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Husband refused to pay attorney’s fees without a fight

Last week, we had to fight for attorney’s fees and forensic accounting fees for our client.  In our client’s divorce case, the Husband solely controls a major business.  In fact, the Husband’s business generates millions of dollars each year.  The Husband, not our client, has already paid his divorce attorney and forensic accountant the combined sum of about $140,000.  For reasons only known to the Husband, the Husband did not want to contribute similar sums for the Wife’s divorce attorneys (Schantz and Schantz) and forensic accountant.

The divorce laws in the State of Florida require both spouses to be on even footing regarding attorney’s fees and forensic accounting fees.  If this were not the case, a stay at home wife/mother may not be able to afford a divorce attorney at all, while the Husband can go out and retain the best attorney in town.  In Florida, if the higher earning spouse is unwilling to pay for the lesser earning spouse’s attorney’s fees the divorce judge or magistrate can take testimony from the parties concerning their need for attorney’s fees and the paying spouse’s ability to pay. Once the ability to pay has been established the lower earning spouse still must establish whether or not the requested attorney’s fees are reasonable.  For example, ordinarily,  a divorce dealing with a short term marriage, no children, in which both spouses worked would not normally justify a large attorney fees award.  Conversely, a long term marriage, with a great deal of assets, a spouse who never worked, and minor children could justify a large attorney’s fee award from the court.  Of course, every divorce case is different and each case will rest upon specific facts of that case.

In Florida, your rights as it relates to divorce attorney’s fees will turn upon many factors before the Court.  Getting legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney will help you determine if you are or are not entitled to attorney’s fees and forensic accounting fees.   If the Judge determines that the higher earning spouse can afford attorney’s fees the Judge can order payment for all or a portion of the lower earning spouses attorney’s fees. In fact, there is a huge amount of divorce case law dealing with the rights to attorneys fees.  Many cases have come from the appellate courts dealing with attorney’s fees.  The fight for or against attorney’s fees in a divorce appears to be a never ending battle.

People always ask us about divorce attorney’s fees even though the incomes of both spouses are substantially similar. In the case where spouses have similar incomes the usual outcome is for each spouse to pay their own attorney’s fees and forensic accounting fees.  That said, the divorce judge can order attorney’s fees if  can be proven that one spouse has engaged in vexatious litigation.  Vexatious is the legal word for harassment.  Meaning, one spouse is litigating in large part just to harass the other.  Although often times hard to prove, there are cases in which the court has ordered fees for vexatious litigation.

Happily, for our client, after hearing nearly 2 hours of testimony from the Husband, the Court stopped the hearing and told the Husband, his divorce lawyer and forensic accountant that they may want to go out of the courtroom and “talk”.  Based upon this “talk” our client is now entitled a payment for attorney’s fees and forensic accounting fees which will allow her to protect her legal rights.

At Schantz and Schantz we are here to protect you and your families rights.  If you have any divorce or family law questions we can help.  Feel free to call the divorce and family law attorneys at Schantz and Schantz 954-385-1536.

Divorcing an Alcoholic or a Drug Addict

Divorce in Florida or anywhere else is not easy. When one spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the process becomes more than just about money.   When one divorcing spouse is an alcoholic or a drug addict, the family and most importantly  the minor children can be negatively affected. Drugs and alcohol put a strain on everyone in addicted persons circle of friends and family. When divorce begins as a result of drug and alcohol abuse, you should obtain the advice of an experienced Florida divorce attorney.  If you live in Broward, Miami Dade, or Palm Beach Counties, our experienced divorce and family law attorneys are here to help.

Staggering divorce statistics

The statistics surrounding divorce and substance addiction are staggering. One research study has shown nearly one-half of all study participants who reported to have a substance abuse problem wound up getting divorced.  See the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.  This study also points out that substance abusers with an alcohol abuse disorder are almost 20% more likely to divorce than casual drinkers.

When to Consider Divorce?

Nobody wants to walk away from someone they love.  That said, there are times when your spouse’s alcohol or drug abuse makes your life intolerable.  Ask yourself, is your life getting worse due to the drug or alcohol abuse in your house.  Have you reached the point where a divorce is your best option, and the safest thing for you and your children? It is important to recognize that there is nothing wrong with answering “yes” to any of these questions. When things get to the point of no return, divorce is sometimes your best to protect yourself and your children.

If Safety of Children  is an Issue the Court in a Florida Divorce can order Drug Testing

The first thing you need to do is make sure that your spouse is subject to drug testing if the safety of the children is at stake.  No one, including the Judge, would intentionally place children in danger.  Remember this, the “best interest” of the children is always the most important consideration when getting divorced in Florida.   Sometimes, you must take steps to protect yourself and your children.  If your spouse does turn to their substance abuse, the Court in a Florida Divorce will hold your spouse accountable. As the judge can order drug and alcohol testing, the results can be especially important as a factor in determining timesharing rights.

In October, 2017 the Weston and Coral Springs Divorce Attorneys at Schantz and Schantz will be practicing law for 35 years. We are experienced in helping people deal with spouses who abuse drugs and alcohol.  If you have any questions related to a divorce, feel free to schedule an appointment at one of our offices located in Weston or Coral Springs (Parkland), Florida.  The Broward County Divorce Attorneys at Schantz and Schantz can be reached at 954-385-1536

Is my ex entitled modify the child support?

One of the most frequent questions we receive as family law attorneys in Florida concerns the modification of child support.  Under Florida family law child support is modifiable until the emancipation of the child.  Emancipation usually takes place when either a child turns 18 or graduates high school.  The terms and conditions of the marital settlement agreement or paternity agreement will usually specify when child support ends.  So the question becomes, what happens to my child support payment if you get a raise.   Unless your agreement has specific language in your settlement agreement dealing with wage increases nothing automatically happens if you get a raise.   Under Florida family law, if the receiving parent wants more child support they MUST file a petition with the court to increase child support.  In other words, if a petition to modify child support is not filed the prior court ordered amount of child support will continue.  Once a petition to increase child support has been filed, the court can retroactively modify child support back to the day in which the petition to increase child support has been filed.

So here is where the issue of child support gets very tricky.  In order to increase child support there must be increased payment of child support of either 15% or $50 which is ever greater.  If the additional income does not result in an increased payment of 15% of the sum of child support already order or at least $50.00 per month the parent seeking increase of child support will be denied the requested increase.  This statutory scheme prevents people from filing modifications of child support over very low amounts.

If you have a question related to a divorce, child support, or paternity please feel free to make an appointment with one of our family law attorneys.  We can be reached at 954*385-1536.