Serving Clients in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Loudon, Sevier & Roane Counties

When You May Be Awarded Attorney’s Fees

Money Received from Legal Claims

Litigation is expensive, so many people ask us how they can get the opposing party to pay for attorney fees. This is not something that occurs often. Tennessee courts follow the “American Rule,” which is that each person is responsible for their own attorney fees. However, there are instances in which the court may order an opposing party to pay some of your fees. If you are awarded attorney’s fees, it is a payment on the back end of the lawsuit.


In Tennessee, if someone files a lawsuit that fails to state a claim “upon which relief may be granted,” then a judge may exercise his or her discretion to award attorney fees. If someone files a frivolous claim and you are able to win on a motion to dismiss, the judge decides if he or she thinks it warrants making the other side pay attorney fees.


Contempt actions may also qualify for an award. If you prove the other party is acting in civil contempt of a court order, then you can receive attorney fees associated with filing the action. You can also receive attorney fees associated with defending against an contempt action, in the event that you prove you were not in contempt.


During the course of litigation, both parties tend to send discovery requests. This includes interrogatories and requests for production. After receiving discovery requests, the receiving party has 30 days to respond. The party who requested the discovery then can file a motion to compel. If discovery is still not provided and the judge grants the motion to compel, the judge can grant discovery sanctions. This may include ordering the party who did not answer discovery pay the attorney fees associated with the discovery.

Another type of discovery is a deposition. If a person is required to attend a deposition to answer questions (to be deposed), but does not show up, that person can be liable for the attorney fees and costs associated with the deposition.


Attorney fees may take the form of alimony during divorce proceedings. Generally, attorney fees fall into alimony in solido, also known as lump sum alimony.


Again, the likelihood of a judge ordering the opposing party to pay attorney’s fees is slim. If you have any questions about being awarded attorney’s fees or are looking for representation, give us a call at 865-685-4780 or get in touch via our contact page.