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.
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.
Grounds for Awarding Rosen Fees
On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court emphasized the trial court’s absence of findings regarding the mother’s ability to pay fees or the father’s financial need. Further, the court clarified that Rosen itself does not serve as a basis for a fee award but rather offers criteria for adjusting an award.
The court further cautioned against the misconception of Rosen as a mechanism to penalize “meritless” or “vexatious” litigation, especially irrespective of the parties’ financial circumstances. Furthermore, while acknowledging the potential strain of high-conflict disputes on judicial resources, the court emphasized that fee awards, deviating from the conventional need and ability framework, should be reserved for the most egregious instances of litigation misconduct and not extended to routine custody cases.
Meet with a Seasoned Miami Attorney
Family law cases are often contentious, but if a party engages in egregious behavior, it may have a negative impact on their claims. If you are dealing with a family law issue, it is advisable to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Miami family law lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can inform you of your options for seeking a favorable result. You can contact us at 800-596-0579 or use the form online to set up a meeting.