Palm Beach Gardens Divorce – Award of Attorney’s Fees

In a divorce proceeding, even if the record supports an award of attorney’s fees, the failure to include the necessary findings in the order constitutes reversible error. In Bradham v. Bradham, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: “Timothy Bradham, the former husband, appeals the trial court’s order modifying his alimony obligation and requiring him to pay attorney’s fees and costs of appellee, Susan E. Bradham, the former wife. We find no abuse of discretion in the modification of alimony.Galligar v. Galligar, 11 So. 3d 808, 811 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011). Because the trial court made no findings to support the fee and cost award, we reverse the order granting fees and costs and remand for further proceedings.

We apply the abuse of discretion standard to review a lower court’s award of attorney’s fees. Shelly L Hall, M.D., P.A. v. White, 97 So. 3d 907,909 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012). Florida law provides: ‘[A] court may from time to time, after considering the financial resources of both parties, order a party to pay a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees, suit money, and the cost to the other party of maintaining or defending any proceeding under this chapter, including enforcement and modification proceedings and appeals …An application for attorney’s fees, suit money, or costs, whether temporary or otherwise, shall not require corroborating expert testimony in order to support an award under this chapter. §61.16(1), Fla. Stat. (2012). Furthermore, in Norman v. Norman, 939 So. 2d 240, 241-42 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006), this court held that a trial court reversibly errs when it awards attorney’s fees without making the requisite findings as to the proper amount, as required by Fla. Patient’s Comp. Fund v. Rowe, All So. 2d 1145 (Fla. 1985). Even where the record supports awarding fees and costs, failure to include the necessary findings constitutes reversible error. Id. at 242; see also Ard v. Ard,765 So. 2d 106, 107 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (remand of attorney’s fee award required where the trial court made no findings as to the attorney’s hours expended, hourly rate, or reasonableness of the fee).”

To speak with a Palm Beach Gardens divorce lawyer, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.

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