BARNES, P. J., MCMILLIAN and REESE, JJ.
second appeal, Appellant Donald Belcher seeks review of the
trial court's award of attorney fees under OCGA §
9-15-14 to his former spouse, Appellee Sarah Belcher.
Previously, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed in part,
vacated in part, and remanded this action to the trial court
for a proper order on the Appellee's motion for attorney
fees pursuant to OCGA § 9-15-14 in the
case. Upon remand, the trial court awarded the
Appellee $2, 500, and this appeal followed. For the reasons
set forth infra, we affirm the trial court's decision to
award attorney fees, but vacate the amount awarded and remand
this case for further proceedings.
a detailed factual history of this case is found in the
opinion in the first appeal, a brief summary and subsequent
pertinent facts follow. Pursuant to a divorce decree, the
Appellant was required to pay the Appellee $500 in monthly
alimony until her death or remarriage. In December 2013,
the Appellant stopped making alimony payments and "had a
stop payment order put on the previous month's alimony
check." Although the Appellee and her attorney
contacted the Appellant about the missed payments and
assuring him that she was "alive, " the Appellant
refused to pay the overdue funds and resume the alimony
payments until the Appellee provided "adequate
proof" of her "current health
status." The Appellant subsequently filed a
petition for declaratory judgment, seeking "a
declaration requiring [the Appellee] to verify her 'on
going health status.'" The Appellee filed an answer and
a motion to dismiss the petition.
trial court dismissed the declaratory judgment action for
failure to state a claim. The Appellee filed a motion for
attorney fees under OCGA §§ 9-4-9 and 9-15-14
After conducting a hearing, the trial court entered an order
awarding the Appellee $2, 500 in attorney fees under both
Appellant appealed, and the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed
the trial court's order to the extent it awarded attorney
fees under OCGA § 9-4-9. The Court also vacated the
OCGA § 9-15-14 attorney fee award, finding that the
trial court failed to "make express findings specifying
the abusive conduct for which the award was made, " and
directing the trial court to "enter a proper order on
[the Appellee's] motion for attorney fees under OCGA
§ 9-15-14." Upon remand, the trial court entered
a new order granting the Appellee's motion and awarding
$2, 500 in attorney fees under OCGA § 9-15-14, without
identifying the applicable subsection. This appeal followed.
initial matter, "an order awarding attorney fees
pursuant to [OCGA § 9-15-14] must specifically state
whether the award is made under OCGA § 9-15-14 (a) or
[T]he court must make express findings of fact and
conclusions of law as to the statutory basis for any such
award and the conduct which would authorize it. Specificity
in the award is important because the standards of appellate
review are different under each subsection: the standard
under subsection (a) is the any evidence rule; the standard
under subsection (b) is abuse of discretion.
noted above, the award of attorney fees here fails to
identify the subsection of the statute under which the trial
court awarded the attorney fees. However, the trial
court's order stated that the motion for declaratory
judgment showed "a complete absence of any justiciable
issue of law or fact such that the [Appellant] could have
reasonably believed that this Court would grant the relief
sought." Thus, we find that the language used by the
trial court substantially tracked the wording of OCGA §
9-15-14 (a). Under these circumstances, the trial
court's failure to specify the subsection does not
constitute reversible error.
§ 9-15-14 (a) requires an award of reasonable and
necessary attorney fees when a party asserts "a claim,
defense, or other position with respect to which there
existed such a complete absence of any justiciable issue of
law or fact that it could not be reasonably believed that a
court would accept the asserted claim, defense, or other
position." As noted above, this Court will affirm an
award pursuant to OCGA § 9-15-14 (a) if there is any
evidence to support it. With these guiding principles in
mind, we turn now to the Appellant's specific claims of
Appellant argues that the trial court erred in awarding
attorney fees under OCGA § 9-15-14 (a) because his
declaratory judgment action presented justiciable issues of
law and fact. We disagree.
well settled that a declaratory judgment, 
is one which simply declares the rights of the parties or
expresses the opinion of the court on a question of law,
without ordering anything to be done; its distinctive
characteristic being that the declaration stands by itself,
and no executory process follows as of course; and the action
is therefore distinguished from other actions in that it does
not seek execution or performance from the defendant or
Also, "[a] declaratory judgment is an appropriate means
of ascertaining one's rights and duties under a contract
and decree of divorce." In the present case, the
Appellant sought verification, through a declaratory
judgment, of the Appellee's "health status."
The record shows that the Appellant did not appeal the trial
court's order dismissing his petition for declaratory
judgment for failure to show he was entitled to relief.
trial court's attorney fee order, it found that
"[t]he Final Judgment and Decree was clear and
unambiguous as to the requirements of alimony payments."
According to the trial court, the Appellant, without
exercising any due diligence, "unilaterally and without
authority of the [trial court], determine[d] that the
[Appellee] was no longer entitled to receive alimony payments
based upon [his] arbitrary terms." The trial court
concluded that, based on the Final Judgment and Decree, the
Appellant was not entitled to any of the information
requested in the declaratory judgment petition and that the
Appellant's actions caused the Appellee to retain counsel
and incur "fees, costs, and expenses."
the Appellant asserts that he merely sought "reasonable
notice" of the Appellee's current health status, he
has provided no legal authority that "reasonable
notice" is a remedy available under OCGA § 9-4-2.
Under the "any evidence standard, " the record
supported the trial court's finding that the
"petition filed by [the Appellant] was frivolous at best
and malicious at worst." Therefore, the trial court did
not err in awarding attorney fees against the Appellant under
OCGA § 9-15-14 (a).
Appellant contends that the award of attorney fees should be
reversed because the trial court erred in its findings of
fact and misstated part of the procedural history of this
case. We disagree.
Appellant argues that the award of attorney fees should be
reversed because the trial court, in its findings of fact,
erroneously stated the alimony payment history and improperly
characterized a ...