Paying one’s spouse’s attorney’s fees in a divorce isn’t something only celebrities do

Paying one’s spouse’s attorney’s fees in a divorce isn’t something only celebrities do

In Washington State, a court may order your spouse to pay a reasonable amount of your attorney’s fees. That may happen if the court determines that you need help with your legal expenses and that your spouse is more than capable of paying for some of it. Basically, this arrangement will be based on your need and your spouse’s ability. The court may also order it in cases where a spouse complicates the divorce action (i.e., fee award based on bad action) and prolongs the case.

So here’s one good reason to marry a celebrity: if they make more than you, they may pay your attorney’s fees in a divorce. For example, if you were married to Matt Damon and you divorced him, chances would be great that the court might grant you an attorney’s fee award. Why you would want to divorce Matt Damon would be an interesting but not very relevant conundrum in this discussion.

However, this doesn’t mean that celebrities are automatically ordered by courts to pay for their spouse’s attorney’s fees. It tends to happen in cases where there’s a vast income disparity between a celebrity and their non-celebrity spouse, among other variables.

This wealthy doctor needs a good family law attorney to ensure a healthy divorce

Rapper and mogul Dr. Dre (real name Andre Young) helped propel many musicians’ careers apart from his own and has made millions of dollars doing so. This helped boost his net worth to around $800 million as of 2021. Thriving career aside, Dr. Dre had marital troubles at home.

In June 2020, his wife Nicole Young filed for divorce in Los Angeles, California, citing “irreconcilable differences.” She accused him of physical and emotional abuse, resulting in presumably many billable lawyer hours. For her troubles, the soon-to-be former Mrs. Young was granted temporary spousal support of $2 million and $500,000 attorney fee payments.

But that’s actually just a small portion of what she was demanding: $5 million in attorney fees and $2 million in spousal support per month. That would be exorbitant if Dr. Dre were a physician or a surgeon, but the hip-hop legend is loaded. The former couple’s divorce case is pending, so payments to Mrs. Young might increase. Here’s to hoping Dr. Dre is ready for the next episode.

Not just her father’s daughter, but also her father’s sole heir

Lisa Marie Presley is a celebrity in her own right. She achieved moderate success as a musician and is well-regarded by a handful of music journalists. She was not just the ex-wife of bonafide celebs, Nicolas Cage and Michael Jackson, and was not just the only daughter of Elvis Presley. The latter fact, however, will eventually be used against her in a bitter divorce.

When she separated from her former husband and creative partner Michael Lockwood in 2016, things got messy. Although he’s worked with several famous rock acts, Mr. Lockwood didn’t have as much wealth and fame as his ex-wife. That explains why when they separated, his legal team sought $40,000 in spousal support and challenged the prenuptial agreement which aimed to preside over how much he was going to get in case they divorce.

Ms. Presley claimed to be in debt and fought against her ex’s demand to be awarded $263,000 annual spousal support. Mr. Lockwood’s lawyers then proceeded to cite Ms. Presley’s earnings from her father’s estate, which reportedly earned Ms. Presley millions in payouts at the time.

The amount of spousal support Mr. Lockwood requested was denied, but some of his efforts did pay off: the court judge ordered Ms. Presley to pay some of his attorney fees amounting to $50,000. Their child custody battle also ended up in joint custody, which was still favorable to him.

Overall, it wasn’t too bad for Mr. Lockwood, a then-unemployed, marginally famous musician with huge lawyer fees to pay. Luckily for Ms. Presley, she didn’t have to pay huge amounts to his ex with whom she parted acrimoniously.

Big female celebs paying big bucks

The modern phenomenon of women paying their ex-husbands big bucks after a divorce is well documented in this blog. Halle Berry is a prime example of female celebs paying big bucks to their exes, which we’ve covered before. But lest Halle Berry fans think we enjoy rehashing her old wounds, we’re not. We just want to add that, aside from paying her ex Gabriel Aubry child support payments of $8,000 (previously around $20,000), she also had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to his lawyers.

Similarly, actress Anne Heche was ordered to pay her ex-husband Coley Laffoon $275,000 (lump sum), $3,700 monthly child support, and his attorney’s fees. At the time of their split, Ms. Heche had several TV and movie projects for which she earned considerable sums, while Mr. Laffoon chose to become a stay-at-home dad. Perhaps, her calling him a deadbeat dad in the press while their divorce was ongoing was not completely unfounded.

Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams will give you dedicated and personal legal representation in your divorce case in the Evergreen State. Call our Renton offices today.