Contested divorces can be very expensive propositions for both parties. Whether you are a
plaintiff or a defendant in a divorce case, the probate and family court
can order your spouse to pay a retainer fee for your attorney in your
divorce case pursuant to Chapter 208 §17 of the M.G.L states.
This statute states:
“The court may require either party to pay into court for the use
of the other party during the pendency of the action [for divorce] an
amount to enable him to maintain or defend an action.”
How can you get help from your spouse for your attorney fees?
A retainer fee is payed in advance in order for an attorney to begin work
on the case. The attorney normally uses this money to pay for the services
he/ she provides and for legal costs and expenses (filing fees, etc.)
Courts normally have awarded attorney’s fees to parties when there
is a severe income gap between spouses, however if other circumstances
arise the court will listen. As the case proceeds, the attorney may bill
the client for the amount of work or legal fees that exceed the original
retainer amount, if and/when the retainer runs out.
Typically, you will need to
prove to the Court that you do not have enough money to pay the retainer
fee for a lawyer and that your spouse does have enough money and/or assets to pay for the retainer. The court will ask you and your
spouse to file financial statements, which lays out your income, assets,
expenses, and other costs associated with everyday living. The Court will
compare these two statements to determine whether or not your spouse is
in a better position to pay for the fees that your attorney requires.
Get the Help You Deserve During Your Divorce
The concept of requiring a spouse to pay the others attorney fees stems
from the theory that the playing field should be even in
divorce litigation ad that both parties are entitled to a relatively equal opportunity to
litigate important issues in an appropriate manner.
If you are the spouse that is in the “dark” on financial matters,
consult with our Wellesley divorce lawyers at Saponaro Barach Bingham LLP to discuss seeking fees from your divorcing spouse.