Attorney Fees in Divorce


In a South Carolina divorce the family court judge has the discretion to order one party to pay the other party's attorney fees. This article is to help you understand how the judge will make the decision on whether to award attorney fees, which party to award them to and how much attorney fee to award.

Attorney Fee Statutes

South Carolina family law statutes authorize the family court judge the ability to award attorney’s fees. Section 20-3-130(H) of the South Carolina Code of Laws gives the family court the option to order payment of attorney fees to either party in a divorce action. Section 63-3-530(2 & 38) authorizes the family court to award attorney’s fees in all other cases heard in the family court.

South Carolina Divorce Laws on Attorney Fees

The South Carolina family court will go through a two step process in deciding whether to award attorney fees and how much fees to award.

The first step is to determine whether a party is entitled to fees. In deciding whether to award attorney’s fees and costs the family court will consider: (1) each party’s ability to pay his or her own fee;
(2) the beneficial results obtained by the attorney;
(3) the parties’ respective financial conditions; and
(4) the effect of the fee on each party’s standard of living.

Where a party’s uncooperative conduct in discovery and litigation increases the amount of the other party’s fees and costs, the court can use this as an additional basis to award the other party fees and costs.

Spreeuw v. Barker, 385 S.C. 45, 72-73, 682 S.E.2d 843 (Ct. App. 2009).

If the South Carolina family court decides that an award of fees to one party is justified, it looks to the following factors to determine the amount of fee that should be awarded: (1) the nature, extent, and difficulty of the case; (2) the time necessarily devoted to the case;
(3) professional standing of counsel;
(4) contingency of compensation;
(5) beneficial results obtained; and
(6) customary legal fees for similar services.

Glasscock v. Glasscock, 304 S.C. 158, 161, 403 S.E.2d 313, 315 (1991)


For a Divorce lawyer in Greenville, Laurens, Spartanburg or Pickens County call

L. Wayne Patterson, Attorney at Law
10 Century Dr.
Greenville, SC 29606

Wayne is a South Carolina attorney including probate, elder law, special needs trusts and wrongful death claims.

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