After 16 years of marriage, wife applied for child/spousal support of at least $40,000 per month (yes, what you see is correct) in a dissolution proceeding against a husband who apparently ran a successful family business. She also asked for pendente lite fees and accountant expenses (totaling around $60,000) based upon disparity in income/assets. Husband argued that the recession had been cruel and he did not have the ability to pay any of the requests. Following some hiccups in proceedings and preliminary accounting skirmishes, the family law judge awarded pendente lite fees of $70,000 under Family Code sections 2030/2032 as well as preliminary accountant fees.
After finding that a pendente lite fee award is appealable even though subject to retroactive modification by the court (In re Marriage of Weiss, 47 Cal.App.4th 106, 119 (1996)), our local appellate court reversed. Reason? The lower court failed to make the statutorily mandated findings under Family Code section 270 on husband’s ability to pay.