Attorneys Fees and how to get them in a New York Divorce action

It is a common scenario. A client comes to my office and is seeking a divorce. One of the first questions is: Can you get my husband to pay my attorneys fees? The answer to that is usually, “it depends.”
In New York a party in a divorce action can get attorneys fees if their spouse is significantly more affluent than they are. Thus, even assuming both parties have jobs, or both are “well heeled” a spouse can still get attorney’s fees if the other spouse is significantly more well heeled than the other spouse. In other words, you don’t have to be “poor” to get attorney’s fees. You just have to be not quite as rich.
Bear in mind, though, that if both spouse make within, say, 20-30K of each other, you probably won’t get attorney’s fees. So if you make $50K and your spouse makes $70K, you probably won’t get attorneys fees. But if one spouse is a stay at home spouse with no income and the other makes, say, $60K you probably could get attorney’s fees.
The court can either award attorneys fees to be payable at the end of the divorce action, or the court can order attorneys’ fees pendent elite, (during the pendency of the action.)
You can get attorneys fees for a divorce, matrimonial and child support, custody, visitation matter. But you can’t get attorney’s fees to enforce say, a separation agreement, unless it is expressly provided for in the separation agreement.