As well-seasoned divorce lawyers, we created a series of blogs for those of you thinking of divorce in Arkansas. For information about Leigh Law’s Family & Domestic Law services, click here. We also answer several of your most common questions on our FAQ page.

This article is about Who Pays for Divorce in Arkansas.

Can I make my spouse pay for the divorce? It might be the most common question asked by our clients in a divorce. It’s his (or her) fault and I want him to pay for it! After all, every court document includes a request for the other side to pay attorney’s fees!
In short, no likely not. That is just not how it works.

Tradition vs. Common Sense—Who Wins?

There are many odd things in law. Tradition wins over common sense sometimes, and this is a great example. All court documents will ask for attorney’s fees, even if they are not allowed or are uncommon in whatever type of case it is about.

In divorces, all our pleadings and motions will include in the prayer for relief, a request for attorney’s fees from the other side. In theory, the judge has the power to order one side to pay for attorney’s fees of the other side. But it doesn’t happen frequently. And when it does happen, we have to wait until very end of the case to find out what the judge will say.

How Does the Judge Decide Who Pays for Divorce?

The judge bases the decision to award attorney’s fees on the behavior of the parties. Did one side cause a big bill to run up by making frivolous demands or unfounded allegations? Was one side so unreasonable that it really makes the judge mad? Did one side act in a ridiculous manner or not follow the judge’s orders (contempt)? If so, that party is likely to be punished by being ordered to pay attorney’s fees to the other side. What matters to the judge is your spouse’s behavior during the divorce proceedings and in court, not what he/she did to cause the divorce.

Can My Lawyer Work on a Contingency Fee Basis?

Divorce lawyers are not allowed to work on contingency, or base a fee on how much or many of the assets we can win for our client, to the detriment of the other side. Unlike in other types of legal cases, divorces are supposed to be equitable. Our job as divorce lawyers is to work toward a reasonable, equitable resolution. It is unethical for us to base our fee on how unfair a settlement we can get for our client.

Bottom Line, Who Pays for the Divorce in Arkansas?

All clients in divorces or other domestic cases will have to pay their attorney’s fees up front and should not bank on the judge ordering reimbursement by the other side.

Sometimes the judge will make an exception. If the marriage is long and we can show that the other party has control of the assets and won’t share even on a temporary basis to help you survive during the divorce, then the court may enter a temporary order to correct the situation. Such an order might included direction on possession of the marital home, who pays the debts and who can spend what money.

Sometimes the judge will order the one side to contribute to the attorney’s fees of the other side. This is rare, though.
It is disappointing to hear for many of our clients, but by and large you are on your own to pay for your own advice and counsel in divorces.

Call For A Free Case Evaluation

Case evaluations are completely free; our fees are flat and affordable. Call Leigh Law today at (501) 227-ROAR or Email Us to ensure that you are making wise decisions now which will last far beyond the entry of the divorce decree.