Navigating Attorney Fee Awards in Domestic Violence Cases

Navigating Attorney Fee Awards in Domestic Violence Cases

Navigating Attorney Fee Awards in Domestic Violence Cases

When navigating divorce proceedings involving incidents of domestic violence, it’s crucial to understand the nuanced legal landscape surrounding attorney fee awards. In this blog post, we will delve into the specifics of when attorney fees are entitled and awarded, shedding light on the considerations courts take into account when making such determinations.

Legal Framework:

The legal framework for awarding attorney fees in cases of domestic violence is primarily defined by statutes designed to protect victims and deter frivolous or malicious actions. In our exploration, we will focus on key statutes such as Title 43 O.S.2021 § 112.6, which addresses proceedings involving dissolution of marriage, separate maintenance, or custody, and domestic violence or stalking. The recent Oklahoma Appeals Court case of Hubert v. Hubert has placed an added emphasis on the mandatory fee award statutes and limiting any discretion a court may have in considering fees, therefore it’s critical to understand the risks and benefits when considering these allegations and defenses.

  • Title 43 O.S.2021 § 112.6 – Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence:

This statute provides a crucial avenue for victims of domestic violence or stalking to secure reasonable attorney fees and costs. To be entitled to such fees, the victim must demonstrate, by a preponderance of evidence, that they are currently being stalked or have been a victim of domestic abuse. Courts are mandated to substantially order the payment of attorney fees by the abusing party, both before and after the entry of a final order.

  • Title 43 O.S.2021 § 107.3(D) – False Accusations in Child Custody Proceedings:

In cases where one party intentionally makes false or frivolous accusations of child abuse or neglect, Title 43 O.S.2021 § 107.3(D) comes into play. The court is directed to undertake specific actions, including awarding the obligation to pay all court costs and legal expenses to the accusing party. This provision aims to discourage false allegations and protect the integrity of child custody proceedings.

  • Title 43 O.S.2021 § 112(D)(2) – Actions Contrary to the Best Interests of the Child:

This statute addresses situations where actions brought regarding the care, custody, and support of minor children are deemed contrary to the best interests of the child. The prevailing party is entitled to recover court costs, attorney fees, and other reasonable costs and expenses. This provision underscores the importance of prioritizing the well-being of the child in legal proceedings.

  • Title 22 O.S. Supp. 2019 § 60.2(C)(2) – Frivolous Protective Order Filings:

In cases involving frivolous protective order filings, the court may assess attorney fees and court costs against the plaintiff. This provision serves as a deterrent against the misuse of protective orders for strategic advantage in custody battles.

Court Considerations in Fee Awards:

When courts consider awarding attorney fees in domestic violence cases, they primarily focus on the merits of each statutory provision. Key considerations include:

  • Preponderance of Evidence: Courts require a showing, by a preponderance of evidence, that the statutory conditions for fee awards have been met.
  • Credibility of Claims: The court evaluates the credibility of claims, especially in cases of domestic violence or false accusations, to ensure a fair and just resolution.
  • Best Interests of the Child: In actions concerning minor children, the court prioritizes the child’s best interests, assessing whether the actions taken align with those interests.
  • Frivolous Filings: In cases involving protective orders, the court scrutinizes the legitimacy of the filing, discouraging frivolous applications and protecting victims from unnecessary legal actions.


Understanding the statutory provisions and court considerations surrounding attorney fee awards in cases of domestic violence is crucial for anyone navigating the complex terrain of domestic violence allegations in a divorce or custody case. By staying informed and seeking legal guidance, individuals can better navigate these proceedings and ensure their rights are protected while promoting a fair and just legal system.

The Smith Firm attorneys are intimately familiar with litigating domestic violence allegations, whether making a legitimate claim of abuse, or defending against a false allegation by the other side, we have the experience to help you navigate this issue. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and talk to one of our experienced family law attorneys.