Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Can I get the judge to order my spouse to pay my attorney’s fees in a property division case?”
Divorce can take its toll on a person emotionally, mentally, and even financially. The financial cost of a divorce depends on the amount of time and work that must be put into it. Couples that are splitting amicably might have a divorce that costs less because there are fewer issues that need to be discussed or litigated. On the other hand, if a couple has a contentious divorce, then there are likely a multitude of issues that need to be discussed and will take longer to resolve. Depending on the financial situation of each individual spouse, it might seem daunting to pay the legal costs associated with divorce. This brings about the question of who is responsible for legal costs during a divorce?
In the majority of divorce cases, each individual is responsible for his or her own legal costs. If you are filing for divorce, it is best to be prepared to pay the attorneys’ fees and any other costs that crop up yourself. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Like most things in the legal field, there are exceptions. There are certain situations in North Carolina in which one spouse can petition the other spouse to pay for their legal costs.
- Dependent Spouse: In North Carolina, an individual defined as a dependent spouse can petition for the other spouse to pay legal costs. A dependent spouse is someone “who is actually substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse.” Stay at home parents or one making little to no income might be considered a dependent spouse.
- Account Removal: In addition to being a dependent spouse, if your soon to be ex-spouse removes you from shared accounts or has changed their deposit information to another bank account, the dependent spouse may be able to petition for attorneys fees. The dependent spouse must be left with little to no money.
- Bad Faith: Usually, people want to get through the process as quickly as possible. However, for whatever reason, your spouse might be dragging the process out or otherwise acting in bad faith. In these instances, your legal costs might be more than they otherwise would be and you may be able to petition for legal fees.
It is important to note that there is no guarantee that a petition for legal costs will be approved. Courts weigh all of the factors when deciding. Gender is not a consideration, and each petition is examined independently and with their own considerations.
The family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to guide you through a divorce. Do not let the various stressors of a divorce weigh you down. Our attorneys are dedicated to advocating for your position and getting the best possible outcome under the circumstances. We help you through every issue and finding a solution to the issues that are in your best interest. Contact us today for a consultation. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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