How do I enforce my court order that my ex pay my attorneys fees?

Experienced Bay Area family law attorneys will sometimes encounter a situation where although the other side has been ordered to pay fees, they simply refuse to do so.  

Typically, when the court makes an attorneys fee award, the court orders that payor spouse make the payment directly to the recipient spouse or the the recipient spouses’ attorney. Sometimes the payor does not have the money or does not want to pay. This is a violation of a court order and contempt of court. 

The remedy for failure to pay is not to file another family law motion, but instead to enforce the fee award through California Code of Civil Procedure (see Title 9, Enforcement of Judgments Section 680.010 and Section 1209 et sq. Relating to contempt of court). 

If you have questions about how to enforce a fee award, please email me at

Can you impute income from assets?

Maybe. The court's ability to impute income from assets derives from section 4058, which defines "annual gross income" as "income from whatever source derived," and states that "[t]he court may, in its discretion, consider the earning capacity of a parent in lieu of the parent's income . . . ." (Id. at subds. (a) & (b).) The provision has been consistently interpreted to include the supporting party's ability to earn income from non-income producing or underperforming assets. 

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What is a Gavron warning?

If you are paying spousal support you may want to ask the Court to make a Gavron warning. 

A Gavron warning is when making a spousal support order, the court may advise the supported party that he or she should make reasonable efforts to assist in providing for his or her support needs, taking into account the particular circumstances considered by the court under Fam C §4320, unless, in the case of a marriage of long duration as provided for in Fam C §4336 the court decides this warning is inadvisable. Fam C §4330(b). The warning may be provided before trial as part of a temporary support order, or by stipulation, or possibly by notice from the supporting party. If the court issues the order, it should be reflected in the order or Judgment.  

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What should I do to protect my finances now that we have filed for divorce?

If you are the person who asked for a divorce, you may be surprised by the emotional chasm between yourself and your spouse and how long the process is taking. You spouse may be shocked, hurt and feel confused by your decision and it can take time for your spouse to engage in the divorce process or “catch up”. Many of my clients are frustrated by this delay, but there are still steps you can take to prepare yourself for what happens next. Here are five financial steps that you should do after you file:

1.    Set up a divorce notebook.  Use a binder or file folder that have sides to them so that when you lift up the file, things don’t fall out the sides. There can be a lot of paper generated during your divorce and having those papers organized allows you to be more prepared and less disoriented.

2.    Open individual bank account(s) in your name. New accounts often have more restrictions such as deposit holds. The sooner you can start a history with a bank, credit union or other financial institution, the sooner you will establish credibility with that institution. These are accounts in your name individually, and minimally you need a checking account and a savings account.

3.    Apply for a credit card in your name. If you have kept your credit cards separate, then you already have individual accounts. If you’ve been operating your credit cards as joint accounts, however, you want to have an account in your name. If you’re not sure if you’ll qualify, then get your FICO credit score first.  Remember that whenever you apply for a credit card, you get an inquiry on your credit report.  

4.  Scan financial statements and documents. You’ll want to get into the habit saving and downloading any financial statements that you receive so that you have them at hand, or file them in your divorce file for easy access. These documents include investment and bank statements, tax returns (most recent two years), debt statements, social security reports (usually received before your birthday), and any other statements that have to do with assets and liabilities (debts).

5.    Get your credit report and credit score.  Your credit score will give you information about what your credit options are, and the credit report will let you know which of your existing credit cards are joint vs. individual, as well as letting you see if there are any financial items you don’t recognize.

You can contact me at for more information.