Family law Tampa

If my court appointed expert seeks outside (legal) assistance, Am I responsible for their fees?

If you’re getting divorced, read your attorney’s contract carefully.

In dissolution cases that require outside assistance it is important to discuss with your attorney their role and any fees that might incur with outside involvement, such as expert witnesses. A recent court case brought forth by the Second District Court of Appeals signifies just how important it is to understand an attorney’s fee clause, especially when handling payment for court appointed experts.

In Brown v. Brown, a psychologist was appointed by the trial court to determine parenting responsibilities for either spouse in their parenting plan. During the process, the psychologist hired an outside attorney for legal advice on specific court duties. The couple’s attorney’s fee clause stated that both parties were were required to pay fees incurred with any legal matter regarding the psychologist. This included fees from the attorney she hired for advice.

However, the appellate court found that the clause was more narrow than the trial court held. The appellate court stated that the clause only applied to attorney’s fees incurred by the psychologist if she was sued by the divorcing couple. Since the psychologist hired an attorney for legal assistance in the case rather than an action against herself, the appellate court overturned the trial’s court ruling.

Divorce cases can be quite overwhelming and create many issues you might not have not anticipated. It is important that you read your attorney’s contract carefully. Your attorney should advise you on any obligations outlined in your contract.

If you have any questions regarding contractual issues similar to attorney’s fee clause or require legal assistance in other areas of Family Law you may always contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected].