Who has to Pay the Legal Fees for a Divorce?

The cost of divorce can seem prohibitive for many people.  The media is full of dirty details about high profile divorces that cost millions of dollars.  While most people understand their divorces won’t cost nearly that much, it can still be scary to think about how you will pay for your attorney and court fees.

Most of the cost of divorce is in lawyer fees.  The longer you keep fighting about money, your children and your possessions, the more your divorce will cost you.  This is not a suggestion to give in to everything your spouse wants, but rather a caution that fighting over who gets your antique dining room table may cost you more in lawyer fees that just buying yourself another one.


If your lawyer has to find information for you, you may also have to pay for private investigators or experts to testify on your behalf.  You will also have various court fees that will need to be paid.  Even if you and your spouse are filing an amicable divorce, you will have to pay filing fees for your paperwork.

While you are going through your divorce, you can ask your spouse to pay all of the legal fees incurred during the divorce.  Some spouses may agree to this, especially if the divorce was their idea, but you shouldn’t count on it.  If you are really struggling financially, you may be able to find a lawyer who will take your case based on a sliding scale.  Some courts also offer the services of mediators who can help you.

In most cases, each person pays their own lawyer fees and they split the court costs.  Again, the spouse who initiates the divorce may agree to pay the court costs, but you will probably still have to pay your own attorney fees.  When one spouse is really struggling financially, a judge may order the other to pay all the fees for the divorce, but you will have to prove that paying for your lawyer is impossible for you.

Remember that the court will already have access to your financial records as you presented them when you started the divorce process.  You can’t change your situation just to force your spouse to pay more in fees.  This will backfire and make you look dishonest in the court’s eyes.  This is the last thing you want because you need the judge to believe in you and trust that you are an honest person.

You should never let the cost of a divorce prohibit you from leaving an abusive or unhappy marriage.  If you can’t find an attorney who will allow you to pay on a sliding scale, perhaps friends and family can help you financially.  Swallow your pride and ask for the help you need to find a happier life for you and your children.

If you are currently involved in a divorce and require legal guidance, before you spend thousands of dollars in legal fees, check out our free 7-Day “Divorce 101” course.  Sign up below and you’ll immediately start receiving tips and guidance you can use to minimize the pain and time required to get through the divorce process.

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