Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Domestic Violence
Last year, the Florida Supreme Court was tasked with resolving a conflict between Florida appellate courts regarding the applicability of a motion for attorneys’ fees to a proceeding for an injunction against dating, repeat and sexual violence. Ultimately, in the case Lopez v. Hall, 233 So.3d 451 (Fla. 2018), the Court ruled “57.105” motions as they are known, are permissible in such proceedings.
A 57.105 motion is one authorized by Florida Statutes which allows a party to seek attorneys’ fees against a party and an attorney for bringing unsupported claims and defenses. Under this statute, the court may on its own award such fees or a party seeking these fees must send a letter asking the other party to withdraw unsupported claims. If the other party does not withdraw the claims within 21 days, the party seeking fees may set a hearing on his or her 57.105 motion.
In the Lopez case, Ms. Lopez filed a petition for injunction for protection against repeat and dating violence under section 784.046 of the Florida Statutes. The respondent, Mr. Hall filed a 57.105 motion, alleging Ms. Lopez perjured herself in her petitions. Ms. Lopez later voluntarily dismissed the case, and Mr. Hall’s motion for attorney’s fees was denied on the basis that section 784.046 did not contain provisions authorizing an award of attorneys’ fees under 57.105.
In holding that 57.105 motions are allowed in such proceedings, the appellate court held, “The statute’s plain language makes clear that it supplies a way to sanction a party and its attorney in civil actions for baseless claims or defenses and that it applies to civil proceedings or actions, without exception.” Thus, a party who brings a false domestic violence claim in a civil matter may be held liable for the other party’s attorneys’ fees and costs if it is found that the claim was unsupported by fact or law.
If you are facing a domestic violence injunction matter, you do not have to go about it alone. Contact a Miami domestic violence lawyer to understand your rights and defenses moving forward.