Contested divorces are expensive, and the longer you and your spouse deliberate, the more money it costs. With spouses arguing over everything from alimony and child support to who gets custody of the family pet, this process can be drawn out.

Many spouses act friendly toward each other once they calculate the amount of money it costs because they learn the sooner a settlement is reached, the sooner they can wrap up the process. 

Continue reading to learn more about divorce attorney fees. 

Understanding Divorce Attorney Fees

Usually, each party pays for their own attorney in a divorce suit, and they aren’t allowed to share one. For instance, if you and your spouse both turn to the most qualified one in your city, then the attorney should know better than to work for both of you. Sharing one is unethical, and it would lead to more conflict. 

Each party is responsible for paying their own fees, which will be outlined before the attorney begins to work on your case. Some of them even offer a free case evaluation where they give you an estimate of how long the process will take and go over the amount you can expect to pay. In other countries, one spouse is likely to pay for both lawyers, even if the other spouse is financially stable.

Needs-Based Attorney Fees

In some states, family law courts can ask one spouse to contribute to the other spouse’s attorney fees if there’s a large income gap between them. Judges can ask the higher-earning spouse to cover some or all of the lower-earning or non-earning spouse’s fees. 

In certain states, the policy regarding attorney fees states if one spouse can afford to pay for both sides’ costs, then they will be required to do so; this is meant to level the legal playing field between both parties. Judges can enforce this if it’s clear the higher-earning spouse will be able to financially recover once the divorce is finalized. In other states, courts can lower attorney fees for the lower-earning spouse; in extreme cases, the fees may be waived entirely. 

Courts can deny someone’s request to have their fees lowered if the spouse has access to marital assets that can be used to generate funds to pay for fees. Some of these assets include bank accounts, stocks, or a 401(k)-retirement plan. 

If a spouse who’s financially struggling needs money upfront for an attorney, the judge may allow them to use part of their marital property for fees. However, when the property is eventually divided, the other spouse must be reimbursed. 

Ultimately, divorce attorney fees depend on your state’s laws, you and your spouse’s income, and the judge’s discretion.


Contact The Ault Firm

Unfortunately, divorce is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy. Many people spend thousands of dollars on it because their attorney wasn’t honest with their billing. At The Ault Firm, we’re proud to offer a flat fee, which we’ll explain to you when you consult with one of our experienced divorce attorneys. Contact us today.