Family Law Case Update – Attorneys Fees

Attorney’s Fees

Attorney’s fees awarded in a Dissolution of Marriage depends upon the financial need of the
requesting party and the financial ability to pay of the other party.

Parties to a marriage cannot contract away or waive temporary support and attorney’s fees before
a final judgement is entered. Belcher v. Belcher, 271 So. 2d 7 (Fla. 1972). The Court must find
“proof of a party’s need, ability to pay, and reasonableness of fees”. Derrevere v. Derrevere, 899
So. 2d 1152 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006) The Court’s factual findings must be based on the
consideration of the eight factors codified in Campbell v. Campbell, 46 So. 3d 1221, 1222-23
(Fla. 4th DCA 2010); Schwartz v. Schwartz, 965 So. 2d 832, 833-34 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007). A fee
award simply taking the amount charged by the attorney and determining it to be reasonable is
improper and an abuse of discretion.

In one recent case out of the Third District Court of Appeal, the trial court had awarded the
Former Wife statutory pre-judgment attorney’s fees. The Appellate Court found that the trial
court was correct in its finding that the Wife had not waived her pre-judgment attorney’s fees but
that the trial court must make factual findings to award the fees or it is an abuse of discretion.
See, Ortiz v. Ortiz, Volume 42, Number 39 Fla. L. Weekly D2025 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2017).

Attorneys fees, need and ability to pay, reasonableness of fees, Florida Divorce, Dissolution of
Marriage, Florida Statute §61.16, Florida First District Court of Appeal.