During divorce, you’re facing several difficult choices – and one of those is whether you should hire an attorney or you should take a “do it yourself” approach.
While it’s true that it can be costly to hire a lawyer, it’s equally true that it can save you a significant amount of money in your settlement. It can also save you from the stresses, headaches and issues that arise when you’re trying to file paperwork, speak on your own behalf in court, and handle all of the legal aspects of divorce, particularly when you consider that you still have to manage your day-to-day life, work, and run a household.
If you know that you need an attorney to help with your divorce but you’re not sure how to pay for it, there’s good news; under Minnesota law, a person who is involved in a divorce is legally allowed to liquidate marital assets in order to pay his or her legal fees.
Make sure you discuss this option with your lawyer, though, because the courts can put the money from your liquidated assets on the balance sheet for property distribution.
Attorney Fee Awards in Minnesota Divorce
It’s not uncommon for the courts to require one party to pay for the other spouse’s attorney fees. The court can order a partial or a full payment, depending on the circumstances, and they can order it at any point during the divorce – even before the entry of the decree.
There are two reasons that courts will order one party to bear responsibility for the costs of divorce: need and fault.
Need-Based Attorney Fee Awards
A person can ask for the court to award attorney’s fees based on need. Before making a decision, the court will evaluate:
- Whether all of the fees were necessary for the divorce proceedings;
- Whether the other party has enough money to pay the fees; and
- Whether the party asking for the award has enough money to pay an attorney
Fault-Based Attorney Fee Awards
When one spouse is clearly at fault for racking up the other party’s attorney fees, the court may determine that he or she must pay them. The judge will evaluate whether one spouse:
- Files frivolous motions repeatedly;
- Fails to appear in court in order to drag out the process;
- Fails to file all of the necessary court documents;
- Harasses or abuses the other party; and
- Caused damage to the property or to the financial situation of the other spouse
If you believe that your soon-to-be ex has acted in bad faith by doing any of these things, let your lawyer know. He or she will file a motion on your behalf in order to recover your attorney fees.
Get Financial Help With Your Divorce
You don’t have to let your ex take advantage of you during your divorce because you may not be able to afford an attorney’s representation. Call us at (763) 783-5146 today to schedule a confidential case evaluation.