Who Pays Attorneys' Fees in Divorce?
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What Are Attorneys' Fees?
In any civil lawsuit or legal claim, the parties are generally responsible for paying for their own attorneys. Compensation for attorneys in a lawsuit are called attorney’s fees and are used to reimburse the lawyer for their services. These include the lawyer’s tasks such as:
- Researching laws and statutes that apply to the case
- Reviewing the facts involved in the client’s situation
- Analyzing evidence to determine what items can be used to support the case
- Formulating legal arguments for use in court
- Representing the client during court hearings
- Preparing for appeals or secondary follow-up meetings
In addition, attorneys can also engage in many tasks outside of court, such as assisting a client during mediation, or providing legal advice to a client on a personal basis.
Who Pays Attorneys Fees in Divorce?
Traditionally, the parties each pay for their own attorney in a divorce suit. The spouses are not allowed to share an attorney, so each party must provide their own attorney for the legal process. This means that each party will be responsible for paying attorney’s fees according to the terms worked out with their own lawyers. This is the traditional view of attorney’s fees for divorce in America. This is much different from other views held in other countries, where the loser sometimes is required to pay for the winner’s attorney fees.
What Does “Judge’s Discretion” Mean in Relation to Attorney’s Fees?
On the other hand, some courts allow the judge to award attorney’s fees to one party according to the “judge’s discretion”. This means that if the judge perceives any factors that would make it acceptable to require one party to pay the other party’s attorney fees, they can do so. For instance, a judge might consider certain factors in the case that would allow the attorney’s fee award, such as:
- Whether there is a large difference in the financial capabilities and background of each party
- Whether one spouse is unable to pay for an attorney
- The amount of research and preparation needed to complete the legal process (for instance, if the parties have a accumulated a large estate, this may need more preparation for the trial)
So in other words, the payment of attorney’s fees in a divorce case often depends on the factors in each individual case. All of these decisions are always made with principles of fairness and equity in mind.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Legal Issues in a Divorce Case?
It can sometimes be difficult to understand how divorce laws work. You may need to hire a divorce lawyer if you will be undergoing a divorce and need legal advice. Your attorney can provide you with representation during the divorce process. Also, it may be possible for you to obtain an attorney’s fee award if you qualify for the requirements.
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Last Modified: 07-09-2014 02:15 PM PDT
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