In New York, the monied spouse is the one who earns the most in the marriage. Under New York law, “[t]here shall be a rebuttable presumption that counsel fees shall be awarded to the less monied spouse.” DRL 237(a). Furthermore, the “the court shall seek to assure that each party shall be adequately represented and that where fees and expenses are to be awarded, they shall be awarded on a timely basis, pendente lite, so as to enable adequate representation from the commencement of the proceeding.” Id.
Being awarded attorney fees, especially in a contentious divorce where your attorneys are spending copious amounts of time contesting every issue for you, will be a great financial relief to you. If you are the less monied spouse, your attorney should present an argument for legal fees in a motion for temporary relief.
If you are awarded legal fees in an order of the court but your spouse does not pay, your attorney can pursue post judgment enforcement proceedings against your former spouse in order to collect on the judgment. This can involve your attorney issuing restraining notices on your spouse’s bank accounts or attempting to garnish your spouse’s income. While this money, if recovered, will go to your attorney, it will benefit you as a client in that it can reduce your legal bill.