Who is Responsible for Attorney Fees in a Divorce? 

In most divorce cases, the parties will be responsible for their own attorney fees. In some circumstances, however, the court will award fees to one spouse in exchange for that spouse’s cooperation and good faith in the divorce process. 

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Who is Responsible for Attorney Fees in a Divorce? 

The spouse who is earning more money is often responsible for paying his or her attorney’s fees in a divorce. This is called the “monied spouse’s responsibility.” It is also possible for a judge to order the less monied spouse to pay some of their own fees in some cases. 

There are many reasons a court might make one spouse responsible for their attorney’s fees in a divorce. Some of these reasons include a failure to maintain the case in good faith, delay in enforcing a court order, or fraud on the part of the other spouse. 

In addition, a judge can order the at-fault party to pay the other spouse’s attorney’s fees if he or she has acted in bad faith during the litigation, including concealing assets and debts that are in dispute, disobeying court orders, and not providing documents. The at-fault party’s bad faith can motivate a court to award attorney fees to the innocent spouse, as well. 

If you have questions about who is responsible for attorney fees in a divorce, or about how much your case will cost, contact a Sugar Land family law attorney today to schedule a consultation. We will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with an honest assessment of your legal situation. 

A Spouse’s Financial Status Can Be a Factor in Who Is Responsible for Attorney Fees 

In many cases, a judge will not make the less-monied spouse pay for their attorney’s fees in a court proceeding. This is because it encourages equal representation for both parties and discourages the monied spouse from obtaining a better outcome due solely to their income. 

Sometimes, a judge will order the monied spouse to pay some of the other spouse’s fees if he or she is able to prove that the lower-income spouse would not have been able to afford an attorney in the first place. This can be helpful in situations where the less-monied spouse does not have access to marital accounts, has limited liquid assets, or does not earn significantly more than the other spouse. 

A judge can also award attorney fees if the spouse with more financial resources is trying to prolong the litigation or engage in frivolous behavior. These behaviors may be a way for a lower-income spouse to avoid paying their own legal fees, as well as to punish the higher-earning spouse by dragging out litigation that will result in less financial settlement. 

In Texas, all property purchased by either spouse is community property, which means that both spouses own it equally until a divorce is finalized. In deciding who is responsible for attorney fees, the judge will weigh several factors to arrive at an equitable distribution of assets. Among them are the fault of the spouses for the divorce, their relative financial status, and their conduct toward each other and the Court.