Who Pays Attorneys’ Fees in Divorce?

Quick Summary:

  • In Florida, the judge in your divorce case may order you or your spouse to pay the other’s attorney’s fees.
  • When deciding whether to order fees, the court will evaluate the need for fees and the ability of the other spouse to pay.

How can my spouse make me pay her divorce attorney fees?

In almost every petition for divorce, one or the other side (you or your spouse) can request that your spouse pay the attorney’s costs.

Divorce attorney's fees in divorce can be paid by both spouses or just one.

Why do you have to pay for your spouse’s lawyer?

Unlike other areas of law, family law courts often order that the other side pay attorney’s fees. In fact, it’s written into the family law statute found here. (opens in new tab). The rationale is that both sides should have competent representation during a divorce proceeding.

Court-ordered attorney fees.

The process for obtaining court fees will follow this general procedure:

  1. The attorney or the party will file a motion (opens Wikipedia page) stating that they need attorney’s fees and the other side can pay them.
  2. There will be a hearing before the court. Both sides will present evidence. The spouse requesting attorney’s fees will have to prove they have a need. The other spouse must then prove that they can’t pay alimony. The judge will then decide based on what they hear.

Florida Attorney’s Fees Statute

The law regarding lawyer fees can be found in section 61.16 of the Florida Statutes. If you want to read the actual statute, you can find it here. If one of the parties questions the legality of granting attorney’s fees to the other side, all you would have to do is point to this statute for legal authority. This section allows recovery lawyer fees in all of the following situations:

  • Any divorce (opens how to divorce post) proceeding
  • Modification (opens child support modification post) proceedings
  • Enforcement actions
  • Appeals of motions and orders made in divorce court.

How much can my spouse’s attorney charge?

If the court decides what you or your spouse must pay the other’s fees, the attorney must prove the reasonableness of the fee requested through evidence.

How much is a Florida divorce?

Divorce costs can be divided into attorney’s fees and everything else. First, there are the attorney’s fees if you decide to hire an attorney. Most attorneys bill in one of two ways: hourly or flat fee. To complicate matters, attorneys’ hourly rates vary substantially from one lawyer to another. Other attorneys charge a one-time, flat fee for the representation. The things that your lawyer typically does in a divorce include:

  • Drafting all the paperwork
  • Negotiating with your spouse or their attorney.
  • Drafting motions
  • Attending hearings and trials if necessary.

The other type is cost. The cost of a divorce is the filing fee, service of process, court reporter fees, and miscellaneous minor fees.

Case Example: Reasonableness of Attorney’s Fees in Florida Based on Actual Case)

FAQ

Conclusion

People usually pay for their attorney, but in divorce, if there is both a need and the ability to pay, one party could pay for two lawyers.

Joseph “Joel” Lipinski is a family law attorney serving the Tampa Bay Area. For a free consultation, contact him at 727-643-8964 or email him at joelipinskiattorney@gmail.com.