Attorney's fees can be awarded by the court in many proceedings under the Texas Family Code. One of them is a suit for modification of the parent-child relationship. But in any of these proceedings, there must be some evidence that the attorney's fees are reasonable.
In In the Interest of A.A.L., No. 12-11-00161-CV (Tex. App. - Tyler May 23, 2012, n.p.h.), the only evidence of attorney's fees presented at trial was:
ATTORNEY: I only need to put her on to introduce some pictures and attorney's fees. I can tell you attorney's fees -
THE COURT: How much?
THE COURT: $42,525.00, okay. Anything else?
The Tyler Court of Appeals found this evidence insufficient to show that the attorney's fees were reasonable.
The Court noted the following factors to be considered when evaluating the amount of reasonable attorney's fees:
(1) the time and labor required, novelty and difficulty of the question presented, and the skill required;
(2) the likelihood that acceptance of employment precluded other employment;
(3) the fee customarily charged for similar services;
(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances;
(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer performing the services; and
(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
The Court recognized that a trial court need not receive evidence on each of these factors. A trial court could also consider “the entire record, the evidence presented on reasonableness, the common knowledge of the participants as lawyers and judges, and the relative success of the parties.” But the lawyer here
did not testify, nor did he present an affidavit, itemized statements, exhibits, or any other offer of proof, about the reasonableness of his fees. The record is devoid of evidence relating to his experience, the time and labor involved, the difficulty of the task, his hourly rates, the rates customarily charged for similar services, or his fee agreement.
This simply was not enough, held the Court, and reversed the attorney's fee award. The Court remanded the case for a new trial on attorney's fees.