Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

Attorney’s fees in a Florida divorce can be awarded based on the relative financial circumstances of the parties or misconduct in litigation. When they are awarded based on financial circumstances, a court must consider the need of the spouse asking for fees to be paid as well as the ability of the other spouse to pay. Misconduct can also be considered in awarding fees based on financial circumstances. This was an issue in the case Rich v. Rich, 2D19-2721 (Fla. 2d DCA August 31, 2022).

The parties were involved in what appears to be heavily litigated divorce proceedings. The trial court awarded over $120,000.00 in attorney’s fees to the former husband and denied the former wife’s request for attorney’s fees and costs. According to the court’s order, these rulings were based on “the Former Wife’s inequitable conduct regarding her meritless defenses to the establishment and enforcement of the parties’ Antenuptial Agreement” and her alleged “inequitable conduct regarding documents she allegedly procured from a dumpster on the private property of the Third-Party Defendants and their accountant.” The former wife appealed.

The appellate court noted that it recently and previously ruled “that the trial court’s findings regarding the interpretation of the antenuptial agreement and the admissibility of the ‘dumpster documents’ were erroneous and that a new trial was required.” The court therefore reversed the award to the former husband for reconsideration after a new trial. The court also reversed the denial of the former wife’s request for attorney’s fees instructing “Upon remand, the court shall consider the relative financial positions and conduct of the parties during the proceedings, including the Former Husband’s delay tactics, litigiousness, and failure to comply with many orders of the court.”

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