Divorce in Michigan can be expensive, particularly when you are going through a contested divorce in which many issues are in dispute. Divorce cases involve child custody disputes or complex property division issues can be particularly lengthy and expensive. For spouses who were not primary earners during the marriage, the prospect of covering the cost of all of their attorney’s fees during the divorce case can be daunting. If you are currently in such a situation, or if you are anticipating that your spouse will be able to pay more for attorney’s fees during the divorce (and thus to refuse to negotiate the terms of the divorce in order to reach an agreement), you may be wondering if you are eligible to seek attorney’s fees. In other words, you might be wondering: Am I responsible for all of my attorney’s fees, or can I ask the court to have my higher-earning spouse cover some of the costs during the divorce?
In short, Michigan law may allow you to seek attorney’s fees from your spouse in your divorce case. Our experienced Michigan divorce lawyers want to provide you with more information about how this can work.
Alimony and Costs in a Michigan Divorce
The ability for a court to award attorney’s fees to one spouse (paid by the other spouse) in a divorce case is addressed in a Michigan statute concerning alimony and costs. According to the statute, in any divorce, the court can order one party to pay maintenance (alimony) to the other party. The goal of these payments is to ensure that both parties can maintain the standard of living to which they are accustomed, but also so that both parties can participate in the divorce proceedings on an equal footing.
Financial Need or Fault and Attorney’s Fees in a Divorce Case
To be clear, the language “to pay any sums necessary to enable the adverse party to carry on or defend the action” refers to attorney’s fees necessary to go through the divorce case. In general, there are two different kinds of situations in which a court will require one spouse to pay attorney’s fees for the other spouse in a divorce case:
- Financial need: one of the spouses does not have sufficient income or assets to pay for reasonable attorney’s fees in the divorce case, and the other spouse does (often in a situation where one of the spouses was the primary earner in the family during the marriage); or
- Fault: one of the spouses is responsible for the additional length of the divorce case (typically because that spouse intentionally failed to adhere to an existing court order or another intentional action that constituted misconduct).
Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney for Assistance
Do you have questions about attorney fees? A Michigan divorce lawyer can help. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information.