Recovery of Attorney's Fees in Tampa
Tampa Divorce Attorney
The payment of attorney's fees and court costs is a first party contract
relationship between the attorney and the client. That is to say, the
client is both initially and ultimately responsible for the payment of
his or her own attorney's fees and court costs to the attorney. The
firm represents clients on the basis of an initial retainer/cost deposit
placed with the firm by the client at the commencement of the representation.
Even though the ultimate responsibility for the payment of fees and costs lies with the client, Florida Statute 61.16 provides a mechanism for trial judges to order one party to contribute to, or pay all of, the attorney's fees and costs of the other client, as equity and justice may require. This concept of "fee shifting" is used by the courts to assure that both parties have equal access to quality representation in pursuing their claims. The most often used term by trial judges, when awarding fees from one party to the other, is that the award is intended to "level the playing field" between the parties. If the fee shifting was not allowed, the litigant with control of the family finances would be able to secure competent counsel, while the spouse without access to funds might be left poorly represented or, even worse, unrepresented.
Courts award attorney's fees between litigants based on their financial postures and routinely award court costs on the same basis. Therefore, in a situation where the parties had roughly equal financial abilities, there would ordinarily be no award of attorney's fees by the court. On the other hand, where the parties' incomes are dramatically different, it is not unusual that the court orders the party with the greater income to pay most or all of the other party's reasonable attorney's fees and court costs. This is particularly true where the ratio of income is two to one or greater.
Attorney's fees and court costs may be sought on a temporary basis at a temporary hearing as well as being the proper subject for presentation at a final hearing.
It is not possible to ever accurately project what the ultimate cost of litigation will be. The firm's Retainer Agreement contemplates that the original retainer will be replenished as necessary, as the litigation goes along. The extraordinary cost of litigation including the attorney's fees and professional forensic witness fees are a major motivation in parties settling cases at the earliest convenient time. This leads parties routinely to seriously approach mediation as soon as financial disclosure can be completed and our clients are routinely counseled to evaluate the cost/benefit ratio of litigation versus compromising.
Contact a Tampa divorce lawyer at Givens Givens Sparks today if you have questions about attorney's fees.