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Will a New Jersey Court Order an Ex-Spouse to Pay Divorce Attorney Fees?

If you are contemplating pursuing a marriage dissolution case, you may wonder whether or not a New Jersey court will order your spouse (or your ex, if the proceedings are nearing an end) to pay your divorce attorney fees. In this article, we provide you with some basic information about New Jersey divorce attorney fees and who is responsible for paying these costs.

General Rule Regarding New Jersey Divorce Attorney Fees

As a general rule, New Jersey divorce attorney fees are to be paid by the party incurring these costs. In other words, in a New Jersey divorce, each party to a marriage dissolution proceeding pay their own attorney fees. There are some situations in which a divorce court in the Garden State might consider requiring one party to pay the other’s attorney fees. However, it is important to again stress that this is not the general rule. Examples of situations in which a court might order an opposing party to pay your own marriage dissolution attorney fees include:

  • Uncontested divorce and financial status of parties
  • Case in which alimony is ordered
  • Property division considerations
  • Improper conduct of other party
  • Domestic abuse situation
Uncontested Divorce and Financial Status of Parties

In a situation where both spouses agree to the divorce, the court may order one spouse to pay the other’s attorney fees. This is because a court may recognize that one party may have more money or resources than their spouse and thus should assist in covering the costs of legal representation. With that noted, the parties may agree between themselves that one of them will pay all attorney fees accrued in a case. A court needs to approve any such agreement made by the parties – and typically will in this type of situation.

Case in Which Alimony is Ordered

When an individual is unable to pay for attorney fees on their own, the court might order that their former partner pays these costs as part of an alimony award. Alimony is designed to assist a spouse in maintaining a certain standard of living following a divorce for a set period of time.

Property Division Considerations

Depending on how much property is being divided up between each spouse, the court might choose to order one party to cover some or all of the other’s New Jersey divorce attorney fees as a means of ensuring a proper allocation of assets and liabilities or debts in a particular divorce course. The New Jersey equitable division of property standard requires that all assets and debts acquired during the marriage be divided between both spouses in a fair and just – equitable – manner. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal; rather, it means property and debt accumulated during a marriage must be distributed between the parties fairly and reasonably. If you are thinking about filing for a divorce, call us today at 201 845-7400 for free initial consultation.

Improper Conduct of Other Party

Should either party be found at fault for the cause of a divorce, meaning they are responsible for its occurrence due to adultery or domestic violence, then it’s possible for the court to grant that individual’s request for their former partner to cover attorney fees. Again, this arises in a situation in which a fault divorce is sought pursuant to New Jersey law.

Domestic Abuse Situation

In cases where a battered spouse seeks a divorce from an abusive partner due to fear for personal safety or wellbeing, it's possible for courts to grant legal expenses such as New Jersey divorce attorney fees in order to ensure justice is served in a particular marriage dissolution case.

In the final analysis, it is again important to remind a reader and to underscore the reality that in most New Jersey divorce cases, each individual party is responsible for paying his or her own attorney fees. A party to a New Jersey marriage dissolution case can file a motion seeking attorney fees. The other party has the right to file an objection to that request. The motion and response then will be considered by the court. The court ultimately will rule on whether or not the” other party” will pay attorney fees in a particular New Jersey marriage dissolution case. If you have a divorce or a family law case, call us today at (201) 845-7400 for a free consultation.

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