Articles Posted in Attorney’s Fees and Costs

In family law cases, the courts will order one party to pay the other’s legal fees in certain situations. In doing so, if the court finds that the party from whom fees are sought engaged in litigation conduct that is deemed egregious, vexatious, or meritless, the court may impose fees on that party to deter them from engaging in such behavior. Known as Rosen fees, they are typically reserved for cases involving the most egregious litigation behavior. The award of Rosen fees is at the discretion of the court, and the court will carefully evaluate the specific circumstances of each case before making such an award. It is important to note, however, that the Rosen case does not provide grounds for awarding such fees but sets forth the criteria for adjusting an award, as explained in a recent Florida ruling. If you are involved in a family law argument, it is smart to talk to a Miami family law lawyer about what steps you can take to protect your interests.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the mother and father engaged in a contentious paternity dispute. After the parties came to an agreement on paternity, the mother sought to establish a parenting plan and define parental responsibility and child support. The initial trial, conducted by the retiring judge, resulted in proposed findings that favored equal timesharing rights and shared parental responsibility, with details on exchanges and holidays. The parties couldn’t agree on a judgment, and the succeeding judge refused to enter one. A second trial was conducted, concluding with a final judgment granting the father majority timesharing and sole parental responsibility, which is the subject of a separate appeal.

It is reported that the father subsequently moved for fees under Rosen, alleging the mother’s conduct was hypocritical, lacked merit, and was against the child’s best interests. The court granted the request, citing the mother’s non-compliance with a speech therapy schedule and unsubstantiated concerns for the child’s safety. The court ordered the mother to pay $25,000 in fees, and she appealed. Continue reading ›

Typically, in Florida family law cases, the parties must pay their own costs and fees. In some instances, though, the law permits parties to recover costs from their opponent. As illustrated in a recent Florida family law action, if the law mandates the assessment of costs, they are recoverable regardless of whether a party does not request such costs immediately. If you are involved in a family law dispute, it is in your best interest to talk to a Miami family law attorney about what measures you can take to protect your interests.

 History of the Case

It is reported that at the end of July 2022, the father filed a motion to tax costs after a dismissal order was entered at the beginning of the month. The trial court applied a reasonable time standard to the father’s request and found that the father’s decision to wait until the end of the month to file his motion was unreasonable based on the facts and circumstances.

Allegedly, the court pointed out that in April 2022, the father had filed a Townsend Motion and stated that the father should have made his claim for costs within a reasonable time after filing the motion and provided the mother with notice that he would be seeking costs. As such, the court found that the father’s delay in filing for costs was unjustified and denied his request. The father appealed. Continue reading ›

Generally, in family law cases, parties are required to pay their own attorneys’ fees. There are exceptions, however, where the court will order one party to pay another’s counsel. Generally, though, such orders are only issued as sanctions for vexatious litigation or when one party has a need and the other has the ability to pay. If a court orders a party to pay attorneys’ fees without conducting the necessary analysis, the order may be reversed, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action. If you are considering seeking a divorce, it is wise to meet with a Miami divorce attorney to determine your options.

Procedural Setting of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and the wife divorced in 2009. In 2020, the husband filed a modification petition and accused the wife of not repaying a loan, prompting both parties to accuse each other of contempt. The court rejected the husband’s modification petition, granted his contempt claim, and denied the wife’s contempt claim. The wife, representing herself, appealed this decision, and the husband cross-appealed. The appeals court upheld the contempt rulings but dismissed the appeal regarding fees.

It is reported that the husband then sought and was awarded attorney’s fees for contempt and the previous appeal. The order incorrectly referenced a non-existent rule regarding the ability to award fees for contempt, however. There were also mathematical errors in the calculations of fees, and some statements were directly copied from the husband’s proposed order. The court’s order mentioned the wife’s financial situation, questioned her credibility, and ordered her to pay. The court did not discuss the husband’s financial situation. Continue reading ›

Your thoughtful, caring and ethical Florida divorce attorney wants what’s best for you both as a client and as a person. That generally means getting you a fair and appropriate outcome (whether via settlement or judgment) that comes with a minimum of hostility and animosity between you and your spouse, thereby allowing you to obtain closure and move on with your life in a healthy way.

Some spouses resist that, though. Sometimes, one sees a case where the bitterness and pain have taken over. It can be educational in multiple ways. For one thing, it stands as an example of what not to do if you’re a spouse going through a divorce. For another thing, court rulings in these kinds of cases can relay important information on topics such as the circumstances in which you can get your spouse to pay your attorneys’ fees.

A recent court ruling in a Santa Rosa County divorce case was one of those instances. The spouses displayed “a level of animosity… bordering on the visceral,” according to the appeals court.
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There are many different areas in which you may be entitled to a monetary award from your spouse in your divorce case. For example, there are several different ways in which you may be able to obtain an award of attorney’s fees in your case. In order to be qualified under any of these ways, you must first engage in the proper procedural steps. For one (important) thing, you must be sure that you request an award of attorney’s fees in your divorce petition or your answer to your spouse’s divorce petition.

That, of course, is just one step among several you’ll need to take. To make sure that none of your claims for much-needed monetary compensation fall short due to technical or procedural missteps, be sure you have an experienced and knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney on your side.

A Polk County husband and wife divorced after 38 years of marriage, and their case is an example of how this process can work… and fail. The final divorce judgment addressed several issues, including equitable distribution and attorneys’ fees. As part of that judgment, the court ordered the husband to pay more than $8,900 of the wife’s attorney’s fees.

If you are familiar with divorce and/or divorce litigation, whether personally or even just at arm’s length, then you know that divorce can be expensive, and that one of the larger expenses can be attorneys’ fees. However, if you’re familiar with the process, then you also know that proceeding without a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney can be an express ticket to an unsatisfying, and maybe even disastrous, outcome. So, if you are a person of limited means, what should you do? Start by reaching out to a skilled attorney, even in spite of your fears about fees. There may be several options available to you, including possibly obtaining an order from the judge in your divorce case that forces your spouse to pay some or all of your attorneys’ fees.

Sometimes, in an effort to limit the possibility of paying attorneys’ fees, one spouse may include a provision in a marital settlement agreement that relates to attorneys’ fees. When that happens, and you agree to it, it is important not to let your spouse over-use that provision and claim that it covers more things than it really does.

Here’s a case in point: K.L. and A.L. were in a long-term marriage that ended in divorce in 2014. As part of their divorce process, the couple worked out, and then signed, a marital settlement agreement (MSA). Paragraph 11 of that document said that each spouse “shall be responsible for their respective attorney’s fees, if any are incurred.” That’s all the paragraph said and that was the only paragraph that addressed attorneys’ fees.

Pursuing a family law case can be expensive. Attorneys’ fees and costs can be very costly. Sometimes, the fear of the cost of pursuing your legal claims may work as a barrier to filing. Concern about costs should not make you surrender your legal rights. In certain cases, the law may allow you to obtain a court order that requires your opponent to pay your attorneys’ fees and costs. Having representation from an experienced Florida family law attorney can help you ensure that you are protecting your rights and availing yourself of all possible options.

On the issue of attorneys’ fees, the Fifth District Court of Appeal, whose decisions affect cases originating in Orange County (Orlando), Marion County (Ocala), and Volusia County (Daytona Beach), among others, made an important ruling with regard to attorneys’ fees earlier this month. The case that triggered the ruling was a paternity action filed in Brevard County. Eventually, that case went before the Fifth DCA.

The mother, as part of her appeals case, asked the court to grant her an award of her appellate attorneys’ fees under Section 742.045 of the Florida Statutes. The mother acknowledged that a previous Fifth DCA ruling from 1999, Starkey v. Linn, specifically stated that parties can’t recover appellate attorneys’ fees in paternity cases, but she argued that the 1999 case was wrongly decided and that the court should award her fees in spite of that ruling.

A wife fighting to avoid using her alimony to pay a lien imposed by her former divorce lawyer must return to a Broward County trial court to continue litigating the matter. The 4th District Court of Appeal concluded that whether or not the attorney’s lien was enforceable against the wife’s alimony award depended on whether the alimony was needed to pay for the wife’s “daily sustenance or the minimal necessities of life,” or whether it was used to cover less basic expenses.

The case began when M.T. (wife) filed for divorce from her husband, L.T.. The wife sought, among other things, an award of alimony in order to maintain the lifestyle to which she had been accustomed. The wife hired an attorney, but, three months into the relationship, the attorney and the client parted ways. Ultimately, the divorce case proceeded to its conclusion. The trial court’s ruling included an award of alimony to the wife.
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A recent 1st District Court of Appeal ruling provides insight upon all the analysis that must go into an a award of attorneys’ fees in a dissolution of marriage case. Awarding fees and costs requires finding that one spouse has a need for such an award, and the other spouse has the ability to pay. In the recent case, the trial court’s alimony award to the wife essentially equalized the incomes of both spouses, meaning that each spouse had an equal ability to pay and, as a result, the husband should not be required to pay his wife’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

The decision came in the case of R.H. (husband) and H.H. (wife), who decided to divorce after 36 years of marriage. At the time of the couple’s divorce trial, the husband’s annual income was $89,000, and the wife’s was $39,000. The trial court ordered the husband to pay the wife alimony in the amount of $2,100 per month for 12 years. The trial court also decided that the husband should pay the wife another $6,000 for her attorneys’ fees and costs.
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Parties in divorce cases will, in many instances, submit proposed final orders to the trial judge. A recent 5th District Court of Appeal ruling serves as a reminder that, although these submissions are permissible and often helpful to trial judges, courts should be hesitant to adopt them in their entirety when the opposing side has no opportunity to comment or object. Additionally, parties are not entitled to forms of relief they didn’t ask for in their petitions, even if they raised the issues in their pre-trial documents.

The recent case involved CC’s filing for divorce from her husband, DC. The wife’s petition asked the court to dissolve the marriage, create a time sharing schedule for the couple’s child, award child support, and distribute the couple’s assets and liabilities.
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