Requests during a divorce that one spouse or the other pay or contribute to the attorney's fees of the other are a matter of discretion for the judge. While there is case law and statutory authority for the granting or denying of attorney's fees, I believe the issue is still very much subject to the actual facts of the case and the need of the person applying for counsel fees.
There are different times in a case when attorney's fees may be requested: at the beginning, middle or end. One of the key factors in deciding this issue is the difference between the income and assets of one spouse to the other. In otherwords, is there an immediate need to help someone pay their attorney so that they will not be unrepresented?
However, other very important questions for the court in granting or denying attorney's fees include:
Does each person have sufficient assets to pay their own legal fees?
Is the case complicated due to financial or custody issues?
Has one person violated court orders or unreasonably prolonged the case making the other person pay more legal fees?
How much more work is contemplated to bring the case either to conclusion or to the next significant phase?
Has the application for attorney's fees been properly prepared?
More often than not the court will not grant the full amount requested by an attorney for various reasons. Therefore, ultimately the client is still responsible to their attorney for payment of the balance.
The issue of attorney's fees is present in almost every case. The more experience your attorney has handling divorce matters, the more likely the court will grant a favorable award, if the conditions for an order are proper.