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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

For starters, Texas is a community property state where each spouses' income, retirement and bank accounts are presumed to be part of the joint estate of both spouses. Even if one spouse doesn't have the ability to access the funds that are necessary to pay for an attorney it is possible for a Court to order one spouse to pay the other's retainer fee for an attorney.

This is typically done in circumstances that border on the extreme- where the family finances are completely out of whack and one sided. This can be achieved only if your attorney files a motion in court and a hearing is had to consider the request to have one spouse pay the other's attorney's 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

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:

  1. finding an attorney to take the case with no money down with the hope of getting other spouse to pay for their fees.
  2. The court might say no
  3. It could be a month or two before the temporary orders hearing where a court might order an equalization of fees

This means you will probably need to have some money to put down on a retainer to hire a Texas divorce lawyer so that you can make it to that part of the divorce process.

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

Bad behavior by one spouse- engaging in fraudulent behavior or needlessly elongating the case- can cause a court to order the malevolent spouse to pay the other's attorneys fees.

If you do not believe that you can afford to hire an attorney it is well worth your time and effort to speak to a family law attorney who can advise you of the law and your options as it pertains to hiring a lawyer. The attorneys at The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC offer consultations free of charge where advice can be given and your options laid out in a comfortable setting. Please contact our office today in order to learn more.

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.

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