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Can I sue my ex for legal fees after this has been dismissed by another judge?

12601 |

I am in a custody/ visitation battle and had a court appointed lawyer. She didnt do anything, never responded to emails, called me back after multiple messages. I was forced to hire Lawyer in fear i was not receiving fair representation. My ex has dragged the case on unbelievably leaving me with thousands of dollars in legal fees. He is an alcoholic with no license and moved over two hrs away by choice and has no job. I have a respectable job and no substance abuse issues or legal matters otherwise. I am forced to drive an hr away to an exchange point. I want him to pay for the legal fees as the only thing my lawyer has accomplished is movig the exchange point a half hr closer for $9500.00

The case was not dragged on because i am unhappy with my lawyer. My mistake for wording it incorrectly. My ex was ordered to go to alcohol evaluation in April 2012 and dis not go until november. The judge kept letting him reschedule and get away with it. ( that would be a red flag for me) so the case has gone an extra 6-7 months because of him, putting me thiusands of dollars into debt for needing to bring an attorney back to court.

Attorney Answers 7


  1. You cannot sue your ex for legal fees because you did not like the representation your attorney gave you. You could have fired your attorney at any time if you did not agree with the way he or she handled the case. Your recourse is to go to fee arbitration with your attorney.

    Please let us know if there are more facts that could help shed light on the situation.


  2. You are not going to get legal fees from the father if he is unemployed.

    I have been a criminal attorney in New York for almost 25 years. website: Brooklynlaw.net Phone #: 718-208-6094 email: howard@brooklynlaw.net. This answer is only for informational purposes and is not meant as legal advice.


  3. Your attorney probably plead that as a closing paragraph in the pleadings, but even if he did not, I have to agree with the other attorney, if your ex is unemployed how would you get attorneys fees from him in the first place?

    I am only licensed in Arkansas. No part of this answer should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship.


  4. The basis for awarding attorneys' fees in divorce actions is to ensure that the non-monied spouse has adequate representation. DRL 237. If you make substantially more than your spouse then there is you will not get attorney's fees. The other basis would be a finding of contempt or frivolous conduct. It does not appear that either basis applies in your case.


  5. Your question is unclear because of the lengthy description of your tale of woe, but if your question is do you get to do a redo of a motion you lost before the same judge or a different judge, usually the answer is "no". That's called "forum shopping" and it's a no no. Usually, one of the boilerplate allegations you need to make in any motion is that you've never asked for that relief before.

    Perhaps that's not what you asked, because the follow up information is confusing, but the "...after this has been dismissed by another judge part of the question" is a red flag, full stop, "no".

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  6. Attorneys fees may be granted in a Family Court Custody case. Whether you would be entitled to it or not would depend in part on whether the case ended in a settlement or after trial, as well as the disparity of income between you & the father. Such an application must generally be made promtly after the case ends, however. I thus highly suggest that you schedule a follow-up consultation with a Dutchess/Westchester Co. Child Custody lawyer right away.

    * If you found my answer to be helpful, or the "best answer," please feel free to mark it accordingly.


  7. If the case is still pending, you can request counsel fees, but you would have to prevail prevail on the issue that you are litigating. If your husband intentionally fails to comply with court directives and you are forced to go to court and waste your day, your attorney can ask for counsel fees for that appearance as a penalty for not doing what he was ordered to do. However, it seems like the case dragged on because the judge was giving the father every opportunity to do the right thing. One of the issues that may come up is that fact that you already had a court appointed that you were not paying for representation and then you turned around and hired private counsel. Does he have an attorney? If fees are ordred, how would he pay?

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