One of the hardest decisions married couples may find themselves making is the decision to divorce. Sadly, many Florida residents choose to stay in a bad marriage because divorce is expensive. The divorce process itself involves costs and filing fees, but the biggest concern for most couples is the cost of attorney fees.
You can get a divorce without an attorney. However, if you have children or property division issues to address, you are likely to want the advice and representation of a family law attorney. However, you may worry about the cost involved.
You may be entitled to reasonable attorney fees
Your spouse may make significantly more money than you and can easily afford an attorney, while you struggle to pay yours. Or your spouse may drag out the divorce longer than necessary, costing you more and more. Fortunately, Florida courts can order that one spouse pay the other spouse’s reasonable attorney fees in a divorce proceeding.
A request for your spouse to pay for your attorney fees must be filed at the start of the divorce action. You must put the request in your petition or in the answer to the petition if your spouse was the one who filed.
What a court looks at
However, once your request is filed, there is no guarantee the court will grant it. There are various factors the court considers when determining if one spouse should pay the reasonable attorney fees of the other, including:
- Financial resources
- Divorce history
The court reviews your and your spouse’s financial situations to determine if you truly cannot afford to pay your attorney fees, or can afford to pay them, but just don’t want to. Likewise, if you legitimately cannot afford your attorney fees, but your spouse also cannot afford to pay for both theirs and yours, your request may not be granted.
Your behavior in court matters. If you have behaved poorly, or unnecessarily prolonged the proceedings, your chance of having your attorney fees covered decreases. Additionally, you are only entitled to reasonable attorney fees, so if a court finds the fees you are asking for are excessive or unreasonable, you may not receive the total amount requested.