In my last article I discussed the different costs and fees associate with a family court case. But, is there a way you can get the other party to pay your attorney’s fees? The answer to this question, like the answer to most legal questions, is that it depends.
The most commonly cited authority for requesting an award of attorney fees is A.R.S. § 25-324. This statute gives the court two avenues to award a party their attorney fees. The first is if one of the parties acts objectively unreasonably. See In re the Marriage of Williams, 219 Ariz. 546, 548 (App. 2008). This means that the party must act in a way that most people would find unreasonable, not just you (i.e., wanting to claim all community assets as their own separate assets, and maintaining this position all the way through trial). The second avenue a court may award attorney fees is if a financial disparity exists between the parties. Magee v. Magee, 206 Ariz. 589, 591 – 92, ¶ 12 (App. 2004). This means that the one party has more financial resources than the other. It is important to point out that “disparity in income” does not mean that the party requesting fees is completely unable to pay their attorney’s fees. Rather, the party requesting fees under this theory only has to have limited or fewer financial resources than the other party. See id.
There are other statutes that may also entitle a party to attorney fees in family court cases, such as:
- R.S. § 25-403.08 – fees in an action regarding legal decision-making or parenting time if there is a financial disparity between the parties;
- R.S. §
- R.S. § 25-503(F) – fees to the prevailing party of a support modification;
- R.S. § 25-504(K) – fees for failure of party paying support to notify clerk or court of change in name or address within ten days;
- R.S. § 25-809(G) – fees in paternity actions;
With all of this being said, it is important to note that an award of attorney fees is at the court’s discretion. So, there is no guarantee that you can get your attorney’s fees in a case even if you might qualify for an award under the statute.
If you have a family court case, but you are concerned about fees, contact me for a free consultation to find out more about your case and the possibility of your fees being paid by the other party.