Who Pays the Lawyers in a Divorce?

Divorce can be an emotional, frustrating, and expensive process. Each party must disclose all financial information, with a judge then making decisions about who will cover legal fees.

In most instances, both parties are responsible for paying their own attorney fees. But in rare instances, the judge may order one spouse to cover their partner’s legal bills; usually when there is an extreme disparity in income or resources between them.

Court fees

Judges consider several factors when determining who pays the legal fees in a divorce, such as finances, case merits and conduct during proceedings. Courts generally encourage parties to settle their cases as this reduces court caseload and saves everyone money; additionally they will often order spouses who bring unnecessary issues to trial or commit acts such as concealing assets to pay legal fees to the other side.

Judges may order one spouse to cover their legal fees should a long and complex divorce case proceed, called interim attorney fees award. This allows those with less resources to have competent legal representation without being penalized financially – something particularly helpful when there is an income disparity between partners.

Legal fees

When one spouse cannot afford their legal expenses alone, they can petition the court for help from the other party in covering these costs. This may be appropriate when there is a substantial income disparity or when one party has children; however, each case is unique and many factors could play a part in how courts allocate payment for attorney’s fees.

Courts take several factors into account when awarding attorney’s fees for divorce cases, including each spouse’s financial circumstances and necessary, complex services provided, results achieved and unreasonable or unethical billing practices of attorneys. If any have charged unreasonable fees or engaged in unethical billing practices (i.e. billing services not performed or excessive hours charged for which were never provided or excessive bills filed against clients without justification), clients can file complaints with the court which can lead to removal from approved lawyers’ lists for divorce cases.

Settlement conferences

Settlement conferences allow both you and your spouse to gather together with attorneys present, with the presence of a judge or mediator assisting each side to come to an agreement regarding issues such as property division, child custody arrangements and spousal support payments.

Reaching an agreement at a settlement conference will save both parties time and money in the long run, as well as avoid an exhausting trial process that could otherwise ensue.

IF the settlement conference fails to yield an agreement, the judge will issue instructions as to how you should proceed in trial. It’s essential that you follow these directions closely or else risk incurring fines for failing to follow them correctly. Likewise, be sure to go in prepared by reviewing your case with your attorney beforehand – doing this will allow you to better comprehend any terms of a potential settlement agreement and their potential effects in the future.


Divorce mediation can be a much less costly alternative to litigation. Couples may agree to split or factor the costs of mediation into their settlement agreement, making the divorce process much less tumultuous while helping sort through issues more peacefully and save both time and money in the process. Mediation also improves communication among partners while saving them both both time and money!

Complex cases often necessitate outside professionals for asset appraisal or custody concerns, which can quickly add up in costs.

Courts typically assign legal fees based on each party’s financial resources and actions during the case; those with more money may need to cover a greater share of attorneys’ fees than others. Furthermore, many states have laws regarding awarding fees in divorce disputes; some award fees on fault grounds while others consider circumstances and financial capabilities of parties involved in each individual dispute.