Who pays for divorce attorney fees in Florida?
The court possesses the authority to consider all “relevant” factors when determining whether to order an award of attorney’s fees. The most important factor to consider is the relative financial position of each party. If one party is clearly in a vastly superior financial position, this is usually grounds for an award of attorney fees on its own. However, income alone is not grounds for an award of attorney’s fees. The petitioning spouse must prove need for an award of attorney’s fees. The court must examine how alimony, child support, and/or equitable distribution has affected the financial position of each party. If the petitioning spouse has a much lower income than the other but has been awarded ample financial resources from the divorce proceedings, the court may deny his/her request for attorney fees. The court must consider non-marital assets when determining an award of attorney fees.
There are several factors outside the realm of financial circumstances that the court should consider as well. The court must determine that the reported attorney fees are “reasonable and necessary” before granting an award. The court will also examine the duration of the litigation and how each party has handled his/herself throughout its course. If it seems as though one party is instigating unnecessary litigation meant to harass the other party, the court may take this into consideration while determining an award of attorney fees.