Who pays the attorney fees in Oklahoma family law cases may vary based on certain factors. Depending on the type of case, the court will have inherent power to award attorney fees. Attorney fees are tricky because the issue usually comes up after the case is over. But, in certain circumstances attorney fees can be awarded prior to trial with a showing of need and by the Judge using his judicial authority to balance the equities. When and if attorney fees in Oklahoma family law cases are awarded is a little tricky but is possible.
Who Pays The Attorney Fees Generally
Oklahoma follows the “American Rule” regarding attorney fees. The American Rule states that attorney fees should not be awarded unless specifically allowed. Many other country’s use the looser pays rule or variations of that rule. The American Rule is said to be more equitable. Its claimed that this rule allows greater access to the Court. Unlike the looser pay which punishes those who loos and tends to make access to the Court more difficult and risky. In family law and child custody cases the American Rule applies but certain exceptions do apply.
One Party’s Conduct is Abusive
A court has inherent authority to award attorney fees where one party’s conduct during the case has been abusive. This includes oppressive conduct that has otherwise excessively prolonged or aggravated the litigation. In other words, a judge will consider if one party unreasonably complicated or delayed the proceedings before awarding attorney fees. This type of litigation is known as “vexatious” in the legal field. Vexatious is defined as “without reasonable or probable cause or excuse; harassing; annoying.” Keep in mind, a highly contested case or a failure to make a reasonable settlement offer is not necessarily vexatious. An experienced attorney will be able to identify unnecessary tactics from your opponent.
Balance Equities in Family Court
In addition to vexatious lawsuits, a court may award attorney fees based on a balancing of the equities. When balancing the equities a court may consider the financial positions of the parties. Other considerations include the welfare of the child, the means and property of the parties, and whether one party’s behavior demonstrated a priority of self-interest over the interests of the child. This approach is used in divorces, paternity, visitation, and guardian ad litem proceedings.
Attorney Fees and Domestic Violence
Attorney Fees in Oklahoma Family Law are always awarded to the victim in a finding of domestic abuse or violence. This make s the issues of domestic violence findings in a divorce or paternity case more important then ever. Sometimes family law attorneys will fight to make this finding in the case as a means of helping their client meet their legal fee obligations. In protective order cases in Tulsa attorneys fees will nearly always be awarded to the victim if the protective order is granted. that how one party gets their attorney fees paid
Tulsa Family Lawyers Near You
Our Tulsa law firm specializes in family law areas such as divorce, child custody, adoption, alimony, and so on. We are prepared to deal with issues like attorney fees and you will certainly not need to worry about it when you work with us. If you have questions regarding your family law case, give us a call today. 918.743.2233 for a free consultation