Part of any consultation with an attorney should include a conversation on how much the attorney’s work and time will cost. Some matters can be handled on a flat fee. Other matters are more traditional “billable” work where the attorney charges for their time by the hour. However, clients will frequently ask if the “other side” can pay those fees. The simple answer is that in some cases, the judge can order the opposing party to pay one party’s attorney fees.
In family law cases, the key to an award of attorney’s fees is to know the particular judge hearing your case because any award of attorney’s fees is largely discretionary. Some judges simply will not award attorney fees. Other judges may do so with the right facts. Judges can award attorney’s fees to one party in child custody, child support, alimony, and post-separation matters. Note that attorney’s fees are not available in equitable distribution (division of the marital estate) cases. Among the various factor’s judges must consider are that the party is acting in good faith, one party has insufficient means to pay the costs of the lawsuit, or one party is a dependent spouse.
Attorney’s fees are available in many other civil matters as a remedy provided by statute. For instance, many employment cases allow awards for reasonable attorney’s fees. So do debt collection matters. However, the moving party who filed the lawsuit must prevail in the case and have included that request in the lawsuit to receive an award of attorney’s fees. Oftentimes, this is a better option for clients than a contingency fee payable to the attorney because the client will not need to share a percentage of the award with his or her attorney. The attorney would get paid separately.
Each situation is case specific. In order to determine whether your case has the possibility for an award of attorney fees, you should consult with an attorney about your specific case. The attorneys at Stauff, Gross & Privette, PLLC are happy to discuss your situation with you. Please call 919-576-7550 if you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.