This divorce is not my fault. Can I get attorneys’ fees paid by my spouse?

As a divorce attorney, I hear this question so often. So many couples are split down the middle in that it is one party asking for a divorce that the other party absolutely either does not want or feels as though they had no part in the breakdown of the marriage. As a result, they feel that the other party should bear all of the costs of the divorce. Attorneys’ fees is a frequent and albeit automatic request in all divorce pleadings from both sides.

If you plead for and have the evidence of a fault divorce (ex. your spouse committed adultery and you can prove it), then the recourse could be that the court orders your spouse to pay attorneys’ fees. There is also a different scenario when the attorneys’ fees are pled for as debt of the community and the court is ordering who should pay those attorneys’ fees. This would be when an attorneys’ office does not receive the compensation for their services and then intervenes in a divorce suit to ensure that their fees are paid by one or both of the parties. However, there was a recent important Texas Supreme Court decision rendered in Tedder v. Aldrich LLP where the Court held that the trial court erred in ordering the husband to pay the wife’s attorneys’ fees because those fees are not necessaries and therefore not a community debt that the husband could be held liable for. This has changed the practice of family law in such a dramatic way.

Therefore, there is no short answer here. Family law cases are determined on a case-by-case basis and with this new Texas Supreme Court decision (which the legislature might overturn in the next session), family law courts are going to be scrutinizing the award of attorneys’ fees and the burden upon which party the payment is placed. However, this is an issue that Guest & Gray, P.C. is familiar with and deals with quite frequently. Contact us to assist you in navigating the best route to take in your litigation.

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