After a six day contested divorce trial, the court held a hearing and ordered the husband to pay $53,000 of the wife's legal fees due to his intentional delay of the case, refusal to comply with court orders, accumulation of arrears in
support and other deliberate misbehavior.
Asking the court to order one spouse to pay the legal fees of the other spouse is almost always requested by the spouse with the lower income. While there are many factors that the court considers to determine the request including the difference in income, the distribution of assets, the amount of the request, the complexity of the case, the reasonableness of the legal fees and the ability to pay, one of the most important factors is whether one spouse unfairly caused the accumulation of excessive legal fees.
In a recent Westchester County divorce case, the judge wrote that the husband's trial testimony was unbelievable, that he feigned ignorance, refused to acknowledge his own handwriting and gave evasive answers. During cross-examination the husband feigned confusion, gave blank stares and smirked when he avoided answering the questions of the wife's lawyer. Additionally, the husband's pre-trial behavior caused the wife to incur substantial legal fees because the husband did not comply with deadlines, court orders and financial disclosure.
The Judge wrote: "In sum, the husband's willingness to lie was only exceeded by his arrogance, which apparently permits him to believe that the court might possibly buy the bridge he is selling. The world in which Mr. Medina lives, is at best in a parallel universe. Based upon the record, the court finds that the husband prolonged the litigation in bad faith, causing the wife to incur significantly higher attorney's fees than reasonably should have been necessary."
If you should be so unfortunate to have a spouse who will not comply with court orders and deadlines it is important to document the non-compliance and to have an attorney that will request and obtain awards of temporary legal fees during the progression of the case. Once the spouse has to start paying your legal fees the non-compliance may begin to decrease.
I am prepared to aggressively litigate for you in those cases where that approach is necessary. Protecting your rights and your assets is important and having an experienced lawyer to do so is the best approach to this difficult problem. Please call my office to schedule your free consultation so that I can help you finish your divorce.