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When one spouse wants to fight, but the other can’t afford it

Spouses may share resources in marriage, but they might not stay on a level playing field once the relationship turns sour. Such is often the case for couples that have widely differing incomes and for stay-at-home parents.

Unfortunately, the higher-earning spouse could try to take advantage of the other spouse’s limited budget. They may try to draw out the battle in court to gain more assets or parental control. They may also hide or destroy assets, knowing that the other spouse can’t afford to investigate missing money.

Florida recognizes that disproportionate finances can tip the scales during divorce, so it maintains a way to help with attorney fees. This law allows divorcees to request aid if necessary. If the judge determines that aid would be reasonable, they may order the other spouse to provide money for the requester’s legal counsel.

This decision mainly hinges on that spouse’s need and the other’s ability to provide. With a larger gap between incomes, courts are likelier to approve the request.

Spouses who worry that they can’t possibly afford a lawyer – let alone one of equal standing as their ex’s attorney – should formally request aid at the start of their case. After all, legal guidance can fiercely sway the outcome of divorce litigation. Not only is this request possible during initial divorce proceedings, but it can also be available again for follow-up issues like child support enforcement.

Please note that, unlike in other civil proceedings, attorney fee orders aren’t about winning or losing the divorce. Likewise, they don’t guarantee other types of spousal support to the lesser-earning person. Instead, this option exists to promote a fair process for both spouses regardless of their individual income.

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