How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney’s Fees in a Texas Divorce?

How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?

A major concern for just about every potential party to a Texas divorce case is the cost of hiring a Texas divorce lawyer. Attorney’s fees are a major cost to consider when contemplating a divorce, on top of the other stresses that accompany a life change of that magnitude.

Parties to a divorce are willing to try creative ways to cut costs and limit their financial exposure. One question that potential and current clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will ask our office about the possibility of having their spouse pay their attorney’s fees.

Money Earned during a Marriage is Community Income

In Texas, a community property state, spouses jointly own income, retirement, and bank accounts. Even if one spouse can’t access funds for legal fees, the court may order the other to cover the attorney’s retainer.

Typically, courts issue these orders when family finances are extremely unbalanced. To begin, your attorney needs to file a motion in court, leading to a hearing to decide if one spouse will pay the other’s legal fees.

Factors a Court Considers when Ordering Attorney Fees

Under Section 7.001 of the Texas Family Code attorney fees are one of the factors that the court may consider in making a “just and right” division of the community estate.

At the temporary orders part of a divorce case 6.502 of the Texas Family Code specifically provides that the court can award reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses for preservation of property and for protection of the parties.

Problem – Getting to Temporary Orders Hearing

How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?

Requests for interim attorney’s fees is not uncommon at temporary orders hearings. Some factors that can lead to a court to order that one party pay the other’s attorney’s fees include:

  1. Disparity of Income
  2. No Income
  3. Advanced Property Division
  4. Other Spouses Bad Behavior
  5. Selling community assets

Some problems a spouse seeking the other parties to pay for their divorce lawyer may encounter include:

  • Finding a lawyer to work with no upfront money, hoping the other spouse will pay, is challenging.
  • The court might refuse this request.
  • A court might order fee equalization, but this could take one or two months.
  • You’ll likely need some funds for a lawyer’s retainer to reach that divorce process stage.

You might check out my blog article “How am I going to Pay for My Texas Divorce?” for ideas on how to raise money for the initial attorney retainer.

Disparity of Income

The most widely seen reason is a severe disparity in income between the parties. If a court is able to review the financial picture of the parties, they can determine if one party’s access to funds has been denied due to the wrong doing of the other party.

No Income

Another situation that often befalls stay at home mothers is their having no income due to staying home to care for the family rather than having a wage earning job.

Advanced Property Division

On occasion, a court will order that a party’s attorney be paid directly out of the community estate as an advance on the division of property that typically comes at the end of a divorce case.

Other Spouses Bad Behavior

If one spouse behaves badly, like fraud or prolonging the case, the court may order them to pay the other’s attorney fees.

Also, f affording an attorney seems difficult, consult a family law attorney for advice on the law and your options. At The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, we offer free consultations to discuss your options comfortably. Contact us today for more information.

Selling Community Assets

If there is not enough cash to pay for your divorce lawyer fees, then a you can file a motion to sell assets to pay for your attorney fees.

Final Thoughts

How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?

In conclusion, securing payment for attorney’s fees by your spouse in a Texas divorce can be a complex process, but it’s not impossible. It’s important to understand that Texas courts consider several factors, including the financial resources of both parties, the complexity of the case, and any misconduct by either party. To improve your chances, it’s advisable to maintain detailed records of your financial situation, and work closely with your attorney to present a strong case.


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