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This entry was published on 2015-11-27
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SECTION 237
Counsel fees and expenses
Domestic Relations (DOM) CHAPTER 14, ARTICLE 13
§ 237. Counsel fees and expenses. (a) In any action or proceeding
brought (1) to annul a marriage or to declare the nullity of a void
marriage, or (2) for a separation, or (3) for a divorce, or (4) to
declare the validity or nullity of a judgment of divorce rendered
against a spouse who was the defendant in any action outside the State
of New York and did not appear therein where such spouse asserts the
nullity of such foreign judgment, (5) to obtain maintenance or
distribution of property following a foreign judgment of divorce, or (6)
to enjoin the prosecution in any other jurisdiction of an action for a
divorce, the court may direct either spouse or, where an action for
annulment is maintained after the death of a spouse, may direct the
person or persons maintaining the action, to pay counsel fees and fees
and expenses of experts directly to the attorney of the other spouse to
enable the other party to carry on or defend the action or proceeding
as, in the court's discretion, justice requires, having regard to the
circumstances of the case and of the respective parties. There shall be
a rebuttable presumption that counsel fees shall be awarded to the less
monied spouse. In exercising the court's discretion, 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. Applications for the award of
fees and expenses may be made at any time or times prior to final
judgment. Both parties to the action or proceeding and their respective
attorneys, shall file an affidavit with the court detailing the
financial agreement between the party and the attorney. Such affidavit
shall include the amount of any retainer, the amounts paid and still
owing thereunder, the hourly amount charged by the attorney, the amounts
paid, or to be paid, any experts, and any additional costs,
disbursements or expenses. An unrepresented litigant shall not be
required to file such an affidavit detailing fee arrangements when
making an application for an award of counsel fees and expenses;
provided he or she has submitted an affidavit that he or she is unable
to afford counsel with supporting proof, including a statement of net
worth, and, if available, W-2 statements and income tax returns for
himself or herself. Any applications for fees and expenses may be
maintained by the attorney for either spouse in his or her own name in
the same proceeding. Payment of any retainer fees to the attorney for
the petitioning party shall not preclude any awards of fees and expenses
to an applicant which would otherwise be allowed under this section.

(b) Upon any application to enforce, annul or modify an order or
judgment for alimony, maintenance, distributive award, distribution of
marital property or for custody, visitation, or maintenance of a child,
made as in section two hundred thirty-six or section two hundred forty
of this article provided, or upon any application by writ of habeas
corpus or by petition and order to show cause concerning custody,
visitation or maintenance of a child, the court may direct a spouse or
parent to pay counsel fees and fees and expenses of experts directly to
the attorney of the other spouse or parent to enable the other party to
carry on or defend the application or proceeding by the other spouse or
parent as, in the court's discretion, justice requires, having regard to
the circumstances of the case and of the respective parties. There shall
be a rebuttable presumption that counsel fees shall be awarded to the
less monied spouse. In exercising the court's discretion, 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. Applications for the award of
fees and expenses may be made at any time or times prior to final
judgment. Both parties to the action or proceeding and their respective
attorneys, shall file an affidavit with the court detailing the
financial agreement, between the party and the attorney. Such affidavit
shall include the amount of any retainer, the amounts paid and still
owing thereunder, the hourly amount charged by the attorney, the amounts
paid, or to be paid, any experts, and any additional costs,
disbursements or expenses. Any applications for fees and expenses may be
maintained by the attorney for either spouse in counsel's own name in
the same proceeding. Payment of any retainer fees to the attorney for
the petitioning party shall not preclude any awards of fees and expenses
to an applicant which would otherwise be allowed under this section.

(c) In any action or proceeding for failure to obey any lawful order
compelling payment of support or maintenance, or distributive award the
court shall, upon a finding that such failure was willful, order
respondent to pay counsel fees to the attorney representing the
petitioner.

(d) The term "expenses" as used in subdivisions (a) and (b) of this
section shall include, but shall not be limited to, accountant fees,
appraisal fees, actuarial fees, investigative fees and other fees and
expenses that the court may determine to be necessary to enable a spouse
to carry on or defend an action or proceeding under this section. In
determining the appropriateness and necessity of fees, the court shall
consider:

1. The nature of the marital property involved;

2. The difficulties involved, if any, in identifying and evaluating
the marital property;

3. The services rendered and an estimate of the time involved; and

4. The applicant's financial status.