Divorce – Award of Attorney’s Fees in Wellington, Florida

In a divorce proceeding, the trial court can only order a lump sum payment of attorney’s fees if there is evidence that the payor can make the payment in the time-frame ordered.  In Duncan v. Duncan the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: “This case involves a straightforward request for temporary support in a dissolution action. [T]he Husband) appeals an order compelling him to pay $50,000 in temporary attorney’s fees and $10,000 in temporary accountant’s fees within fifteen days to…the Wife. 

“Because the trial court failed to make a factual finding regarding the Husband’s monthly income, which was disputed by the parties, we are compelled to reverse. We further address the fifteen-day deadline given to the Husband to pay the temporary fees and conclude his income and assets were insufficient to allow him to comply with the deadline. The Wife filed a motion for temporary support, seeking temporary support, attorney’s fees, and costs for a forensic accountant…The trial court held that the Wife had the need, and the Husband had the ability to pay, both temporary support and attorney’s fees. On appeal, the Husband claims the trial court abused its discretion in finding both the Wife had a need, and he had an ability to pay, the temporary attorney’s fees award. With regard to the Wife’s need for an award of attorney’s fees, we affirm the trial court’s decision.Even using the Wife’s figures for the Husband’s income, the trial court erred in finding the Husband had the ability to pay the entirety of the Wife’s fees within fifteen days. It is reversible error for a trial court to order a large lump-sum payment when there is no evidence the payor has the ability to make the payment in the time frame ordered. Robinson v. Robinson, 668 So. 2d 1074 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996). There is no record evidence that Husband could pay $60,000 in temporary fees in fifteen days. If, on remand, the trial court finds the Husband has the ability to pay all or part of the Wife’s fees, it should determine a schedule in line with the Husband’s ability to pay.”

To speak with a divorce attorney in Wellington, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.