My wife got an attorney through a legal aide society. Her attorney took on her case as pro bono and is attempting to slam me with her fees. According to the settlement offer I just received, I am to pay $5000 for my wife’s legal fees. Does her attorney have the right to charge me even though she took it on as pro bono?
Your wife’s attorney has a right to ask the court to order you to pay her legal fees. The court’s propensity to do so varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There are jurisdictions where such an order is unheard of, and there are jurisdictions where such an order is common. Whether the attorneys’ election to take the case pro bono has any bearing on whether she can ask for the legal fees depends on the local ethical rules, but in all likelihood, it’s probably common practice for local pro bono attorneys to ask for their fees to be paid by the other party. You should consult with a local attorney to find out how the court in your jurisdiction is likely to handle the request.
Claudia J. Weaver is an Associate Attorney with Cordell & Cordell, P.C., in Overland Park, Kansas. Ms. Weaver practices exclusively in the area of domestic relations.