Maitland Attorneys’ Fees Hearings
When it comes to attorneys’ fees awards, Orange County family law judges usually follow the American Rule. Each party is usually responsible for his or her own legal fees. But this rule is just a default rule. State court procedures usually allow judges to order one side to pay all fees if that side has acted in bad faith, oppressively, vexatiously, or wantonly. In plain English, a rich party cannot needlessly run up attorneys’ fees to force the poorer party into an unfavorable settlement.
In family law cases, attorneys’ fees matters may be heard either at the beginning of a case or at the end of a case. So, the Maitland attorneys at The Troum Law Firm are always ready to uphold your legal and financial rights. Because of our vast experience, we have argued both sides of the attorneys’ fees question in different matters. So, we know what it takes to obtain a favorable result in these situations.
When Do Judges Award Attorneys’ Fees?
In general, an Orange County judge may award at least a partial attorneys’ fees reimbursement if the general environment and the specific facts could support such an award.
The proper environment is present in many divorce cases. Quite often, one spouse has much greater financial resources than the other spouse. These resources could be nonmarital property or a relationship with wealthy parents. If that party filed for divorce with little or no notice to the other party, many judges raise an eyebrow.
The proper environment basically creates a presumption that an attorneys’ fee award may be appropriate. But most judges will not make such an order unless one party has misbehaved in some way. As mentioned above, sometimes that misbehavior involves needlessly extending the proceedings to drain the other party’s financial resources. Other times, the mere prospect of such an outcome may be sufficient.
What Happens at a Maitland Attorneys’ Fees Hearing?
Typically, most civil matters settle out of court. That includes preliminary and interim matters, such as attorneys’ fee awards.
That settlement usually involves some give and take. Often, one party agrees to pay a portion of the other party’s attorneys’ fees. The rules are a bit different, with regard to contempt and other such hearings. In these cases, the law may require full payment of attorneys’ fees on a particular matter. These fees include not only the appearance in court, but also all the time attorneys and other professionals spent preparing for the hearing.
If there is no settlement, an associate or senior judge usually hears from both sides, and then makes a decision. Before awarding attorneys’ fees, the lawyer must testify that the fees were reasonable given the attorneys’ skill level, the matter’s complexity, and other factors.
If the judge ignores the weight of the evidence, including any mitigating factors which the respondent presents, or fails to meet the technical requirements discussed above, a Maitland, FL divorce attorney may be able to successfully appeal the order.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Lawyer
In some cases, attorneys’ fees orders are necessary to equitably divide the marital estate. For a consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Maitland, contact The Troum Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Orange County and nearby jurisdictions.