Attorney's Fees of Texas Court Appointed Lawyer to Represent a Child

Section 107.015(a) of the Texas Family Code provides that "an attorney appointed to represent a child or parent as authorized by this subchapter is entitled to a reasonable fee and expenses in the amount set by the court to be paid by the parents of the child...." TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. 107.015(a) (Vernon Supp. 2000). In City of Garland v. Dallas Morning News, 969 S.W.2d 548 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1998, no pet.), the court held that a question regarding the amount of attorney's fees should have been submitted to a jury. See City of Garland, 969 S.W.2d at 558-560. In making this determination, the court analyzed the applicable statute authorizing attorney's fees in that particular suit. The statute provided that "the court may assess costs of litigation and reasonable attorney fees incurred by a plaintiff or defendant who substantially prevails." See id. at 558. The court compared this language to similar language in other statutes and concluded that the statute should be read to place only the responsibility for determining whether to award attorney's fees on the trial court and that the amount of those fees should be determined by the trier of fact. See id. at 559. The court bolstered its holding by distinguishing the language of the statute at issue in that case with that of other statutes which specifically provided that the trial court would both assess and determine the amount of attorney's fees. See City of Garland, 969 S.W.2d at 559-560.