Can a Wisconsin court of appeals assign attorney fees? | Sterling Law Offices, S.C. global $post;
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– from Ryan U. in Sussex, WI

Question Details:

During my divorce, I was hoping to have my wife pay my attorney’s fees. The trial court did not award attorney’s fees. Can I appeal?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Thank you for the question. Attorney’s fees for divorce are generally to the discretion of a trial court, and if the trial court judge decides against awarding attorney’s fees, the appellate court tends to let the trial court’s decision stand. However it is important to know if the court that awards attorney’s fees on appeal is the trial court or court of appeals.

In Hengel v. Hengel 120 Wis.2d 522, 355 N.W.2d 846 (Ct. App. 1984), a wife appealed a ruling on attorney’s fees and the trial court then awarded fees, however the court of appeals overruled this, saying a trial court does not have the authority to go back and change the original ruling on attorney’s fees, as it changes the subject matter jurisdiction.

If you have any more questions regarding this or any other matters involving family law, give me a call.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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