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 ›