He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.  He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration.  He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH U. REYES, APC is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010.  Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail [email protected] or visit our website at Kenreyeslaw.com.

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Atty. Kenneth Reyes

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He was President of the Philippine American Bar Association. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 747, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail [email protected] or visit our website at Kenreyeslaw.com.

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