If your divorce is litigated the court has the power to award attorney fees to one spouse or the other. Generally, the court considers one spouse’s need for attorney fees and the other spouse’s ability to pay them. Other factors may come into play such as whether one spouse is cooperative during the legal process or not-otherwise known as intransigence. With contempt motions, if a party is found in contempt there is an automatic award of attorney fees but the court has discretion in determining the actual amount.

If the parties engage in alternative dispute resolution the issue of attorney fees may still come up. In those cases, the parties negotiate whether someone will agree to pay something towards the other side’s attorney fees in order to settle the case.