You may also be entitled to attorney’s fees based upon your need and your spouse’s ability to pay. Evidence must be submitted to the judge establishing the amount of the fees, the necessary costs, their reasonableness, your need for an award, your relative ability to pay them yourself and the ability of your spouse to pay them.
Fee awards are rarely granted in the full amount requested. Yet, even here an exception arises when one party is entirely dependent on the other. Courts increasingly recognize a need to “level the playing field” in marital dissolution cases. Even a spouse with property may be entitled to an award of funds from the other spouse in an amount necessary to protect his or her rights against the affluent party without having to invade capital. An important exception arises when the award is really punishment inflicted on an unreasonable spouse to discourage conduct that wastes the court’s time or is abusive to the legal system.