How does Ohio address the recovery of attorney's fees in family law cases?

Understanding Attorney's Fees in Ohio Family Law Cases

In the realm of family law, the issue of attorney's fees can be a significant concern for parties involved in disputes or legal proceedings. In Ohio, like many states, the general rule is that each party is responsible for their own legal costs. However, there are specific circumstances under which the court may order one party to pay the attorney's fees of another.

Ohio law provides judges with discretion to award attorney's fees in family law cases based on a variety of factors. These may include the financial resources of each party, the conduct of the parties during litigation, and the merits of their respective positions.

Statutory Provisions and Case Law

Ohio Revised Code Section 3105.18 is one statute that addresses the recovery of attorney's fees in divorce cases, allowing for such awards as part of spousal support or alimony orders. Additionally, in child custody and support cases, courts often consider the more disadvantaged party's ability to afford legal representation when determining whether to grant attorney's fees.

Courts have also established precedents through case law. For instance, in Kroh v. Kroh, a notable case from the 1980s, an Ohio court established that one spouse could be required to pay the other's legal fees if their actions increased the litigation's complexity and cost.

Factors Influencing Attorney's Fee Awards

The decision to award attorney's fees is not taken lightly and typically hinges on several key considerations:

Notably, these considerations aim to ensure equitable access to legal representation and prevent an imbalance where only one party can afford counsel.

Practical Considerations and Limitations

It is important for parties involved in family law disputes in Ohio to understand that while attorney's fees can be awarded, such awards are not guaranteed. They must often be specifically requested, and even then, are granted at the discretion of the court. Furthermore, any fee award must be deemed 'reasonable' based on the circumstances of the case and the nature of services provided.


The recovery of attorney's fees in Ohio family law cases is a nuanced topic governed by statutory authority and judicial discretion. While there are mechanisms in place that can facilitate such recovery, it remains a complex area requiring careful navigation. Parties should consult with experienced family law attorneys who can provide guidance on this matter based on their unique situation.