Attorney fees and payment arrangements are some critical details to discuss with your attorney when you retain one for your divorce proceedings. Divorce can be quite straining, not just emotionally, but also financially. It's no surprise that you will want to know if the courts can grant an award for attorney fees where your former spouse covers your legal costs.
Do you qualify to have the courts issue an order awarding attorney fees? Here is a glimpse of what may influence the court's decision on your petition.
Need and Ability Consideration
The court will look at whether you need the award for attorney fees and the other party's ability to cover your reasonable legal costs. The court will consider both parties' financial resources, your income and separately owned assets, and also your financial obligations.
Your divorce attorney will present the facts to the court to show you are at an economic disadvantage when petitioning for the other party to pay your attorney fees. The burden of proof lies with you, and you need to be able to support your argument fully.
You are more likely to get an award for attorney fees if the other party and their divorce attorney act in bad faith, causing the divorce proceedings to drag out unnecessarily. This may not be a big deal if your divorce attorney is charging you a flat fee, but if it's by the hour, the costs may really add up. Acting in bad faith can take various forms, from refusing to provide documents required by the courts and hiding income and assets to disobeying court orders and making frivolous filings.
When to Ask for Attorney Fees
It is best to petition for attorney fees as soon as possible early on in the case. If you get the award, you can rest easy and enjoy quality counsel from a divorce attorney of your choice for the rest of the case. Failure to get the award order usually causes some petitioners to look for alternative counsel that may be much cheaper.
That said, you can file your petition anytime during the case. After all, your finances and need for the divorce attorney fees may change down the line. Also, don't hesitate to reassert your petition if you have previously made the request and didn't get a favorable outcome.
A great divorce attorney is an invaluable asset throughout every stage of your case, including petitioning for attorney fees. As ironic as it may seem, your divorce attorney will help you to prove that you can't afford an attorney and negotiate for the best deal in the award for attorney fees.
For more information, reach out to a divorce lawyer near you.