Attorneys’ Fees and Appeals – Who Pays?

An appeal is a very technical and potential very expensive process. In addition to attorneys’ fees for drafting the pleadings, the parties must also pay for:

  • Transcripts for Court Hearings
  • Filing Fees
  • Appearance by the Attorney for the Oral Argument
  • And Possibly Appellate Mediation

And in the end, that party may lose their appeal. A common client question we get is whether or not they can ask for attorney’s fees for the cost of the appeal (especially if they are responding to the appeal and not bringing the action). If a party seeks an award of attorneys’ fees (as opposed to seeking affirmance of an award of attorneys’ fees from the lower court), the party can seek the award from the appellate court. The appellate court may choose to send the issue back to the district court for a determination of the fees or simply make the determination itself.

Under the Minnesota Court Rules of Appellate Procedure, a party can seek attorneys’ fees on appeal. That party needs to submit a motion to the court requesting the fees and include information about how many hours their attorneys worked on the appeal. The court may also grant attorneys’ fees on its own, without a motion from the party. This motion must occur within 15 days of the court’s order.

Sometimes a party may be able to apply for attorneys’ fees prior to the decision. For instance, in family law cases before the appellate court the parties may be ordered to participate in mediation. Again, the party submits to the court a motion outlining the costs that they incurred and requests that the court award attorneys’ fees to that party.

Attorneys’ fees on appeal can be awarded both as a matter of substantive law and/or as a sanction against the other party.

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 Attorneys Fees and Appeals   Who Pays?
Katie is a partner at Heimerl & Lammers, and heads the family law group at the firm. She represents clients in all areas of family law, from divorce mediations, to child custody disputes. Katie received her law degree from Hamline University. Katie lives in south Minneapolis with her husband and son. In her free time, she loves to cook and travel.
 Attorneys Fees and Appeals   Who Pays?

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