Will I have to pay for my spouse’s attorney in our divorce proceeding if he/she cannot afford to pay?
Stillwater family law attorney, Matt Ludt, explains how payment for divorces works.
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Phone: (651) 430-9700
The practical answer is probably not. The lawyerly answer is it depends. There are three circumstances where one spouse pays for the other spouse’s attorneys fees. The first is a needs-based situation where there’s such a great income disparity that either by agreement or by court order the spouse with greater income pays for the expenses of the other spouse. Second circumstance is when it’s negotiated, where the parties agree that in order, say, for example, if there’s – spousal maintenance is in the gray area.
The parties may say, “Well, we’ll agree not to pay spousal maintenance, but you gotta cover all my attorneys fees.” That’s the price for the negotiation. A third circumstance is conduct-based award where one party acts with such bad conduct during divorce, causing the other party to have to incur additional attorneys fees, the court orders that bad-acting spouse to cover those fees. But, in most cases in Minnesota, if the parties are able to settle the divorce prior to trial, they just each assume their own attorneys fees, and that’s why probably not is the practical answer.