Can My Spouse Pay My Divorce Legal Fees?
It is no surprise that divorce is expensive. Depending on whether a case is contested, the number of disputes involved, and whether it needs to go through litigation, a divorce can cost a person thousands of dollars. To save on the cost, many people consider going through the process on their own, without legal representation. The high cost of divorce should not keep someone from exercising their rights, or make them feel forced to stay in an unhappy marriage.
Fortunately, if you cannot afford the cost of a divorce lawyer, you can still obtain the sound legal representation you need. Below, our Brandon divorce lawyer explains more.
The Law on Attorney Fees During Divorce
The Florida Statutes specifically address the issue of one spouse asking the other to pay their legal fees. When one side asks the other to pay their legal fees during divorce, the court will first consider the financial situation of each party. Like when making decisions about alimony, the court will consider the requesting party’s need and the other side’s ability to pay.
There is an exception to the law. If the proceedings involve domestic violence or enforcement actions, the person who did the wrong cannot ask the court to force the other party to pay their legal fees. For example, a husband may refuse to pay child support. If the wife took him to court to enforce the order, the husband could not ask her to pay his legal fees.
The law allows for a request to pay legal fees because both sides should be an even playing field. Neither party should have an unfair advantage over the other. If one side can afford a professional and experienced attorney, the other should have access to similar representation.
How to Request Legal Fees During Divorce
If you want to ask your spouse to pay your legal fees during divorce, you must include the request within the petition or within your response. If you are the one filing for divorce, you will request it within your petition. If you are served with divorce papers from your spouse, you must answer within 20 days and you should include the request within your response. If you do not ask for legal fees at the beginning of the process, a judge is unlikely to award them.
The court will also only award attorney fees if they are reasonable. If a judge finds the legal fees to be unreasonable or excessive, they will not grant the request. The court will also consider the work the attorney performed, their rate, and the amount of fees being requested.
Call Our Divorce Attorney in Brandon for a Free Case Review
If you are in an unhappy marriage and are thinking about ending it, call our Brandon divorce lawyer. At Koether Law, our experienced attorney can advise on all aspects of your case to make sure your rights are protected. Whether you are filing or have been served, we can help you take the proper next steps that will allow you to receive the fair settlement you deserve. Call us today at 813-347-8193 or reach out to us online to book a free review of your case.