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Cases of Interest: Attorney's Fees
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ALASKA: Sanders v. Sanders, 902 P.2d 310 (Alaska 1995).
The trial court may not award attorney's fees merely to equalize the amount of attorney's fees incurred by each spouse.
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ALASKA: Beard v. Beard, 947 P.2d 831 (Alaska 1997).
A trial court may rely on a divorcing party's misconduct to reduce or deny an otherwise appropriate award of attorney's fees.
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ALASKA: Gallant v. Gallant, 945 P.2d 795 (Alaska 1997).
The wife's actions during the parties' divorce case did not prevent the parties from litigating on an equal plane so as to require an award of attorney's fees to the husband.
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ARIZONA: Little v. Superior Court, ___ Ariz. ___, 884 P.2d 214 (Ct. App. 1994).
A spouse's attorney's fees do not fall under the "necessities of life" exemption to injunctions that bar either party from transferring or encumbering marital assets.
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CALIFORNIA: Askew v. Askew, ___ Cal. App. 4th ___, 28 Cal. Rptr. 2d 284 (1994).
Wife was entitled to award of fees for defense of husband's civil fraud action, which was duplicative of wife's family law action and put her to a wholly unnecessary legal expense.
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CALIFORNIA: In re Marriage of Schulze, ___ Cal. App. 4th ___, 70 Cal. Rptr. 2d 488 (1997).
Award of $5,000 in attorney's fees to the wife could not be upheld as a sanction against the husband for frustrating settlement despite the actions of the husband's parents which produced a precipitous drop in his income.
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FLORIDA: Clinton v. Carver, 675 So. 2d 642 (Fla. DCA 1996).
The husband's parents could not be required to pay attorney's fees to the wife even though they had been joined as parties in the dissolution proceeding and were found to owe money to the wife.
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FLORIDA: Rosasco v. Rosasco, 641 So. 2d 493 (Fla. DCA 1994).
The trial court lacked authority to order the husband to place funds in escrow pending determination of the amount of attorney's fees to be awarded to the wife's attorney.
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FLORIDA: Smallwood v. Perez, 717 So. 2d 154 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1998).
A spouse's motion for attorney's fees from opposing counsel for bad-faith litigation must be made and heard together with the request for attorney's fees from the lawyer's client in the action.
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FLORIDA: Satter v. Satter, 709 So. 2d 617 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1998).
A party seeking to recover fees in a divorce action must show some need for such relief, not just more relative financial strain than the other party.
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FLORIDA: Spano v. Spano, 698 So. 2d 324 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1997).
A spouse who files a motion to set aside a property settlement agreement and judgment may not be awarded attorney's fees under the matrimonial statute permitting fee awards in modification and enforcement proceedings.
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ILLINOIS: Nottage v. Jeka, 172 Ill. 2d 386, 667 N.E.2d 91 (1996).
The Illinois statute that authorizes fee awards in domestic relations matters does not provide the sole means by which an attorney may recover a fee from a client in a domestic relations matter, to the exclusion of a common-law action for contract damages.
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MISSISSIPPI: Chesney v. Chesney, 2002 WL 31194996, at *3 (Miss. 2002).
Normally, an award of attorney's fees should not be made when the recipient is able to pay his or her own fees, but there are exceptions to the rule. For example, a Mississippi trial court expressly found that the wife could pay her own attorney but nevertheless made a fees award against the husband.
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NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS: In re Vernon, 192 B.R. 165 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 1996).
Legal services rendered to a client in a divorce proceeding do not constitute "luxury services" so as to be presumptively protected from discharge under the Bankruptcy Code.
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ILLINOIS: In re Marriage of Auriemma, ___ Ill. App. 3d ___, 648 N.E.2d 118 (1994).
The trial court abused its discretion by refusing to award attorney's fees for litigation surrounding an illegal wiretap placed in the wife's home.
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ILLINOIS: In re Marriage of Kent, ___ Ill. App. 3d ___, 640 N.E.2d 973 (1994).
The trial court had jurisdiction to award the wife attorney's fees incurred when she intervened in the husband's bankruptcy proceeding to preserve her rights under the property settlement.
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ILLINOIS: In re Marriage of Powers, 252 Ill. App. 3d 506, 624 N.E.2d 390 (1993).
Statute that allows attorney's fee awards in dissolution cases permits an award for time spent drafting the petition for fees.
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ILLINOIS: In re Marriage of Young, 244 Ill. App. 3d 313, 614 N.E.2d 423 (1993).
Order awarding wife attorney's fees for husband's failure to comply with discovery orders was not a final and appealable order.
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ILLINOIS: In re Marriage of Steinberg, 302 Ill. App. 3d 845, 706 N.E.2d 895 (1999).
The wife would not be required to return a contingent fee that the husband had divided with her pursuant to their property settlement agreement even though the provision for sharing the fee was against public policy.
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ILLINOIS: In re Marriage of Davis, ___ Ill. App. 3d ___, 686 N.E.2d 395 (1997).
The wife was properly awarded attorney's fees that she incurred while defending a creditor's lawsuit which arose from the nonpayment of a debt assigned to the husband in the parties' dissolution proceedings.
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ILLINOIS: In re Marriage of Charles, ___ Ill. App. 3d ___, 672 N.E.2d 57 (1996).
The trial court erred by ordering that marital assets be used to pay the husband's attorney's fees, because this order improperly required the wife to contribute to the husband's attorney's fees even though he was able to pay those fees himself.
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MISSOURI: Darr v. Darr, 950 S.W.2d 867 (Mo. Ct. App. 1997).
The husband's financial disclosure, combined with the wife's knowledge of his finances, was sufficient to make the parties' antenuptial agreement enforceable, even though his financial statement omitted 12% of his monthly income; however, a provision waiving the right to attorney's fees should be evaluated in view of the parties' economic circumstances at dissolution.
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NEW JERSEY: Frankel v. Frankel, 274 N.J. Super. 585, 644 A.2d 1132 (App. Div. 1994).
In a family action, an attorney who has been discharged by an impecunious spouse may recover counsel fees from the other spouse even if the spouses have agreed to pay only their own attorney's fees.
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NEW JERSEY: Johnson v. Johnson, 320 N.J. Super. 371, 727 A.2d 473 (App. Div. 1999).
A provision in the parties' divorce judgment that required payment of attorney's fees from the husband's pension fund constituted an assignment of benefits expressly prohibited by federal law.
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NEW JERSEY: Vander Weert v. Vander Weert, 304 N.J. Super. 339, 700 A.2d 894 (App. Div. 1997).
Where the husband in a divorce case executed a mortgage on property held in a tenancy by the entirety to secure the payment of legal fees to a law firm, the firm's lien extended only to that portion of the property, if any, awarded to the husband by way of equitable distribution.
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NEW YORK: O'Shea v. O'Shea, 93 N.Y.2d 187, 711 N.E.2d 193 (1999).
The trial court in a matrimonial action has discretion to award attorney's fees for legal work before the formal commencement of the action and for the counsel fee hearing itself.
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NEW YORK: Maillard v. Maillard, ___ A.D.2d ___, 663 N.Y.S.2d 67 (1997).
The wife was properly precluded from offering evidence about a business venture in view of her willful, deliberate, and contumacious lack of cooperation when asked about the business at her deposition.
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NORTH CAROLINA: Crutchfield v. Crutchfield, ___ N.C. App. ___, 511 S.E.2d 31 (1999).
The trial court did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorney's fees in the amount of $1,500 to the husband as a sanction for the wife's willful delay.
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OHIO: Oatey v. Oatey, 83 Ohio App. 3d 251, 614 N.E.2d 1054 (1992) (published 1993).
Order to liquidate real property within 60 days to pay wife's prospective attorney's fees constituted a final appealable order.
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OKLAHOMA: Musser v. Musser, 909 P.2d 37 (Okla. 1995).
Pending contingent fee cases are future income rather than marital property for purposes of equitable distribution.
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OKLAHOMA: Swick v. Swick, 864 P.2d 819 (Okla. 1994).
Wife's attorney had standing to pursue award of attorney's fees from husband after wife's death following entry of final divorce.
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SOUTH CAROLINA: Burns v. Burns, ___ S.C. ___, 448 S.E.2d 571 (Ct. App. 1994).
The trial court did not have jurisdiction to award the wife attorney's fees incurred when she intervened in the husband's bankruptcy proceeding to protect her property rights under the divorce decree.
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TEXAS: Parker v. Parker, 897 S.W.2d 918 (Tex. Ct. App. 1995).
A husband's electronic eavesdropping on his wife's attorneys constituted outrageous and reprehensible conduct that justified a $1 million punitive damages award.
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UTAH: Cox v. Cox, 877 P.2d 1262 (Utah Ct. App. 1994).
Award of attorney's fees against wife could not be based on her refusal to accept husband's settlement offer.
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VIRGINIA: L.C.S. v. S.A.S., ___ Va. App. ___, 453 S.E.2d 580 (1995).
The husband's expenditure of marital funds for criminal defense fees did not constitute a dissipation of assets.
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VIRGINIA: Taylor v. Taylor, 27 Va. App. 209, 497 S.E.2d 916 (1998).
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney's fees to the wife for two attorneys who provided complementary efforts in a complex case spanning multiple practice areas.
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WASHINGTON: In re Marriage of Sievers, 78 Wash. App. 287, 897 P.2d 388 (1995).
The husband's effort to draft formal contract language that would impose additional tax liability on the wife, contrary to the intent of the parties' property settlement memorandum, justified an award of attorney's fees to the wife.
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