Will I Have to Pay My Spouse's Attorney Fees in Divorce?
When it comes to attorney fees in general, Michigan courts follow the "American Rule". That means that each party is responsible for paying for his, her or its own fees and costs regardless of whether or not that party has less economic means to afford it or whether that party wins or loses. However when it comes to family law cases (divorce, alimony, custody, property division or support) then there is a different set of rules. In this area, the court may order one party to pay for the other party's attorney fees from his or her own income or share of the marital estate.
There are two instances where this may occur, the first is where one party has caused the other party to incur unnecessary costs and fees, typically by filing frivolous motions or trying to conceal assets. The court may also award fees and costs when a party needs financial assistance to prosecute or defend the action. This is a more common issue that often has to be addressed in some form during negotiations, mediation or trial.
In that case, the party requesting the fees and expenses most allege sufficient facts to show that the party is (1) unable to bear the expense of the action and (2) the other party is able to pay. This situation arises in almost any case where one party has been the primary wage earner or bread winner and the other party has been the primary caregiver for the children or homemaker.
If you have questions or concerns about whether you may have to pay for your spouse's attorney fees or have other questions regarding family law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Cameron C. Goulding, Family Law and Mediation, PLC, to schedule an appointment.