Attorney Fee Awards in Community Property States
In an action for divorce under the common law, the power to grant a party attorney’s fees and expenses is within the discretion of the court. Some courts exercise such power as a part of general equity and when warranted by the parties’ relative ability to pay counsel fees. Numerous factors are considered by the court in awarding such fees, the most significant of which being the time spent and the services rendered by an attorney in representing a party in the divorce.
Effect of Annulment
Usually, an annulment action involves issues of property distribution together with problems involving maintenance, custody, and child support. Annulment nullifies the marriage, but not the legitimacy of the children born to the marriage. Parents in an annulled marriage have a duty to support their children born before and after annulment. Children born during the annulled marriage are considered legitimate, and they have the same rights as children of divorced parents. During annulment proceedings, when a wife applies for child support and the husband insists that he is not the father of the child, the court has jurisdiction over the paternity question.
Temporary Exclusive Possession of the Marital Residence in Divorce
One measures that may be put into place during a divorce proceeding is an order awarding temporary exclusive possession of the parties’ marital residence to one of the spouses. Such an order is typically viewed as a harsh remedy and is only to be used when there is evidence of serious misconduct or abuse.
Use of Collaborative Law in Divorce
Collaborative law is a method of family law dispute resolution in which divorcing spouses settle their differences out of court. The trend toward collaborative law developed from a desire to avoid lengthy legal and court proceedings while still reaching a compromise mutually acceptable to all parties. Parties to divorce, their attorneys, and any other professional involved agree to make a good faith attempt to reach an amicable settlement without going to court; collaborative practice is intended to minimize difference while working toward that resolution.
Vacatur of Divorce Judgments
“Vacatur” is an order of a court, which sets aside or annuls a proceeding. When a judgment of divorce is vacated, the marital rights and status of the parties are restored, and the parties are placed in the position in which they were before the divorce.
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