Will The Court Order My Spouse To Pay My Attorney’s Fees?

Divorce in practice is a lot different from divorce through word of mouth. There are a number of scenarios that will play out over the months after which you file for divorce, and the number of questions you inevitably attach to these scenarios will continue to grow over time. They can be nearly to impossible to answer without the help of qualified legal counsel, which is why that is always the first step. If you’re not yet ready to file for divorce, however, you might wonder what it can cost you. Will your spouse be required to pay your attorney’s fees if you’re the one who filed for divorce?


Let’s say your spouse cheated on you, and you decide to file for divorce because you feel that marriage vows are important. That’s good–most people do, and the court system tends to agree. Because you’re getting a divorce as the result of your spouse’s actions, and those actions alone, there’s a good chance you may be able to convince a judge to order your spouse to pay for the fees required of your attorney.

In cases where the issues at stake are a little bit murkier–for example, the actions of both husband and wife are requisite factors in the divorce–then the court may not take action to force a spouse to pay either partial or complete attorney’s fees of the other spouse. What matters most in this example is the income of both parties. If your income is much, much lower than your spouse’s income, the court may decide to give you a little help. Or rather, the court may decide that your spouse will be required to give you a little help.

California has an interesting rule that requires fairness in these circumstances. If one spouse is exigent and can’t afford attorney’s fees, but the other spouse can, then the other spouse will likely be forced to provide the difference. This rule is not contingent on a wide gap in income. All that matters is what can be afforded, so that both sides have an equal say during the divorce proceedings. Needless to say, if the process took place while one spouse had legal counsel and the other did not, one spouse obviously holds an unacceptable edge over the other.

Lastly, if you would like your spouse to pay for your attorney’s fees, then be on your best behavior. Extra points will be gained if you act fairly and quickly, but your spouse does not. Judges are quite irked when proceedings are drawn out unnecessarily, and someone usually pays the price for making a judge angry. If your spouse’s attorney engages in disruptive tactics in order to make the process last longer than it should, then it may be your lucky day!

What’s The Difference Between Legal Separation And Divorce?

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s in your best interest to file for divorce, a number of questions are already running through your mind. It happens to everyone going through the same thing, and the questions are always the same. Should you go through with it, or will time heal the issues between you? Okay, time hasn’t done anything to heal, so maybe distance is the best option. Time apart isn’t just time apart, though, and it’s important you understand that. What is the difference between legal separation and divorce, and which is best for you?

The first thing you need to remember should be obvious, but sometimes people forget: when you’re separated, you’re still married. When you’re separated, therefore, you should still behave as you would when you’re married. If you do indeed decide to get divorced at some point down the road, then the actions you take during your legal separation could affect the divorce proceedings. In other words, be extremely careful.

You might choose to separate for a number of reasons, but the consequences can sometimes creep up on those who do. Sometimes, the benefits of your marriage will dry up, depending on the type of benefit and how long you’ve been apart from your spouse. If you currently enjoy the fruits of a spouse’s labor–i.e. Social security income, health insurance, dental, or any other benefits–then you should know that you often don’t have the legal right to continue to use those benefits during a separation.

Your specific situation matters. The job you have and the benefits provided can affect the outcome, and might help determine whether or not you would be better off following through with divorce or simply staying separated. A qualified legal professional specializing in divorce is an absolute necessity, even if you don’t intend on getting a divorce. A divorce attorney can help underline the fine print you might otherwise forget to read, and they can give you detailed instructions on how best to proceed–and how to do so carefully–in either case.

There are a number of reasons you might continue to fulfill your marriage vows, even during a legal separation. Perhaps you and your spouse are devoutly religious and do not believe in divorce as a means to solve the differences between you. Perhaps you are dependent on the benefits of the other, or you require the tax benefit provided by marriage. Maybe you have other extraneous circumstances in your life that preempt the stress of getting a divorce, and you’re just not ready to go down that road. No matter what, legal counsel will help you determine the best course of action for you and your future.

What Careers Have Higher Divorce Rates?

If you’re about to get a divorce or just thinking about it, then blame is probably getting tossed around. Believe it or not, sometimes there are extraneous factors to consider. One of those factors is the career of you or your spouse–or both. Certain careers lead to much higher rates of divorce for a number of reasons, and you probably won’t guess what some of those careers might be. Here are some of the careers that have the highest divorce rates.

The profession with the absolute highest rate of divorce is that of a gaming manager, coming in with a stunning 52.9 percent rate of ruining that marriage. While this probably wasn’t your first guess, it also probably isn’t a surprise. Gaming managers help supervise operations at casinos. Flight attendants and bartenders take the next top spots with 50.5 percent and 52.7 percent rates, respectively. These can likely be attributed to odd hours and time spent away from home. After all, flight attendants basically live out of hotels much of their time.

The next jobs on the list fall into similar categories. Gaming services workers also fair poorly at marriage, getting divorced at a 50.3 percent rate. Certain types of machine operators take over a number of the next five spots, most falling just under 50 percent. Switchboard operators land at 49.7 percent.

Telemarketers have a 49.2 percent rate of divorce, which probably won’t surprise anyone. We’ve all been aggravated by them from time to time, especially when they phone you while you’re on a no-call list.

Considering that the actual rate of divorce is already so high in the United States, you might be wondering what careers have the lowest divorce rates. The numbers are a lot different than the previous set. You might think that surgeons would have a higher rate of divorce because they’re often required to be “on call” at all times, but you’d be wrong. Physicians and surgeons come in at number ten on this list, with only a 21.8 percent chance of divorce.

Amusingly, the career with the absolute lowest rate of divorce is that of an actuary with only a 17 percent chance of divorce. This is funny because those invested in this career spend their time analyzing statistics in order to find patterns. They use the skill to determine risks and rewards for insurance companies. Other careers that were low on the list were clergy (still not the lowest), scientists, software developers, physical therapists, and chemical engineers.

Since it turns out that career can be such an important indicator of where you’ll end up later in life, perhaps it’s important to take the time to consider where you’ll be working when it comes time to plan a family!

What You Can and Can’t Do With A Prenuptial Agreement

Some people take marriage vows more seriously than others, but by now we should all be aware of the possibility that a marriage will fail. Prenuptial agreements are made in preparation of this possibility, and help allocate property and monetary assets in the event of a divorce. If you’re the type that considers marriage vows to be sacred–to love in sickness and in health–then the possibility of failure can make a prenup request into an egregious insult. It doesn’t need to be that way. That said, these are some of the things you can and can’t manage with a prenuptial agreement.

One of the biggest reasons you might draft a prenup is in the interest of protecting a family heirloom. If you have property that’s been in the family for generations, you’ll want to keep it safe. A prenup can be used to do so.

Estate law gets more complicated after marriage, and you might choose to draw up a prenup in order to keep previously arranged estate plans in place should the marriage fail. This guarantees that assets already owned will still make their way to the intended beneficiaries instead of taken by a spouse during a divorce. In the same way, a prenup can signify what children might inherit in the event of a divorce.

Prenuptial agreements aren’t all about determining what assets return to your ownership during a divorce. They can also be used to outline responsibilities to be carried out by each spouse. They can help determine who is to manage expenses and joint bank accounts, who manages tax returns, who manages investments, how much must be contributed to savings, how property will be distributed in the event of a spouse’s death, etc. The options are endless. That said, don’t expect to decide who stays at home with the children or who washes the dishes and mows the lawn. These are largely financial arrangements, and do not govern personal matters at home.

One thing you can’t do with a prenup is determine alimony in the event of a divorce. Even if this is legal in your state, most judges will strike down the provision or limit what you hope to achieve with such a stipulation.

Prenups aren’t always devised in order to make sure original assets go back to their original owners. Sometimes they prepare for divorce by providing an even distribution of assets in order to spare both partners from the usual stress of a divorce. Such provisions must be handled carefully, however, because judges do read these documents in order to ensure that uneven distribution doesn’t encourage divorce in any way. For example, if a previously poor partner would get an enormous sum of money in the event of a divorce, the provision will likely be struck down.

Tips for Summer Vacation and Divorced Parents

School is often a blessing in disguise because the institution of learning keeps our children out of harm’s way while we’re off at work or perhaps even irresponsibly gallivanting in an effort to maintain that elusive social life. That’s why summer vacation–even for happily married couples–can present a difficult conundrum. There are only so many activities that keep our kids preoccupied without enormous expenditure, and coordinating between them is that much harder when you’re on your own. So you’re a divorced parent: here are a few of the best tips for how to spend time with your kids or keep them busy on their own during the summer months.

Since your kids are already around, this is the best period of time during which to allocate your vacation weeks. Whether you spend the time at home, explore an exotic location, or walk down the street staring at the birds, this is a good chance to experience new things with your kids. Summer months present a good opportunity for overnight camping excursions, and if they’re in need of exercise because of the sedentary 2000s lifestyle of video games and mobile phones, then hiking is a great choice.

If you still have to be at work every day and can’t leave the kids at home, then send them off to an actual summer camp or find other parents around the neighborhood who have the same problem. It shouldn’t be too much of a struggle to find like-minded adults who need some time with (or without) their kids, so work together to brainstorm new options and take turns with the neighborhood kids. Just because you might not have a spouse doesn’t mean that no help is available.

Don’t be as rigid as society says you need to be. Kids like to do things their own way, and the chance to provide them with options and choices shouldn’t be missed. This is a good time to reacquaint yourself with the new hobbies, likes, and dislikes that your children have accumulated over the past year. If they feel fine having a movie marathon or sitting around playing video games for a few hours, then let them have at it. Try to include yourself every once in awhile. Don’t let them go too far overboard, but don’t stop them.

One of the most important things you may need to constantly remind yourself of while you brave the summer months with your kids is this: maintain a positive attitude, and be careful what you say–especially when someone mentions your ex-spouse. It’s never a good idea to be critical of the other parent in front of the kids, and what you say has a tendency to make its way into unfriendly territory. Don’t start any confrontations for no good reason, and keep everyone calm.

FAQs About Changing Your Name After A Divorce

When you’re finally out of a toxic relationship, there are a number of paths you can take. Do you keep a last name? Sometimes it can be easier that way. It can be simpler when you don’t have to go make a list of all the websites and companies and institutions that have your married name on record in order to make the necessary changes. It can be less confusing for young children. If you choose to go back to your old surname, then you might forget about everything you have to do. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about changing your name after a divorce.

Do I need to notify Social Security of my name change?

Yes. If you opt to change your name, then you must acquire a new card to reflect the new name–and that means alerting Social Security of the change. Keep in mind that this isn’t a process that can be completed online. In order to make the needed changes, you need to fill out an application for a new card, and then mail that application and other necessary documentation (such as identification) to whichever Social Security office services your locale. An in-person visit will serve just as well.

What do I need to do in order to get my name changed back?

Although there are a lot of minor nuisances and notifications you’re likely to forget, you probably don’t have to venture into court to make the change. Most people just start using the name! When you take your spouse’s surname after marriage, you can usually get away with simply using the name as long as you have a marriage certificate handy. Similarly, you can start using your old name again as long as you have a divorce decree. Eventually, it sorts itself out without any legal mumbo-jumbo. The only reason you would need an actual court order is if you’re changing to an entirely new name that you’ve never used before.

What am I forgetting?

There are a lot of things to update after you make the change. Be sure to get new checks issued, then alert USPS, credit card companies, billing companies and utilities, government institutions and affiliations, and order new identification cards. You need to update your driver’s license and passport immediately, because your name needs to match databases and travel itineraries exactly in order to avoid any trouble. A lot of travel plans have been squashed because of these minor missteps. You might also forget to notify friends or family, employers, your children’s school, the DMV, and the Department of Records or Vital Statistics.

Pets & Visitation

Pets are like our children, but only with hair, fur and feathers.

At least, that is what we think from an emotional standpoint. We are emotionally invested with our pets almost as much as our children. Unfortunately, many states have laws that account for pets as property in a divorce or legal separation case.

Emotion vs. the Law

Family law has the goal of re-unifying families, or at the very least to keep stable living conditions for children. While much of divorce court is about splitting up property, children have always been considered different from property – they have been considered minor children with emotional bonds to their parents.

However, pets are largely ignored in that sense. Pets have an emotional bond to the family as well – though it may be admittedly more one-sided (humans toward pets) than the human relationships.

Laws governing divorce and family custody issues were slow in taking pets into account, but some of that has slowly been changing in several states, where pets are starting to be treated “children” rather than “property.”

The Current Reality

Divorce is more often messy than amicable, when the two people going through the process have a tendency to fight for virtually everything, including children. However, because there has been a relative lack of clarity involving pets, if there is a need for consideration of the two parties working together, it might have to be for any pets in the relationship.

Dogs have been especially featured in legal circles lately in the evolution of pet custody laws, as dogs are considered most popular and high-maintenance for their health and happiness. Courts have been open to awarding custody of dogs as well as visitation in divorces, but many states encourage the couple to actually come up with its own agreement outside of court in terms of where the dog will live, who will care for it and whether the other “parent” will have visitation or even will want it.

Is Pet Visitation a Thing?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not something that is handled by courts. Any visitation or custody agreement would have to be worked out by the couple, and very few states so far are willing to use court resources to enforce terms of any visitation agreement. Therefore, if both people in a divorce case wish to spend time with the pet, it is recommended that they work it out themselves and pinky-swear upon a very specific agreement, or make an agreement so vague that it can’t be enforceable and is only operated under “good faith.”

Use Legal Means Sparingly

Until pet-custody laws are brought forth in many states, you might assume that you won’t get any help in court in enforcing any pet visitation agreements. It would benefit the pet to have a document negotiated by the parties involving visitation and care of the pet(s) in the family, and have all expenses tracked and shared between the parties.

Contact our San Diego attorneys for a consultation about your pets and let us help you form the right kind of agreement that both parties can uphold so your pets have as much care as they normally require.

Can You Legally Withhold Visitation

Divorce with children is never a smooth or amicable situation. Unless there is a joint custody arrangement, the battle for custody and visitation can often be messy.

There is little question that both parents love their children to the end of the world and back, but as there is not King Solomon to split children into two, there is often the difficult decision in family court to determine who will be the custodial parent and who will be the non-custodial parent and how visitation will be worked out so both parents have a reasonable opportunity to be in their children’s lives.

The Visitation Agreement

Once a deal is brokered in regards to custody and the non-custodial parent is established, a legally binding visitation agreement is devised, where the court puts into writing the visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent as the result of negotiation between the parties.

The agreement spells out the dates and situations in which the non-custodial parent will be allowed (if not required) to have visitation with the children, and it is legally binding in that both parents must uphold their ends of the deal. If the non-custodial parent is to have the children from 5 p.m. Friday until 10 p.m. Sunday every weekend, then it’s the custodial parent’s legal duty to ensure that the children are there on time on Friday; and it is the non-custodial parent’s job to make sure the children are delivered back on time on Sunday. Even a small transgression (where a parent will be late and does not communicate it to the other parent) can be considered a violation of the agreement.

Justifiable vs. Legal

But what are the consequences if violating that agreement? Or what are the consequences if one parent has a sense that the child is not safe with the other parent? Can a parent withhold visitation for a justifiable reason?

Unless the visitation agreement has stipulations that allow for justifiable withholding (provable child abuse or neglect, for example), there is no legal avenue in which visitation may be withheld. When it comes to these agreements, there is a difference between justified reasons for withholding and legal reasons for withholding.

Fight for Your Rights

No matter which side of the custodial fulcrum you are on, you have rights as a parent to be present with your children, even if it is not as often as you might wish. Honoring the terms of the visitation agreement is essential, and so is resisting the temptation to withhold visitation for any reason. If you need a resolution in your case, there are legal options available to you. Contact one of our family law attorneys to discuss your parental rights and ensure that the visitation and custodial agreements are complied with on a regular basis, for the sake of the children.

Prenuptial Agreement Myths

When we are single, we tend to treasure what we earn through our hard work.

Then we work on our love life and we fall in love. Whether we have a negative net worth, a $100-million net worth, or something in between, many of us are willing to share what we have earned with our significant other.

But there are some of us who wish to protect ourselves when we have much more than our significant other. These are usually where prenuptial agreements (called “prenups”) come in.

However, prenups have gained some reputation as being in some ways negative things for couples, like a prenup assumes a divorce and it’s a tool that keeps “rich” people‘s money and assets away from the poorer spouse when the divorce happens.

What Prenups are Not

Here are some of the most popular myths about prenups:

  1. Prenuptial agreements are only for the “rich.”

The idea behind prenups is to have open communication between partners in a relationship. Prenups are not just for the “rich” in the present; they can be for those who plan to be “rich” in the future, even as a partnership. A prenup does not have to protect what each person brings into the marriage, but can also set the roadmap for going together for the future.

  1. Prenups only matter in the event of a divorce.

As mentioned before, prenups are about honest and open communication about finances. But these agreements are not in some way only useful in the case of a divorce. When it comes to the couple’s future estate planning, a prenup can actually serve as a tool to plan out the estate in terms of how assets and future children would be handled when either one or both partners pass away.

  1. Prenups are so very un-romantic and pessimistic.

One of the keys to great relationships is great communication. Building a prenup is a collaborative process between the partners, including financial issues.  So in reality, having honest and open communication is romantic and intimate, and that applies to prenuptial agreement processes as well. This then means that a prenup process can be a romantic date that strengthens a relationship.

Secure Your Future

Prenuptial agreements can be useful for planning a marriage and an estate, and they are valuable exercises in communication and intimacy between partners. Prenups can be a productive process of collaboration, and can develop some security for the relationship. If you have a serious relationship that may lead to a long-term commitment or marriage, protect your relationship by getting a consultation from one of our attorneys who can walk you through the process of creating a prenuptial agreement.

Military Divorce and Deployment

In San Diego, we are truly proud of those who serve in our armed forces, and we are always very welcoming to the sailors and soldiers who return from their military deployments and come back to U.S. soil after fighting for our freedom.

Service members and their families make tremendous sacrifices – traveling, moving, and the non-military spouse serving as a single parent with the children, which is often a difficult and daunting life.

Sometimes, however, the sacrifice may become too much for the spouse, and the possibility of divorce is high. While the military divorce rate seems to be lower than in the general public, there is a lot of stress on military families that can’t always be overcome. In these cases, it is possible that families may break up while a military member is deployed in an active military zone.

When a military family is going through a divorce while one of the spouses is deployed, there are a number of challenges that are not experienced by civilian couples.

First, military spouses have questions about residency in which to file a divorce petition, when families are transferred every two to three years from state to state.  State of established residency is an important issue in a divorce, and the state of marriage can be irrelevant.

Second, there are several protections in place for military members that involve federal government rules and regulations supporting deployed military members. These additional protections can make divorce more difficult than what happens with only state laws serving jurisdiction.

Third, if a military member is actively deployed, a divorce will not be a quick and painless process, as the military member in deployment is not in the state and available for court hearings and testimony in divorce court. There will be continuances and delays until the service member returns to U.S. soil

Fourth, there is the mental and emotional stress of a divorce. When a service member is deployed and is dealing with a pending divorce, often the stress and emotional confusion of the divorce can impact an active service member in a similar way to a civilian. That military member needs to remain focused on the mission at hand, and having a family stress that potentially distracts that service member increases the risk of harm not just to the service member but to fellow service members with which he or she works.

If you are considering a military divorce, make sure to consult a quality San Diego divorce attorney who understands the military divorce process and can walk you through this very delicate process to ensure that the family is happy and the service member can continue to serve our country with honor and distinction.