Court Discusses Grounds for Awarding Costs in Florida Family Law Actions

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.

Grounds for Awarding Costs in Florida Family Law Actions

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it referenced prior case law that emphasized that Rule 12.420, entitled “Dismissal of Actions,” mandates the assessment of costs upon dismissal of the action. The Rule explicitly states that costs shall be assessed after a dismissal, and this requirement is couched in mandatory language.

The case cited by the court made it clear that costs should be assessed in the action that is the subject of the dismissal, and this was consistent with the civil counterpart of the rule. As a result, the court held that the circuit court erred in its application of a “reasonable time” standard for filing the motion to tax costs.

Finally, the court clarified that even if the “reasonable time” standard was applicable, the benchmark date for determining the timeliness of the father’s motion to tax costs should have been the date of the dismissal order, not the filing date of the Townsend motion. As the father’s motion was filed within twenty days of the dismissal order, it was deemed to be within a reasonable time. Therefore, the appellate court reversed the circuit court’s order denying the father’s motion for costs and remanded the case for a hearing to assess taxable costs in accordance with Rule 12.420(c).

Talk to a Dedicated Miami Attorney

Florida law dictates when costs are recoverable in Miami family law actions, and the courts are required to award such requests when requested in accordance with the law. If you are dealing with a family law issue, it is advisable to seek the advice of an attorney. The dedicated Miami family law lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can inform you of your rights and aid you in seeking your desired outcome. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to arrange a conference.