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When do court’s award attorney fees?

One of the questions I get is when do court’s award attorney fees in divorce cases?

While each case is different, here is one example where the appeals court affirmed attorney fees after the 4th failed motion to adjust support after failing to prove changed circumstances.

Aug 3, 2016 NJ Law Journal 20-2-9948 Karkoszka v. Karkoszka, N.J. Super. App. Div. (per curiam) (12 pp.)

Defendant appealed the Family Part order denying his motion to modify his alimony and child support obligations and awarding attorney fees to plaintiff, his ex-wife. The final judgment of divorce awarded limited duration alimony and child support based on income imputed to defendant after the court found that he had a history of employment as a full-time tile setter but had in explicitly stopped working after plaintiff filed for divorce. During the 11 months after the JOD was entered, he filed four motions seeking modification of his alimony and child support obligations. The order at issue was entered in response to his fourth motion. The panel affirmed. It found that defendant failed to demonstrate that he was unable to earn the income that the court had imputed to him and that he had made reasonable efforts to obtain employment in more lucrative positions for which he was qualified. Further, the court correctly rejected defendant’s sole reliance on the birth of his new child as a basis for a finding of changed circumstances because he failed to demonstrate that there were any changed circumstances affecting his ability to earn the income that was imputed to him by the trial court. Also, the panel found no abuse of discretion in the award of counsel fees to plaintiff, agreeing with the court’s determination that defendant’s filing of four motions for modification within one year of the JOD, his filing of the present motion within two months of the denial of his immediately preceding motion, and his ongoing failure to offer any evidence of a change in the circumstances related to his ability to earn the imputed income justified the imposition of an attorney fee award.

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