Recovering Attorney's Fees in Tampa Divorce Cases
Florida law permits the recovery of attorney's fees in cases of divorce. These fees are typically awarded through authorization in the form of a statute, a provision of contract, or in some cases where a final estate is created or property is improved by attorney services.
Factoring in Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements:
Many couples have pre or post nuptial agreements in place prior to getting married, and if this is the case, you should take some time to read over the agreement to see whether or not attorney's fees are part of the contract. In accordance with the agreement, fees may be awarded by the court if the agreement provides for attorney's fees. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled these waivers to be unenforceable in cases where attorney's fees have been waived in the agreement.
Cases with No Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement:
Let's assume there is no pre or post nuptial agreement addressing attorney's fees, or the judge threw out a waiver of attorney's fees if one existed.
In this situation, Section 61.16 of the 2012 Florida Statutes governs the actions of the judge and provides that the court may order one party to pay the other a reasonable amount for attorney's fees and costs, after considering the financial resources of both parties.
Attorney's fees can also be awarded by the court before the case is concluded on a temporary basis to ensure proper service and representation through the trial as well as for any appeals.
A trial court has broad discretion in determining attorney's fees and costs in a dissolution proceeding. Rosen v. Rosen, 696 So.2d 697, 699-701 (Fla.1997).
Factors the court takes into consideration before deciding attorney's fees:
Before the court can render a decision or ruling to settle any disputes pertaining to attorney's fees, it must first reasonably examine each party's financial accounts and resources and review them in their current state at the time of the litigation and trial.
The division of marital property, assets, funds, and accounts, as well as outstanding liabilities, obligations and expenses and how all of those factors are divided and distributed between both parties are carefully considered before any decision is made. When the court finds an adequate balance between both party's finances, awards of attorney's fees aren't typically justified.
Once the court makes a determination of attorney's fees:
When a court makes a determination to award attorney's fees, the court can determine a reasonable hourly rate and multiply that by what it deems to be a reasonable amount of time for the attorney to complete the services that were needed. This amount may actually be less than the amount of time the attorney spent working on the case.
Quick facts about the award of attorney's fees:
- A court may award all reasonable fees if a substantial disparity is discovered.
- The court may order only a portion of the attorney's fees to be paid by a party.
- The party who "lost" on substantial issues in the case may still be awarded attorney's fees.
The attorneys at Fernandez Law Group always represent the best interests of our clients and if you have any questions about recovering attorney's fees in Tampa or are facing a Tampa divorce, we suggest you
Call us today at 813-489-3222 for a FREE consultation and case evaluation.
Content authored by Frank Fernandez