Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Paying the Piper: Interim Attorney Fees

So who is going to pay the bill for all this great legal work? What if one party is in control of the community funds and the other party cannot afford to get an attorney?

The solution is to request interim attorney fees during the pendency of the case. Interim fees may be awarded through temporary orders under TFC 6.502.

The Court will want to hear testimony about why there is a need for interim attorney fees. Reasons include great disparity of incomes, or lack of access to credit by one party. Generally, the Court should strive to equalize any inbalances so that each party has a fair chance to put on their case.

Many times, the judges will look for a source of income that they can channel to the disadvantaged party. This for example could be a large tax refund or yearly bonus that the judge orders on temporary orders to be used by a party to pay interim attorney fees. The judge can also order that spouse ordered to pay the interim fees must cash in stock or take a loan out against a retirement account.

The payment of interim attorney fees is considered temporary spousal support and is enforceable by contempt. (TFC 6.502 and 6.506 see also In re Bielefeld, 143 S.W. 3d 924 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2004)).