By David L. Duff of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Tuesday, August 16, 2016.
Divorce litigation can often be quite expensive. It is not unusual to see both parties incur attorneys fees deep into the tens of thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is always important to posture yourself in as strong a position as possible to require that your spouse reimburse you for a portion of the attorneys fees that you have incurred.
At the outset, you must understand that the question of whether or not to assess attorneys fees against one spouse is completely discretionary with the Judge. With this in mind, it is absolutely crucial that you do not intentionally do anything during the pendency of the divorce case that causes the other side to unnecessarily incur additional fees. A common example is the party who fails to timely and thoroughly respond to discovery requests, thereby requiring the other party to file a formal Motion to Compel to obtain discovery responses.
Another frequent example is the spouse who refuses to follow the court-ordered terms for visitation with children, resulting in exchanges of correspondence between attorneys; the filing of motions; and generally a court appearance to argue the matter before a Judge.
Or, consider the party who has been ordered to pay interim support to the other spouse, or to pay a debt (ex. the mortgage, a car payment, credit cards) pending the final hearing, but fails to do so. This forces the other spouse to have his/her attorney file a written motion, and often appear in court, merely to obtain something that has already been court-ordered.
These are only a few examples of the innumerable ways that one party’s unreasonableness, or outright obstinance, causes the other party to incur more attorneys fees than are necessary in the divorce litigation. As you might imagine, Judges do not take kindly to such unreasonable conduct, and will often “reward” such conduct by ordering a sizable reimbursement of attorneys fees to the other, non-offending spouse.
If you are involved, or about to be involved, in divorce litigation, and have a question about requiring the other party to contribute to your fees, call an attorney at The Duff Law Firm for a complimentary, 30-minute telephone consultation and discuss your particular situation.