Can I ask my spouse pay my attorney fees?

Attorney fee payment using credit card.   Can spouse pay?
Paying attorney fees with credit card

Yes, you can ask your spouse to pay your attorney fees in a divorce proceeding in Minnesota.  This is governed by Minnesota Statute 518.14.

The statute provides two bases for fees:

  1. “Need” – whether one spouse can’t afford an attorney and the other one can pay for both.  This is most typical when one spouse makes a lot more the other.
  2. “Conduct” – when one spouse engages in misconduct that increases the cost of the proceeding.  Typical examples include: missing scheduled Court dates or mediations, not filing paperwork in a timely fashion, and taking too long with discovery requests.

How to get Attorney Fees Paid by Your Spouse

You can ask your spouse directly.  In some cases, this works.  In many cases however, the other spouse is unwilling to do so.  This is the more typical situation.

So what if your spouse disagrees?  A Court order is required to force your spouse to pay.  This requires a hearing.  Unfortunately, this can be costly and often doesn’t happen.

Also keep in mind, under most retainer agreements, you owe your attorney based on your contract with him or her.  So, you owe your attorney payment, regardless of whether your spouse has to pay yours.

Also, marital funds can be used to pay attorney fees.  This usually works well and is typical if both spouses have access to some marital accounts.  However, if only one spouse has access to funds, the other may ask that he or she release some of those funds to pay for attorney fees.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page