Attorney's Fees in Divorce
“And He/She Wants me to pay attorney's fees!!!” That is a common complaint from new divorce clients. It's in that last phrase, just before the end of the pleading --“Respondent should be ordered to pay reasonable attorney's fees, expenses, and costs through trial and appeal, and a judgment should be rendered in favor of this attorney…” And clients see red!
The law does allow attorney's fees to be awarded in divorce. (See Tex. Fam. Code Sect. 6.502 and 6.708) Fees may also be awarded in cases involving children and the family (see generally Tex. Fam. Code Sect. 106.002)
However, there is much less to fear from the request for attorney's fees in a divorce than you might think. There are a few main reasons for this: 1) there is only one ‘pie' to divide. When the court has to hear and decide a case, attorney's fees are part of the bigger decision on how to divide the property. 2) Additionally, when judges do determine the case, the most common decision is both sides will pay for their own attorney and 3) most cases for divorce end with a mediated settlement agreement, in which the parties usually decide (and nearly always do decide) that each has to cover his/her own attorney.
There is much more to be concerned about in the other types of family law cases in Texas (including especially enforcement cases!) but that is for another post.