Deciding who pays the attorney’s fees in a Florida divorce is decided on a case-by-case basis; however, there are some general expectations regarding who is likely to pay.
There are situations where the court will award one spouse a fee award – paid by the other spouse – to cover their reasonable attorney and court fees.
Two general attorney fee expectations in a Florida divorce.
- If each spouse is in a similar financial situation, neither party will receive a fee award, and each spouse will cover their own attorney fees.
- If there is a disparity of income or non-marital assets between spouses, the court determines if the difference constitutes a fee award. If the court determines one spouse is entitled to a fee award, then the court will identify a reasonable and fair monetary award to grant the spouse who earns less.
When does the court order one spouse to pay for the other spouse’s attorney fees?
Instructing one spouse to pay for the other spouse’s attorney fees is a sensitive topic that can be controversial. During a divorce, the court tries to ensure each spouse leaves the marriage on equal financial terms, with the goal that each spouse keeps their own non-marital assets while fairly dividing all marital assets.
In order to determine if one spouse deserves a fee award, the court will look at each spouse’s financial situation. Then the court will determine each spouse’s ability to pay. If one spouse demonstrates a financial need, that spouse may receive a fee award. However, there has to be a clear financial need. For example, if one spouse earns $500,000 per year and the other earns $650,000, then there is a difference of $150,000 in their respective yearly salaries. In this example, neither spouse clearly demonstrates a financial need, so in this example, it’s likely that neither spouse would receive a fee award.
What are some factors that can make a divorce expensive?
Every divorce is different and has its own unique set of circumstances. This list represents a few common reasons that can add additional expenses to a divorce.
- If the divorce is contested
- If children are involved
- If there are complex assets or debts involved
- If one spouse engages in bad faith litigation (when this occurs, a court may order the spouse committing bad faith litigation to pay for the attorney fees of the other spouse)
- If one spouse causes unnecessary litigation (when this occurs, a court may order the spouse causing unnecessary litigation to pay for the attorney fees of the other spouse)
- Whether or not you chose an experienced attorney to represent you. Inexperienced attorneys take longer to resolve cases; thus, they tend to have a larger amount of billable hours.
Fort Lauderdale Family Law Attorney
If you find yourself in a divorce and you reside in Florida, we can help.
Attorney Sara J. Singer and her team provide each client with a personalized and compassionate experience while keeping their needs top-of-mind throughout the divorce process.
Contact us via our website or call us at 954-527-2855