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Who Pays Divorce Attorney Fees in Texas? [2023]

Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Turner Thornton

Divorce can be emotional, exhausting and expensive. When clients come to us seeking dissolution of marriage, one of the first things they often ask is, “Who pays divorce attorneys fees?” Actually, to be more specific, they usually want to know if they have to pay for their spouse’s divorce attorney – or if there is any way that they can make their spouse pay their lawyer fees.

As is with the case in most family law matters, the answer is, it depends. The decision about who pays divorce attorney fees is made by the family law judge on a case-by-case basis. In some divorce cases, each party pays their own attorneys. In other cases, one spouse will be ordered to pay all or part of their ex’s attorney fees. In this article, family law attorney Turner Thornton answers frequently asked questions about divorce attorney fees in Texas – but first watch this short, but highly informative, video.

How do I ask my spouse to pay for my divorce attorney fees in Texas?

If you don’t ask, you can’t receive. In your original petition for divorce, you must ask the judge to order your spouse to pay for your divorce attorney fees in Texas. It’s important to make sure that your lawyer includes this request in your petition.

How does the judge decide who pays divorce attorney fees in Texas?

Texas is a community property state, which means all assets and debt belong to both spouses until the divorce is finalized. This includes attorneys fees, which are also subject to “just and right” division between the parties. 

When determining who pays for divorce attorney fees in Texas, the judge will consider the financial status of both parties. If one spouse makes considerably more money than the other, the judge may find it fair to order the spouse who is more financially stable to pay for all or some of the other spouse’s divorce attorney fees.   

Can the court consider a spouse’s bad behavior during the divorce process when deciding who pays divorce attorney fees?

Yes. If one spouse acts in so-called “bad faith” or displays vexatious behavior, the judge could order him or her to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees. Examples of bad faith could include not complying with discovery requests, refusing to abide by court orders, hiding assets, or intentionally drawing out the process in an attempt to create a financial hardship on the other party. 

When is the decision made regarding who pays divorce attorneys fees?

Attorneys fees are awarded at the end of the divorce. Since the fees are considered joint property/community debt, both spouses will present a detailed accounting of all their legal fees at the conclusion of the divorce. The judge will then decide how to divide up lawyer fees and legal expenses. If the judge orders one spouse to pay the other’s expenses, they will essentially be reimbursing the other party.

What happens if one spouse can’t afford to pay an attorney during the divorce process?

During the divorce process, if one party cannot afford to pay an attorney, he or she can request temporary fees by filing a Motion for Interim Attorney Fees. The judge will then review the attorneys fees that have been accrued thus far and the resources of each spouse. The judge will then make a decision whether one spouse should pay the other’s lawyer’s fees during the ongoing divorce process.

Seeking a divorce? Contact us.

Divorces can be costly and contentious. At Varghese Summersett Family Law Group, we will help you navigate uncharted territory and ensure that your rights and interests are protected every step of the way. We will handle your case with the sensitivity, discretion and the expertise it deserves. Call 817-900-3220 today to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.

Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton is a well-known family law attorney in Fort Worth who leads the Varghese Summersett Family Law Group. Turner has successfully guided hundreds of individuals and families through the most trying period of their lives as a skilled negotiator and savvy litigator. Turner Thornton concentrates his practice on family law, including divorce, child custody, contempt, and modification cases. He is experienced in handling estates with significant and unique assets that can be difficult to value. He finds amicable resolutions where possible to conserve his client's resources, but knows how to take the gloves off if the situation calls for it. He has had remarkable results in and outside of the courtroom based largely on his ability and desire to understand his clients' needs and guide them on the pathway to what success looks like for them.

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