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When might a divorcing spouse have to pay their ex’s attorney fees?

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2023 | Divorce |

Getting divorced in Pennsylvania is not cheap. Most people find that it’s an investment in their future where they are free of an unhappy or dysfunctional marriage. But it can get expensive. Beyond having to give up much of your marital property, there are direct expenses like attorney’s fees.

In many types of litigation — which a divorce essentially is — the parties can ask the judge or jury to order the other side to pay their legal fees as part of the verdict. So you might be wondering if you can do the same thing in your divorce. Is it possible to get your ex to pay your attorney’s fees in Pennsylvania?

The times you can ask for it

It is, but it’s not easy. Most divorcing people have to pay their legal fees themselves. But family court judges do have the discretion to order one spouse to pay the other’s fees upon request in certain circumstances. Specifically, you can request it when you relied on your spouse for income during the marriage and you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. Another scenario is when your spouse is recklessly (or purposely) driving up your fees with frivolous motions, dragging out settlement talks or otherwise abusing the system.

It can be challenging to get the court to have your ex pay your attorney’s fees. But most divorce lawyers charge reasonable fees given the level of knowledge and experience they bring to your case, as well as the hours they spend examining evidence, devising strategy with you and negotiating on your behalf.