Generally speaking, you are on your own to pay your legal fees. In certain cases where one party has a very good income and the other party is low or has no income, it is possible to ask the Court for the well-to-do party to pay the other's legal fees. Unlike alimony and spousal property, child support and custody do not have to be included in a divorce suit. These matters can be decided at any time and in separate court actions.
One of the main expenses of divorce is usually the cost of hiring legal representation. In Pennsylvania, the court has the power to order one spouse to pay the other's attorney's fees. The main factor affecting the cost of a divorce in Pennsylvania is whether both spouses consent to the divorce. However, the amount your divorce will end up costing could be much higher or much lower than those averages depending on a variety of factors, including how many contested issues are involved in your case, as well as the divorce route you take.
The basis for such a change in costs is a substantial difference in income or property that each party has available for use in the employment of a PA divorce lawyer. An experienced divorce lawyer will ensure that assets are properly titled to avoid unforeseen tax consequences. It's also important to realize that divorce can end up affecting your wallet long after your divorce decree is issued. If you are unable to represent yourself due to several reasons, such as insufficient legal background, you will also need to hire an attorney, which will increase the price of your divorce considerably.
It's also possible to ask an attorney to help you with only parts of your case, such as reviewing your divorce agreement, drafting divorce papers, or attending a hearing with you. Getting an experienced PA divorce lawyer to navigate the process could make a difference in overall experience and results. As with alimony, the court must be asked to divide marital assets as part of the divorce lawsuit before the court finally grants the divorce. If a divorce is filed for fault, and the defendant proves that the plaintiff is not innocent or injured, or that the facts alleged by the plaintiff are not true, a divorce cannot be granted.
So, is it worth seeking the help of an attorney during your divorce? While you don't need a lawyer to get a divorce, most people benefit greatly from an attorney's guidance and advocacy. The three categories of divorce in Pennsylvania are divorce by mutual consent, without consent, and fault. The person filing for divorce (the plaintiff) files a lawsuit explaining to the court why they should get a divorce from their spouse (the defendant). In situations where both spouses have similar income or earning capacities or if both spouses receive large amounts of liquid assets as part of the divorce, the husband and wife are more likely to pay their own fees for their Pennsylvania divorce attorney.