April 13, 2017
Our firm recently obtained an affirmance in the appeals court of a Final Order on Attorney’s Fees and Costs (“Fee Order”) rendered by a trial court in favor of our client in a divorce proceeding.
We represented the former wife in the former husband’s appeal of the Fee Order that was entered following the final judgment in the divorce proceeding. The former husband argued on appeal that the former wife did not have a need for an attorney’s fee award, despite the fact that he had the ability to pay the former wife’s attorney’s fees. The former husband pointed to the substantial assets that the former wife received in the equitable distribution and to the income the former wife earns from her employment as a pharmacist.
We maintained on appeal that the trial court did not abuse its discretion under the circumstances. We argued that the disparity between the parties’ incomes was vast, and denying the former wife an award of attorney’s fees would require her to invade her equitable distribution assets to pay the fees. Under the circumstances, the court’s denial of fees to the former wife would have resulted in the inequitable diminution of the former wife’s equitable distribution assets.
We also argued that the appellate court should affirm the Fee Order on procedural grounds for lack of an appropriate record. We argued that the former husband failed to provide a sufficient record on appeal to allow the appellate court to review the merits of the argument raised in the former husband’s initial brief. An appellant’s failure to provide a proper record to the reviewing court is “usually fatal” to the appellant’s claims. Casella v. Casella, 569 So. 2d 848, 849 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990).
The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the Fee Order. The appellate court also conditionally granted our client’s request for entitlement to appellate attorney’s fees. This favorable result preserved the fee award in favor of our client and will allow her to seek an award of her appellate attorney’s fees from the trial court.