There are two ways for litigants recover attorney’s fees from the other party in a Minnesota divorce. The first involves need-based fees. The second involves fees awarded because of inappropriate behavior (“bad-faith conduct”) on the part of the other party.

For a fee request based on need, the court is required to award fees and costs in order to enable a party to carry on or contest the dissolution if it finds that the fees are necessary for a good-faith assertion of the party’s rights, the fees sought will not contribute unnecessarily to the length and expense of the preceding, the party from whom fees are sought has the ability to pay them, and the party seeking fees does not have the ability to pay them.

A fee award may also be made based upon bad-faith conduct. The fee award will likely be based upon the fact that one party unreasonably contributes to the length or expense of the preceding.  This generally means that a litigant must go above and beyond the norm of advocacy in terms of proceeding with their case. The mere fact they are contesting issues and requesting a trial does not necessarily mean that have engaged in “unreasonable” conduct.