- Family Law
Attorney fees can only be awarded against a party who has an attorney or who has used an attorney to help draft forms or give advice. The Court can assess if a party is entitled to attorney fees upon its motion or on motion by any party.
In family law, C.R.S. 14-10-119 and C.R.S. 13-17-102 govern when and whether a party may be entitled to compensation from the other party to pay attorney’s fees. There are two primary reasons why another party may be entitled to pay your attorney’s fees.
Pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-119, you may be entitled to attorney’s fees if there is a significant disparity in the parties’ incomes. Under Colorado law, the Court must consider the relative financial status of each party by considering their respective incomes, assets, and debts. For example, if one person earns significantly more than the other, and this discrepancy is not alleviated by spousal support (maintenance). In that case, the higher wage earner may be required to pay some or all of the lower wage earner’s attorney fees. However, if, through maintenance, the income disparity is modified to a 60/40 division of income, then it is unlikely that the higher wage earner would pay a significant portion of the lower wage earner’s fees, unless the actual income of the higher wage earner is still very high or there are other considerations that would make it equitable.
If a party does not comply with a court’s order, and you have to file motions to compel them to comply, such as a motion under CRS 14-10-129.5 for disputes regarding parenting time or to ask they be held in contempt of Court because of their lack of compliance. The statutes for both say the Court may order fees, and some findings under CRS 14-10-129.5 require payment of legal fees from the non-compliant party.
This is another way that the Court can grant fees, and that is pursuant to C.R.S. 13-17-102, you may be entitled to attorney’s fees if the Court determines that a party’s motion lacked substantial justification. The phrase “lacked substantial justification” means, substantially frivolous, groundless, or vexatious. In other words, the Court may order attorney’s fees if the Court finds that a motion was filed in bad faith or without good cause. The Court can also find that a party’s motion lacked substantial justification if the motion was filed for the sole purpose of delaying litigation or harassing the other party. This is rarely given, as something has to really lack any reasonable argument to the extent that it bothers the Court, not just the opposing party.
For specific information regarding attorney fees, contact an experienced family law attorney at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. today.