Can you have your spouse pay your attorney fees for a divorce or other family law case? The answer is yes!
When someone starts to think about divorce, one of the first questions they have is how much is it going to cost? The cost of a divorce varies with the complexity of the case and there is no “one size fits all” answer to the question. While simple cases are less expensive than complex cases, it is impossible to predict how the “other-side” may react and since no two cases are ever the same, costs vary.
This article examines the law authorizing how you can have your spouse pay your attorney fees.
How to have your spouse pay your attorney fees?
The law authorizing a request to have your spouse to pay your attorney fees can be found in statute, court rule and case law.
The statute which authorizes a spouse to pay your attorney fees is Michigan Compiled Laws Section 552.13(1) and authorizes a court to require a party to “pay any sums necessary to enable the adverse party to carry on or defend the action.”
The statute which authorizes a spouse to pay your attorney fees is Michigan Court Rule (“MCR”) MCR 3.206(C) which authorize a party to request attorney fees and expenses be paid by another party. The Court Rule provides that a party may, at any time: “. . . request that the court order the other party to pay all or part of the attorney fees and expenses related to the action or a specific proceeding . . .”.
Spouse pay your attorney fees – need
When a party requests a spouse to pay your attorney fees and divorce expenses, he/she must allege facts sufficient to show either that:
- the party is unable to bear the expense of the action, and that the other party is able to pay, or;
Spouse pay your attorney fees – bad conduct
(b) the attorney fees and expenses were incurred because the other party refused to comply with a previous court order, despite having the ability to comply.
Unlike attorney fees for need, which is essentially financial, your spouse may also be required to pay for the divorce because of his/her bad conduct.
In the case of Cummings v Wayne Co, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided that: “A trial court has “the inherent authority to sanction litigant misconduct.”
In the case of Hanaway v Hanaway, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided a spouse may be required to pay for the divorce “when the requesting party has been forced to incur expenses as a result of the other’s party’s unreasonable conduct in the course of litigation.”
Similarly, in the case of Cassidy v Cassidy the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision to have a spouse pay for the divorce based upon the “vexatious behavior during the divorce proceeding”.
In Borowsky v Borowsky, the Michigan Court of Appeals determined that the party requesting the attorney fees has the burden of showing facts sufficient to justify the award.
Finally, in requesting a spouse to pay for the divorce because of his/her bad conduct, the trial court is required to consider whether: (a) unreasonable conduct occurred, (b) the attorney fees incurred were caused by the unreasonable conduct, and (c) the fees incurred are reasonable. See: Reed v Reed.
If you want to ask your spouse to pay for the divorce or family law matter, we are here to help.
About Findling Law
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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We are compassionate, creative and always prepared. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.
By: Daniel Findling