Who Pays the Legal Fees in a Phoenix, Arizona Divorce?

Lawyer urging a client to sign a contract for legal fees

If you are considering divorce, you may be wondering who pays the legal fees. Of course, having a divorce attorney is a wise choice and an investment in your future. That’s where Cohen Family Law comes in. We are highly experienced in handling divorce cases for clients throughout Arizona and will work to protect your interests at all times. 

Generally, each party is responsible for compensating their own attorney unless the court orders one spouse to cover some or all of the other spouse’s legal fees and costs during a divorce. While several factors are involved in this determination, working with an experienced attorney will stand you in good stead, in and out of the courtroom.

Above all, our legal team is committed to your success and will help you navigate the path to the next chapter in your life. Contact our Phoenix office today to get started.

What You Need to Know About Attorneys’ Fees in a Divorce

Depending on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, or is ultimately resolved through litigation, services rendered by a divorce lawyer may include: 

  • Conducting research of applicable statutes and laws and relevant court rulings
  • Gathering supporting evidence for your case
  • Creating  legal documents and filing them with the court
  • Analyzing options for division of marital property
  • Establishing child support and legal division 
  • Representing you in court hearings
  • Negotiating and preparing a settlement agreement
  • Preparing for follow-up meetings or appeals

Because we understand the emotional and financial burdens facing you, we offer cost-effective services and affordable payment options. While we often recommend seeking negotiated settlements through mediation or collaborative divorce, we are always ready to litigate in family court to achieve the best possible outcome. 

Who Normally Pays Attorneys’ Fees in Divorce?

In most cases, each party is responsible for paying his or her own attorneys’ fees in a divorce. Depending on the circumstances, however, one spouse may be ordered to pay the other spouse’s legal fees. Divorce law in Arizona gives judges discretion to order one spouse to pay all or some of the other spouse’s legal fees and costs. A judge may also award legal fees as a sanction for specific misconduct during the course of the divorce action (e.g. concealing assets, fraudulent conveyance). 

Under the applicable statute, the court, after considering the financial resources of both parties and the reasonableness of the positions each has taken during the case, may order a party to pay reasonable legal fees and costs of maintaining or defending a divorce proceeding. This is also referred to as a “discretionary award” because the judge may order such fees if he or she believes this action is appropriate after considering the above-mentioned factors. 

Arizona law also allows the court to award “reasonable costs and attorney fees” if the judge finds that a petition was:

  • Not filed in good faith
  • Not grounded in fact or based in law
  • Filed for an improper purpose (e.g, harassment, unnecessary delay or to increase the cost of litigation to the other party)

When imposed for such misconduct, this is referred to as a mandatory award.

Alternatives to Divorce Litigation: Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

One way to mitigate the legal fees and costs associated with divorce is to consider alternatives, such as divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. 

In the mediation process, the parties enlist the services of a neutral third party, known as a mediator, who guides them to a resolution of the key issues in the divorce. A mediator cannot provide legal advice, however, which makes it wise to consult with an attorney who can advise you about the process and your rights, limiting your fees to a consultation unless other services are rendered. 

In a collaborative divorce, the parties and their attorneys agree to settle the divorce without court intervention. The settlement will typically include an agreement about how fees for all the collaborative professionals — attorneys, financial advisors, family counselors — will be paid. Given that a collaborative divorce can be settled much faster than divorce litigation, each party can save a significant amount in attorneys’ fees and court costs. 

Why You Need a Divorce Attorney

A marital breakup is rarely easy and navigating the legal system can be complicated and confusing. Mistakes can be costly and adversely impact your future. By working with an experienced Arizona divorce attorney, you can make informed decisions about property and asset division, spousal support, child support, and parenting time. 

Of course, hiring a divorce attorney is a good idea if your soon-to-be-ex has an attorney, and especially so if you have a complex, high-net-worth divorce case. Regardless of your circumstances, working with an experienced divorce lawyer will give you peace of mind knowing that your interests will be protected.

Contact Our Experienced Arizona Divorce Lawyers

Divorce can become a protracted and expensive legal battle, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Turn to Cohen Family Law instead, where we work to find innovative, cost-effective solutions to divorce and all types of family law matters. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. 

Cohen Family Law services clients with their divorce needs and informs clients on legal fees throughout the Phoenix, Arizona area including Anthem, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Laveen, Mesa, Peoria, Scottsdale, Surprise, and Tempe.