The answer in one word is, sometimes.
Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 61.16: “The 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.”
So when one party needs money for their attorney’s fees and the other party has the financial ability to pay the court can make a fee award in favor of the party in need.
Pursuant to the Florida Supreme Court case of Rosen v. Rosen, 696 So. 2d 697 (Fla. 1997) and its progeny a court can also award fees where warranted; in light of the scope and history of the litigation; the duration of the litigation; the lack of merit of the positions taken by the other side; because the other side has brought defenses and assumed positions to mainly frustrate and stall; and based upon the existence and course of prior and existing litigation.
Accordingly, when the other party in a divorce or paternity case engages in bad conduct and takes bad positions during a divorce case that drives up attorney’s fees the court can hold them accountable for those fees.
The court can make an award of temporary attorney’s fees while the case is ongoing and can also make an award of attorney’s fees at the end of the case. Whether the court will do so is usually based upon the requesting parties’ need for attorney’s fees and the other parties ability to pay.
To recover fees on a temporary basis during the pendency of the case or at its conclusion it is usually necessary to establish the facts that support your claim to establish need and ability to pay and the Rosen case’s factors through admissible evidence and testimony. It is also necessary to establish the amount of the fees and there reasonableness.
If you want to talk to a lawyer about the potential for recovery of fees in your case contact us for a consultation on (786) 539-4935.