A question that often comes up in a family law proceeding is “can I get my spouse to cover the cost of my attorney?” Under Minnesota Statute §518.14, a party may request that the Court award him or her attorney’s fees if:
- Requesting the fees will not unreasonably contribute to the length of the proceeding
- The other party has the means to pay the requesting party’s attorney fees
- The requesting party does not have the means to pay their own attorney fees
The Judge can also decide whether a party should be awarded attorney’s fees even if there is no request for attorney’s fees if that party has unreasonably contributed to the length or expense of the proceeding. For example, if a party requests that their spouse provide them with copies of their bank statements in order to determine property division in a dissolution matter and the other spouse does not provide the statements or takes months to comply, then the court can award the requesting spouse attorney’s fees.
No one should initiate a proceeding assuming that they will be awarded attorney’s fees. However, in certain circumstances, the court may be willing to grant the request.