You may be entitled to have your spouse pay some or all of your counsel fees and expert fees in an Action for Divorce and in certain other matrimonial actions and proceedings.
Domestic Relations Law Section 237 provides that the court may direct either spouse to pay the counsel fees, and fees and expenses of experts, incurred by the other party to carry on or defend the action or proceeding. The court must consider the circumstances of the case and of each party. There is a rebuttable presumption that counsel fees shall be awarded to the less monied spouse. The purpose of this statute is to assure that each party shall be adequately represented and that where fees and expenses are to be awarded they shall be awarded on a timely basis [during the action] so as to enable adequate representation from the commencement of the proceeding. Whether to direct one spouse to pay the fees and expenses of the other spouse is a matter that is within the discretion of the court, as justice requires.
In order for the court to consider an application by one party for an award of fees and expenses, each party and his or her attorney must file sworn statements with the court detailing their financial arrangements with each other, setting forth the amount of any retainer, the amounts paid and still owing, the hourly fee charged by the attorney, the amounts paid or to be paid to any experts, and any additional costs, disbursements or expenses claimed.
Domestic Relations Law Section 237 further provides that, if a party is found to have wilfully disobeyed any lawful order compelling payment of support, maintenance or a distributive award, the court shall order the disobedient party to pay counsel fees to the attorney for the other party.
Previous payment of fees to his or her attorney by the party asking the court for fees does not preclude the court from awarding fees as set forth above.
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