I just returned from two days of Family Law seminar by myriad speakers in Orlando. Some good thoughts ere given on multiple subjects. One of those subjects is attorney’s fees in family law litigation.
The standard Rule is found codified in F.S. 61.13 of the Florida Statutes. Essentially it says that the party with the better ability to pay from all sources is responsible. Now, virtually all Judges will tell you that unless there is a huge discrepancy in the assets and income of one party, then each party will be responsible for all or a portion of their own fees. Similar to the fact that most Judges will never have one party pay 100% of the mediation fees, as they want each spouse to have “skin in the game”, Judges also believe that having one spouse responsible for even a portion of their own fees, will help hold down costs.
Also while talking about holding down costs, there are numerous cases where the Court has refused to grant fees to an attorney seeking them from the his/her client’s spouse when the time expended was for “hand holding” and not essential legal actions. These “hand holding” time entries were held not to be to forward the legal issues for the client and therefore the other spouse was not required to pay for them.
I have told clients for decades that the best money they may spend in a divorce is to obtain counseling from a mental health professional. Not necessarily to put their marriage back together but to learn how to handle the divorce, family issues, children co-parenting (if children are involved), how they can assist themselves with future relationships and so many other areas of their personal lives. This also would preclude the “hand holding” issues the Trial Court had to consider because these concerns would have been dealt with by the mental health professional, who usually charges far less than their attorney and frankly is better trained to assess their needs for such “hand holding”!
Consider who is better suited and who can handle your issues much less costly! I do not say this so that you will not share your thoughts, concerns and helpful input, but when it comes to those items that could be better addressed by a mental health professional, hire them and don’t ask your attorney to handle those.