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Will you need to pay your spouse’s legal fees for a divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2018 | Firm News

Couples will need to pay various fees when they want to divorce. Every case is different, but everyone should expect to pay quite a bit for the process. While there are some horror stories of people who had to pay upwards of $250,000 for a divorce, those instances are few and far between. 

One thought that typically pops into people’s heads when starting a divorce is whether the former spouse can pay for their ex’s legal fees. For the most part, each spouse will need to retain the services of separate lawyers. Each one will be responsible for paying the applicable fees, but in some circumstances, one spouse can indeed pay for the legal fees of the other partner. 

Need and ability to pay

For some couples, one spouse makes the majority of the money while the other makes barely anything. In this instance, it may work for one spouse to simply ask the wealthier spouse to pay all the attorney fees. The spouse may agree to it to make the entire process go by faster. 

If that does not work, then the spouse with less money may go to court to get the partner to pay. A judge will need to consider Family Code 2030 through 2032 in California divorce law. These codes outline “need-based” fee awards. A judge will need to look at the incomes of both spouses as well as the total number of assets the couple shares. In the event there is a vast discrepancy in the amount of money both spouses make, then a judge may require the wealthier individual to pay for the other party’s legal fees. 

The purpose of these codes is to ensure both parties receive adequate representation, so no one feels they got the short end of the stick with the final outcome. If one spouse will have trouble paying legal fees, then getting the other spouse to pay may be a path worth pursuing.