In Pennsylvania divorce and equitable distribution cases, Pennsylvania family court judges have the power to order one spouse to pay the other spouse's attorneys' fees. The basis for such cost-shifting is a substantial difference in the income or property that each party has available for their use in employing a PA divorce lawyer. However, in some cases, the request for attorneys fees can not be made until the case is near completion. In this situation, the spouse must pay their attorneys fees as work is being performed and hope that an award reimbursing those fees will be made at a later date by the judge. In other divorce cases, if there is a lump sum of money or other liquid assets in a marital account, a request can be made to advance some of those assets to the spouse needing assistance with their payment of legal fees. In situations where both spouses have similar incomes or earning capacities or if both spouses receive ample amounts of liquid assets as part of the divorce, the husband and wife are more likely to pay their own fees for their Pennsylvania divorce lawyer.
While there is some limited rights to seek payment of your legal fees in support matters, there is generally no method to seek legal fees in custody matters. There is also only very limited rights to seek payment of legal fees in a case involving child support only.
However, another reason for having one party pay the other's party's lawyers' fees is bad faith or contempt by the party from whom fees are sought. If one party does something he or she should not do (such as not paying child support or interfering with other party's access to the child), the party who engaged in misconduct is likely to have to pay the attorneys' fees of the other party.
Contact our team of experienced PA family law lawyers to learn about your legal rights. Our PA family law attorneys accept family law cases in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Armstrong County (Kittanning), Beaver County, Butler County, Somerset County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County (Greensburg). Our lawyers accept PA family law cases from other Western Pennsylvania counties including Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County (New Castle), Mercer County, and Venango County on a case-by-case basis.
The statements in this section are based on Pennsylvania law and have been issued to inform and not advise. The statements are general in nature and individual facts in a given case may alter their application or involve other laws not referred to here.