Gavel With Divorce Fee MoneyEven though California is a no-fault state for divorce, some situations—such as infidelity or excessive spending—place the blame squarely on one party’s shoulders. If your spouse’s actions are the cause of your divorce, you might think it’s only fair that he pays the legal fees. However, that’s not how it works. Unless there are specific extenuating circumstances, the judge will order that each party pay their own legal fees.

What Are the Exceptions?

You have the right to ask the judge to order your ex to pay your legal fees if you would be unable to hire a lawyer otherwise. The California courts recognize the need to level the playing field so both sides can have access to a lawyer. So, if there is an economic disparity between the parties, the judge can order the party with more money to pay the other party’s legal fees. This request is made in writing to the court.

Another exception is in a situation where one party purposely drags out the proceedings, driving up the legal fees. If your ex fails to cooperate with the legal requirements of the divorce, he could be considered by a judge to be acting in bad faith, and he could be ordered to pay your legal fees. Examples of bad faith actions include:

  • Making false allegations
  • Refusing to negotiate
  • Missing meetings and court dates
  • Hiding assets
  • Failing to turn over documents
  • Not completing paperwork in a timely manner

If you can prove to a judge that your ex acted in bad faith and that you owe more legal fees than you should as a result, he could order your ex to pay at least the fees that are in excess of what was expected.

In Marin County, Contact Nathan Law Offices for Help

Divorce is expensive, and you shouldn’t be responsible for paying more because your ex is uncooperative. You are also entitled to the same caliber of representation that he is hiring, even if you can’t afford it yourself. To discuss these and other issues related to your divorce, contact our office today.


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