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Counsel fees are considered the cost of obtaining legal services from an attorney. They can be either hourly costs or a flat rate and are separate from court fees. While most people are nervous about hiring a lawyer for their divorce because of the costs, it should be understood that there may be other available options. If you are in a tough financial situation, the court may force your spouse with higher income to pay the attorney's fees.
Some of the factors that determine whether or not you may be awarded financial help for counsel fees are as follows:
- Looking at the margin of difference between the two spouses' incomes
- Determining if the spouse with higher income can more easily pay the counsel fees
- Defining the value of the legal services given, as well as the results the attorney was able to obtain
- Considering the difficulty and complex nature of the case
Ultimately it is up to the judge to come up with a final decision and order necessary fees. Do not let the thought of finances keep you trapped within a bad marriage. Contact our office so that we can walk you through the process and help calm your worries.
Can't afford to pay counsel fees in your divorce?
It is no secret that nearly half of all marriages typically end in divorce. All too often, spouses stay in a bad marriage simply for the reason that they cannot afford to pay an attorney to represent them in a divorce. There is fear that his or her rights would completely fade if she were to proceed forward without her own legal representation, thus losing rights to her children, her home and potential spousal support or maintenance.
These concerns are very real for many women and men, and these are the very concerns that keep many of them from filing for divorce in the first place. The truth is, it is vital to have a practiced attorney represent you in a divorce; however, if you cannot afford to pay a lawyer, you should never let that stop you from deserting an unhealthy, if not abusive marriage.
Can counsel fees be awarded to the spouse with less?
The New York Courts understand that one spouse may be economically disadvantaged over the other in a divorce. They respect the fact that one spouse may have chosen to stay home to care for the children and the home while the other spouse worked for a living and supported the family. Often times years out of the workforce makes it nearly impossible for the less moneyed spouse to have any of "their own" money, let alone any control of the finances or direct access to cash. However, their efforts into building and caring for the family do not go unnoticed.
For this reason, in a divorce proceeding, if one spouse has significantly less resources than the employed or higher earning spouse, the court may award counsel fees to the spouse that is earning less. This means the court may order the higher earning spouse to pay the attorney fees of the lesser earning spouse. Attorney fees may be ordered at any point in the process, if it is necessary to award them before the proceedings are complete, so the divorce can move forward, a judge may order the higher earning spouse to pay the other spouse's counsel fees at that time.
How We Can Help
At the Law Offices of Lynn Poster-Zimmerman, PC, it is well understood that one party may not be able to afford to pay their attorney fees. For this reason, Attorney Lynn Poster-Zimmerman will request that the court order your spouse to pay your counsel fees. She is entirely sensitive to your situation and will do what she can to help you get out of a bad marriage, even if it means having your spouse pay for your legal fees. There is no shame in asking the court to award counsel fees and it is a process that takes place in New York courtrooms each and every day.