Because Darren M. Shapiro's practice in Nassau County, Long Island, frequently deals with cases involving divorce, he is able to offer his clients an in-depth level of expansive knowledge regarding the various fees that can be awarded, procedures that can be used, and approaches that can be taken in this area of law. For instance, according to the New York Domestic Relations law, a matrimonial case such as separation, divorce, or annulment may be lead to the awarding of counsel fees - depending on the circumstances for the parties involved, the complexities of the case, and the merits of each side's position. In cases that do not involve pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements which already outline the terms of awards (sometimes even if there already agreements too), Mr. Shapiro may assist clients in discovering their eligibility for and defending against counsel fee applications.
The rationale that exists behind awarding counsel fees is that both spouses in a divorce case - regardless of their financial strength - should have the same ability to defend themselves in court. Counsel fees may also be awarded when one side engages in certain litigation practices which are less than legitimate. With counsel fees, both spouses can be placed on a level economic footing, and the New York Court can ensure that each has equal leverage during litigation. In some cases, the Supreme Court may issue an order to a spouse requiring the direct payment of counsel fees to an attorney for the other spouse, to ensure that the other party can continue to participate in the case. As Mr. Shapiro discusses with his clients, the courts will consider: types of services rendered, professional experience or reputation of the counsel, the time used, and respective financial situations of each side when addressing counsel fee concepts.
Determining whether or not counsel fees should be awarded is a matter left to the court's "discretion", and Mr. Shapiro is available to help his clients understand why the court may explore their financial resources, including assets and income when deciding on what to award. At the start of a case, motions can be filed in the correct circumstances for counsel fees to be paid while the case is pending. In the case of a temporary (interim) counsel fee award such as this, courts typically apply a presumption that fees will be awarded to the less-monied spouse - according to the considerations laid out by section 237 of Domestic Relations Law. According to the discretion of the court, these fees should be awarded on a timely basis - before the final judgment, and they should be designed to prevent a more affluent spouse from overwhelming the other party based on financial opportunity. However, though Mr. Darren Shapiro, can assist clients in applying for these fee awards, it's worth remembering that the award is often not equal to the fees spent seeking to obtain that award.
While it is crucial to ensure that each side in a case has access to the right representation, applying for expenses and fee awards can be done at any point, up to the delivery of the final judgment. Both parties in a matrimonial proceeding, and their attorneys will need to disclose via an affidavit details of the agreements made between the parties and counsel involving fees, and this affidavit will involve a variety of information, including retainer amounts, hourly charges by an attorney, additional costs and disbursements or expenses.
In these circumstances, the term "expenses" can cover many things. For instance, some of Mr. Shapiro's clients may find that their "expenses" include the cost of accountants, appraisals, and investigations, or even other fees determined by the court. On an interim basis, at least, it is often found that the courts will be more likely to award counsel fees in original matrimonial cases, rather than modification proceedings. As Mr. Shapiro reminds his clients, being poverty-stricken or destitute isn't required for legal fees to be awarded, and through the use of discretionary authority, the court will review the financial circumstances of each party involved, along with the case in question. Whether the court decides to award a counsel fee to a particular party or not is a matter of discretion attributed to the New York Court.
Sometimes, the court may decide to consider the fact that one party within the current proceeding has engaged in activities that have made protracted litigation necessary - and this consideration may help them to determine whether counsel fees should be awarded. Importantly, counsel fees are intended to level the playing field in a court situation, thereby preventing a spouse with more money from punishing the opposition through the use of finances, or creating a scenario in court that would be deemed as unfair. The rewarding of counsel fees can be a deterrent against frivolous litigation. They can also help to ensure that the spouse in question with less financial power will still have the necessary power required to litigate in the case involved, with the same degree of professional representation and guidance as a spouse with more financial power.
Importantly, the New York court will often take a wide range of different factors into account when determining whether to award counsel fees - including the merits of the positions of both parties. For those who are unsure about the process, Mr. Shapiro can help them to address the concept in more detail. After all, dealing with a complicated issue in court can often be made easier with the assistance of a professional, and highly-experienced attorney.
For more information about the fees that might be awarded during a matrimonial case, or the various complications that can arise during a case of divorce, please feel free to reach out to us. If you would like to use Mr. Shapiro during your divorce proceeding, then please also schedule your free half-hour appointment with us at your earliest convenience. We are available to contact in office, over the phone, or through email, and will endeavor to answer any questions that you may have to the best of our abilities. It would be our pleasure to speak with you about it.