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“Are My Attorney Fees Recoverable In My Divorce”

by May 8, 2019


Attorney fees are not ordinarily recovered unless a specific court decision or rule provides for it.  The party asking for attorney fees must show facts sufficient to justify the award.  Michigan Court Rule 3.206(D) provides as follows: 

  1. A party may, at any time, request that the court order the other party to pay all or part of the attorney fees and expenses relating to the action or a specific proceeding, including a post judgment proceeding.

2. A party who requests attorney fees and expenses must allege facts sufficient to show that:

     A. The party is unable to bear the expense of the action, and that the other party is able to pay, or

     B. The attorney fees and expenses were incurred because the other party refused to comply with a previous court order, despite having the ability to comply.

This rule has been interpreted to require an award of attorney fees to the extent necessary to enable a party to participate in a divorce or separate maintenance suit.  The Michigan Court of Appeals has said a party sufficiently demonstrates an inability to pay attorney fees when that party’s yearly income is less than the amount owed in attorney fees. Under this ruling, you would have to owe more than you make in a year.  On the other hand, the Court of Appeals has also said you should not have to use money intended to support you or your children to pay your attorney.  The Family Courts in West Michigan are usually more generous under Part A of this rule.

One thing is clear, if the legal expense is caused by the other party’s misbehavior in disobeying the Judge, the court has the authority to award assistance for your legal expense, and is likely to do so.

For more thorough information and advice the divorce attorneys at Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC are experienced in assisting divorcing parties in obtaining attorney fee awards from the court.  For more thorough information, and advice, the divorce attorneys at Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC can assist you.  If you have any questions regarding this aspect of your divorce process, or if you wish to have post-divorce discussions of continuing issues, please do not hesitate to contact the law firm of Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC, 1t (616) 975-9951 to speak to one of our Grand Rapids divorce or family law attorneys. 


We are here to help. – Curtis R. Witte  /  May 8, 2019


While this posting originates from a law office, none of the contents should, in any way, be considered legal advice. If you have not signed a retention letter describing the legal services to be provided and the amount to be paid for such services, you are not a client of this firm.

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