legal fees in a divorce

What party pays legal fees in a divorce?

The breakdown of legal fees in a divorce can vary

Though divorces can be quite common, they’re often a challenging time for the individuals involved in them. There are numerous factors that divorcees must consider as they navigate through them.

Among these, some of the most notable may be financial considerations. When it comes to a divorce, there are numerous potential costs associated with the process. Divorcees may need to contend with divorce costs, such as filing fees, attorney’s fees, court fees, and other costs—such as those associated with hiring expert testimony, for example. As such, it may be natural to wonder who is responsible for taking on some of these costs.

So, what party pays legal fees in a divorce? What might some of those legal fees look like, and are there other factors to consider, such as tax implications? The truth is, not only can legal fees vary a great deal, but depending on the circumstances of each case, the breakdown of what parties pay what fees may vary as well.

Importantly, it can be helpful to learn a little bit about United States legal tradition and a rule called “The American Rule.” It can also be helpful to better understand some of the situations in which there may be exceptions to this general rule, and how it might be applied in Tennessee in some cases. To gain a better understanding of what party pays legal fees in a divorce in Tennessee, let’s explore more in-depth.

The American Rule

In The United States of America, there is a common law principle that is often applied in most territories and states. This is known as “The American Rule,” and it pertains to legal fees. In theory, under this legal framework, when there are legal proceedings, each party must pay its own legal fees. This was a stark departure from the “English Rule” in English common law—under which, those who prevail in a case could have their legal fees paid by the losing party.

However, there are some potential, if not typically rare, exceptions to this rule, even in The United States. What’s more, exceptions to this rule can apply at both federal and state levels, depending on the circumstances in question. Some notable exceptions can occur in the case of frivolous suits, or in the case of certain contracts that specify who should be responsible for potential future legal fees.

The American Rule and Tennessee

In Tennessee, divorce typically follows the American Rule. In other words, the default arrangement is one which involves both parties paying their own legal fees individually. However, there are some possible notable exceptions to the rule at the state level in Tennessee as well. While in cases where there is no exception, Tennessee courts might adhere to the American Rule, Tennessee law does give courts the power to award legal fees to one party or the other in some circumstances.

Exceptions to The American Rule in Tennessee

One particularly notable example might be that of a prenuptial agreement. In the event that the parties who are getting divorced signed a prenuptial agreement that specifies the party to pay for legal fees, if such an agreement is found to be legally binding, the court may award legal fees to the party specified in the contract.

Another potential case where a court may award legal fees to one party or the other might arise should one party act in a manner that the court decides is “vexatious” or in “bad faith.” Should a judge decide that one of the parties has brought forth a bad faith or frivolous suit, they may be ordered to pay the legal fees of the other party.

Section 36-5-103(c) of the Tennessee Code also outlines some cases in which the court may award legal fees to one party. For example, the court could award the plaintiff spouse legal fees associated with cases relating to alimony, child support, or child custody.

The truth is, there are a number of potential factors involved, and each case can be highly complex, so it’s important to consult with an expert to gain a better understanding of how the law may apply to you. That’s one of the reasons why if you’re going through a divorce, consulting with an experienced family attorney or divorce lawyer in Tennessee may be extremely important to you.

Tax Implications

Taxes and divorces can both get confusing and highly complex. And in some cases, it might be helpful to discuss a specific case with a tax expert, lawyer, or both. However, we can explore the concept to learn more about some potential tax implications associated with legal fees in a divorce. You may be wondering if legal fees associated with a divorce might be tax deductible.

Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, publishes myriad resources to help taxpayers better navigate tax considerations, including those associated with divorce. The IRS explains that one cannot deduct the legal fees and court costs for getting a divorce.

When to Consult an Attorney

When it comes to the legal fees associated with a divorce, the matter of who will be required to pay them can be a complex one. What’s more, there are a number of factors that can impact each individual case, and understanding the numerous ways the law can apply in various situations can be complex. As such, it can be important to consult with a trusted professional.

Suppose you’re wondering when the right time is to call an experienced divorce attorney or an experienced family lawyer in Tennessee. In that case, the choice is ultimately up to you—but there are a number of reasons it can be helpful to have a trusted and experienced professional expert at your side. Divorces can be highly complex in nature, and when it comes to navigating this often wearing process, an experienced attorney can offer several things:

  • Expertise, and the ability to help you better understand your situation.
  • Experience, and the know-how to handle tough legal challenges.
  • Representation, and the ability to advocate for you and help you fight for your rights in court.


Call the Law Office of J Ryan Johnson

At the law office of J. Ryan Johnson, we recognize that every case is unique, that every individual is human, and that our clients come to us because they need help during some of the most difficult times in their lives. If you’re looking for an experienced divorce attorney in Tennessee who will aggressively fight for your rights, don’t hesitate to reach out and give us a call. You don’t need to handle this alone. Get in contact today for a free consultation.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.