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Appeals Court Considers Whether Former Wife Should Be Entitled To Attorney’s Fees


In some divorce lawsuits, the court will require one party to pay the other’s legal fees. Courts don’t generally do this, but in some cases, a party to a divorce may petition the court to award compensation for their legal expenses. The party requesting legal fees must establish that they can’t afford to pay their legal fees on their own and that the other party has engaged in “egregious litigation misconduct.”

During a 2024 trial in Florida, Levy v. Levy, the trial court denied the wife’s petition to recover legal fees. She appealed the decision but the appeals court upheld the trial court’s ruling. In this article, the Orlando divorce lawyers at Greater Orlando Family Law will discuss the case, the basis for awarding legal fees, and how the appeals court arrived at its decision.

Background of the case 

On September 10, 2021, the former wife filed a motion to recover legal fees. She argued that given her meager financial resources, she would not be able to “maintain and defend” the parties’ litigation and would ultimately suffer prejudice unless the trial court ordered the former husband to continue to pay for her reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

The trial court was tasked with determining whether or not the wife had a need to recover legal fees and whether or not the husband could afford to pay them. The relevant law concerning the matter can be found in Florida Statutes § 61.16. On September 13, 2022, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing to determine if the wife was entitled to recover legal fees.

In 2011, the parties divorced with two minor children. Much of their dispute centered around the children with both parties incurring substantial expenses as a result of ongoing litigation, guardian ad litem fees, and more. The evidence established that there was a large disparity in the parties’ income. The husband earned considerably more than his wife. However, the former husband argued that he suffered setbacks with his business and was earning less money than he previously had been. The wife hired a forensic accountant to establish the husband’s income and assets were considerably greater than he was leading the court to believe. He therefore could afford to pay for the wife’s legal fees.

The husband argued that the wife was receiving gifts from her brother and boyfriend. While she had limited income, she also had limited expenses and was receiving child support payments.

Importantly, the trial court found that the wife was primarily responsible for what it considered a “bitter, incessant, and unending litigation” between the two parties. The trial court also found that the wife violated shared parental responsibility, interfered with timesharing, refused to communicate with the father, and failed to provide a structure and routine for the children.

Ultimately, the appeals court did not find a good reason to award the wife attorney’s fees. Her motion was denied.

Talk to an Orlando Family Law Attorney Today 

Greater Orlando Family Law represents the interests of divorcing couples in Orlando. Call our Orlando family attorneys today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin advocating on your behalf immediately.

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