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Three ways to Recovery Attorney Fees in Domestic Litigation

Often, parties engaging in litigation have spent countless hours and invested huge portions of their lives into their case. And, there is often a great expense to litigating, in both preparation, job impact (taking time off for Court and to prepare for your case), and attorney fees. So, can some of that money spent be recouped?

In Indiana, the American Rule as relating to attorney fees is generally followed. That is, that each party pays his/her own attorney fees. However, there are exceptions to the American Rule. This blog will explore some general exceptions in family law that may allow a party to recover a portion of his/her attorney fees.

Costs and attorney fees may be ordered to be paid by a party in paternity and dissolution matters1. Attorney fees may be awarded for bad faith or frivolous litigation. If there is no underlying basis for an action or filing, and/or it is pursued in bad faith, attorney fees may be ordered against the person bringing that litigation.

Attorney fees may also be awarded if a party is in contempt of Court or the opposing party has to compel discovery or compliance with a Court Order. This is to discourage inaction or failure to comply with the Court’s Orders and to allow the other party to recover costs it took to litigate the contempt or non-compliance matter.

Attorney fees may also be awarded if there is a disparity of income-that is, one party earns significantly more than the other. For example, a Father who stays home to care for an incapacitated child may receive attorney fees for an action brought through the divorce.

Litigation is a personal and emotional process, and the addition of fees adds more complexity to the matter. Knowing the general rule and exception as to attorney fees can help clients make educated choices about their cases. We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring attorney fees generally. This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. may be able to help evaluate same. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.

  1. See Ind. Code 31-14-18-2 and 31-17-7-1
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