Can You Be Forced to Pay Attorney’s Fees if You Don’t Pay Your Child Support or Alimony?

March 24, 2020

Divorce and child support can be expensive—but on the other hand, so is raising a child and starting over after a marriage ends. In many cases, the custodial parent can’t afford to raise their child entirely on their own, and since both parents bear a legal and financial responsibility to their children, one will almost always have to contribute child support payments.

Sometimes the noncustodial parent refuses to or cannot pay, taking advantage of the fact that legal fees can cost thousands of dollars—the custodial parent may not be able to afford a child support lawyer in Miami, FL. That’s why the Florida state government allows parties to request payment of reasonable attorney’s fees in this situation.

How to request attorney’s fees

When you file for divorce or another related action, you need to request attorney’s fees in your initial documents. This is for people who may not have enough assets in their name nor the income to support themselves plus the legal fees they believe they will incur. Whether you file the petition yourself or retain an attorney to help you from the outset, the request must be in the initial filing.

How the court decides whether to award attorney’s fees

Wondering how the court goes about determining whether attorney’s fees should be paid by a defendant in a child support or alimony case? Here are some factors they’ll take into account:

  • Finances: The first thing the court will consider is how well each party is able to afford paying legal fees. This includes both income and assets—so if you own a house, a business and several cars, you’re in a better financial position to pay a lawyer than someone who is making $36,000 per year and is leasing their vehicle.
  • Actual need: Actual need often weighs into a judge’s decision. If one party truly cannot afford to pay an attorney without significantly affecting their living expenses, savings or marital estate, that can be grounds for an award. The court might also compare the relative income of the spouses—a person making six figures is usually better able to afford an attorney than someone living on the poverty line.
  • History of the case: In some cases, a party who could afford the initial divorce proceedings may no longer be able to pay after the case has dragged on longer than anticipated, or the scope has expanded. This is a situation in which a judge might feel the other party should pay.
  • Merits: Finally, if one party is deliberately obstructing the case or using it as a means to harass the other party, a judge may decide that the difficult party needs to pay attorney’s fees.

Child support lawyers in Miami, FL

When you need compassionate and assertive representation for your child support or alimony case, the Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler can help. We have provided the Miami area with skilled legal services for over two decades, including a robust family law practice. Let us put our more than 60 years of combined experience to work for you. Call us today for a consultation.

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