The trial court ordered that my spouse pay my attorney’s fees, but my spouse refuses, can I enforce the order?

Florida Statute § 61.16 provides for attorney’s fees to be paid by a more financially abled party in Dissolution of Marriage cases. Florida Statute § 61.16 provides:

The court may from time to time, after considering the financial resources of both parties, order a party to pay a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees, suit money, and the cost to the other party of maintaining or defending any proceeding under this chapter, including enforcement and modification proceedings and appeals,”

Fla Stat. § 61.16 (2013). This is not to say that the other spouse always has to pay attorney’s fees in divorce cases, but rather that both parties are entitled to be on “equal footing” within the family law courts. Therefore when there is need by one spouse and an ability to pay by the other spouse, the court may order attorney’s fees to be paid.

Unfortunately, the order to pay often occurs later in the case, after you have already paid some or all of you attorney’s fees. Once this occurs, the money paid directly to the attorney is refunded to the client. Therefore, you may have a strong interest in your spouse actually paying the ordered amount.

While it is well settled that the attorney who is entitled to receive the monies may bring a motion to enforce the order of attorney’s fees and costs, there was some question as to whether the actual spouse may enforce the order. The Second District Court of Appeals answered this question in a recent case. The Former Husband brought a Motion to Enforce the Court’s order to pay attorney’s fees and costs to the court. The trial court found that he did not have standing to bring said motion. That is to say, that the Former Husband could not bring the motion on his own before the court.

The Second District Court of Appeal reversed and found that the order to pay attorney’s fees on behalf of of the Former Husband was an award to the Former Husband and therefore he could bring a Motion to Enforce.

Martin Law Firm, P.L. will always aggressively seek attorney’s fees when they are appropriate. Once an order to pay them on behalf of a client is entered Martin Law Firm, P.L. will also aggressively seek collection of that order.

See, Coppola v. Coppola, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D2045 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013).