Divorce in West Palm Beach – Attorney’s Fees

In a divorce proceeding involving a prevailing party provision in a marital settlement agreement, for a party to be the prevailing party the party must prevail on significant issues in the litigation. InSchoenlank v. Schoenlank the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: “Appellant Scott Schoenlank appeals the portion of the final judgment which denies his motion for attorney’s fees under the prevailing party provision of his marital settlement agreement… 

The party prevailing on the ‘significant issues’ in the litigation is the party that should be considered the prevailing party for attorney’ s fees. Moritz v. Hoyt Enters., Inc., 604 So. 2d 807, 810 (Fla. 1992). A party receiving a net positive judgment is not necessarily the prevailing party, although that is a factor in determining which party prevailed on the significant issues. Shands Teaching Hosp. & Clinics, Inc. v. Mercury Ins. Co. of Fla., 97 So. 3d 204, 213 (Fla. 2012). Importantly, ‘an attorney’s fee award is not required each time there is litigation involving a contract providing for prevailing attorney’s fees.’ Loy v. Loy, 904 So. 2d 482, 483 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005) (quoting KCIN, Inc. v. Canpro Inv., Ltd., 675 So. 2d 222, 223 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996)). Indeed, when the litigation ‘end[s] in a tie,’ with each party ‘prevail]ing] in part and los[ing] in part on the significant issues,’ the trial court is well within its discretion to deny attorney’s fees to both parties. Loy, 904 So. 2d at 484…Neither party completely prevailed on either issue. Although Scott ostensibly ‘won’ by receiving a substantial retroactive downward modification of his support obligation, the trial court declined to apply that modification for the 2009 calendar year…”

To speak with a divorce attorney in West Palm Beach, FL, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.