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.
If you have more questions, please review the links to the left, head back to the MN Family Law Attorney home, or visit Majeski Law. If you’re interested in retaining an attorney, please feel free to email or call using the links in the upper right.