Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Paternity

The Florida Statutes contain voluminous sections regarding domestic relations, including divorce, child support, paternity and the like. Paternity is included in a different chapter under the statutes than divorce. For this reason, confusion arose as to the applicability of the attorneys’ fee statute to paternity cases, and this was discussed in a case published in the beginning of this year known as McNulty v. Bowser, 233 So.3d 1277 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018).

In this case the mother requested appellate fees from the father and asked the appellate court to recede from the court’s earlier opinion in a different case holding that the Florida Statutes do not authorize an award of appellate fees in a paternity case. In that prior case, the appellate court reasoned that because the Florida Statutes were amended to include appellate fees in the divorce chapter, but no similar amendment was made in the paternity chapter, appellate fees could not be sought in paternity cases.

The appellate court agreed with the mother and granted her motion, holding that because the paternity chapter clearly states fees can be granted for “any proceeding”, it was reasonable to construe this to include appellate fees. Thus, the appellate court disapproved of its previous ruling and ordered that appellate fees could be awarded after presentation of evidence as to the mother’s need for appellate fees and the father’s ability to pay them.

Setting a consultation with a Miami paternity lawyer may be the first step to success in your case. Contact one today to go over the details of your case.