In actions filed for a divorce, child custody, visitation or child support, either party may seek a contribution to his or her attorney’s fees. In order to obtain an award of attorney’s fees, a party must prove a need for the award, the ability of the other party to pay the award and whether there was a substantial justification for bringing the action. In other words, not only must you have the financial need for a contribution to your attorney’s fees, but the opposing party must also have the ability to pay the attorney’s fees. In most cases, an award of attorney’s fees is not made by the court until the end of the case.
A judge has wide discretion in determining whether to grant a party a contribution to his or her attorney’s fees. The most common cases where attorney’s fees are awarded are cases where there is a large disparity in income.