Counsel Fees

Another major change in New York divorce law that was passed on October 12th, 2010 includes a provision that creates a rebuttable presumption that the non-monied spouse should receive an award of legal fees from the more monied spouse in order to represent such party in a divorce action or in a proceeding to enforce a divorce judgment. The purpose of this new law is to level the financial playing field, and permit a spouse with insufficient income or assets, to hire an attorney of his or her own choosing in order to carry on or defend a divorce action.

It is important to note that this new provision requires the court to seek to assure that each party shall be adequately represented, especially during the progress of the divorce case. The new law requires the court to also make the award on a timely basis, and permits more than one application from time to time as may be required. Each attorney must submit his retainer agreement to the court, which will indicate the amount of the retainer paid or agreed to be paid. The fact that the party applying for an attorney fee, has already paid his or her attorney a retainer, cannot defeat the application

In addition the new law permits the award of expert fees (usually accountants) in order to value business or professional assets within the same parameters of the counsel fee award...that is, it must be timely. These new sections will go a long way in providing a party with proper representation throughout the course of a divorce matter.