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Who Pays for Attorney Fees in a Texas Divorce? 

Divorces can be emotional, complicated, and completely life-changing – and also expensive. 

One of the common issues that arises between spouses in the process of a divorce is determining who covers attorney fees. The Houston divorce attorneys at Law Offices of Douglas Ray York, P.C., are frequently asked this question and are capable of helping you better understand more on this particular subject.

Community Property and Attorney Fees Can Be Linked Together in Your Houston, Texas Divorce

Texas is a community property state, which means that any assets earned or debt accrued during the marriage belongs to both spouses. This also means that all community property acquired is subject to “just and right” division between the divorcees. 

In Texas, because spouses are technically married until their divorce is complete and finalized, all debt and assets, including attorney fees, are subject to division.  

Factors That May Affect Who Pays for Attorney Fees

When determining who pays for attorney fees, a judge will typically consider the financial status of both parties involved. Generally, if one spouse makes substantially more money, then the court may find it “just and right” for the more financially well-off to pay a portion or all of the fees for the other.

However, there are other instances when a court may make one spouse responsible for attorney fees. Acting in bad faith such as not complying with court orders, refusing to comply with discovery requests, failing to reveal all assets or debts, or other such actions may result in a judge ordering one spouse to pay the attorney fees. 

Additionally, the court will determine whether an individual will pay for their spouse’s legal fees by determining if the need of one party’s ability to access community property and funds can be balanced by the opposing spouse’s ability to pay those expenses out of those same community assets. While the more financially stable spouse may be more capable of handling the economic effects of such a cost, the court will not make the party destitute in order to make community funds available to the requesting party.

Attorney fees are accounted for until the end of the divorce process. As stated earlier, because these fees are considered community property, the divorcees will have to present all of their attorney costs up until that point. The court may place the burden of cost on one spouse as necessary in order to be fair. 

What to Know About Interim Fees & Other Types of Fees in a Divorce in Houston, Texas

In order for a court to determine how much a spouse may be responsible for attorney fees, the lawyer of the party requesting for support will need to show why a certain amount of fees are needed and from what source the fees will come from.

One type of fee is known as interim attorney’s fees. This means that the spouse will be responsible for any costs while the case is being handled, rather than paying out at the end of the process. A judge may order a spouse to pay for the fees and to incur debt in order to pay the amount, including loans against 401(k) accounts and loans against secured nonliquid properties.

It should be noted that in custody cases not involving a divorce, you may be required via a temporary order to pay your spouse’s attorney fees if it is done so to protect the wellbeing and safety of a child or children.  

While this is not the only situation in which you may be ordered to pay for attorney fees, it is the only circumstance in which fees can be required by a temporary order.  

Avoiding Paying for a Spouse’s Attorney Fees

One of the best ways to minimize the possibility of having to pay lawyer fees for a spouse is to hire an experienced Houston divorce attorney who can effectively advocate for you in court. Additionally, your lawyer should investigate other means by which your spouse may be able to pay for their own legal fees. 

Because divorces can be time-consuming and costly, it’s vital that you have a skilled divorce attorney in Houston, TX, who can help you navigate the process and secure the best possible outcome while also minimizing expenses. 

Trust in the Law Offices of Douglas Ray York, P.C., to be the difference you need and deserve. We’ll do everything we can in our mock courtroom to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your divorce.