suing for attorney fees in small claims

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.


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