Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Support
Attorneys’ fees can be awarded in a child support case, including modification matters. In the case Scire v. Hoffman, 4D18-1606 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019), the father appealed an order awarding attorneys’ fees and costs to the mother in a modification of child support. The court awarded over $16,000 in fees to the mother, payable by the father in equal monthly installments over a 5-year period.
The father appealed the final judgment as to fees, arguing the court failed to make findings regarding: “(1) the necessity of a payment plan; (2) the five-year duration; and (3) the father's ability to make the $333 monthly payment based on his income.” Although the trial court orally pronounced that a payment plan was needed without explaining why, the appellate court ruled, “Factual findings for the payment plan must be made.”
The father also appealed on the basis that the fee award did not include findings of the reasonableness of the hours expended on the matter by the mother’s attorney on the child support matter. The appellate court agreed with the father, holding “The trial court's order reflected that the hours and hourly fee were reasonable, but it did not indicate how many hours were reasonable. In short, the order lacked the required finding of number of hours reasonably expended. Neither the fee order, the transcript, nor the fee affidavit contained the requisite findings of the number of hours spent nor how the trial court determined the total amount of attorney's fees owed. "In circumstances where the record may contain competent, substantial evidence to support these specific findings, but the trial court's order omits such findings, the case should be remanded for entry of an appropriate order."
If you are facing an attorneys’ fee award or you are seeking one in a Miami paternity case, schedule a consultation with a Miami paternity lawyer to go over your best defenses and claims.