In Higginbotham v. Higginbotham, the parties entered into a antenuptial agreement that limited the wife’s attorney’s fees to $5,000. The divorce court in Miami, Florida upheld the validity of the antenuptial agreement and subsequently awarded the wife $305,640 in temporary attorney’s fees and $18,963.16 in temporary costs.
While the Third District Court of Appeal agreed with the Wife that the $5,000 limit on the husband’s liability to pay attorney’s fees was unenforceable, it held that the temporary attorney fee award was excessive. The Court reasoned that given the facts and circumstances of this case the amount requested for litigating the validity of a antenuptial agreement was unreasonable especially in light of the result obtained and the fact that the Husband’s attorney’s fees were $138,442. Accordingly, the matter was remanded to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stanford Blake for a substantial reduction of the fee award.
The purpose of your Broward divorce attorney requesting temporary attorney’s fees ad costs is to ensure that both parties have similar ability to secure competent legal counsel. Temporary attorney’s fees are often needed to mitigate the harm that an impecunious spouse would suffer as a result of the other spouse’s potential financial advantage. Temporary attorney’s fees and costs are based upon need and ability to pay. The court is also required to determine the reasonableness of the award of temporary attorney’s fees and costs.
A trial court is not bound to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that waives temporary attorney’s fees and costs. It is the public policy of Florida that parties cannot waive pre-dissolution of support. You should always speak to a divorce attorney in Fort Lauderdale to determine if you have a need for attorney’s fees and costs and whether your spouse has the ability to pay.