When a party requesting an award of attorney's fees is found by the court to be voulntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court can deny the request of fees, even when there is a large disparity in income between the parties. See Spenceley v. Spenceley, 746 So. 2d 505, 506-07 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999).
A court may look to several factors when detemining whether one party should pay or contribute to the other party's attorney's fees. First, a court looks at the requesting party's need and the other party's ability to pay. A court may also consider any factor necessary to povide justice and ensure equity between the parties, the scope and history of the litigation, the duration of the litigation, the merits of the respective positions, whether the litigation is brought or maintained primarily to harass (or whether a defense is raised mainly to frustrate or stall), and the existence and course or prior or pending litigation. See Rosen v. Rosen, 696 So. 2d 697, 699 (Fla. 1997), Balko v. Balko, 957 So. 2d 15, 16 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2007), and Trespalacios v.Trespalacios, 978 So. 2d 858, 861 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2008).
This case law is courtesy of Michael Mattson, Esquire Mediator, [email protected].