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Can One Spouse Be Required to Pay the Other Spouse’s Lawyer Fees?

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Can My Spouse Make Me Pay Their Divorce Attorney fees

The divorce process gets increasingly expensive as time passes. One of the primary expenses is the cost of retaining legal representation. As you work on dividing your assets, you may be wondering if you’ll be required to pay for your divorce attorney’s fees or if your spouse will have to cover the cost. Whether a judge will order your spouse to pay your lawyer depends on your individual circumstances. To start thinking whether this option is possible in your situation, we have provided a basic breakdown below.

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Divorce decree and a white silhouette of a couple with problems. Conceptual image about divorce and legal issues.

Deciding Who Pays: Looking at the Whole Picture

In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey divorce cases, the court has the power to order one spouse to pay for the other’s attorney fees. The judge will consider a few factors when making this decision, which include (but are not limited to):

  • The extent of the fees and each spouse’s ability to pay for attorney fees. Is one spouse unable to afford legal representation, or is there a significant income gap between the spouses? If so, the spouse who earns the higher income may be ordered to pay some or all of the other spouse’s attorney fees. If the spouses have similar income or the one with less income will end up with substantial marital assets after the divorce, each spouse will likely be required to pay his or her own attorney fees.
  • Whether each spouse is acting in good faith during the divorce process. If one spouse’s actions directly led to the need to hire a lawyer or extend the legal proceedings, the judge may order the spouse who acted in bad faith to pay the other’s attorney fees. Making false accusations, refusing to negotiate, or filing unnecessary or too many motions are all examples of acting in bad faith – and those actions can result in an order to pay the other party’s legal fees for incurring that cost.

The court will also consider any additional factors that may help determine who should cover the cost of the attorneys in each specific case.

Using Marital Assets to Pay for Attorney Fees

In some cases, the court will not determine who will be required to pay for attorney fees until the case is nearing its end. Some spouses can request to advance some of the marital assets (such as money in bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, and other places) they expect to receive to pay legal fees.

Getting Answers About Your Specific Situation

At Petrelli Previtera, LLC, our team of experienced lawyers have helped spouses in all types of situations dissolve their marriages. If you’ve decided to get divorced, we can explain what to expect in the future regarding equitable distribution, possible legal costs, and a reasonable timeline based on your individual situation.

Contact our firm today for assistance. We can help you make the most informed decisions possible as you move forward.

Client Testimonials

Here's what our clients have to say about working with us. Please note, results may vary based on individual circumstances.

Melinda Previtera, Esq. came highly recommended to our family. Her knowledge base, professionalism, and compassion paved the way for a successful outcome. Melinda is efficient, detailed, and informative. She helps manage expectations, and postures her client for a fair and equitable result. We are happy to recommend Melinda!

Jennifer A.

My experience was very good. Everyone was professional and attentive to my needs, keeping me updated every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better result, highly recommended.

David R.

My marriage life has been a hell for me for the past four years until I decided to put an end to what has to be ended. Choosing a lawyer was another additional stressful part of the long process. I’m so glad that I’ve found the right one for me at Petrelli Previtera. Life isn’t always fair, but at least having her in my corner, felt even better. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!

Caitlin B.

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