When a divorce is contested, it can get expensive. Every time there is a new wrinkle or request, your attorney must handle the matter, leading to more legal fees and more time in court. Even when all parties are working in good faith, divorce can simply be complicated and take a long time, especially when there are many assets to divide.
Fortunately, you do have options to help you pay for your divorce. Sometimes, you can have your spouse pay your attorney fees.
Making the Request
Whenever you are ready to get divorced, you can file an official petition. As part of this petition, you can request a Motion for Temporary Orders.
This motion can cover many aspects of life that need to be handled as the divorce completes. For example, it can create determinations for spousal support and child visitation. These orders will be temporary, hence the name, and may not reflect the final verdicts of the divorce.
As part of these temporary orders, you can request to have your spouse pay your attorney fees. You must have a good reason for this request. Simply not wanting to pay will not be enough to convince the court.
Evidence of Prior Abuse
If you are ending an abusive relationship, your spouse could be asked to pay your attorney fees. This is a way of penalizing them for their behavior and helping soothe some of your pain. You could think of this as a way of validating the fact that the divorce was necessary, and the financial burden isn’t your fault.
There are many forms of abuse. Sometimes it manifests as direct violence and harm. Other times, it presents itself through financial squandering. If your spouse is guilty of depleting your resources through gambling or shady business dealings, the court could make them responsible for your fees. Again, you can see this as either punitive against them or as necessary since the divorce was not your fault.
If your spouse controls all the resources, this could leave you at a severe disadvantage in a divorce. First, they may be able to afford representation while you have no means to secure counsel. If you do hire a lawyer, you could be left in debt after the trial, forcing you to part with any assets you gained or cut into your spousal support.
The court is sensitive to this matter. If going through with the divorce is likely to leave you destitute, you can plea to have your fees paid.
Your Spouse’s Actions Created an Unfair Advantage
Bad faith actions by your spouse can be used against them in a divorce. We already discussed abuse, but there are other ways to be underhanded when dissolving a marriage. Sometimes, one spouse acts in secret. They “lawyer up,” building a strong case with their team before ever officially filing for divorce. If you can prove that you were ambushed and treated unfairly, you could have your fees paid by your unscrupulous spouse.
Complications in the Divorce
Sometimes a divorce simply takes a long time to finish. Even with everyone on their best behavior, there may just be a lot to consider. This is especially true for marriages with vast marital assets, or it may be that you can’t come to terms on child custody. If the divorce is naturally taking a long time, that may not be grounds for having your spouse pay your fees.
Remember that your spouse’s behavior can be used against them. Sometimes a spouse or an unscrupulous law firm is guilty of “churning.” They will continue to add new requests, evidence, or accusations to the proceedings. No matter how far-fetched these additions are, the opposing side must still answer them. This adds to the length and cost of the trial. If you can demonstrate that your spouse is unnecessarily lengthening the time of the divorce, the court may ask them to pay for your fees.
What if I Initiate the Divorce?
Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state. You do not have to fight to prove that someone did something “wrong” to end the divorce. You can simply cite the fact that you want the marriage to end, and the divorce may proceed.
Because of this, you are not necessarily responsible for your legal fees, even if you initiated the divorce. It may be harder to convince the court in some circumstances, so make sure your reasons are valid. If, for example, you cannot pay due to financial disparity, the court may be less sympathetic to your plight. You will have to fight harder to convince them, but it is still possible.
However, if you were the victim of abuse, it may be easier to have your fees covered by your spouse. Remember, at that point, the divorce is considered necessary, and the court may hold your spouse responsible for it.
When Can I Expect to Have My Fees Paid?
Depending on the court’s decision, your spouse may need to pay your fees during or after the divorce. If they rule that the fees are due afterward, you are still responsible for paying your attorney during the divorce.
If you are worried about your ability to pay for a divorce, contact our Katy divorce lawyer. Our number is (281) 990-6025, and you can contact us online. We can give you a free consultation and help you explore your financial options.