Dedicated Georgia Attorneys

Can I Get My Attorney Fees at the End of My Trial?

A lot of clients come into my office wanting to know if they can get their attorney fees and costs at the end of trial. What I usually tell my clients is it can happen depending upon what happens at trial. The court costs of the divorce and alimony action are required to be borne by the party against whom substantial relief is granted, as in other civil actions. OCGA 9-11-54 d. Generally, an award of attorney's fees must be authorized by statute or by contract Munro v. Taylor 259 Ga. App. 600 (2003). Attorney's fees may be awarded to a party in a divorce action at the court's discretion and the court will consider the financial circumstances of the parties in such determination. The purpose of the award is to ensure effective representation of both spouses in an action arising out of divorce. An award under this code section for attorney fees depends on the party's financial condition, not their wrongdoing. McGahey v. Rogers 280 Ga. 750 (2006). The trial court's award was based on the husband's stubborn stance which could not apply to this code section. There are 2 statutes that the court must look at when awarding attorney fees. OCGA 19-6-2A1 requires consideration of the financial conditions of the parties and OCGA 9-15-14 requires evidence not merely to punish or deter litigation abuses but also to recover money for resources in contending with abusive litigation. The trial court must assess whether one party was overly contentious and abusive in the litigation under one statute and under the other statute the only question is the financial situation of the parties. In any civil action where frivolous claim or defense is taken reasonable attorney fees and expenses shall be awarded against the party asserting such, or against the party's attorney or both. In support of the award, the trial court must make findings of fact and conclusions of law in its written order. Although the standard of review under this section is there any evidence rule, the appellate court must determine whether the claim either had some factual merit or presented a justifiable issue of law. Furthermore, at the trial court's discretion, attorney's fees may be assessed for 3 additional reasons: an action or defense lacks substantial justification, the action was interposed for delay or harassment, and the attorney or party unnecessarily expanded the proceedings by other improper conduct. Attorney fees and expenses under this code section may be requested by motion at any time during the action but not later than 45 days after final disposition of the action. The trial court must give notice of its intention to impose attorney fees and hold a hearing as the amount of attorney fees to be awarded based on an amount to punish or deter litigation abuses and to reimburse a party who expended resources sets as attorney fees in contending with the abusive litigation. The amount of attorney fees to be awarded would be based on the conduct of the party and the party's counsel along with the amount of attorney fees incurred by the other party as a result of that conduct. Proper notice is a motion for such fees filed of record by a party or for some notice to any potential liable person that the court is considering its own motion for such. Contact a Dallas Georgia family law lawyer to represent you in your modification or contempt action.