Can I sue someone for money owed and legal fees, if they have been paying me but are threatening to stop?

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Can I sue someone for money owed and legal fees, if they have been paying me but are threatening to stop?

My e-boyfriend owed me close to $3,000 ($2,915) but has threatened to stop paying me. He still owes me $915, but continues to hang it over my head and say he will stop paying me. He has been paying me every month, in checks, ($200/mo) and I send him an e-mail saying thank you for money paid and here is your new balance. He gave me a lump sum of $1,000 last month, but didn’t say he wouldn’t pay me the $200 for this month. Now that I asked for it, he said he would stop paying me and “good luck with the legal stuff moron”. I have had enough and want to pursue legal action, what do I do?

Asked on August 10, 2011 Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can definitely sue him for the money he owes you, assuming you can prove the existence of the debt (e.g. that you loaned him money which he didn't repay), his failure to pay as per the terms, and the amount still owing. You probably cannot recover legal fees, however; in United States courts, each party typically pays it's own lawyer costs, and the the plaintiff (the person suing) usually cannot get them, except in a few special cases (e.g. consumer fraud, wage and hour violations, if there's a contract providing for them, etc.). You may therefore wish to consider suing in small claims court, given the amount owed ($915), where you can represent yourself and avoid lawyer fees. Small claims court also tends to move faster than "regular" court, so you'll probably get a resolution more quickly.


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