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Alimony Modification Attorney Fees
According to Georgia law, in cases regarding the modification of alimony, or spousal support, the court presiding over the matter may award attorney’s fees, court costs and other expenses of litigation to the party who ultimately prevails in the matter. O.C.G.A. § 19-6-19(b). The award of attorney’s fees is within the discretion of the presiding judge. Thus, any award of attorney’s fees according to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-19(b) will be made only if the interests of justice require such an award. Id.
There is another provision of Georgia law that may be of particular interest to recipients of alimony who are currently involved in an alimony modification action filed by the obligated spouse – O.C.G.A. § 19-6-22. According to this section of Georgia law concerning attorneys’ fees in alimony modification actions, if the alimony modification action is filed or initiated by the obligated spouse, the judge may require the obligated spouse to pay the attorneys’ fees, or the reasonable expenses of litigation incurred by the recipient spouse, who is forced to defend against the alimony modification action. Id.
In fact, the judge may order the spouse initiating a petition for the modification of alimony, or a spouse who asserts a counterclaim for the modification of alimony, to pay the costs of litigation incurred by the party who must defend against the claim, if that party is the recipient of the alimony payments. See Wright v. Wright, 246 Ga. 81 (1980) and Spivey v. Schneider, 234 Ga. 687 (1980). In order to actually receive an award or attorneys’ fees, or costs of litigation, the party seeking to recoup the fees must prove the actual costs incurred in defending against the modification action, and he or she must also prove the reasonableness of those costs and fees. See Wehner v. Parris, 258 Ga. App. 772 (2002). Generally, providing proof of the costs and the reasonableness of those costs involve an evidentiary hearing in which the attorney for the party defending against the action present evidence of attorneys’ fees and other costs incurred representing the respondent. Id.