Litigation is expensive and there are many opportunities to force the opposing party to pay your attorney fees. This notion is something we keep in our minds as we proceed through a lawsuit. We are constantly looking for windows to seek this remedy where it is made available by statute.
Generally speaking the Courts follow the American Rule, which states that each party is responsible for their own attorney fees and costs. However, the Oklahoma legislature has created numerous exceptions to this rule to create a more equitable outcome. Below I will discuss a few of these statutes. This list is not exhaustive but demonstrates the need for having a knowledgeable Tulsa Attorney on your side to help you navigate these complex issues.
ATTORNEY FEES IN DIVORCE
This is the area where I am most often asked about fees. There are primarily two ways to get attorney fees in a divorce case.
1) Balancing of equities – very generally this means what is most fair? The judge will consider whether a side took an unreasonable position or unnecessarily prolonged litigation. The court may also consider the need of the party requesting fees and the ability to pay of the other side. There are timing requirements for the filing of an application for attorney fees. Therefore, you need to contact a Tulsa Divorce Attorney to help you get the remedy you deserve.
2) Domestic violence – if you have been abused or stalked by your spouse the law says that you are entitled to force your abuser to pay for your attorney fees. Many times a victim of domestic violence is not only being verbally and physically abused but are also being controlled financially. This is part of the power and control paradigm. We understand this very well and are always willing to work with domestic violence victims to come up with a payment structure that they can afford, and sometimes will help for no upfront payment at all. There are very few Tulsa Attorneys that have the experience that we have at Mauldin & Bennett in helping victims of domestic violence.
3) Lack of Cooperation – The process of gathering evidence in a lawsuit is called discovery. If a party fails to cooperate in the discovery process the Court may sanction that party by making them pay for the attorney fees associated with gaining compliance. Often in divorce actions there is substantial animosity between the parties which leads to a lack of cooperation. The law firm of Mauldin & Bennett has been very successful in obtaining sanctions against the opposing party and forcing them to pay attorney fees.
ATTORNEY FEES IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE
1) Offer of Judgment – this statute allows a defendant to confess a judgment for an amount certain. If the Plaintiff does not obtain a judgment for larger than the offer they are required to pay the Defendant’s attorney fees. This statute is very useful early on in litigation to put pressure on a Plaintiff to settle a disputed case.
2) Lack of Cooperation – The process of gathering evidence in a lawsuit is called discovery. If a party fails to cooperate in the discovery process the Court may sanction that party by making them pay for the attorney fees associated with gaining compliance.
ATTORNEY FEES IN SMALL CLAIMS
1) Uncontested action – Many small claims cases are uncontested. In those cases the Plaintiff is entitled to attorney fees in an amount not greater than 10% of the judgment.
2) Contested action – Even in small claims cases that are contested the court commonly awards a reasonable attorney fee for the prevailing party.
Call us today for a free consultation. We may be able to help you and have the other side pay for it.