As a general rule, each party is responsible for its legal fees, but in family law, one party may be required to pay the other’s attorney fees. This is the case when hiring a family lawyer in North Carolina, as the state’s legislation does allow one party to pay for the other party’s attorney fees.
North Carolina has established two different standards for allocating fees in family law disputes that are not simply based on which party has the higher income or who loses the dispute. There are several things to know before hiring a family lawyer in Charlotte, NC. The first section discusses the costs of custody and child support actions, while the second section concerns the costs of alimony and spousal support matters.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 12.9 million child custody cases in the U.S. That represents about 4% of the U.S. population. More than a quarter of children under 21 living outside of their household (26.5%) lived with one of their parents in 2018. This represents approximately 21.9 million children.
How Much Does a Family Lawyer Cost?
A family lawyer’s fees can range from anywhere between $100 – $350 per hour. The collective cost can go up to even $10,000. However, this number depends heavily on a case-to-case basis. If you are able to agree on divorce terms with your spouse, it would cost less.
On the other hand, a child custody case might result in $3,000 – $5,000 in retainer fees only with additional per hour charges. However, this amount is always dependent on the dynamics of the case.
Child Custody and Support Expenses
To be eligible for attorney fees, a party must meet two requirements in North Carolina Statutes, Section 5013.6 on Child Custody. These requirements are that: 1) the party must act in good faith and 2) the party must not have enough money to pay for the action.
When this standard is met, the decision concerning whether or not to award attorneys’ fees is up to the discretion of the court. “Court discretion” refers to the court’s ability to award attorneys’ fees based on the facts and circumstances present in the case. The above standards are often met, however, the opposing party is not sufficiently wealthy or well off to justify the legal costs award.
A party that requests legal expenses in good faith is less likely to receive commissions if that party does not prevail. Legal costs awarded for child support are the same as those awarded for child custody. Additionally, the law includes a provision for child support cases.
An order for the payment of tax within a maintenance case must be approved by a judge if the judge determines that the party ordered to pay maintenance refused to do so under the circumstances at the time the order was issued. As a result, the court must find that both the parties receiving maintenance must act in good faith.
Legal Fees in Maintenance and Post-Separation Cases
In cases involving alimony and post-separation, the rules for determining legal fees are incredibly different.
In cases involving separation assistance, the parties must demonstrate that: A claim for legal fees must show three things: 1) that the spouse claiming for legal fees qualifies as a “dependent spouse,” 2) the other party qualifies as a supporting spouse, and 3) support or post-separation support would be provided for the party seeking legal fees.
Dependent spouses rely for their maintenance and upkeep on their supporting spouses. Supporting spouses are dependent on their general income.
In practice, alimony entitlement for a dependent spouse requires you to either win your claim for alimony or alimony after the separation to be awarded the costs of lawyers. The legal analysis is extensive, but it means that you must win at least a portion of your claim for alimony after the separation to be eligible for alimony.
Even if you meet all of the above criteria, the court will still be able to determine attorney’s fees based on its judgment of the case. The court may award costs if it believes such a reward is justified based on the facts and circumstances of your case. It is possible for the party who rejected the offer to be liable for the other party’s legal costs.
Other Methods of Obtaining Remuneration
Apart from the statutes discussed, remuneration may also be reached by agreement (or in the case of mutual agreement, prescribed by agreement). Similar penalties may be imposed if a party breaches a court order or various rules of civil procedure (such as not submitting a discovery document).
In divorce cases, expenses can be negotiated by an offer of judgment, which is when one party offers to settle a financial matter (excluding child support) and the other party rejects the offer, and if the other party does not obtain a better outcome, then the party can request an order for the collection of expenses.
A family lawyer in Charlotte, NC generally uses these methods only when they are necessary to ensure the other party complied with discovery requests in a particular case. An example of this could be if your family lawyer in Charlotte, NC spent extra time trying to assist with discovery.
As a result, the fees charged in these cases are usually modest compared to the overall cost. Therefore, the primary means by which attorneys’ fees can be collected in family law cases are through state statutes.
Obtaining a Family Lawyer in Charlotte, NC
When you meet with your family lawyer in Charlotte, NC, it is important to discuss with your lawyer whether you will need some or all of your spouse’s expenses to be paid. The majority of lawyers will not take on a case unless they know they will be reimbursed from the other side, so clients need to have enough money to pay at least the initial fees to retain a lawyer whom they can then recover costs from.
In part of our representation, we can aggressively pursue expenses when authorized by law. We will ensure that your needs are catered to and we understand that fiscal responsibility is very important to you. Speak with one of our family law attorneys for details.