GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Many times women come to our office thinking that their husband will foot the bill for their divorce since they are the primary bread winner or if he initiated the split. There are times that having your attorney ask that your attorney fees be paid by your spouse, at least in part, is perfectly reasonable.
In divorce both spouses are entitled, in theory, to an equal opportunity to litigate their case and have a level playing field. If you do not work or have any access to funds or if he makes more than you do and therefore has more income at his disposal it is advisable to have your attorney ask the Judge to order reasonable attorney fees to be paid by that spouse. If the court refuses to order attorney fees paid to you it is well worth it to borrow the money to pursue your rights and it will likely balance what you risk losing by not retaining an attorney. Remember, your attorney can always go back later and request that attorney fees be paid or reimbursed to you.
If you are attempting to negotiate and settle your case and your spouse refuses to consider any compromise and is unwilling to negotiate your attorney should request attorney fees be paid for not being willing to move the case forward. Often the court uses attorney fees as a motivation to one party to negotiate in good faith and get things moving toward a settlement. By requesting fees your attorney is also laying groundwork for requesting future fees if your spouse continues to be uncooperative. It is a no-lose request because even if the fees are not awarded the basis is set for future requests and often the court will refuse the request but will set it aside for further advisement down the road. The more you can show that your spouse’s uncooperative attitude is holding up having issues resolved and your divorce completed the more likely you are to be awarded fees.
The Judge also has the authority to order attorney fees if your spouse is not complying with discovery. If the court has ordered him to provide information or documents or your attorney has requested them and he has not complied, your attorney can bring a motion to ask that your attorney fees be paid.
For more on divorce, contact DAWN Attorney’s for Women.
Nothing herein constitutes a legal opinion.