In my last Family Law Blog Article posted on October 12, 2013, I discussed how to obtain interim attorney fees at the outset of a domestic relations case. With this article, I shall address how to obtain reasonable attorney fees at the end of a domestic relations matter. In Montgomery County, Ohio, this topic is addressed by Local Rule 4.27 entitled “Award of Attorney Fees”.
Pursuant to the Local Rule cited above and according to the laws of Ohio, a Domestic Relations Court may award reasonable attorney fees at any stage of the proceedings, including appeal, modification, and enforcement cases. In order to award reasonable attorney fees, the Court must find that one party (the “financially disadvantaged party”) will be prevented from fully litigating his/her rights and adequately protecting his/her interests, and that the award is equitable (“fair”).
The very first step to take in determining whether to file a Motion for Reasonable Attorney Fees is to determine if you are representing the “financially disadvantaged” spouse. As in my previous Family Law Blog Article, it would not be “reasonable” to request attorney fees in cases wherein neither party is financially advantaged. For example, if you have a Husband and Wife who have individual incomes or earnings of $20,000 to $40,000, neither party is going to be deemed to be “financially advantaged”. In those cases, you hope to achieve an equitable settlement in a short period of time as there is no money available with which to litigate the case.