Court costs and attorney fees are a natural concern when pursuing divorce via litigation. Financial fears sometimes push couples into making unacceptable compromises in mediation. Thankfully, there’s another way. Section 518.14 of the Minnesota Statutes provides the basis for recovering need-based attorney fees, as we explain below:
When Do Minnesota Courts Award Attorney Fees?
Section 518.14 states that courts can award fees if the couple in question meets the following conditions:
- The fees will not “contribute unnecessarily to the length and expense of the proceeding.”
- The person responsible for paying has the financial means to do so.
- The person who will be reimbursed does not have the means to pay necessary fees.
In some cases ‘conduct fees’ may be awarded if the court determines that one party unnecessarily contributed to the divorce’s time-line or otherwise acted in bad faith. Examples could include failure to respond to discovery requests, the repeated filing of frivolous motions, or the failure to appear in court. Attorney fees may also be mandated if the party asked to pay has engaged in harassment or abuse.
Need-based attorney fees can be awarded not only during divorce proceedings, but also for post-divorce family matters such as parenting time or child support modifications.
What Happens If My Ex Doesn’t Pay Up?
It is notoriously difficult to dodge attorney fees awarded in court. Minnesota courts can authorize several actions for recovering owed funds, including “collection of money awarded by execution or out of property sequestered.”
While need-based attorney fees can never be guaranteed, it is generally worth trying for this provision if you can prove that such awards are financially necessary, can reasonably be paid by your ex, and won’t unnecessarily lengthen the divorce.
Don’t let financial concerns stop you from seeking quality legal counsel. Contact the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. today to learn more about need-based fees and other important aspects of divorce.