Divorce in Florida
Your car stereo is blasting “I will survive” as you speed back from Barnes and Noble with the latest edition of How to Divorce for Dummies in your passenger seat. Sure, your marriage hasn’t been all that you envisioned but you figured that was standard. When you walked down the aisle towards your dream partner and pledged ’til death do you part’, you were young, naive and full of hope. Fast forward to the present and the mere sight of your significant other makes your stomach turn. You could handle the weight gain and the incessant nagging, but after discovering countless facebook messages from old high school flames you have finally reached your limit. You want out. No, you need out. As you belt out Gloria Gaynor at the top of your lungs with the windows down you feel confident in your decision and start to dance, shrugging off the disapproving looks from your fellow drivers when you stop at a red light. This is your time, no one can take that away from you! Your phone rings and you quickly tell your best friend the good news. “That’s wonderful!”, the voice on the other line declares. “Now, how are you going to pay for it?” Oh yeah, about that…
After reading your latest edition of How to for Dummies and spending countless hours listening to horror stories from fellow courageous freedom fighters, you soon realize the best advice on how to divorce is to hire a family lawyer. The only problem is, your spouse has morphed into Ebenezer Scrooge and has forced you to relinquish all financial control. Panic sets in as you recall the one conversation you had with your sweetheart about heading to Splitsville and the reaction you received was something along the lines of, “Go ahead and try, I will destroy you.” Suddenly, that feeling of hopelessness is back and you are ransacking the kitchen for a brown paper bag to keep from hyperventilating. And then, like manna from heaven, you are told that your former soul mate can be held responsible for your attorneys fees.
Divorce and Securing Attorneys Fees
The purpose of awarding fees in a family law proceeding is to ensure that both parties have equal access to representation so that you aren’t plagued with issues like how to divorce. The crux of the determination in awarding attorneys fees is entitlement which is based on need and ability. Once the need of one party and the ability of the other to fork out the dough is established, then the court can address the amount of fees and costs. The court has broad discretion as to an award of attorney’s fees and must conduct an evaluation of assets, both marital and nonmarital, in order to determine any disparity in post-division assets or income. There must be specific findings on need and ability to pay and the court’s determination must be based on the individual resources of the parties, not the financial assistance provided by family and friends. This means if Great Uncle Ernie is willing to finance your initial retainer, you don’t have to worry about it coming back to haunt you.
Securing attorneys fees can be complicated when there are issues of understated income or when there is a scenario where one party is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed. If you are contemplating a Florida divorce, you should immediately seek the representation of a qualified family law attorney.