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Family Law: SC Family Law Blog
Paying the Opposing Party's Attorney's Fees
By Ben Stevens
One of questions that family law attorneys are most frequently asked is some variation of "Can the other party be required to reimburse me for my attorney's fees and costs?" or "Will I be required to pay the other side's attorney's fees?"
Many times, each party will pay his or her own attorney's fees ... but not always. The cases in which one side will be required to pay the other's attorney's fees and costs typically fall into one of the following categories:
- Unequal Finances :: One spouse earns significantly more than the other, such as the husband earning $120k per year, whereas his wife's salary is only $40k per year. This can also occur when one spouse has possession / control of significantly more assets than the other. The Court usually tries to "level the playing field" as best it can.
- Clear Wins / Losses :: At the conclusion of a case, it is clear that the case was one-sided and the losing party had no realistic chance of prevailing. For instance, the wife insists that she is entitled to receive alimony despite the fact that the parties' incomes are approximately equal and they have only been married for a very short period of time.
- Misconduct During Litigation :: One spouse engages in a pattern of conduct during the course of the case in order to increase his / her spouse's legal fees and costs. This can happen when there has been excessive discovery in an otherwise simple case or where one attorney attempts to "drown" the other with correspondence and other unnecessary requests.
- Fault Ground Divorce :: If one spouse obtains a divorce on one of the fault grounds (adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness, etc.), it is not uncommon for the other party to be required to reimburse that spouse all or part of the attorney's fees, private investigator's fees, etc. incurred in obtaining the divorce.
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