Can You Recover Attorney’s Fees in a Divorce Case in Florida?
Many married people are reluctant to get a divorce merely because they think they would not afford to obtain a divorce in Florida. However, the cost of divorce should not be a problem considering that you may be able to recover court and attorney’s fees in your divorce case.
Florida’s family law recognizes the disparity of incomes between spouses, which is why the lower-earning spouse may be able to request and be awarded attorney’s fees if:
- The fees are reasonable; and
- The higher-earning spouse has the ability to pay attorney’s fees.
How to Recover Attorney’s Fees in a Florida Divorce Case?
The lower-earning spouse can request and be awarded attorney’s fees in various types of family law cases, including alimony, child custody, enforcement, and other proceedings.
Under the Florida Statutes Section 61.17, the court has jurisdiction to award costs, including attorney’s fees, “as are equitable.” In Florida, you can be considered for an award of attorney’s fees after requesting this form of relief in your petition:
- If you are the Petitioner, you can request attorney’s fees in your initial petition.
- If you are the Respondent, you can request attorney’s fees in your counter-petition.
Without requesting attorney’s fees in your initial or counter-petition, you can recover these fees in a divorce case in Florida. After submitting your request, the court will review your particular situation to determine whether:
- it would be appropriate to award attorney’s fees; and
- the requested fees are reasonable.
When determining whether the request to recover attorney’s fees is appropriate, the court will assess the following factors:
- The lower-earning spouse’s need for recovery;
- The higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay;
- The financial resources and assets of both parties;
- The length of the marriage;
- Whether domestic violence, adultery, or other forms of marital misconduct occurred in the course of the marriage.
How to Prove That a Request for Attorney’s Fees is Appropriate in a Divorce?
The primary two factors considered by the court are:
- The lower-earning spouse’s ability to pay attorney’s fees without taking money intended for living expenses or funds from marital assets; and
- The higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay not only their own attorney’s fees but also their spouse’s.
In addition, the court may consider the length of the divorce proceedings, the date when the attorney was hired to handle the divorce case, as well as the parties’ willingness to settle and resolve a divorce case in a speedy manner.
Once the court determines that it would be appropriate to award attorney’s fees to the lower-earning spouse, it will then determine the reasonableness of the requested amount of fees. When it comes to assessing whether the requested amount is reasonable, the court will consider:
- How many contested issues the parties have;
- The number of hours the attorney has worked;
- The number of hearings attended by the parties and their attorneys;
- The attorney’s experience; and
- Average attorney’s fees in the area.
Talk to a skilled Orlando family lawyer to discuss your case and determine whether you can recover attorney’s fees. Get a consultation by contacting the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Call at 407-521-7171 to receive a case review.