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Divorce proceedings represent some of the most emotionally contentious and legally complicated legal matters in the U.S. judicial system, according to the American Bar Association. If you are in the midst of divorce proceedings, you likely find yourself facing new and different questions as the case proceeds. For example, you may wonder whether you can appeal the ruling that requires you to pay attorney fees.
Overview of an Order to Pay Attorney Fees in a Divorce Case
There are a number of more common situations in which you might end up with a court order requiring you to pay attorney fees incurred by your spouse during divorce proceedings. The circumstances surrounding an order regarding the payment of the other party’s attorney fees has a direct bearing on issues associated with appealing such a decree.
One way in which you might become responsible for paying the other party’s attorney fees is if you agreed to do so at some point in the divorce proceedings. This might become an issue if the amount of attorney fees reached a level you did not anticipate when you initially made the agreement to pay your spouse’s attorney fees.
Another reason why there might be an order to pay attorney fees if something occurred in the case that resulted in the court electing to sanction you in some manner. A fairly common practice of a court is a divorce case is to award attorney fees in a situation in which you did something that ran afoul of an existing decision of the court. For example, if you failed to comply with an existing temporary order regarding your children, and your spouse had to enforce the existing order, the court may require you to pay the attorney fees expended by the other party in this situation.
Finally, the court may order the payment of some or all of your spouse’s attorney fees if there is some sort of financial balance the judge feels must be rectified in the final decree in the case. This can result in the court including a provision in the final divorce decree requiring you to pay some or all of the other party’s attorney fees.
Motion to Reconsider Attorney Fee Order
Although technically not an appeal from a decision of the court regarding attorney fees, in your divorce case you have the ability to file what is known as a motion to reconsider when it comes to decisions of the court. In other words, if the court issues an order you do not agree with regarding attorney fees, you can ask the court to reconsider its decision. In some cases the court will schedule a hearing when a motion to reconsider is filed. In other instances, the court will only consider what is set forth in your motion and in the response to your spouse.
Formal Appeal of Attorney Fee Order
At the conclusion of your divorce case, you have the right to appeal the final decree in some situations. The appeal is made to an appellate court. Including in the appeal can be a request for the appellate court to reconsider the lower court’s decision to require you to pay attorney fees.
You need to understand that there exists a very specific time frame in which an appeal from the final decree in a divorce case, including a request for the appeals court to look at an award of attorney fees. If you fail to meet the deadline, you likely will forever be barred from appealing the lower court’s decision regarding attorney fees in your case.
Legal Representation in Your Appeal Case
If you do decide to appeal the court’s decision regarding attorney fees in your divorce case, you need to consider seriously retaining the services of an attorney skilled in appellate cases. Not all divorce attorneys have experience with appeals. A lawyer typically will schedule a no-fee initial consultation to discuss your situation.