This video is about reasonableness as it relates to the issues of attorneys fees and costs in a family law case.
I've had a couple of recent recent cases where the judges hammered my clients with awards of attorneys fees. One case the award was approaching $20,000, and that award was so much that it actually sent my client into bankruptcy. So I want to explain to you where judges ended up saying that one person owes the other party attorneys fees and costs.
First of all obviously one person has to have an attorney, so if you're doing this case on your own and the other side is the one who has an attorney really have to be aware that paying some or all of the other side's attorneys fees and cost could be a possibility. The next thing you have to understand is that in making a decision about attorney’s fees and costs, the judge is going to look at whether parties are being reasonable in their positions or whether they're taking positions that prolong the litigation. They dragged the case out or caused extensive litigation. You know parties are abusing the discovery process or they're not disclosing information when they should. A judge is going to look at all of that when making a decision about attorneys fees and some of the evidence is going to be whether or not you're responding to the other side's request for information. Also, whether you're responding to settlement offers or whether you're making reasonable settlement offers either on your own or in response to the other side settlement offers. A judge will look at all of those things.
In addition the judge could look at other aspects of the case. In the case that I was just telling you about and I talked about this in another video “Can You Coach a Child For a Child Custody Evaluation?” The judge found that my clients and his fiancé had coached the minor child and that issues up for dispute my client maintains that he didn't do it but the judge believed he did it. Really the judge is the most important person here because he was the one that made the decision. So because the court found that my client had coached the child he thought that my clients conduct was unreasonable. As a result he awarded attorneys fees and costs. So as you make each step in your case and as you're writing letters or responding to offers and making offers or deciding whether to respond to discovery requests or response them in a timely fashion, I really want you to keep in the back of your head that doing something that's not in good faith that's actually in bad faith really could lead to you paying some or all of the other side's attorneys fees.
Now there's one other thing that a judge could possibly look at in deciding whether one party has to pay the other side's attorney’s fees. Whether there's a big difference in the parties income. There are some cases where one party makes most of the income and maybe the other party stayed home and took care of the kids. They were a stay-at-home parent and didn't make any income. Obviously the person in the greater financial position has more resources and in some of those cases a judge decides because the person has significantly more resources that they should contribute attorneys fees to the other side.
Because in order for the other side so really stand a chance in the fight, that person may need representation. However, they are unable to get representation because they don't have the training or the skills of the education or the experience to go out and get a job that will help them support an attorney. These are just a few of the factors you should be looking at and making a decision about how you're going to act in your case and whether you're going to be reasonable. You should always be reasonable but as always research the laws in your jurisdiction wherever you are to find out what your laws have to say about attorneys fees .