Who Pays Attorney Fees?
Attorney fees in family law cases in Minnesota are typically paid for by each party.
- For example, a wife would pay for her attorney and a husband would pay for his attorney.
- This is the general rule and it holds for the majority of divorce and family law cases in Minnesota.
* However, there are several notable exceptions in Divorce and Family Law cases in which one party may have to pay for the other party’s attorney fees.
Attorney Fees in a Divorce
In divorce cases, there are 2 situations in which attorney fees may be awarded from one side to the other by statute (Minn. Stat. 518.14).
Situation #1 – “Need-Based” Attorney Fees:
- This involves showing that one spouse cannot afford to pay for his/her attorney and assert his/her legal rights without help from the other spouse and that the other spouse can afford to pay the legal costs for both spouses.
- Basically, the spouse requesting attorney fees must show that s/he can’t pay and the other spouse can pay for him/her.
Situation #2 – “Conduct-Based” Attorney Fees:
- These involve an award of attorney fees when one spouse, unreasonably contributes to the length or expense of the divorce proceeding.
* Keep in mind, requests for attorney fees can also be made in post-divorce motion matters. For example, in child support, parenting time or spousal support modification cases after a divorce.
Attorney Fees in Family Law
Below are additional situations in which requests for attorney fees can be made:
- If one side starts an action that is frivolous and without legal basis (Minn. Stat. 549.211).
- If one side interferes with parenting time (Minn. Stat. 518.175).
- If one side is in contempt for violating a court order (Minn. Stat. 588.11).
- In child support enforcement actions (Minn. Stat. 518A.735).
- In an interstate child support enforcement action (Minn. Stat. 518C.305, 518C.313).
- In an interstate child custody dispute (Minn. Stat. 518D.208, Minn. Stat. 518D.312).
* TIP: In any divorce or family law situation, you can only request for the other party to pay your attorney fees if you have a permitted basis for doing so, and your divorce lawyer or family law attorney can make the request on your behalf.