suing for attorney fees in small claims

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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suing for attorney fees in small claims

My ex-husband reopened our closed divorce case. Just as he was to start paying child support, he sued me for modification of child support, in addition to other smaller issues. He owed me a set amount of support, yet failed to do so due to this

Asked on November 9, 2017 under Family Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You most likely cannot recover your legal fees. Even if he later changed his mind and thought better of it, an ex-spouse can legally bring an action to modify child support. Since he had the right to do this, it is very unlikely that you can prove it was brought wholly for an improper purpose--i.e. that it was brought with no intention of, or reasonable grounds to, seek[ing] modification, but only to waste your money and harass you. Unless you can convincingly show such improper grounds--that is, that the legal action was brought for a purpose other than to in fact seek modification or address the other issues raised in it--then you have to pay or bear your own legal fees and cannot get reimbursement of them: in U.S. law, with *very*  few exceptions, each party has to bear its own fees in litigation, even when the side that initiated the lawsuit later changes its mind and drops or dismisses the matter. Typically, only if you can show an improper purpose to the litigation, which is very hard to do, can you recoup legal fees.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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