Who Pays Attorneys Fees in Divorce
Written by Brenden Kennedy

Who Pays Attorneys’ Fees in Divorce?

Are you wondering who will foot the bill during a costly divorce? Here you will learn what fees you can expect to pay and who is responsible for paying attorneys’ fees during a divorce.

Choosing to participate in a collaborative divorce means you will have access to a financial neutral, which eliminates the need for each party to hire his or her own financial expert. This also helps to minimize the time that each attorney might otherwise spend engaging in the discovery and disclosure aspects of a traditional divorce. To learn more about the benefits of collaborative divorce, contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices today.

What are Attorneys’ Fees in a Divorce?

In a divorce action, each party is generally responsible for compensating their own attorney for services rendered by that attorney and his or her staff. Service provided by a divorce lawyer may include:

  • Researching statutes and laws that might apply to your case
  • Set up terms for child support and legal decision making
  • Research and gather supporting evidence for your case
  • Formulate legal arguments to use in court
  • Create legal documents and file with them the court
  • Analysis of options for division of assets and debt
  • Client representation during court hearings
  • Preparing for secondary follow-up meetings or appeals

Who Normally Pays Lawyers’ Fees in Divorce?

In many cases, each party is responsible for paying his or her own lawyer’s fees in a divorce. In some circumstances, one spouse can be ordered to pay the other spouse’s legal fees.

Can My Spouse Be Order to Pay My Attorney’s Fees During a Divorce?

Yes and no, depending on several factors set forth by statute and case law. Divorce statutes in Arizona give a judge discretion to order one spouse to pay all or some of the other spouse’s legal fees and costs during a divorce. Other statutes set forth circumstances where a judge is required to order an award of legal fees, e.g. as a sanction for specific misconduct during the course of the action.

ARS 25-324. states in Paragraph A that “The court from time to time, after considering the financial resources of both parties and the reasonableness of the positions each party has taken throughout the proceedings, may order a party to pay a reasonable amount to the other party for the costs and expenses of maintaining or defending any proceeding under this chapter or chapter 4, article 1 of this title.”

This is an example of a discretionary award of fees (e.g. the judge may order fees if the judge believes it is appropriate to do so after considering the financial resources of the parties and the reasonableness of their positions).

Paragraph B of this statute states that “…the court shall award reasonable costs and attorney fees” if the judge finds that a petition was not filed in good faith, was not grounded in fact or based in law or was filed for an improper purpose, such as harassment, unnecessary delay or to increase the cost of litigation to the other party:

This is an example of a mandatory award of fees (e.g. the judge shall award fees if a party has engaged in the misconduct described).

Who Pays Attorney’s Fees in Collaborative Divorce?

In a Collaborative divorce, the spouses agree as part of their overall settlement about how the fees for all of their collaborative professionals, including the attorneys, will be paid.

On average, collaborative divorces in Arizona can be finished faster than traditional litigation in a courthouse and can cost considerably less than conventionally litigated divorces in court. In some cases, you can be divorced in as little as 60 to 90 days from the time of filing, and you could each save thousands of dollars that might otherwise have been spent in litigation.

Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?

You should consider hiring a divorce attorney if you want professional assistance in determining and pursuing ideal outcomes for legal decisions making, parenting time, child support, property and asset division, and spousal support. Furthermore, hiring an attorney for divorce might be a good idea if your spouse is planning on hiring an attorney or if you have a complex divorce case.


  1. Rivera, Jose. “Who Pays Attorneys’ Fees in Divorce?” LegalMatch Law Library, 1 May 2018, https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/who-pays-attorneys-fees-in-divorce.html.
  2. Bird, Beverly. “Who Pays for Legal Expenses in a Divorce?” LegalZoom Legal Info, 18 July 2016, https://info.legalzoom.com/pays-legal-expenses-divorce-21861.html.
  3. Nolo. “Divorce Lawyers’ Fees Can Be Reduced When Spouses Act ‘Reasonably.’” www.alllaw.com, Nolo, 10 June 2019, https://www.alllaw.com/articles/family/divorce/article24.asp.

See Also:

Collaborative Divorce is a Peaceful Divorce Option

Divorce litigation can be scary and emotionally draining for you, your spouse, and your children. But it doesn’t have to be that way with collaborative divorce. The collaborative process can result in a less expensive, more efficient, and less harmful outcome for everyone involved. One of the legalfinancial, and communication professionals at Best Legal Choices can help you navigate this difficult time in your life.


The collaborative divorce process is designed to help people who are willing to work together to make an agreement that benefits the family. Resources that help parents communicate effectively during this process can help them model appropriate behavior for their kids. With love and support, children can more effectively deal with their parents’ divorce. Contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices if you’re ready to take the first step toward starting your new life.