At the end of your divorce, your spouse may request that you pay his or her attorney’s fees. Many times, this can be a significant sum of money, particularly if you were not anticipating having to cover your former spouse’s attorney’s fees. Recently, a court decided that both child and spousal support payments should be considered when determining one’s obligation to pay their former spouse’s attorney’s fees.
Both child and spousal support payments should be considered when determining one’s obligation to pay their former spouse’s attorney’s fees
Alan T.S. v. Superior Court (Mary T.)
In this case the trial court had ordered $9,000 in attorney’s fees to a wife during a dissolution case, citing disparity in the wife’s gross income as a court clerk of $5,135/mo and that of her husband, who grossed $8,333/mo. as a law librarian. When the husband appealed the fee order, he pointed out that not only was his income not substantially greater so as to support such a large attorney fee award, but that he has significant costs and expenses including child support and spousal support, after which he was not left with enough income to pay attorneys fees.
Past cases have clearly emphasized that the court should consider need and ability to pay, but this case is unique in that the court specifically considered the husband’s actual expenses and also considered his hefty child and spousal support obligations in determining that it was unfair to make him pay attorneys fees under these circumstances.
If your spouse is requesting that you pay his or her attorneys fees, you should definitely cite this case and argue the same logic, that after you are ordered to pay child support and spousal support that you just don’t have money to meet your monthly budget and pay your spouse’s attorneys fees on top!
Alan T.S. v. Superior Court (Mary T.) [full text]