People always want to recover their attorney’s fees from the other side in a family law case. Most judges are hesitant to make an award of attorney’s fees, but they do award fees sometimes.
The statute for attorney’s fees in Family Court in Arizona is A.R.S. § 25-324. The statute provides two bases for a Family Court judge to award attorney’s fees and the judge must consider both of them. The first basis is relative ability to pay. If one party has a high income and a lot of assets, and the other party has a low income and few assets, then that is a basis to award attorney’s fees to the low-income party. The other basis is if a party has been unreasonable in the positions or actions they take during the course of the proceeding. Examples include violating court orders, taking positions contrary to law, taking positions clearly not in the children’s best interest, filing frivolous motions, and wasting the court’s time.
The amount of fees that the judge awards varies. Sometimes it’s just a fraction of the fees spent and sometimes it’s all of the fees spent. The amount awarded is in the judge’s discretion.
Finally, getting an award of fees is one thing, but actually collecting them is another. The other party does not always pay the judgment right away or at all. If this happens, the party with the judgment for fees has several options, including garnishing wages or bank accounts, or filing a contempt and enforcement petition, depending on the language of the judgment for fees.