Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

A Florida divorce case can take a year or more to get to a final hearing or trial. Sometimes parties need relief immediately such as alimony, child support or time-sharing, and cannot wait the year or more to get it. This is why Florida family law allows the award of temporary relief on these issues and many more. In the case Jooste v. Jooste, 4D18-2736, May 8, 2019), the wife appealed a decision on her motion for temporary alimony, child support and attorneys’ fees and costs.

On the issues of alimony and child support, the husband conceded error, which means he agreed the trial court made a mistake in its decisions on these issues. Specifically, the parties agreed the court failed to specify how much of the temporary support ordered was for child support and how much was for alimony. They also agreed the court failed to make findings regarding the parties’ respective incomes as required by Florida law. On these points, the order was reversed.

Next, the wife appealed the court’s decision to deny her attorneys’ fees and professional costs. She argued the trial court did not consider all required factors in arriving at its decision. The appellate court agreed with her, reversing the order and holding, “To ensure that both parties have the ability to obtain competent legal counsel, a court is permitted to award reasonable attorney's fees and costs. ‘[T]he appropriate inquiry and standard to be applied is the same whether the fees requested are temporary or final.’ That inquiry "is whether one spouse has a need for suit money and the other has the ability to pay" and also requires the court to ‘determine the reasonableness of any attorney's fees and costs prior to ordering a party to pay them.’ The Florida Supreme Court provided other factors to consider, [. . .] Here, the court did not make findings on the complexity of the case, the Wife's need for temporary fees, the Husband's ability to pay temporary fees, or the reasonableness of the fees sought. Instead, it compared the amount the Wife paid for professional services to the amount the Husband paid. Because the Wife paid twice the amount as the Husband, the court denied her temporary fees. The court therefore erred when it considered no factors other than the amount paid by each party.”

Because temporary relief is important for many, it is best to seek the advice of a Miami family law attorney before you proceed. Schedule a consultation to determine the best course of action in filing this type of motion in your Florida divorce case.