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Who is Responsible for Paying Divorce Attorney’s Fees?

The general rule for attorneys’ fees and who pays them is that each party pays their own attorney. In some other jurisdictions it is regular practice for the “loser” to be held responsible for the “winner’s” attorney fees, but that is not the American rule. However, even though it isn’t the rule, one party may be required to pay the other party’s attorney fees depending on the circumstances of the case.

In a divorce case, there is a Petitioner and a Respondent. The Petitioner is the party who filed (or petitioned) for divorce. When filing, the Petitioner can ask for a contribution towards attorney’s fees or request that the Respondent be held responsible for the full amount. The Respondent can make similar requests that the Petitioner be held responsible for attorneys’ fees in their Response and Counterclaim. This type of request is made frequently, but the court rarely grants the request. Cases in which the court grants this type of request tend to involve situations in which one party has significantly more assets and income than the other and requiring one spouse to pay the other’s attorneys’ fees would assist the court in placing the two parties on equal footing for the case.

When the issue is raised at the initial hearing when temporary orders are being addressed by the court, they may order a set amount to satisfy the attorney’s retainer and then review the issue as necessary as the case continues. Some couples going through divorce negotiate the issue on their own outside of court. In still other cases, the retainer amount needed to hire an attorney may be designated as an advance on the final property division.

If you have questions about how to file for divorce or if you need assistance from an experienced divorce attorney, please don’t hesitate. Get in touch with one of the family law and divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.

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