Can I make my husband pay for the divorce fees? 29 Answers as of September 02, 2011

My husband has been abusive toward me and my children for years. I make a decent income so I pay for all of the family expenses. He makes a small income which is spent on liquor/attorney fees for fighting his multiple DUIs. I pay his phone bills/insurance and everything. He doesn't watch the kids and contributes in no way whatsoever. Recently he admitted to cheating. He's willing to sign anything because he knows he is screwed and the marriage is completely broken. I'm not letting this chance slip. My children want him gone (he doesn't interact with them at all) and I am ready to push for a divorce. The only thing holding me back is the fact that I have saved up a decent amount of money and don't want to waste it on him. Given his admission to cheating, would I be able to sue him after our divorce for my fees and expenses regarding the divorce? Thank you in advance!

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
You need to sue for the attorneys fees as part of the divorce. It is a compulsory claim meaning do it during the divorce or give it up.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/30/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
Legal fees can be awarded in a divorce based on ability to pay and/or based on conduct during the divorce that contributes unreasonably to the length and delay of the proceedings. Infidelity and other fault based issues are irrelevant to such a determination and, as a general rule, courts are reluctant to award legal fees in most cases.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 8/29/2011
Willick Law Group
Willick Law Group | Marshal S. Willick
"Cheating" per se is irrelevant. You need a consultation with a family law specialist.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 9/2/2011
Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
You probably won't get much in the way of attorney fees in the situation you describe. In Washington, in a divorce case, there are generally two bases upon which a court can make an award of attorney fees. They are (1) need and ability to pay and (2) intransigence. Since you make more than he does, it would probably be hard to convince a court that you have a need for attorney fees and that he has an ability to pay your attorney fees. If fact, if he makes a lot less than you, this standard could actually work against you. The intransigence standard applies when one party so abuses the legal process that it makes a case unnecessarily long, complicated, and expensive. So, unless your spouse does something like that, intransigence also will not be a basis for attorney fees. You mention his "cheating." However, the statute in Washington says that the court is to make a fair and equitable division of the debts and property without regard to marital misconduct. Therefore, his cheating also will not help you on the issues of property division and attorney fees.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/26/2011
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
Unfortunately, most likely not, especially if you earn more money than he does and are in a better position to pay for an attorney. However, I would agree about striking while the iron is hot and he is willing to be agreeable. You should immediately consult with an attorney and have them draft a full marital settlement agreement.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/26/2011
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    Any party can include a count for legal fees in a divorce or file a Petition for Fees. Whether that would be successful would determine on factors such as the parties' respective incomes, etc. Do not miss the chance to get his cooperation on the divorce because of this relatively minor issue.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    If you hire a lawyer for the divorce, he/she could request for attorney fees and costs in the complaint. Based on the small income he has, compared to yours, I doubt a Judge would grant that request, but based on the infidelity, you should get the lion's share marital estate. You should understand that the courts do not consider who earned what during the marriage since it is considered a partnership, in terms of splitting property and debt, but fault during the marriage can be considered in dividing the property.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    You need a divorce. I would ask the Court to order him to pay your attorney's fees, and the Judge will decide how much he is liable to pay. I can help you with this. Give me a call, make an appointment to come see me, and let's get moving on this for you. No charge for the telephone call and no charge for the first office visit
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    No, you can't sue after the divorce for the cost. It is all negotiated as part of the divorce. Since he will agree to your terms, it should not cost too much. We offer a forms only service for people who do not need help assessing assets, debt or other items.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    I am afraid not. The reimbursement for the attorneys fees and filing fees need to be addressed in the divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    Your suit for attorney fees and costs would have to be part of the divorce and it is unfortunately based on need and ability to pay. If you have him ready to sign an agreement that is favorable, you may consider eating the expense to get what is more important to you. I suggest you consult an experienced Family Law attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    The fact that he cheated is of no consequence. In fact, since you make the bulk of the income, you might be on the hook for a contribution for his attorney's fees in the dissolution.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
    CA is a no fault state. However, if he is agreeable to everything because of the guilt, the costs should be minimal.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You contradicted yourself in your own post. Either he is agreeable on ALL issues (that includes legal fees) or he is not agreeable period. There is no in between. If he is agreeable, you probably spend about $1000 or so to get divorced with a lawyer. If he isn't you will spend many times that and have to pay that up front in the distant hope you get an award later from someone with no money. If he agrees on everything, pay the smaller amount and ignore the potential to spend a lot to likely not collect a lot.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Yes, but the question of who pays attorney fees is the last question to be decided by a judge at the end of a divorce case. There are no fixed rules and it will be matter for the judge to decide after considering ALL of the relevant financial circumstances. His cheating is totally irrelevant to the legal issues.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    You can't sue him after the divorce. You can only get attorneys' fees as a part of the divorce action. Therefore, given your wanting to move ahead, you'll have to weigh the importance to you of getting the divorce quickly and less expensively and paying for it yourself, or filing a contested divorce and asking for him to pay your attorney's fees - which is up to the judge and not a given.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    You should retain a divorce attorney asap and if you are able to get your spouse to agree to a simple, uncontested divorce, then it should cost so much.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    Attorney fees in a divorce cases are generally paid by the ability of the parties. If your husband and you make about the same, then both pay their own fees. If he makes more, then he can be ordered to pay a portion of your fees. So, you could be awarded fees based on his income.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Raheen Law Group, P.C.
    Raheen Law Group, P.C. | Wali Raheen
    Please meet in person with an attorney to evaluate your case. If your husband would not put up a fight and is ready to "sign anything," then your divorce might not be that costly. The fact that he committed adultery would certainly weigh against him.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    His cheating is not a basis for an award of fees. In Washington, fees are typically awarded based one one's need and the others ability to pay, or based on intransigence (i.e. being difficult).
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    California is a no fault divorce state. This means division of property is not based on the conduct of the parties but on what was earned during the marriage. Earnings from your work and effort are considered community resources. If you have saved earnings, 401k's and other like kind assets, they are subject to division as a marital asset. You might request that husband pay attorney fees but if he makes less income than you do, the court might feel he would need fees from you so he could hire an attorney. To get an answer tailor made to your situation, you really need to meet with a skilled family law attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    You cannot sue him after the divorce (Exception: damages resulting from transmission of an STD). However, there is a motion that you or your attorney can file to request that your husband reimburse you for fees and expenses incurred in the divorce. It is ultimately up to the court to decide whether to order reimbursement. The fact that he has cheated would have more bearing on property division rather than the decision to award fees/costs. I hope this information was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    No. Include a provision in the divorce judgment that he will pay you $X for the fees and costs you've incurred.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO | Ryan J. Lewis
    Nebraska is a no fault divorce state. It does not matter why you are getting divorced. You can ask that he pay the attorney fees in the divorce proceeding, but typically the judge will rule that each party pay their own fees.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    You may not get any fees from him. You will get child support though.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/25/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    In Washington, his cheating is irrelevant to an award of attorney fees.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/25/2011
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