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 in the position of seeking an award of fees, one way in which you can be entitled to an award is if the court decides that it is necessary to achieve fairness. This can happen if the spouse who requested attorney’s fees has an income that is far less than that of her spouse’s.
Another way in which you may be entitled to attorney’s fees has relatively less to do with money. If the judge finds that your spouse filed motions, made arguments or otherwise took steps that were meant to harass you or to stretch out the duration of the case excessively, then the judge can award you attorney’s fees on that basis. If the judge concludes that the arguments you made were largely meritorious and the arguments your spouse made largely were not, then you have an enhanced chance of getting the attorney’s fees you asked for.
What it takes to win when your spouse is the one asking for a fees award
If, however, you are in the position of opposing your spouse’s request for attorney’s fees, there are several ways of doing this successfully, as well. If the judge made a finding that said that the equitable distribution that the court crafted placed both you and your spouse on roughly equal financial footing, then the judge must make certain findings in order for an award of attorney’s fees to pass the law’s requirements.
In the case from Polk County, the couple’s equitable distribution placed them in roughly equal financial positions and the judge never made a finding that the husband had an ability to pay the $8,900 in the wife’s attorney’s fees. There was also no finding that the husband litigated to harass the wife or intentionally engaged in non-meritorious filings simply to lengthen the case. Without those findings, the award was not allowable.
Whether you’re fighting for a needed award of attorney’s fees or working to avoid paying an improper award of your spouse’s fees, it pays to have someone working for you who knows the legal avenues for getting the desired result. The experienced South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are here to help with these and other family law issues. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation and put the power of our knowledgeable attorneys to work for you.