Attorney Fees in Domestic Matters
Attorney fees are awarded in domestic matters in two scenarios, first, to establish a court order, and second, to enforce a court order.
Attorney Fees When You Cannot Afford To Establish A Court Order
If a party is unable to afford the costs of obtaining an order of custody, parent-time, child support, alimony, or division of property in a domestic case, the court may order a party to pay the costs and attorneys fees of the other party to enable the other party to prosecute or defend the action, but the award or denial of such fess must be based on evidence of the financial need of the receiving spouse, the ability of the other spouse to pay, and the reasonableness of the requested fees. The court may further order a party to provide money for the separate support and maintenance of the other party and of any children in the custody of the other party. See, Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-3(3 )
Attorney fees in this scenario are more difficult to get simply because people typically have to pay an attorney to request this type of award.
Attorney Fees To Enforce A Court Order
In any action to enforce an order of custody, parent-time, child support, alimony, or division of property in a domestic case the court may award costs and attorney fees upon determining that the party substantially prevailed upon the claim or defense. See, Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-3(2)
An example of this type of award of attorney fees is when a party has to drag the other party back into court for not following the parent-time or child support provisions of a Decree of Divorce, but it applies to all enforcement proceedings in domestic matters. An award of attorney fees in these situations is not guaranteed, but the court is usually sympathetic to the party that has to legally force the other party to abide the court’s prior ruling.