Do I have to pay for my wife’s attorney or can the court appoint her a free one? 19 Answers as of October 21, 2013

I served my wife with divorce papers and asked her to meet up with my lawyer so she can straighten everything out for us. She refuses and said that I have to get and pay for her lawyer. She only works part time but and I don’t have the money either. I pay all the bills and have two kids. Can’t she get a lawyer from the court?

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Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
No you cannot get a court appointed Attorney for a Divorce case because it is a private matter.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 10/21/2013
Law Office of Robert E McCall | Robert McCall
There is no legal requirement she have an attorney or that you must pay for one. If she is voluntarily limiting her income by only working parttime most Judges will not order you to contribute.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 10/18/2013
John Russo | John Russo
Why would the court appoint her a lawyer? This is civil, not criminal, but that does not mean you have to pay for her attorney, unless there are funds available to do so, since all monies are considered marital until the divorce is finalized. So if there are bank accounts with enough money to retain counsel the court may very well give her an advancement against equitable distribution.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 10/18/2013
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
There are no free, court appointed lawyers for divorce cases. It may be possible that a judge might make you pay a portion of her attorney fees if you make substantially more than she does, but she would initially be responsible for her finding and retaining her own attorney.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 10/18/2013
Ellis & Abouelsood | John Danelon
The public defender office is only for criminal charges, not for civil charges. In California, it is possible for one attorney to assist both parties, but only if it is consented to and only in an uncontested divorce. You are not required to pay for her to have an attorney, but there are many public aid groups which may offer free assistance.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/18/2013
    The Law Offices of Tres A. Porter | Tres A. Porter
    No, generally, speaking, in civil cases, you are not "entitled" to an attorney if you can't afford one. Depending on the situation, you will not be required to "find" an attorney for her, but it is possible that you might be ordered to pay for her attorney. You should consult with a family law attorney in your area, preferably the one you have already hired as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    The Law Firm of Jessica M. Cotter, P.L.L.C. | Jessica M. Cotter
    In Arizona the courts do not and will not appoint an attorney to represent either parent in a dissolution matter.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    She cannot get an attorney from the court, that is only for criminal cases. You don't have to pay for her attorney until the court tells you to. So start your case and let her worry about it.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    Provda Law Firm
    Provda Law Firm | Bruce Provda
    You should both be represented by different attorneys. The court will sometimes award attorney's fees to one party to pay for another. Discuss this with your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    David A. Browde, P.C.
    David A. Browde, P.C. | David Browde
    The court will only appoint an attorney for an indigent defendant.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    No, and under some circumstances you or the marital estate will be order to pay all or part of her representation. The old adage is "Agree, for the Law is costly".
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    Diane l. Berger | Diane L. Berger
    She cannot get a lawyer from the court but that doesn't mean you have to hire a lawyer for her. She has several choices; she can represent herself, she can attempt to find an attorney who will work without being paid (that's called pro bono) or she can look into places like legal aid that represent people who have little or no income.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
    Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
    There are no court-appointed lawyers in family law cases. She could certainly make a motion to have you contribute to her attorney fees, but there is no guarantee that such a motion would be granted, depending on your financial status.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    The court in family law cannot appoint an attorney. You are only entitled to have an attorney in a criminal proceding. There is no family law equivilant to a public defender. However, the each party is entitled to have an attorney if they want and can afford one. There are several statuted that allow the court to order one side to pay for an attorney for the other side, but the most relevant one to you will be Family Code Section 2030, which states: " (a) (1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, or legal separation of the parties, and in any proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment, the court shall ensure that each party has access to legal representation, including access early in the proceedings, to preserve each party's rights by ordering, if necessary based on the income and needs assessments, one party, except a governmental entity, to pay to the other party, or to the other party's attorney, whatever amount is reasonably necessary for attorney's fees and for the cost of maintaining or defending the proceeding during the pendency of the proceeding. (2) When a request for attorney's fees and costs is made, the court shall make findings on whether an award of attorney's fees and costs under this section is appropriate, whether there is a disparity in access to funds to retain counsel, and whether one party is able to pay for legal representation of both parties. If the findings demonstrate disparity in access and ability to pay, the court shall make an order awarding attorney's fees and costs. A party who lacks the financial ability to hire an attorney may request, as an in pro per litigant, that the court order the other party, if that other party has the financial ability, to pay a reasonable amount to allow the unrepresented party to retain an attorney in a timely manner before proceedings in the matter go forward. (b) Attorney's fees and costs within this section may be awarded for legal services rendered or costs incurred before or after the commencement of the proceeding".
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    DeBrincat, Padgett, Kobliska & Zick | Mathew Kobliska
    In Michigan, courts do not have funding to pay for parties' representation in civil matters, except in very limited situations. However, there are agencies that are funded through various public and private sources that provide limited legal representation for the indigent. The requirements vary, but there are income and asset limitations which must be met in order to qualify. The court does have the ability to order payment of a party's attorney's fees from the other party, or from joint marital funds. Again, there is insufficient information provided to know whether this would be appropriate in this case. One thing is probably clear: if you paid for your attorney out of marital funds, then most judges are going to give her the equivalent right. Each party should be entitled to have their own legal representation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    Your lawyer can not answer this question? Get a new lawyer. right now. Before you do anything, please talk to a divorce attorney in your area. This is serious. These legal issues will affect you and your family for many years. You may cause great harm to yourself and your children, and may lose a lot of money, if you do the wrong thing.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    GordenLaw, LLC
    GordenLaw, LLC | Vanessa J. Gorden
    For civil matters such as divorce, no one is entitled to court appointed counsel, so that is not an option for her. If you make a great deal more money than she does, you may be required to pay a portion of her attorney fees, depending on the specific facts of your case. You mention having an attorney, and this questions is exactly the type of question you should discuss with the attorney who represents you.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    Eric Johnson
    Eric Johnson | Eric Johnson
    In Utah, there are no free, court-appointed divorce lawyers. If you are shown to have the means to meet your own needs, yet still have excess funds after payment of your own needs, your wife can ask the court, under Utah Code Section 30-3-3, to order you to pay her attorney's fees and court costs going forward, as well as for temporary spousal support during the pendency of the case.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/18/2013
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    She cannot get a court appointed lawyer. In addition, one lawyer cannot represent both of you. In a contested case, it would be up to the judge whether you would have to pay any of her attorneys fees; the main thing the judge will look at in deciding attorneys fees is the discrepancy in income.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/18/2013
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