Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. Today, we are going to talk about how to obtain temporary child support orders, temporary spousal support orders, and an order for an award of attorney’s fees, using the Request For Oder FL-300.
Ed: Christina, if I want a temporary child support order issued by the court while I am waiting for my trial date, how do I use the FL-300 form to get that child support order?
Christina: In the previous video, we explained how to fill out page 1 of the FL-300. I’m not going to repeat that information. However, I will say that if you want a temporary child support order, you will need to check the “child support” box on page 1, just below the caption.
Ed: Do I do anything with page 2 of the FL-300?
Christina: Page 2 has to do with child custody, which we covered in the last video. For child support, turn to page 3 of the FL-300.
Ed: What do I do on page 3?
Christina: If you want a temporary child support order, check box #3 on the FL-300 form. Enter the names and ages of the children. Check the box that requests “support for each child based on the child support guideline”. Do not enter a monthly amount. As previously discussed in the “Getting Educated” videos, “guideline” child support is the amount the court is required to order based on a statutory formula. For more information on guideline child support, watch the child support videos that are part of our “Getting Educated” video series.
Ed: If I am asking for a temporary child support order, do I also have to fill out and file an Income & Expense Declaration?
Christina: Yes. Whenever you raise a financial issue with your RFO, FL-300, you need to have a “current” Income and Expense Declaration, which is FL-150, on file with the court. “Current” means your Income and Expense Declaration was filed not more than 90 days before the date of your scheduled hearing. If you don’t already have a current Income and Expense Declaration on file with the court at the time you file your FL-300, then you will need to fill out and file an Income and Expense Declaration and then file your FL-150 at the same time you file your FL-300. The FL-150 is discussed in earlier videos that deal with “Declarations of Disclosure”. You can find a blank FL-150 in our Court Forms Database.
Ed: When I watched the earlier videos on child support, you explained all about “guideline” base child support amounts, but you also mentioned child support “add-ons”. Should I raise the issue of add-ons in my FL-300?
Christina: Yes. When you ask for child support, the court will make a “guideline” child support order and that order should include provisions about the following two mandatory “add-ons”: 1) which parent will provide health insurance coverage for the children, including how out-of-pocket health care costs are to be shared; and 2) how child care costs are to be shared. At the hearing, make sure the judge addresses these two mandatory “add-on” issues. Sometimes, judges overlook these add-ons. If you want the court to also include, as part of the temporary child support order, additional child support provisions, such as how to share the cost of the children’s educational and extracurricular activities, then state on your FL-300 form that you want the court’s child support order to include these items, and, at the hearing, remind the judge to address these items. If there is not enough room on your FL-300 form for you to make your request that the court makes temporary orders regarding these types of “add-ons”, you can just add an attachment to your FL-300.
Ed: Let’s say I file for divorce on January 1st. I prepare my FL-300 right away and, within a few days, file my FL-300 asking for a temporary child support order. However, the court clerk sets the hearing in mid-March. My spouse refuses to pay me any support while waiting for the hearing. When we get to the hearing and the judge finally makes a temporary child support order, when will it take effect?
Christina: Typically, the child support order will start retroactive to the date you filed your FL-300. There may be a two-month gap between the date you file your FL-300 and the date you have your hearing. The gap can be even longer. If your spouse paid you child support between the date you filed your FL-300 and the date the hearing takes place, then your spouse will get a credit for those payments. If no support payments were made during this time, there will be a support arrearage. There is legal authority, Family Code section 4009, for the court to make a temporary child support order retroactive all the way back to the date you filed your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you want your child support order retroactive to the date you filed your Petition, ask for it both in the FL-300 paperwork and at the time of the hearing.
Ed: I also want to mention to our viewers, as we discussed in the “Getting Educated” video on “Child Support”, you can contact the Department of Child Support Services, also known as DCSS in your county and they will assist you in obtaining and enforcing a child support order and they will do so free of charge regardless of the amount of your income or your net worth.
Ed: Let’s move on to spousal support. Christina, how do I use the FL-300 to obtain a temporary spousal support order?
Christina: If you want a temporary spousal support order, check the spousal support box on page 1, just below the caption. Then, turn to page 3 of the FL-300. Check box #4 on the FL-300. Box #4(a) asks for the amount you are requesting. Simply type the word, “Reasonable”. You don’t need to specify an amount.
Since a request for a temporary spousal support order involves a financial issue, you will need to have a “current” Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) on file with the court by the time of the hearing. If you don’t already have a current Income and Expense Declaration on file with the court, you can file your FL-150 at the same time you file your FL-300 with the court clerk.
Ed: What about the retroactivity of a spousal support order?
Christina: Like child support, there will be the issue of retroactivity. The hearing on your request for a temporary spousal support order may not occur for two or three months after you file your FL-300. When will the temporary spousal support order start? Typically, it will start retroactive to the date you filed your FL-300 and your spouse will be given a credit for any spousal support that was paid to you between the date you filed your FL-300 and the date of the hearing. Like child support, there is legal authority for the court to make a temporary spousal support order retroactive all the way back to the date you filed your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The legal authority is In re Marriage of Dick (1993) 15 Cal.App. 4th 144, 165-166. These numbers refer to a Court of Appeals case that was decided in 1993. Your judge should be familiar with this Court of Appeals case. If you Google the name of the case, “Marriage of Dick”, you can read the case. It is usually harder to get a judge to make a spousal support order retroactive to the date the Petition was filed than to get a child support order that is retroactive to the date the Petition was filed. If you filed your FL-300 months after you filed your Petition, it does not hurt to ask in your FL-300 and at the hearing that the spousal support order be made retroactive to the date you filed your Petition.
Ed: What about an award of attorney’s fees? What if I can’t afford a lawyer? Can I use the FL-300 to ask the court to order my spouse to pay me money for attorney’s fees at the start of the divorce so I can go out and retain an attorney?
Christina: Yes. If you want the court to order your spouse to pay you a lump sum of money so you can hire an attorney to represent you, check the “Attorney’s Fees and Cost” box on page 1 of the FL-300, just below the caption. Then, turn to page 4 of the FL-300. On page 4, check box #6. Since a request for an award of attorney’s fees involves a financial issue, you will need to have a “current” Income and Expense Declaration on file with the court. As we mentioned earlier, “current” means your FL-150 is not more than 90 days old as of the day of the hearing.
Ed: I am looking at item #6 on page 4 of the FL-300 and it refers to the FL-150, plus a couple of other court forms. Do I need to fill out those forms as well?
Christina: Yes. For an award of attorney’s fees, the court actually makes you fill out another three forms in addition to the FL-150. You will need to fill out the following forms:
- Spousal Or Partner Support Declaration Attachment, which is FL-157;
- Supporting Declaration For Attorney’s Fees And Costs Attachment, which is FL-158; and
- Request For Attorney’s Fees And Costs Attachment, which is FL-319.
Ed: Are all of those attorney fees forms in our Court Forms Database?
Christina: Yes. All of the forms are in our database.
Filling out the FL-158 and the FL-319 is fairly easy. Filling out the four-page FL-157 takes some time. If you want the award of fees, take the time to fill out all three forms and then attach them to your FL-300.
Ed: What do I need to demonstrate to the court in order to get an award of attorney’s fees?
Christina: In order to get an award of attorney’s fees, you will be required to convince the court of a number of things. You will need to show that you are unable to afford to pay an attorney to represent you and that your spouse has the ability to pay not only the number of attorney’s fees you are requesting but also his or her own fees.
It is best if you can identify a source of funds that can be used to pay the attorney’s fees you are requesting. For example, if your spouse recently received a big bonus from his or her employer, you should tell the court that your spouse can pay the attorney fees from that bonus. Perhaps your spouse has a separate property bank account with funds that can be used to pay for your attorney’s fees. If your spouse does not have liquid assets to pay you a lump sum, ask the court to order your spouse to pay the attorney’s fees in installments out of his or her earnings. If your spouse does not have the ability to pay the fees you are requesting, try to identify a liquid community asset from which the fees you are requesting can be paid, such as a bank account or brokerage account. If there are no liquid assets, try to identify an asset that can be easily sold to raise money to pay the fees you are requesting, preferably an asset that belongs to your spouse.
Ed: What do I do about item #10 on page 4 of the FL-300, near the bottom?
Christina: At the end of the FL-300, the form gives you a relatively small space to recite any facts you want the court to know about in support of the orders you are requesting. In the alternative, you can recite the facts in a separate document, Attachment 10.
As you go through the FL-300, there are all kinds of potential attachments you can make because the form does not provide sufficient room for the information the form requests. The potential attachments listed on the form go from “attachment 2(a)” through “attachment 10”. Rather than having a lot of separate attachments, most people just use one attachment. They will check all of the relevant boxes on the FL-300 for the orders they are requesting, and then, rather than try to squeeze information into little spaces or have ten separate attachments, they simply type in, “See attachment #10” in each section of the FL-300. Then, they type up, in paragraph form on attachment #10, a detailed description of the various temporary orders they are requesting and the reasons why they feel the court should issue each order.
For example, your “attachment #10” may start off by telling the court the kind of temporary child custody order you want and why your proposed order is in the best interests of the children. It may then move on to say that you want a “guideline” child support order and a reasonable amount of spousal support and explain to the court whatever facts you think the court should be aware of before the court makes a support order. If you use this “attachment #10” approach, it is much more informative and persuasive than trying to squeeze short bits of information into small boxes on the FL-300 form. If you use this approach, your “attachment #10” can’t exceed ten pages, not counting any exhibits. If you are going to use this approach, you can use the Judicial Council attachment form MC-025. Said form can be found in our Court Forms Database. Pull up MC-025. Type “Attachment #10” at the top, and then start typing whatever you want to tell the court about the temporary orders you are requesting.
Ed: You mentioned exhibits. If I want the court to look at certain documents before making any decisions regarding my requests for temporary orders, how do I do that?
Christina: If there are any documents you want the court to consider before making decisions about the temporary orders you are requesting, attach those documents as exhibits to your FL-300. Attaching exhibits is simple. Just take a blank sheet of paper and type or print, at the bottom of the page, in very large letters, the following: Exhibit “1”. Then, put your document behind this page. The next exhibit will be Exhibit “2”. Add as many exhibits as you wish. Create a separate exhibit page for each separate document or group of documents you want the court to look at.
Ed: In the next video, we will talk about filing your FL-300 and then how to serve your FL-300 on your spouse.