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In a contested divorce, if the party filing is willing to give more than 50%, can the other party be made to pay all legal fees?

Verona, WI |

Spouse has been unwilling to divorce. If there are no children, and Wi is no fault and everything should be divided 50/50 and I am willing to give even more than that, can my spouse be made to pay my legal fees?

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Attorney answers 2


There are circumstances in which your spouse may be ordered to pay your legal fees. But, the amount you may receive for legal fees is limited by statute and unlikely to come close to covering your actual fees.

Further, the circumstances you describe do not warrant your spouse paying for your legal fees. Something much more extraordinary (i.e., contempt of court, causing unreasonable delay, etc.) is needed for a court to award you legal fees.

Good luck!


Parties in a divorce can stipulate to almost anything, as long as it is fair in the eyes of the Court. But stipulating to terms of the divorce in a Marital Settlement Agreement requires that the parties are able to agree on the final terms of the divorce.

You say that your spouse is unwilling to divorce, so that may be difficult. But you are also correct that Wisconsin is a no-fault state, and you may also be aware that if you file for divorce, and testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce will likely be granted regardless of your spouse's unwillingness.

The real question is whether your spouse will agree to an unequal property division in exchange for payment of your legal fees. This does not sound unreasonable, and yet, divorce can be an emotional and difficult process.

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