When Good Marriages Go Very, Very Bad: What to Do When Personal Animosity Takes Over Your Florida Divorce Case

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.

The trial judge also pointed out the excessive hostility and how counterproductive it was, stating in open court that, “to tell you the truth, I think that y’all could have resolved this a long time ago, if you had cooler heads. I honestly do.”

Many divorcing spouses make the mistake of using their family law cases as vehicles for fighting emotional battles rather than resolving purely legal disputes. The failure of their marriage has made them hurt, so they are going to try to inflict pain on their spouse, and they’re going to use the courtroom to do it.

When that’s your spouse, it may mean getting hauled into court over and over and over, and the legal bills from all those motions and other court hearings can mount up quickly for you.

Whether or not yours was an excessively litigious case, you may be able to recover the attorneys’ fees you racked up in handling your case. Florida has some specific legal rules about when you are – and aren’t – entitled to get such an award. Whenever you make a request for your spouse to pay your attorneys’ fees, the court has to look at several things and make express findings about those things. Two of the most basic subjects of analysis are your need and your spouse’s ability to pay.

It doesn’t end there, though. Your spouse could have an exceptionally high need and you could have a very substantial ability to pay and your spouse potentially could still be denied an award of attorneys’ fees. If the motion(s) your spouse pursued had very little merit or if the judge determined that your spouse took action mainly to harass you, then the court can make your spouse pay his/her own attorneys’ fees, even if he/she has very little wealth and you have a great deal of wealth. This is also true if the court finds that your spouse acted in bad faith or conducted litigation “vexatiously.”

Most divorces are emotionally trying. It does not need to be – and very rarely should be – some legal version of total warfare. When it comes to the best way to get the fair outcome you deserve from your divorce case, rely on the thoughtful and skillful Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. We’ve been helping Florida spouses for a long time, and are here to help you get through the process and get to a positive result. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation today.