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Attorney's Fees In Domestic Violence Cases Under California Family Code Section 6344

Posted by Michael Geller | Oct 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

Navigating the legal system can be particularly challenging for survivors of domestic violence, especially when it comes to the financial burden of legal representation. Recognizing this, California Family Code Section 6344 includes provisions for the awarding of attorney's fees in domestic violence cases. This blog explores the key aspects of attorney's fees under Section 6344, highlighting how this provision aims to level the playing field and ensure access to justice for all parties involved.

Overview of Family Code Section 6344

Family Code Section 6344 is part of California's legal framework designed to protect survivors of domestic violence through the issuance of restraining orders and other protective measures. One critical aspect of this statute is its provision for the awarding of attorney's fees, which can significantly impact the ability of individuals to seek and maintain legal representation.

Purpose of Attorney's Fees Provisions

The primary purpose of the attorney's fees provisions in Section 6344 is to alleviate the financial burden on victims of domestic violence, who may already be facing economic hardships due to their circumstances. By allowing the court to order the abuser to pay for the victim's attorney's fees, the law seeks to:

  1. Ensure Access to Legal Representation: Legal representation is crucial for effectively navigating the complexities of domestic violence cases. The provision for attorney's fees helps ensure that victims have the necessary legal support to advocate for their rights and obtain the protective orders they need.

  2. Promote Fairness and Equity: In many cases, the abuser may have greater financial resources than the victim, creating an imbalance in the ability to secure legal services. Awarding attorney's fees to the victim helps to mitigate this disparity and promotes fairness in the legal process.

  3. Encourage Legal Compliance: By holding abusers financially accountable for the victim's legal expenses, the statute provides a deterrent against non-compliance with court orders and encourages abusers to adhere to legal standards and protective measures.

Key Provisions and Application

Under Family Code Section 6344, the court has the discretion to order the payment of attorney's fees as part of a restraining order proceeding. Here are the critical components of this provision:

  1. Discretionary Award: The court may award attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party in a domestic violence restraining order case. This is discretionary, meaning the judge has the authority to decide whether such an award is appropriate based on the circumstances of the case.

  2. Criteria for Awarding Fees: In determining whether to award attorney's fees, the court will consider factors such as the respective financial resources of the parties, the necessity of legal representation for ensuring the safety of the victim, and any other relevant circumstances. The goal is to ensure that the award is fair and justified.

  3. Procedural Requirements: To request attorney's fees under Section 6344, the victim or their attorney must typically include a request for fees in their initial application for a restraining order. Detailed documentation of legal expenses incurred is necessary to substantiate the request. This documentation can include invoices, statements, and a breakdown of services provided by the attorney.

Implications for Domestic Violence Survivors

The attorney's fees provisions in Family Code Section 6344 have significant implications for survivors of domestic violence:

  • Enhanced Access to Justice: By reducing the financial barrier to obtaining legal representation, these provisions empower more victims to seek protection through the courts.
  • Financial Relief: Victims can receive much-needed financial relief, allowing them to allocate their resources towards recovery and rebuilding their lives.
  • Increased Legal Compliance: The potential financial penalty for abusers can act as a deterrent against violating restraining orders, thereby enhancing the overall effectiveness of the protective measures.


California Family Code Section 6344 plays a vital role in supporting domestic violence survivors by providing a mechanism for the awarding of attorney's fees. This provision ensures that victims have access to the legal representation they need to secure protection and justice. Legal professionals and advocates should be aware of this important aspect of the law to better assist their clients in obtaining the necessary resources and support. By leveraging the attorney's fees provisions, courts can help balance the scales of justice and provide more equitable outcomes for all parties involved in domestic violence cases.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of California.


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