Now Accepting New Clients!

DIVORCE 54: The trial court abused its discretion in denying Defendant’s request for attorney fees without conducting a hearing or allowing her to support her request.

This case arises from the dissolution of plaintiff and defendant’s marriage. Defendant was a stay-at-home parent for the parties’ two children during the majority of the marriage. The children were adults at the time of the separation and divorce. The trial court determined that plaintiff owed defendant $107,112 as a property equalization award, and awarded defendant $1,500 per month in spousal support for a period of 10 years, at which time defendant would become eligible for social security income. The trial court’s denied defendant’s request for attorney fees. Defendant now appeals.


Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by denying her request for a hearing regarding attorney fees and by denying her request for attorney fees. We agree. The trial court must provide a reasoned basis for its discretionary decision regarding attorney fees. Attorney fees are authorized by statute and by court rule in a divorce action.  The trial court has authority to order a party’s payment of the other party’s attorney fees during the pendency of the divorce case. MCL 552.13(1). MCR 3.206(D)(1).   In this case, after the close of proofs but before the trial court issued its oral opinion, defendant requested a hearing regarding attorney fees because “it was impossible to determine, at the time of the trial, the amount of attorney’s fees that were generated by [sic] client and to give the court an understanding as to how much attorney fees my client has paid.” The trial court indicated that proofs were closed and that the parties waived closing arguments. The trial court also indicated that the issue regarding attorney fees was not addressed during the bench trial. The trial court denied defendant’s request for a hearing regarding attorney fees and declined to address whether defendant was entitled to attorney fees. After the trial court issued its oral opinion, defendant requested that the value of her property award be adjusted from $145,000 to $125,000 to reflect her debt of $20,000 in attorney fees. The trial court indicated that defendant failed to raise the issue of attorney fees before the close of proofs and that it would not address whether defendant was entitled to attorney fees. The trial court ordered each party to pay their respective attorney fees. Defendant’s request for attorney fees was timely under MCL 522.13(1) because it was made during the pendency of the divorce proceeding and before the trial court gave its oral opinion regarding the divorce judgment, rather than after the entry of an order that resolved the last pending claims and closed the case. Defendant’s request for attorney fees was also timely under MCR 3.206(D) because a request for attorney fees under this court rule can be made “at any time.” MCR 3.206(D)(1). Therefore, the trial court had authority to award defendant attorney fees at the time of defendant’s request under MCL 522.13(1) and MCR 3.206(D). Defendant testified during the bench trial that she had a credit card balance of $2,000 for legal fees in this case. Defendant also testified that she borrowed approximately $20,000 from her sister to pay for attorney fees in this case, although there were no loan documents. The lower court record also supports that defendant’s salary was $22,000 per year in 2018 before taxes and payroll deductions and that plaintiff’s income was $210,000 in 2018. Defendant was not required to invade her assets that she relied on for support or to invade the property award in order to pay attorney fees to defend this action. These facts support defendant’s request for attorney fees on the basis of defendant’s inability to pay to defend the divorce proceeding and plaintiff’s ability to pay. By failing to hold a hearing or to allow defendant to support her request for attorney fees, the trial court did not render a decision on the basis of the particular facts and circumstances regarding the parties’ financial situations and the equities involved. Accordingly, the trial court failed to provide a reasoned basis for its denial of defendant’s request for attorney fees and remand is required to permit the parties to develop the factual record and allow the trial court to consider defendant’s request and to exercise its discretion in the first instance.


Aldrich Legal Services understands what a stressful time this is for you when you are in the midst of a divorce.

Aldrich Legal Services represent parents throughout southeast Michigan with a wide range of family law related matters.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Speak to a Pro: (734) 404-3000


Wills and Trusts

Originally posted on: 02/14/2014 Aldrich Legal Service provides legal advice and representation for residents in Plymouth, Ann Arbor, and Southeast Michigan. We also review recent legal cases to examine what took place and what we can...

REAL ESTATE 68: Holding that plaintiffs-buyers’ allegations of fraud in this case arising from the sale of a residence did not preclude the trial court from granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition based on a release, the court affirmed.

This cause of action arises from plaintiffs’ purchase of a residence from defendant, who had rights in the house under a land contract from co-defendant, the legal owner of the house. Before the house was for sale, in January 2018, an upstairs...

REAL ESTATE 65: Determining that it could not conclude the trial court erred in its factual findings, and that it did not err in reforming a 2005 deed, the court affirmed the ruling that defendants were fee simple owners of the disputed 50-foot area

This case arose from a real-property dispute between brothers, as well as their respective wives. After a bench trial, the trial court rendered its findings of fact. The trial court determined that plaintiffs did not prove that excluding the...

FAMILY LAW 58: The trial court did not err by denying defendant-father’s motion to change custody and modify his parenting time of the parties’ child without having an evidentiary hearing to determine if there was proper cause or a change in circums

This case arose from a custody and parenting-time dispute between plaintiff-mother and father over their minor child. After father failed to respond to the paternity complaint within the 21 days of receipt of the complaint, mother filed an affidavit...

DIVORCE 53: Although the court affirmed the trial court’s decisions to deny defendant’s motions to set aside the default and the default JOD, it vacated the portions of the default JOD as to the distribution of marital property, custody, parenting t

Plaintiff filed for divorce. Defendant filed an answer and a counterclaim for divorce.  Plaintiff and defendant were both ordered to appear at the settlement conference. After defendant failed to appear, the trial court entered a default. Soon...

FAMILY LAW 53: The trial court erred by treating the parties’ GAL as an LGAL and denying the parties the right to question her at a hearing; however, the trial court did not err in requiring the parties to compensate the GAL for her services.

Plaintiff and Defendant were never married, but share a young son who was born in 2016. The parties have battled over custody, child support, and other parenting issues ever since. In the spring of 2019, the parties filed competing motions to modify...

The Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary

Original Post: 1/11/2019 Often, burglary, robbery, and theft are used interchangeably even though there are distinct differences between all of them. Though, what all three do have in common is they may involve the unlawful taking of...

REAL ESTATE 59: Concluding that the one-year period contained in the parties’ home purchase agreement was not a statute of limitations, but rather akin to a statute of repose, and that it was plain and unambiguous, the court held that it barred plai

BACKGROUND On March 12, 2016, the parties entered into an agreement for the purchase of defendants’ home. The purchase agreement contained the following clause: TIME FOR LEGAL ACTION: Buyer and Seller agree that any legal action against...

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000