When Are Temporary Attorney’s Fees Appropriate?
When a party gets a divorce, they can request the court to issue certain orders to help maintain the status quo while divorce proceedings are pending. Such orders include temporary orders for spousal support, custody, and child support.
In some divorce cases, the parties do not have the same access to financial resources. For instance, one party may have enough money to hire an attorney to represent them during divorce proceedings, while the other party is only receiving temporary spousal support during divorce.
This disparity in financial condition and its effect on the fairness of divorce litigation is an issue that Florida courts have discretion in addressing by issuing temporary attorney’s fees. A party with significant wealth and assets might be forced to pay some of the other party’s attorney’s fees if they are not careful. To help protect against such situations, it is vital to understand the law regarding temporary attorney’s fees.
Florida Law on Temporary Attorney’s Fees
Florida courts have broad discretion when issuing orders for temporary attorney’s fees. Under Florida Statute § 61.16, the court can order one party to pay for the attorney’s fees and litigation costs of the other party. Also known as “interim attorney’s fees,” temporary orders for attorney’s fees are meant to ensure that both parties in a divorce have similar access to legal counsel and can litigate their divorce on equal footing.
To determine whether a party should pay interim attorney’s fees, courts must consider the following issues:
- The financial disparity between the parties
- The availability of legal services to the party with more financial resources
- The legal issues that will be litigated
- The availability of legal services to the party with less financial resources
- The amount required to equalize the parties’ legal representation
Temporary attorney’s fees are not the same as attorney’s fees awarded at the end of a divorce. Attorney’s fees at the end of a divorce are ordered if the court finds that requiring them to pay for legal services already rendered would severely impair their financial position.
Ultimately, Florida law is tailored to help ensure fairness in divorce proceedings. When only one party has access to quality legal counsel, fairness in divorce proceedings is potentially compromised. Court’s have also held that agreements against temporary attorney’s fees are unenforceable as they are like a provision waiving support during marriage. To defend against a claim for interim attorney’s fees, the financially advantaged party must establish a record of evidence that directly speaks to the factors courts must evaluate when deciding this issue.
Consult Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office for Legal Counsel
If you need legal representation for a divorce issue, you should contact an attorney for legal advice. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, you might be entitled to a temporary award of attorney’s fees which your former spouse must provide. To help figure out the full extent of your legal rights, you should contact Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office today.
To schedule an appointment about your case, call the office at (727) 312-1112 or contact Dale L. Bernstein online today.