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Can I appeal the ruling that I have to pay for his attorney?

Divorce cases represent some of the most emotionally challenging, legally complex legal proceedings. If you have been involved in divorce proceedings, and have just received an order requiring you to pay some or all of your spouse’s attorney fees, you likely find yourself less than pleased. You may find yourself wondering whether and how you can appeal the decision of the court requiring you to pay your spouse’s attorney fees.

Why Paying Your Spouse’s Attorney Fees can be Ordered

There are a number of situations in which a party to a divorce proceeding can be required by the court to pay the attorney fees of the other spouse. One of the most common reasons a divorce court issues an attorney fee order is to sanction a party to a divorce case.

For example, if the court finds that you have made some sort of frivolous or improper claim in your divorce case, the court might sanction you by ordering you to pay a certain amount or percentage of your spouse’s attorney fees. Normally, your spouse’s lawyer will have filed a motion seeking an order to have you pay attorney fees for a particular reason.

Motion for Reconsideration

Although not an appeal from a specifically legal standpoint, you can file what is known as a motion for reconsideration if you object to a court order regarding the payment of attorney fees. At its essence, a motion to reconsider asks the judge that issues the order to requiring you to pay attorney fees for your spouse to “reconsider” his or her initial decision.

Keep in mind that the laws in your state may set specific parameters regarding when and how a motion to reconsider can be pursued in a divorce case. If you find yourself wanting to seek this type of judicial relief, you need to be very certain yo pay attention to any deadlines for filing a motion for reconsideration.

Appeal to a Higher Court

Depending on the status of your divorce case, you may be in a positon at which you can pursue an appeal of the court’s decision regarding attorney fees. As a general rule, you cannot appeal the court’s attorney fee order until a final divorce decree is handed down in your case.

You also need to keep in mind that the laws in all 50 states establish a specific timeframe in which what is known as a notice of appeal must be filed. Typically, in a divorce or other type of civil case, the time period for filing a notice of appeal can be as short as 10 days. You also need to understand that this important court document is not filed in the trial or divorce court, but in the appellate court. Missing the filing deadline likely precludes you from pursuing an appeal.

Retaining Legal Representation

Due to the complexities of divorce cases, you are well served having legal representation in the first instance. If you make the decision to appeal your divorce case, including a decision by the court regarding attorney fees, you must seriously consider hiring a lawyer. You should not take lightly the idea of pursuing an appeal on your own.

The appellate court system is highly complicated. The laws governing appellate court procedure are complex, and not even well understood by all attorneys.