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Atlanta Divorce, Attorney's fees – Georgia Case Update

On May 4, 2009, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the ruling in the Atlanta Divorce case of Patel v. Patel (S09F0505), which denied the Wife an award of attorney's fees. In a Georgia divorce, atrial court can, after considering the financial circumstances of the parties, award attorney fees to one party in order to “ensure effective representation of both spouses so that all issues can be fully and fairly resolved.” Essentially, the Court wants to make sure that there is a level playing field for both parties, keeping one party from gaining an unfair advantage over the other.

In this Atlanta divorce, the parties had been married for 22 years. The Husband was a doctor with his own medical practice, and the Wife had been a stay at home mom. The evidence presented to the Fulton County divorce judge showed that both parties had used marital resources to pay for their attorney's fees in their divorce. The Court found both parties had been adequately represented,and thus the trial judge did not award the Wife attorney's fees.

Since the Fulton County divorce judge had considered the respective financial conditions of the parties, she did not abuse her discretion in denying attorney's fees. In other words, the Wife's lawyer had already been paid with resources from the parties' marital estate. Her request for attorney's fees was essentially asking for additional money from Husband even though her attorney's fees had already been paid.

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