Who Pays for the Attorney Fees in Divorce?

The opposing party cannot simply “have a court order you” to pay his/her attorney fees. This situation usually pertains to the monetary allotment and current income statuses of both parties. It is also a motion to be made prior to the final judgment, not after.

This is really a matter for the courts to decide, but it will be decided through various factors. A judge's ruling in a trial court can be appealed, however it is important to understand an appeal may not go your way.

In the case of Holbrook v. Holbrook, 103 Wis.2d 327, 309 N.W.2d 343 (Ct. App. 1981)[1] the court ruled marital estate assets[2] are valued at the date of the divorce; what is a mere possibility for the future will not be reviewed by a judge, as it is still only a possibility. However, if an appellate judge looks at all the facts and believes the trial court made a mistake, the appellate court can reverse certain awards.

In the case of Hengel v. Hengel, 120 Wis. 2d 522, 355 N.W.2d 846 (Ct. App. 1984),[3] a woman had entered a notice of appeal on the property division and a contribution toward her attorney fees. It was after the notice of appeal had been entered, that the trial court ordered the husband to contribute to the wife's attorney fees. The husband appealed, and the order was reversed.

In order to better understand your current situation, more details are needed regarding both parties and income. Contact an attorney that is experienced in family law in order to go over the specifics of your case. He/she will provide you with individualized advice, probable outcomes based on your circumstances, and represent you during the trial.


References: [1]Holbrook v. Holbrook (1981), [2]Divorce Settlement Assets and Liabilities Checklist, [3]Hengel v. Hengel (1984)


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