Does my spouse pay my legal fees if they have more income?

A lot of my clients want to know whether or not they will be required to cover all of their legal fees or if they can order their spouse to pay for them instead. One of the sections in the New York State Domestic Relations Law allows one litigant to request a court order that requires his or her spouse to contribute towards a portion, if not all, of their legal fees. Whether or not they issue the order is based upon the respective financial situations of each of the parties involved.

Many times when discussing divorce, you will hear the term “monied spouse” versus “non-monied spouse.” This doesn’t always mean that one spouse is making $100,000 and the other spouse is making nothing at all. If there is a financial disparity, where one spouse is making $100,00 and the other is making $40,000, that may allow the party with less income to have their legal fees associated with the divorce paid for by their spouse.

The court will also consider a number of other factors when making the decision of who will pay for legal fees include if the court one feels one spouse is being dilatory or engaging in protracted litigation with no valid reason behind it. The courts frown upon that type of action or litigation strategy. To combat that, they can and most likely will award counsel fees.

It is important that each spouse is on a level playing field when conducting their divorce. The monied spouse cannot take advantage of the non-monied spouse because of his or her financial resources to litigate the case in what we call scorched earth litigation. The courts are more interested in fairness between the two parties. You have to remember a divorce is an action in equity. With that in mind, yes, you may ask the court to award you counsel fees during your divorce. If you are concerned as to whether or not you will be required to pay your legal fees in a divorce, it is important that you consult with an experienced divorce attorney.

If you require experienced legal representation for divorce and family law matters, contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Paige, P.C. today to schedule a consultation.