Representing yourself in a family law matter can save you a substantial amount of money, but it can also be a challenging journey. It’s often referred to as the “pro-se killer” when a pro-se litigant is ordered to pay the other side’s legal fees. It’s a tough situation because not only are you navigating the legal landscape without an attorney, but you’re also footing the bill for the opposing party’s lawyer. This scenario can discourage settlement attempts and lead to prolonged litigation, with you stuck paying the opposing attorney’s fees. However, there are strategies you can employ to tackle this daunting challenge.
One effective way to contest a request for attorney’s fees is by recognizing that you were not given a hearing and an opportunity to be heard! Believe it or not it happens. When one side request attorney’s fees they must serve you notice and the Court must allow a hearing to take place. At the hearing they must present evidence that to meet their legal burden and you must be given an opportunity to submit evidence as well. Some legal authority on the matter is presented below:
A motion for interim attorney’s fees requires notice and a hearing. TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 6.502(a) (West 2006). The requirements of notice and a hearing implies an adversarial hearing where evidence will be presented to the court with the Texas Rules of Evidence in effect. See Black v. Onion, 694 S.W.2d 52, 55 (Tex.App.—San Antonio 1985, orig. proceeding) and Post v. Garza, 867 S.W.2d 88, 90 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi–Edinburg 1993, no writ).
Due process requires that an adjudication depriving an individual of life, liberty, or property must be preceded by an opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner. See Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 333 (1976); Bexar County Sheriff’s Civil Serv. Comm’n v. Davis, 802 S.W.2d 659, 661 (Tex.1990). A litigant should be afforded the opportunity, in an adversarial hearing, the opportunity to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and object to any evidence introduced at the hearing. Chaney v. Chaney, No. 05-98-00484-CV, 2000 WL 721599, at *2 (Tex. App.—Dallas June 6, 2000, no pet.)
In Post, husband and wife were getting divorced and wife moved for interim attorney’s fees. Post, 867 S.W.2d at 89. Husband was not allowed to cross-examine wife’s husband as to the reasonableness of the fees nor was husband allowed to present evidence of his own. Id. The trial court granted wife $15,000.00 in interim attorney’s fees. Id. The Post court reasoned that since the statute authorizing interim attorney’s fees in divorce proceedings require notice and a hearing, the hearing should be of an adversarial nature and husband should be allowed to present evidence and cross-examine opposing witnesses. Id. At 90. Accordingly, the Post court ruled that the trial court had clearly abused its discretion and had violated husband’s due process right to be heard. Id. The fees were reversed in the Post case.
At the Beveridge Law Firm, PLLC, we specialize in family law and are committed to safeguarding your rights throughout the legal process. If you ever find yourself facing the daunting prospect of paying attorney’s fees without being given the chance to be heard, know that we are here to help. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing the support and representation you need to navigate these challenges effectively.
Don’t hesitate to take action. Call our office at 281-407-0961 or submit your information through our contact form. We are passionate about ensuring that justice prevails, and we are ready to guide you through the legal process with knowledge, dedication, and a personalized approach. The Beveridge Law Firm, PLLC, is your ally in achieving a just outcome and protecting your rights.