Counsel Fee Awards to the Non-monied Spouse in Divorce: What to Consider and When, As Challenges Abound

16 Jul , 2021

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Before 2010, the non-monied spouse was subject to the considerable discretion of the trial courts in fashioning appropriate counsel fee awards. After 2010, the New York legislature sought to reduce the extent of that discretion by instituting a rebuttable presumption in favor of a counsel fee award to the non-monied spouse. However, as the years have progressed since the 2010 amendments to New York’s Domestic Relations Law, the complexities faced by the non-monied spouse in obtaining counsel fee awards have not been eliminated. Instead, the rebuttable presumption has lent itself to considerable litigation. While the rebuttable presumption was a step forward for the non-monied spouse, challenges remain and the matrimonial lawyer’s task in advising clients on issues of counsel fees is no small feat. In this program we will explore what to consider and when, from the lawyer’s perspective and the client’s perspective, when tackling the issue of counsel fee awards.

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