Can I get the other party to pay for my attorney’s fees?

Yes, you can get the other party to pay for your attorney’s fees in an injunction case.  Most people and even attorneys do not know that.

There is a recent Florida Supreme Court Case called Lopez v. Hall, 233 So. 3d 451 (Fla. 2018).  This case holds that the statute on sanctions applies to injunctions.  If the other party files a frivolous injunction against you, you can ask the court to order them to pay your attorney’s fees.

The relevant statute for awarding attorney’s fees is Florida Statute § 57.105.  This statute states that in order to get attorney’s fees against the other party, the other party must have known or should have known that the claims asserted against you were (1) not supported by material facts necessary to establish the claims; or (2) not supported by the application of then-existing law to those material facts.

This can apply to Petitioners or Respondents in injunction hearings.

HOW TO GET THE OTHER PARTY TO PAY FOR MY ATTORNEY’S FEES?

First, you must put the other party on notice that you are seeking attorney’s fees.  This is done by sending the other party notice of the fact that you will be seeking payment of your attorney’s fees.  This notice must be sent to the other party and they must be given 21 days to withdraw their claim.  If they do not withdraw their claim within 21 days, you must file a motion for sanctions with the court.  In this motion, you should include a copy of the notice sent to the other party and the reason you are seeking attorney’s fees.

The last step is convincing the Judge to award attorney’s fees.  Subsection (8) of Florida Statute 57.105 states that attorney fees may not be awarded for an injunction for protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, or stalking, UNLESS the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the party knowingly made a false statement or allegation in an asserted defense, with regard to a material matter as defined in s 837.011(3).  A “material matter” means any subject, regardless of its admissibility under the rules of evidence, which could affect the course or outcome of the proceeding.  Whether a matter is material in a given factual situation is a question of law.

To be clear on just when a claim or defense is supported by the material facts, courts have interpreted that to mean when the party possesses admissible evidence sufficient to establish the fact if accepted by the trier of fact.  See Siegel v. Rowe, 71 So. 3d 205 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2011).

This all may seem like a lot of legal jargon, but it should make sense to any attorney.  Contact us today to discuss further.  (407) 344-4837


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