Find the right lawyer now

Divorce Attorney Fees

Find a Local Family Lawyer near You

What Are Divorce Attorney Fees?

In any civil court case, including divorce cases, the attorney needs to be reimbursed by their client for the work that they put into the case. The sum total of these costs is called the attorney’s fee, and it includes work done such as:

  • Investigation of the facts of the case
  • Legal research and formulation of arguments
  • Application of the law to the case at hand
  • Examining items of evidence in preparation for trial
  • Creating legal arguments and responding to the claims of the opposing counsel
  • Requesting remedies from the court
  • Filing for an appeal if needed

Thus, the attorney’s fees will differ from case to case according to the needs of the client and the work done by the attorney. Some attorneys require a retainer fee at the beginning of trial, which is a sort of pre-payment by the client to ensure that they will pay the lawyer later for the rest of their work. In divorce cases, attorney fees often depend on a flat rate rather than a contingency fee, since there is often no damages award issued in connection with the case.

Which Party Pays for Divorce Attorney Fees?

In a divorce case, each party needs to be represented by their own attorney. This is because having the same attorney for both parties would definitely create a conflict of interests for the attorney and the clients. Thus, in general, each party is required to obtain their own attorney as well as cover the fees for the legal services.

However, in some cases, the judge may decide that an attorney’s fee award is appropriate. This basically requires one party to pay for the other party’s attorney’s fees in addition to their own attorney fees. This can happen for instance if one party has substantial greater finances than the other. Awards such as these are given on a case-by-case basis and will depend on the overall facts and circumstances of each case.

What If Attorney Fees Aren’t Paid?

Attorney fees are generally agreed upon in the contract between the client and attorney. Thus, if the client fails to pay as agreed in the contract, it could result in a breach of contract case. This can cause additional legal issues for the person in addition to the ones they are already dealing with in connection with divorce. Some attorneys may be open to the idea of changing payment terms. In general, though, the client can be held legally liable for failing to pay attorney fees.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Attorney Fees in a Divorce Case?

Divorce cases can be complex processes, and attorney’s fees can sometimes be a major part of the legal discussion. You may wish to hire a divorce lawyer if you have any issues involving divorce. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice for your case, and can also discuss attorney’s fees in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Divorce laws and attorney fee laws can differ by region, so be sure to inquire with your lawyer if you have any specific questions.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-15-2017 06:52 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.