May 19, 2021
Bresky Law recently obtained reversal of a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage that denied our client’s request for attorney’s fees.
The parties were married for sixteen years before the wife filed for a divorce. The husband earned a significant income while the wife stayed at home with the parties’ children. The case proceeded to a trial on disputed issues including timesharing, alimony, equitable distribution, and attorney’s fees. The wife (our client) requested attorney’s fees based on her need and the husband’s ability to pay. The trial court rendered a Final Judgment following trial in which the court denied the wife’s request for attorney’s fees and ordered that each party be responsible for its own attorney’s fees.
We represented the wife on appeal in the Fourth District Court of Appeal (“Fourth DCA”). We argued that the trial court erred in denying our client’s request for attorney’s fees. Specifically, we argued that the trial court erred by denying the wife’s request without making findings regarding her need for an award of fees and the husband’s ability to pay, pursuant to Chapter 61.16, Florida Statutes. We argued that our client clearly was entitled to an award of attorney’s fees based on the fact that she was a homemaker and not employed, whereas the husband had the ability to pay an award of attorney’s fees based on his income.
The Fourth DCA agreed with Bresky Law’s arguments on behalf of our client as to the lack of findings. The Fourth DCA held that “a ‘trial court cannot deny a request for attorney’s fees under section 61.16 without making findings as to one party’s ability to pay an award of fees and the other party’s need for the payment of fees.’” (quoting Gudur v. Gudur, 277 So. 3d 687, 693–94 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019). The Fourth DCA reversed the Final Judgment and remanded with instructions for the trial court to reconsider our client’s request for attorney’s fees and make the required findings. This favorable result for our client allows her to seek her attorney’s fees from the trial court.