Can a court order one spouse to pay legal fees for both parties?
Divorces are notorious for being an interesting combination of negative things, even though they are often the start of a positive new chapter in a person’s life. Some of the notorious traits include that divorces are emotional, lengthy, and above all, expensive. Some people want to get out of their relationship but stay in a broken marriage simply out of fear that they cannot pay the legal fees because their spouse earns a significantly higher income than they do. The fear of not being able to independently afford quality legal counsel can trap a spouse in a relationship that may be abusive physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Luckily, in New York State, the court may require the spouse with a greater income to pay the legal fees of the less monied spouse.
The reason for requiring one spouse to pay the legal fees of another spouse is to level the playing field between both spouses. This law, which is part of Section 237 of the Domestic Relations law, ensures that both spouses are benefiting from the experience of a qualified divorce attorney throughout the divorce process. It is often difficult for one party to convince the court that they need their legal fees paid for unless they have no income whatsoever. Regardless, the goal is to allow both parties to obtain a quality divorce attorney who can adequately fight on their behalf.
Robert Pollack is an experienced divorce and family law attorney in Long Island, New York. Contact The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., to set up a free initial consultation.