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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Edelman

Unraveling the Process: Obtaining Attorney Fee Awards in Virginia


When engaging in legal proceedings, the costs associated with hiring an attorney can often become a significant burden. However, in the state of Virginia, there are instances where the winning party can be awarded attorney fees as part of their legal costs. In this blog post, we will explore the criteria and process for obtaining attorney fee awards in Virginia.


Understanding the Legal Basis: In Virginia, the award of attorney fees is primarily governed by statutes and case law. These statutes typically provide the authority for courts to award attorney fees in specific situations, ensuring fairness and encouraging access to justice. It is essential to consult the relevant statutes and understand the legal basis for seeking attorney fee awards in your particular case.


Prevailing Party: One crucial factor in obtaining attorney fee awards in Virginia is being the prevailing party. In simple terms, the prevailing party is the one who is successful in the lawsuit or substantially prevails on the main issues in the case. Being the prevailing party does not guarantee an attorney fee award, but it is a fundamental requirement.


Statutory Provisions: Virginia statutes outline various scenarios where attorney fee awards may be granted. It's important to determine if your case falls within any of these provisions. Some common situations include:


Contractual Provisions: Many contracts, such as leases, employment agreements, or construction contracts, contain clauses that allow for the recovery of attorney fees by the prevailing party in case of a dispute.

  1. Family Law Cases: In certain family law matters, such as divorce or child custody disputes, attorney fee awards may be available based on factors such as the financial circumstances of the parties or a party's unreasonable behavior during the litigation process.

  2. Civil Rights Cases: If you have been involved in a civil rights violation or discrimination lawsuit, Virginia law provides for attorney fee awards if you prevail and demonstrate that your rights were violated.

  3. Consumer Protection Cases: In actions involving unfair or deceptive trade practices, Virginia's Consumer Protection Act allows for attorney fee awards to the prevailing party.

Procedure for Seeking Attorney Fee Awards: To pursue an attorney fee award, it is essential to follow the correct procedure. Here are some general steps to consider:

  1. Consult with an Attorney: Seek guidance from an experienced attorney who can assess your case and determine if pursuing attorney fees is viable based on the specific circumstances.

  2. Document Your Costs: Maintain thorough records of all attorney fees and costs incurred during the litigation process. This documentation will be crucial when presenting your claim for attorney fees to the court.

  3. File a Motion: Once the case has concluded, the prevailing party needs to file a motion with the court requesting an award of attorney fees. This motion should include supporting documentation and a persuasive argument explaining why attorney fees should be awarded.

  4. Court Evaluation: The court will review the motion, consider the relevant statutory provisions, and evaluate the merits of the claim for attorney fees. The opposing party will also have an opportunity to present their arguments against the award.

  5. Decision and Award: Based on the court's evaluation, a decision will be made regarding the attorney fee award. The court will consider factors such as the reasonableness of the fees and whether the requested amount is appropriate.


While obtaining attorney fee awards in Virginia is not guaranteed, understanding the statutory provisions and following the proper procedure can increase your chances of success. It is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to assess the applicability of attorney fee provisions in your specific case. By diligently documenting costs and presenting a compelling argument, you can navigate the process of obtaining attorney fee awards in Virginia and alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with legal proceedings.

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