Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
ZACHARY B. BURKONS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
STACY L. BEUGEN, Defendant-Appellant.
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Domestic Relations Division Case No. DR-14-353374
Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, L.L.P., and James L. Lane, for
Stafford Law Co., L.P A., Joseph G. Stafford, and Nicole A
Cruz, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
PATRICIA ANN BLACKMON, J.
1} Stacy L. Beugen ("wife") appeals from
the judgment entry awarding her $5, 000 on her motion for
attorney fees in her divorce from Zachary B. Burkons
("husband"). The wife assigns the following error
for our review:
The Trial Court erred as a matter of law and abused its
discretion in failing to award [wife] the full amount of her
attorney fees and litigation expenses incurred in this
2} Having reviewed the record and the controlling
case law, we affirm the decision of the trial court.
3} The parties were married in 2001 and had three
children. In 2014, the husband filed for divorce. The matter
proceeded in an extremely contentious manner. In April 2018,
the parties resolved most of their issues in an agreed
judgment entry but did not resolve attorney fee claims that
were submitted to the court on "affidavits and short
4} The husband filed a post-decree motion seeking
$5, 135 attorney fees from the wife. The husband asserted
that he incurred a total of $202, 608 in fees and costs and
has an outstanding balance of $119, 179. He conceded that
generally, each party should bear responsibility for their
own fees, but he maintained that the wife's failure to
comply with discovery caused him to incur $5, 135 in
5} The wife filed a motion for attorney fees in
which she asked the court to award her $197, 000, the total
amount of fees she had incurred since the 2014 filing of the
case. The wife outlined for the court that her present
attorney has billed her $142, 475, and she has paid $54, 154
of this sum. She owes her previous attorney $11, 707, and
owes her original attorney $37, 520. There is an outstanding
balance of $137, 549. The wife maintained that the attorney
fees were due to the husband's improper discovery
requests and refusal to resolve issues. She also cited the
parties' disparate incomes, noting that he earns $152,
000 per year, and she earns $72, 000 per year.
6} On August 20, 2018, the trial court denied the
husband's request for attorney fees and awarded the wife
$5, 000 out of the total $197, 000 that she requested. In
relevant part, the court reaffirmed the propositions that
attorney fees are not "automatic," and that
attorney fees are the responsibility of the party who retains
the attorney. The court also noted that "[the wife] has
the ability to pay her own attorney fees."
7} We review a post-decree award of attorney fees
for an abuse of discretion. Wojanowski v.
Wojanowski, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 103695, 2017-Ohio-11,
¶ 15, citing Cutter v. Cutter, 8th Dist.
Cuyahoga No. 96375, 2012-Ohio-358, ¶ 26. An abuse of
discretion "connotes more than an error of law or
judgment; it implies that the court's attitude is
unreasonable, arbitrary or unconscionable."
Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219, 450
N.E.2d 1140 (1983). Where there is some competent, credible
evidence in the record to support the trial court's
decision, there is no abuse of discretion. Trolli v.
Trolli, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 101980, 2015-Ohio-4487,
¶ 29, citing Kapadia v. Kapadia, 8th Dist.
Cuyahoga No. 94456, 2011-Ohio-2255, ¶ 24.
8} Post-decree motions for attorney fees are
governed by R.C. 3105.73, which provides in relevant part as
(B) In any post-decree motion or proceeding that arises out
of an action for divorce, dissolution, legal separation, or
annulment of marriage or an appeal of that motion or
proceeding, the court may award all or part of reasonable
attorney's fees and litigation expenses to either party
if the court finds the award equitable. In determining
whether an award is equitable, the court may consider the
parties' income, the conduct of the parties, ...