Florida Courts have the authority to award a reasonable sum as temporary support to a spouse (or other party to a family action) who makes this request in a petition, motion, or answer to a petition. The spouse requesting the temporary support must prove he or she has a need for support while the divorce or other family action is pending AND that the other person has the ability to pay.
If you’re the person in need of support, include your request in the petition, response, and counterclaim. Follow-up with filing a motion to speed up the process and have the motion heard before the trial.
How to ask for support while divorce is pending:
If you’re in need of support and your spouse has the financial ability to support you during the pendency of the divorce, ask for fees in your petition, motion, or answer. Here’s how to make the request via a motion:
- Draft a Motion for Temporary Support, stating that you “are in need of support during the pendency of the litigation” and that your spouse “has the ability to provide support”. A court will not award you temporary support if you do not request it. Seek advice from a professional or do your research to make sure your motion complies with the rules of the court.
- File the Motion by either sending it to your local courthouse where the case is pending or filing it via the Florida E-Filing Portal.
- Before setting the Motion for hearing, make sure you have submitted your mandatory disclosures to the other spouse, including your financial affidavit. A court will not set your Motion for hearing if your mandatory disclosures are not completed.
- Once your certificate of compliance with mandatory disclosures has been filed with the court–and your documents provided to your spouse–contact the judge’s judicial assistant and request for a hearing date. The judicial assistant will need to contact your spouse or his/her attorney to coordinate a date that works for everyone. The judge’s information can be found on each respective circuit court‘s website.
- Once a date is set, you will need to submit a Notice of Hearing containing the date, time, courtroom, and motion to be heard.
You must send your spouse a copy of the Motion and Notice of Hearing. Bring extra copies of the Motion with you to provide one to the judge, if necessary.
Can the Court require a party to pay for their spouse’s attorney’s fees?
Florida Statute § 61.16(1) authorizes the court to order a party to pay a reasonable amount of attorney’s fees and costs to the other party in a dissolution action. The standard for an award of attorney’s fees in divorce cases is the financial need of the requesting party and the financial ability of the other party to pay. That is key.
In Florida, temporary relief awards “are among the areas where trial judges have the very broadest discretion, which appellate courts are very reluctant to interfere with except under the most compelling of circumstances.” Pedraja v. Garcia, 667 So. 2d 461, 462 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996).
If you have questions about how to request temporary support or questions about the divorce process, it’s best to ask a qualified family attorney. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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