The laws of the state of Florida permit the recovery of attorney’s fees following a divorce, even though the payment of attorney’s fees and court costs is, essentially, a first party contract relationship between the attorney and client. This means that both clients are ultimately responsible for their own attorney fees during a divorce, however Florida Statute 61.16 provides a mechanism for family court judges to order one party to pay all or part of the other party’s attorney fees. This is known as “fee shifting,” and is used in order to ensure both spouses have equal access to quality representation—in other words, fee shifting can be used to level the playing field between spouses.
If you feel you are entitled to recovery of attorney fees following your divorce, discuss this issue with your attorney from The Law Place. We understand fee shifting can prevent the spouse with less control of the family finances to secure competent counsel and will ensure that scenario does not apply in your situation. If your income is dramatically different from that of your spouse or you have little access to marital funds, we will work aggressively on your behalf to secure recovery of attorney fees following your divorce.
The Impact of Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements on Recovery of Attorney Fees
Couples who have pre or post nuptial agreements in place may want to take a look at those agreements to determine whether there is a provision in place for one or the other partner to have attorney fees paid in the event of a divorce. If you are just entering into such an agreement, it could be a good idea to consider whether you should add in recovery of attorney fees. In cases where attorney fees were specifically waived in a pre or post-nuptial agreement, the Florida Supreme Court has, in some instances, ruled such waivers to be unenforceable.
When Recovery of Attorney Fees Was Not Addressed
The actions of the judge are governed by Florida Statute and provide that one party may be ordered to pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for the other after the financial resources of both parties are taken into consideration. In instances where a divorce is proving to be lengthy, the court can award partial attorney fees prior to the conclusion of the case, in order to ensure proper representation throughout the divorce as well as during any appeals. Your Florida family court has broad discretion when determining whether to award attorney fees and costs during your dissolution of marriage.
What the Court Will Consider Prior to Awarding Attorney Fees
Prior to requiring one spouse to pay the legal fees of the other, the judge will examine the financial situation of each spouse. The division of marital assets, as well as any outstanding liabilities, and how those assets and expenses will be divided will be considered in the determination of recovery of attorney fees.
If it appears to the judge that there is a roughly equal balance of finances between the spouses, then an award of attorney fees may not be justified. Once it is determined that attorney fees will be awarded to one party or the other, the court will set a reasonable hourly rate and multiply that amount by what is believed to be a reasonable amount of time for the attorney to complete the necessary divorce services. The judge may determine that one party is responsible for only a portion of the other’s attorney fees rather than the entire amount.
How The Law Place Can Assist You in Attorney Fee Recovery
The attorneys at The Law Place strive to ensure that each and every client has access to the knowledgeable, experienced representation they deserve. We will determine whether you are eligible to request a recovery of attorney fees during your divorce. Our attorneys are abundantly familiar with the laws and regulations governing your Florida divorce. We will request a fee shift from the court on your behalf and will be by your side during every step of your Florida divorce.