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Who Pays the Attorney Fees? The General Rule and Its Exceptions

Going to court can be a scary thing. Family law issues such as divorce often can cause anxiety for those who have never been through this system before. Speaking of divorce, it is actually one of the most common reasons that people need to look for family law providers.

About two-thirds of divorce cases are filed by women, but divorce lawyers are needed to act as an advocate for both parties involved in a divorce. The attorneys involved in a divorce case, or any other family law case, are very helpful and completely necessary. The question is, who pays them?

The General Rule

The losing side is not required to pay the winning side’s attorney fees. Under Florida law,  the general rule is that each side pays their own attorney fees unless there is a substantial disparity in the parties’ respective income and/or assets. This remains true regardless of who won the case and who lost.


Exceptions to the General Rule vary based on the case you are involved in and the state in which you live. A statute allowing the other side to make payment of the attorney fees is the most common General Rule bypass. Judges also have a say in who pays the attorneys fees in certain cases.


One of the most common reasons for General Rule exceptions is when the two divorce parties sign a contract that requires the losing side in a legal dispute to pay the winning side’s attorney fees. This typically occurs in Marital Settlement Agreements and Prenuptial Agreements.


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