Can't afford court-ordered attorney fees

What happens when you’ve been ordered to pay STBX’s attorney fees, but you simply cannot afford it?? What are the actions that can be taken against you? I am already working 2 jobs and cannot work anymore.

They are already taking out the MAXIMUM of what NC State law says they can from my paycheck for child support and alimony. There is no more money to take. I can barely get by on my own. I am working 2 jobs to pay all that’s been court ordered, while my STBX sits at home doing nothing! No justice at all in our court system!!

I own nothing but my car, so there is no property that can have liens attached to them. She’s already gotten half of my retirement. What else can they take? Please advise…

You can appeal the order requiring you to pay counsel fees. The standard of review for this action is “abuse of discretion.” This means you will have to show that the trial court judge who issued the order failed to properly consider the facts and law. However, the trial court is given a great deal of discretion in awarding or denying attorney’s fees. If the trial court made the appropriate findings of fact (see our article on Attorneys Fees that discusses the legal standards), it is presumed that the findings were supported by competent evidence. All that is to say that it is difficult to win on an appeal of an order of attorneys fees.

If the attorney fees were “reasonable”, that would be one thing;, but I’m being ordered to pay $5,000 in attorney fees for 1 day in court for the alimony trial! That’s more than I paid MY attorney for the ENTIRE divorce!!

What can they do if I’m NOT able to pay the $5,000?

They’re already taking out the MAXIMUM from my paycheck. If they put me in jail, I AUTOMATICALLY lose my job. Then I would not be able to pay child support OR alimony!

If you find the fees to be unreasonable, you can certainly appeal. Keep in mind that $5,000 wasn’t just for one day of court, but rather all of the time the attorney billed for the alimony suit (time spent on discovery, trial preparation, phone calls, emails, etc.). Your ex wife’s attorney would have filed an affidavit of attorneys fees that details where the number came from. I can’t speak to whether the fee truly is reasonable or not, I just want to note that the fee was not just for the hours spent in court that day.

Your ex wife’s attorney can file a motion for contempt and you can be put in jail for failure to pay court ordered fees. You will have the opportunity to defend yourself, should this happen. This probably won’t happen right away because they will want to give you time to pay. The point is, this doesn’t just go away simply because you claim you can’t afford it. My advice would be to pursue your appeal, or to find a way to make payments.

You will definaltely appeal in the court if you are not able to pay the attorney fees. Court will check your financial condition if you were able to pay the fees or not. It is very hard to win at this. Court can order in your favour but it is too hard. I wish u all the luck.