Attorney Fees and Court Costs in Divorce, Child Custody, & Other Family Law Cases

by Alimony, Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce, Divorce in Minnesota, Family Law

When deciding whether to file or respond to a case in family court involving matters such as divorce, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony), a person must consider many factors, including the emotional and financial issues involved. How to pay for an attorney is one of the common financial issues. For example, if one spouse stays at home while the other spouse works, or if one parent earns significantly less than the other parent. Fortunately, Minnesota law provides special considerations in these cases. Such as divorce, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance. The court may award attorney fees and court costs to a party to carry on or contest the case, which the other party must pay.

Requirements Regarding Attorney Fees

Three requirements must be met before the court can award attorney fees and court costs to allow a party to carry on or contest the case:

  1. the fees and costs must be necessary for the good faith assertion of the party’s rights in the case and will not be used to unnecessarily delay or increase the expense of the case;
  2. the party from whom the fees and costs are sought must have the ability to pay them, and;
  3. the party seeking the fees and costs must not have the ability to pay them on their own. Attorney fees and court costs awarded by the court on this basis are referred to as need-based and, in most cases, will be awarded by the court if these three requirements are met.

Conduct-Based Attorney Fees and Costs

The court may award what is referred to as conduct-based attorney fees and court costs. This is in addition to need-based attorney fees and court costs. An award of conduct-based attorney fees and costs is left to the court’s discretion. It may be awarded in favor of one party and against the other party if that party unnecessarily delayed or increased the expense of the case. Unlike need-based attorney fees and costs, the court may award conduct-based attorney fees and costs without considering the financial resources of each person. The availability of conduct-based attorney fees and court costs is intended to serve as a deterrent to prevent a party from pursuing a claim in family court frivolously or in bad faith.

It is always a good idea to have a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney represent your interests in family court. Because of the potential costs involved on both sides of a family law case, it’s important to consult an attorney. It is especially important that you have an experienced attorney in such proceedings like Attorney Kay Snyder and the family law attorneys at Jeddeloh Snyder Stommes.

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