Who Pays Attorney Fees in a Divorce?

Divorces are often messy and complex, even under the best circumstances. Even fairly amicable and uncontested divorces can cost thousands of dollars by the time you sign the final documents. Because of this, many couples want to know, “Who pays attorney fees in a divorce?”

In most divorce cases, each spouse is responsible for paying their own legal fees. However, some exceptions exist, and an experienced divorce lawyer can help you through your specific case.

The American Rule & Divorce in Texas

In most divorce cases in the United States, including Texas, the “American Rule” prevails. This rule dictates that each party involved in the divorce is responsible for covering their own attorney fees. It means that the person who initiates the divorce and the spouse who responds to it are typically expected to pay their respective legal expenses.

Who Pays For a Divorce?

When getting a divorce, each person typically pays their lawyer’s expenses. But there are a few cases where you can ask your ex-spouse to help cover your legal bills:

  • If You Depend on Them: If you relied on your spouse for financial support, like a stay-at-home parent with little or no income, you might be able to ask the court to make your ex pay for your lawyer. In Texas, this could happen if you’re entitled to alimony or other financial support.
  • When You’re Left High and Dry: If your spouse cuts you off financially by taking your name off joint bank accounts or putting their money in a separate account, leaving you with little or no money to pay for legal help, you can request that they contribute to your legal fees.
  • When Your Spouse Plays Dirty: If your spouse behaves unfairly during the divorce, causing the process to drag on unnecessarily and increasing your legal bills, you can ask the court to step in. The court wants both sides to be on a level playing field, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman.

It’s a common misunderstanding that if your spouse cheated on you, leading to the divorce, they’ll have to pay your legal fees. But that’s not usually the case. Even if you’re the one who’s been wronged, you’ll likely still have to cover your own legal expenses.

How Can I Reduce Divorce Attorney’s Fees?

Who Pays Attorney Fees in a DivorceUntangling a relationship is not easy and can take time. If you’re concerned about costs, working with a divorce attorney from the start is the best way to reduce attorney fees. Many couples try to handle divorce on their own. This can lead to a longer divorce time and increased costs.

Your attorney can work with you to help you pursue an uncontested, no-fault divorce, which is generally less expensive. They can also help you develop a strategic approach to your divorce and guide you on when to push for a favorable settlement and when to consider compromise.

Negotiation and mediation are among the most effective ways to keep divorce costs in check. A skilled divorce attorney can help facilitate productive discussions between you and your spouse, potentially leading to mutually agreeable solutions without costly court battles. Through negotiation and mediation, you and your ex can arrive at a resolution that works for both of you, saving time and money.

When Are Divorce Attorney Fees Awarded?

When deciding who has to pay for the lawyers in a divorce, the court will consider all aspects of the divorce, including finances, assets, and the actions of both parties. If the court says one spouse has to help pay the other’s lawyer bills, they will do this at the end of the divorce process.

Once the court has made a determination regarding attorney fees, it will issue a specific court order outlining the awarded amount or the percentage of the fees that one spouse is obligated to cover. This order is incorporated into the final judgment and is legally binding.

Contact Our Houston Divorce Lawyers

Many couples worry about paying legal fees during their divorce. This is a real concern, but one we can make easier. Contact our law firm to get started on your divorce process. We can work with you to reduce costs and fees or petition the court for your ex to pay those expenses. Each case is different, but we’d love the opportunity to discuss your legal options with you.

Consult an experienced Houston divorce attorney at Moving Forward Divorce Lawyers. Call us at 713-589-4748 or fill out our confidential contact form to learn more about your legal options. We can work with you to help you untangle your lives and move forward into your future.



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The attorneys at Moving Forward Divorce Lawyers are highly experienced with Texas family law and can fight on your behalf for the things you want out of your divorce.

It’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney when getting ready for, or going through a divorce. Filing the right paperwork and petitioning the court takes time, experience, and skill. If you make a mistake, you will lose money and valuable time. This could impact your future significantly. Call us at 713-589-4748 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal options.

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