‘My ex hasn’t made an attempt in 5 years to try and see my son and the DA pretty much forced the issue in April of 2010. They finally got him served for the paternity test in June of this year. We went for the results yesterday and I was served with papers saying I had 20 days to respond and our hearing was in 22 days. He’s suing me for joint custody and wanting me to change our son’s last name to his. The problem is my son is a special needs child and my ex is abusive. I now have to get a lawyer. My question is: since he’s made no previous attempt at having a relationship with our son and has decided to sue me is there anyway, can I make him pay my legal fees since all this was thrown upon me and he knows for a fact I cannot afford to pay for one? Yes I’ve tried legal aid and everything else. My only choice is to get a lawyer. What am I supposed to do? :-/ ‘
You don’t say what state you are in, but in many states the family law code specifically states that where one party has a greater financial position than the other, and a greater ability to pay, then the court may order that party to pay some, or even all, of the other party’s legal fees. Other factors that may be taken into account, depending on the state, are how legitimate the claims of each party are, and whether one or the other party frustrated efforts to resolve the issues cooperatively.
That said, if your ex was not fully aware that he was in fact the father of your son up until this action, then his response will likely be seen as quite reasonable.