Can A Court Force My Ex-Spouse To Pay My Attorney's Fees In A South Dakota Divorce?

Maybe. In South Dakota, a court uses a two-step process in making the decision to award attorney's fees in a divorce case.

First, the court must determine what constitutes a reasonable attorney’s fee. This requires consideration of (1) the amount and value of the property involved; (2) the intricacy and importance of the litigation; (3) the labor and time involved; (4) the skill required to draw the pleadings and try the case; (5) the discovery utilized; (6) whether there were complicated legal problems; (7) the time required for the trial; and (8) whether briefs were required.

Second, the court must determine if the fee is necessary. In other words, what portion of that fee, if any, should be allowed as costs to be paid by the other spouse? This requires consideration of the parties’ relative worth, income, liquidity, and whether either party unreasonably increased the time spent on the case.

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones