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Making Your Spouse Pay Your Attorney’s fees


As the old saying goes, “All is fair in love and war.” Marriage and divorce are similar to both. If it’s war, then to the victor belongs the spoils. This is where a fiercely fought trial would take its toll and having a skilled attorney really counts. 

Of course, hiring the services of a top law firm or lawyer will also entail high attorney’s fees. Are you willing to invest in a high retainer fee if you are partly assured of getting favorable conditions? 

It would be easier to make that decision if you can make your spouse pay your attorney’s fee.

How to Make Your Spouse Foot the Bill

It is easy when both spouses agree to the divorce. However, in cases when the couple’s finances are tight and only one spouse has individual income, the other might be placed at a disadvantage since they might not be able to pay for an attorney’s retainer fee. 

There is actually a remedy for that. If you want to hire a private attorney, then you can make an arrangement wherein your spouse will pay for your lawyer. 

Remember that the State of Texas recognizes community property. That means any income, retirement or bank accounts of the couple will be considered the joint estate of the two of them. If for some reason, one party is unable to gain access to the funds, they can file a petition for a court order. 

You can ask your attorney to file a motion and there will be a hearing to wherein the judge can order that the other’s attorney’s fees will be shouldered by the community property on the interim. Lawyers’ fees are part of the consideration that the court uses when they compute how to divide the community property.

Factors the Court May Consider

Having your interim attorney’s fees paid by your spouse is actually common. These are the following reasons why the court considers this:

  1. The significant disparity of income or no income at all
  2. They can consider the attorney’s fees as an advance on the community assets
  3. If one spouse has bad or fraudulent behavior, the court may penalize him/her with this
  4. The court orders selling off community assets to facilitate payment

There are some challenges to this arrangement, though. For one thing, there would be some lawyers who would hesitate or refuse to accept a case with no down payment. It takes about a month for the Court to issue the order and the lawyer will have to agree to wait.

Also, there is no assurance that the Court will agree to the petition on an interim arrangement, then the lawyers will have to wait until the divorce is final.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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