Stabdards for award of atty fees in custody case?

Dear sefal128:

Greetings. The court can grant attorney fees to a party that has insufficient means to pay for litigation. The rest of the issues you brought up only show that you may have insufficient means to afford the lawsuit. Look at the statute on child custody and see what it says directly on attorney fees. Good luck.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax

301 McCullough Drive Suite 510
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax

1829 East Franklin Street, Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919.321.0780 main phone
919.787.6668 main fax


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

What is the standard for an award of attorney fees in a custody litigation??? I find scant little language on the subject that seems to apply to my situation.

I am suiing my child’s mother for a change in custody and for child support (not lightly, there are compelling reasons). We have been divorced for several years. I make significantly more money than she does - probably 2-3 times as much?? I don’t know her current income, but she does have a reasonable job. I currently pay for all of the expenses for our child - those I am obligated to under our valid, unincorporated agreement as well as most of the mother’s portion and others. I have been working to dig out from divorce (I assumed majority of marital debt). I have very few assets: Old car, small retirement, no long term savings, and cash on hand depends on which living expenses / bills have been paid yet in the current month, never in excess of a month of routine living expenses. I’ve had to borrow the money to pay for my part of the litigation, but have done so due to the gravity of the situation. Sure, there is arguably some play in my monthly budget - kiddo and I could eat processed noodles instead of lean meat and veges, or start shopping at good will - but we’re not living large by any means. I understand that my x-wife’s attorney wants to be paid for his work, and I seriously doubt he’s going to see any more money from her unless he get’s it from me (she hasn’t paid for any of her support obligations). However, I really can’t afford it without making major sacrifices - most of which would impact the degree of care and support I provide for our child.

Any perspective on what criteria might be used by a judge to decide whether to order me to pay for my x-wife’s attorney fees? The majority of what I find seems to say … “may be awarded if she is unable to…” I did ask my current attorney, and trust his advice, but I’m also interested in additional perspective if available, and especially any legal precident one way or the other.

Thanks in advance for your time.