Will My Spouse Be Required to Pay for My Divorce Legal Fees?
Divorce is not only emotionally upsetting but can also be quite expensive. High-asset divorces and highly contested divorces can leave both spouses with hefty legal bills. Further, if your spouse is actively attempting to drag out your divorce, there is probably very little that you can do about it – and it will almost certainly increase your attorney fees.
While many people believe the party who files for divorce should be responsible for both spouses’ legal fees, the court does not see it this way. Anyone has the right to file for divorce in the State of Texas, and the court will not penalize an individual for doing so. While being awarded payment of your legal fees in your divorce is by no means automatic, that does not mean that it is not a possibility.
Texas is a community property state, and it is the court's goal to split your marital property – the assets you acquired during the course of your marriage – between the two of you in a manner that is just and right. The court, it must be said, has vast discretion in this process and will take many factors into consideration:
- All your marital assets and debts
- Each of your financial needs and capabilities
- Any disparity in income between you and your spouse
- Any extenuating circumstances
Your Unique Circumstances
The circumstances of every divorce are unique to the exact situation, and your judge will take your unique circumstances into careful consideration. There are several situations in which the court will likely be more inclined to require your spouse to cover your legal expenses:
- If your spouse earns substantially more money than you do
- If your spouse’s ability to earn is far greater than your own
- If you were a stay-at-home parent throughout your marriage and have no means of supporting yourself financially
- If your spouse acted in bad faith during the course of your divorce – such as attempting to thwart the process in some way
Requesting Temporary Legal Fees
If you cannot afford to pay attorney fees while your divorce is pending, you can request interim attorney fees. The judge will carefully consider each of your resources and will make a determination based on your financial need and your spouse’s ability to pay. Often the court will order payment of a specific sum or will require a spouse to pay a dollar-for-dollar amount.
Final Attorney Fees
When your divorce is finalized, your marital assets and debts will be divided between the two of you. Both of your legal fees – expenses you accrued during your marriage – are considered marital debt and will be included in the calculation.