Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Procedure
Florida law discourages misconduct in litigation by allowing a party to seek attorney’s fees from the opposing party who prolongs litigation or otherwise acts unreasonably in a Florida divorce. But what type of misconduct rises to the level of such punishment? We review this question in the appellate case Myrick v. Myrick, 214 So.3d 769 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017) where the former wife was ordered to pay almost $100,000 in attorney’s fees to the former husband.
The parties originally entered a parenting plan that permitted the parties to revisit the timesharing schedule if the former husband moved within a 10 mile radius of the former wife. The former husband eventually moved within this distance and tried to negotiate a new timesharing schedule which the former wife refused. Accordingly the former husband filed a petition for modification, requesting 100% overnights with the parties’ child.
After what appears to be protracted litigation, the former husband was awarded primary timesharing with the parties’ child. Thereafter both parties sought an award of attorney’s fees from the other. The former wife’s request was denied but the former husband’s was granted on the basis that the former wife caused needless litigation.
In reversing the award of fees against the former wife, the appellate court held the trial court did not make appropriate findings to support the award and the former wife’s conduct did not rise to the level of bad faith. A party cannot be punished for refusing to accept a settlement offer - there must be a showing that a party acted unreasonably and that such behavior directly caused the expenditure of attorney’s fees.
Before you begin your Miami family law litigation, you should speak with a Miami family law attorney to understand your attorney’s fee budget, and to see if it is possible to have your fees paid by the opposing party. A consultation is the first step to learning about your options.