Attorney Fees-In Florida, Which Party Has to Pay Them?
Sometimes, when a couple agrees on all issues and has no children or jointly owned real property, they can handle getting a divorce without the help of an attorney. There will still be court costs but no attorney fees. For couples who must use an attorney to obtain a divorce successfully, the cost is significant and can become a hardship and bone of contention. This is especially true if one or the other party does not want the divorce, if such reasons as adultery or abandonment are the cause, or if one party is better able to afford attorney fees.
While there is sometimes help from legal aid to pay court costs if there are attorney costs other than the attorney legal aid might provide, these will need to be handled by each party.Florida Family Court realizes there is sometimes a reason for one or the other party to pay the attorney fees or at least a part of them and so have a statute letting one or the other party pay all or some of the reasonable attorney fees for the other party.This award is made by the judge after careful consideration of each party’s financial status and need and the particulars of the case in question.
To begin with, if a party feels they need to have their attorney fees paid by the other party this request must be made part of the initial filing petition for the party seeking the divorce.However, if it is the respondent who desires their attorney fees paid this must be a part of their initial response to the divorce filing. Requesting payment of attorney fees later in the proceedings is not usually possible. Upon the proper request for payment of reasonable attorney fees, the court will consider a number of factors. There are many factors according to each individual situation. Here are some of the most important:
1. Financial accountability is topmost on the list of considerations. In addition to the in-depth financial disclosure of each party, the court will consider how each party uses their available finances and if there has been a history of waste or extreme extravagance.
2. Is there truly a need for financial help with paying the other party’s attorney fees? If one party needs to use money from necessary living expenses to pay attorney fees while the other party is better situated financially, the party in better financial circumstances will often be ordered to pay attorney fees for both parties.
3. If it is obvious one party or a party’s attorney is dragging the proceedings out with unnecessary motions and pleadings, thus adding to the cost of attorney fees, the court may rule to pay or help pay the other party’s attorney fees.
4. The attorney’s fees for the party requesting help must be reasonable, in line with other attorneys in the area representing clients obtaining a divorce. Overcharging a client may disqualify the client from being awarded help with fee payment.
If you have further questions concerning the payment of attorney fees, Family Law Attorney Grant Gisondo offers a free, initial, in-office consultation where he will meet with you to answer questions and share how he can help. He serves Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, and Hillsborough counties in Florida as well as Washington DC and New York. Please call his office at (561) 530-4568 to make an appointment. Office hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and, for new clients, Saturday from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM.