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Almost Every Florida Appellate Rule Changes on New Years’ Day 2019

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Get your pencils ready–your filings and your calendar will need some adjustment!

The Florida Supreme Court has substantially amended the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, changing language in nearly every rule in the book along with related rules from the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.  It accomplished this through issuing three separate opinions: SC17-152 [.pdf]; SC17-882 [.pdf], and SC17-999 [.pdf].  The amendments change, well, almost everything!

The amendments become effective on January 1, 2019.

All the amendments become effective on January 1, 2019, but at two different times: SC17-152 and SC17-999 go into effect at 12:01 a.m., while SC17-882 goes into effect as of 12:02 a.m.

The biggest trap for everyone?  The time periods and mailing issues.

We’ll talk about this again in-depth in the near future, but the elimination of mailing days for every electronically-served document in Florida courts, and then the lengthening of many appellate deadlines to compensate, will require everyone’s calendaring procedures to change significantly. Spoiler alert — in most instances you will actually have more time under the new rules than you did under the old rules.

This post, Part I of a multi-part series, provides a brief summary of every substantive amendment organized by rule.  Following posts will investigate and elaborate on different aspects of the numerous changes.

Summary of appellate-related rule changes (with links)

Before we dive into the analysis though, let’s just get the big picture. Here’s our summary of the changes, with links for your review.
*All links to Supreme Court opinions are to the .pdfs of those opinions.

Rule

Change

Source

Fla. R. Jud. Admin 2.514 [.pdf, entire rule set]

  • When a period is stated in days or a longer unit of time, “begin counting from the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.”
  • 5 days added for only traditional mailing.  No more days for
    electronic service.

SC17-882, p. 9

Fla. R. Jud. Admin 2.516 [.pdf, entire rule set]

  • E-Mail service no longer treated as mail service for computation of time.

SC17-882, p. 10

Fla. R. App. P. 9.010

  • Added applicability of Fla. R. Jud. Admin (formerly in 9.020(h)).

SC17-152, p. 22

Fla. R. App. P. 9.020

  • Removes section regarding Fla. R. Jud. Admin.
  • Reorganizes subsection on motions tolling rendition (without substantive change).
  • Defines “conformed copy.”
  • Other format changes, renumbering of subsections.

SC17-152, pp. 22-24

Fla. R. App. P. 9.030

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 25-27

Fla. R. App. P. 9.040

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 27-28

Fla. R. App. P. 9.100

  • Non-substantive changes only.
  • A reply is due within 30 days of the response.

SC17-152 pp. 29-30

SC17-882, p. 16

Fla. R. App. P. 9.110

  • Clarifies that scope of review in partial final judgments limited to any matter or ruling prior to filing of notice that is directly related to the aspect of the
    judgment under review.
  • Notice of cross-appeal must be served “within 15 days of service of the appellant’s timely filed notice of appeal or within the time prescribed for filing a notice of appeal, whichever is later.”

SC17-152, pp. 30-32

SC17-882, pp. 16-17

Fla. R. App. P. 9.120

  • Omits requirement of appendix for initial brief on the merits in discretionary review over district court decisions.
  • Respondent’s brief on jurisdiction must be served within 30 days of service of petitioner’s brief.

SC17-152, pp. 32-33

SC17-882, p. 17

Fla. R. App. P. 9.125

  • Omits specific format for signature block on certification in form for pass-through appeals to supreme court.

SC17-152, pp. 33-34

Fla. R. App. P. 9.130

  • Adds two new categories to the list of nonfinal appealable orders: “that, as a matter of law, a settlement agreement is unenforceable, is set aside, or never existed;” and “grant or deny a motion to disqualify counsel.”
  • Notice of cross-appeal must be served “within 15 days of service of the appellant’s timely filed notice of appeal or within the time prescribed for filing a notice of appeal, whichever is later.”

SC17-152, pp. 35-36

SC17-882, p. 18

Fla. R. App. P. 9.140

  • Attorney of record for appellant must serve designations to be served on the court reporter, and service must occur before attorney of record will be allowed to withdraw from representation on appeal.
  • Modifies the return of the record rule to require return of only non-electronically filed parts of the record after final disposition of the appeal.
  • When a 3.800(b)(2) motion is filed, the clerk must supplement the appellate record with the motion, any response, any resulting order, and any motion for rehearing, response, and order on the motion. The supplement must be filed within 20 days after filing of the order disposing of the motion.  If no order is filed within 60 days, the 20 days runs from the end of the 60-day period and requires a statement in the supplement that no order was timely filed.  If a motion for rehearing is filed, the clerk must transmit the supplement within 5 days of the order disposing of the rehearing. If no order issues within 40 days, the 5-day period runs from the end of the 40-day period, and the supplement must include a statement that no order was timely filed.
  • “A defendant may cross-appeal by serving a notice within 15 days of service of the state’s notice or service of an order on a motion pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(b)(2).”
  • “[I]n an appeal by the state under rule 9.140(c)(1)(K), the state’s notice of cross-appeal shall be filed within 15 days of service of defendant’s notice or service
    of an order on a motion pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure
    3.800(b)(2).”

SC17-152, pp. 38-39

SC17-882, p. 19

Fla. R. App. P. 9.141

  • Requires the clerk to index, paginate, and send to parties the record on collateral and postconviction cases.
  • Allows for directions to clerk within 10 days of notice of appeal.
  • A reply may be served within 30 days after service of the response.

SC17-152, pp. 42-43

SC17-882, p. 20

Fla. R. App. P. 9.142

  • Non-substantive changes.
  • The briefing schedule allows that the state has 50 days from the date the defendant’s brief is served, and the defendant has 40 days from the date the state’s brief is served.
  • In petitions seeking review of nonfinal orders in death penalty postconviction proceedings, the petitioner may serve a reply within 30 days of the State’s response.

SC17-152, pp. 44-46

SC17-882, pp. 20-21

Fla. R. App. P. 9.145

  • Non-substantive changes
    only.

SC17-152, pp. 47-48

Fla. R. App. P. 9.146

  • In juvenile dependency, TPR, and cases involving families and children in need of services, mandates that review of trial court orders on motions seeking a stay pending appeal shall be by motion.
  • Adds detail for briefing schedule in cases in which more than 1 initial or answer brief is authorized.
  • When an order issues allowing counsel to withdraw, counsel must within 5 days certify that counsel has forwarded the record and transcripts to the parent or is
    unable to do so after making diligent efforts to find the parent.
  • The initial brief shall be served within 30 days of service of the record or index.  The answer brief shall be served within 30 days of the initial brief. The reply brief shall be served within 15 days of the answer brief.

SC17-152, pp. 48-50

SC17-882, p. 22

Fla. R. App. P. 9.150

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, p. 50

Fla. R. App. P. 9.160

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 50-51

Fla. R. App. P. 9.170

  • A party choosing the “alternative appendix” method must serve a copy of the direction to the appellate court as well as the lower tribunal.
  • If another party directs the preparation of record, that direction must be served on the appellate court when served on the lower tribunal.

SC17-152, pp. 51-52

Fla. R. App. P. 9.180

  • Requires a judge of compensation claims to select an approved court reporter and transcriptionist.
  • Deposit of estimated costs due within 20 days of service of notice of estimated costs.
  • Written objections to selected court reporter or transcript due within 20 days of service of notice of selection.
  • Verified petition to be relieved of costs must be filed within 20 days after service of the notice of estimated costs.
  • Lower tribunal may enter an order on the merits of a petition to be relieved of costs without an objection filed after 30 days following the service of the petition.

SC17-152, pp. 53-57

SC17-882, pp. 23-24

Fla. R. App. P. 9.190

  • Removes reference to section 120.56 (rule challenges) in procedures for proceedings involving disputed issue of fact.
  • Creates new subsection for procedures for appeal from rule challenge proceedings under section 120.56.

SC17-152, pp. 57-61

Fla. R. App. P. 9.200

  • Requires service of designations to court reporter upon the court reporter or
    transcriptionist.
  • Reorganizes requirements of court reporter upon receipt of designation, moves to different subsection.
  • Moves requirements for organization of transcripts in the record to its own subsection.
  • Objections or amendments to proposed statement of evidence or proceedings must be served within 15 days of service of the proposed statement.
  • The cross-appellee has 15 days to direct the clerk to include additional documents, exhibits, or transcripts from the service of the cross-directions.

SC17-152, pp. 61-63

SC17-882, p. 25

Fla. R. App. P. 9.210

  • Clarifies that briefs filed in electronic version need not be also filed in paper.
  • Cover sheet of brief now requires email address of attorney filing the brief.
  • Formalizes the “one attorney, one brief” rule.
  • If more than one initial or answer brief is filed, the responsive brief is due to be served within 20 days after the last prior brief.  If the last brief is never served, the time runs from the date on which it was due to be served.
  • “Unless otherwise required shall be served within 30 days after service of the initial brief; the reply brief, if any shall be served within 30 days after service of the answer brief; and the cross-reply brief, if any, shall be served within 30 days thereafter.”

SC17-152, pp. 64-65

SC17-882, pp. 25-26

Fla. R. App. P. 9.225

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, p. 66

Fla. R. App. P. 9.310

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, p. 66

Fla. R. App. P. 9.320

  • Request for oral argument due 15 days after the last brief (or the reply in a petition proceeding) is due to be served.

SC17-882, pp. 26-27

Fla. R. App. P. 9.330

  • Adds “written opinion” to the title of the rehearing and clarification rule.
  • Details requirements for a motion for certification.
  • Details and outlines requirements for a motion for written opinion.
  • Eliminates the requirement for a certification for a motion for a written opinion.
  • “All motions filed under this rule with respect to a particular order or decision must be combined in a single document.”
  • Clarifies that rule only applies to orders that resolve appeals, original proceedings, or motions for appellate proceedings.  Does not limit inherent authority to reconsider nonfinal appellate orders.
  • “A response may be served within 15 days of service of the motion.”
  • In bond validation proceedings, a “reply may be served within 10 days of service of the motion.”

SC17-152, pp. 66-69

SC17-882, p. 27

Fla. R. App. P. 9.331

  • Court will now notify parties once it decides to determine a proceeding en
    banc.
  • Signature block under required statement for rehearing en banc omitted.
  • “A response may be served within 15 days of service of the motion.”

SC17-152, pp. 69-70

SC17-882, p. 28

Fla. R. App. P. 9.350

  • In a 9.120 proceeding, a notice of voluntary dismissal does not become effective until the later of 10 days following service of the notice to invoke discretionary
    jurisdiction or 10 days after the time prescribed by rule 9.120(b)
  • In a 9.120 proceeding, a notice of voluntary dismissal does not become effective until the later of 15 days following service of the notice to invoke discretionary
    jurisdiction or 10 days after the time prescribed by rule 9.120(b).

SC17-152, pp. 71-72

SC17-882, p. 28

Fla. R. App. P. 9.360

  • Clarifies that joinder is only realignment of existing parties to appeal; it does not allow addition of new parties parties.  Rephrases procedures for joinder as seeking realignment from appellee or respondent to appellant or petitioner.
  • The body of the notice shall reflect a new proposed caption.  Clerk will change the caption upon receipt of notice and payment of fee.

SC17-152, pp. 72-73

Fla. R. App. P. 9.370

  • Leave of court is required to serve an amicus brief in regards to rehearing, rehearing en banc, or certification to the supreme court.
  • Notice of joinder must be served within 15 days of the notice of appeal or petition.

SC17-152, pp. 72-73

SC17-882, p. 290

Fla. R. App. P. 9.380

  • NEW RULE – Notices of related case or issue are now required to be filed.  No argument allowed.

SC17-152, p. 74

Fla. R. App. P. 9.400

  • Adds time limits for filing a motion for fees in discretionary proceedings under rules 9.030(a)(2)(A) and 9.030(a)(2)(A)(v).
    • 9.030(a)(2)(A) – no later than time for serving the respondent’s brief on jurisdiction, or if jurisdiction is accepted, the time for serving the reply brief.
    • 9.030(a)(2)(A)(v) – no later than 5 days after filing of the notice, or if jurisdiction is accepted, the time for serving the reply brief.

SC17-152, pp. 74-75

Fla. R. App. P. 9.410

  • Omits signature requirement following the certification of service.
  • Initial service of the motion must be no later than the time for serving a permitted response to the challenged document or, if no response is permitted, within 20 days after the service of the challenged document or the presentation of argument at oral argument.
  • Respondent has 15 days from final service of a motion to serve response.

SC17-152, pp. 74-76

SC17-882, p. 30

Fla. R. App. P. 9.420

  • Clarifies that service of petitions invoking original jurisdiction shall be by both e-mail and paper format.

SC17-152, pp. 77-78

Fla. R. App. P. 9.430

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 78-79

Fla. R. App. P. 9.500

  • Clarifies governing provision of Florida Constitution, requires court to allow interested persons to be heard once request is determined to be within the purview of the applicable provision.
  • The justices must file their opinions not less than 10 days from date of request unless delay would cause public injury.
  • The governor shall be advised in writing.

SC17-152, pp. 79-80

Fla. R. App. P. 9.510

  • Procedures for advisory opinions to attorney general modified.
  • Requires justices to render their opinions no later than April 1 of the year in which an initiative is to be submitted to the voters pursuant to article XI, section 5 of the Florida Constitution.

SC17-152, pp. 80-81

Fla. R. App. P. 9.700

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, p. 81

Fla. R. App. P. 9.710

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 81-82

Fla. R. App. P. 9.720

  • Non-substantive changes only.

SC17-152, pp. 82-83

Fla. R. App. P. 9.800

  • Numerous amendments to the citation rule.

SC17-999

These rule changes follow on the heels of last year’s amendments to the appendix rules and some other substantive amendments.  At this point, almost every appellate rule has been changed in the last year, so best practice would require looking up every rule and not relying on memory.

Stay tuned for more analysis.

We’ll go further in-depth into the time changes, the newly-appealable non-final orders, and other facets of these rule changes in future blog posts.  Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right to get up-to-date news and analysis on these topics and other news and events as they relate to appellate practice in Florida.

 

 

Dead End by Dineen Pashoukos Wasylik All Rights Reserved

Is it Appealable? July 2018 edition

A street sign that displaying "dead end"

Is it appealable, or a dead end? Several district court decisions from this month answer that question in different ways.

Appealable or not?  The courts decide…

The immediate reaction to an adverse ruling is often “I want to appeal that!” But not all orders are immediately appealable, as several cases this month have shown. And sometimes, an order is immediately appealable even if the case continues for other reasons, and you can waive your rights to appeal if you don’t act immediately. The district courts of appeal have issued a number of decisions this month regarding appellate jurisdiction to review a trial court’s order, which usually comes down to the question “Is this a final order?” Below we’ve summarized just a few of the cases discussing finality and appealability the courts issued in July, grouping them by type of order. As always, if you have any questions regarding the finality or appealability of an order, contact us and we’d be glad to talk about your situation with you!

Orders on fees.

FCCI Commercial Insurance Co. v. Empire Indemnity Insurance Co., 2D17-1749 (Fla. 2d DCA July 13, 2018)[.pdf]

FCCI intervened in a pending case against its insureds after the trial court disqualified the attorney FCCI had retained on its insureds’ behalf and awarded attorneys’ fees to Empire based on that attorney’s misconduct. When FCCI appeared, the trial court imposed the award of those fees upon FCCI based on its finding that FCCI had directed the disqualified attorneys’ actions.  FCCI appealed that order.

On appeal, Empire argued the appellate court did not have jurisdiction over the appeal, presumably because there were proceedings still pending in the trial court.  The court disagreed, holding “Not only is the order awarding Empire attorney’s fees an executable judgment against FCCI concluding a portion of the litigation ancillary to Empire’s ongoing litigation against [FCCI’s insureds and other defendants], . . . but FCCI’s limited intervention solely for the purpose of addressing fees demonstrates that the conclusion of the attorney fees proceeding ended judicial labor as to FCCI,” citing Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.110(k)(review of partial final judgments) and a number of cases.

Yampol v. Turnberry Isle South Condominium Association, Inc., 3D17-2752 (Fla. 3d DCA July 5, 2018)[.pdf]

After dismissing a case in the trial court, both parties (Yampol and Turnberry) moved for attorney’s fees.  The trial court entered an order that denied Turnberry’s fees and granted Yampol entitlement to fees.  Upon a motion for reconsideration, the trial court changed its mind, granting Turnberry entitlement to fees and denying Yampol’s motion.  Yampol appealed.

Turnberry moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the order was not yet final because it found only entitlement, and not amount, as to its award of fees.  The appellate court determined “[t]he issue before us in this appeal is whether an order that grants one party’s entitlement to fees and denies the other party’s entitlement to fees ins an appealable final order.”

Ultimately, the court ruled the order was appealable because an “order denying a party’s claim for entitlement to attorney’s fees . . . is an appealable final order,” even if an order granting attorney’s fees as to entitlement but not to amount is not appealable.  The trial court ended all litigation as to Yampol’s fees in its second order so the order was final and appealable as to Yampol. This is a great example of how the same order can be final and appealable for one party but not another.

Orders to show cause.

Torres v. Lefler, 2D17-2741 (Fla. 2d DCA July 13, 2018)[.pdf]

The trial court ordered Mr. Torres to show cause within ten days why he should not be sanctioned for repeatedly filing frivolous lawsuits, failing which, sanctions would be imposed.  Mr. Torres filed a notice of appeal before the ten days was up.  The appellate court dismissed the appeal from that order, holding that the trial court merely reserved jurisdiction to impose sanctions and thus the order was not final or appealable.

Amended temporary orders while an appeal is pending.

Duryea v. Bono, 2D17-4314, 2D17-4422 (consolidated) (Fla. 2d DCA July 13, 2018)[.pdf]

In this family law appeal, the trial court rendered a Temporary Order for Timesharing on October 27, 2017.  Duryea filed a notice of appeal.  Then the trial court rendered an Amendment to the Temporary Order for Timesharing on November 2, 2017, substantively modifying the October 27, 2017, order.  Duryea filed another notice of appeal.

The appellate court affirmed the October 27, 2017, order.  However, it held that the November 2, 2017, order was a nullity because it was entered while the appeal from the prior order was pending and was substantive in nature.  Consequently, the court remanded with directions to vacate the November 2, 2017 order.

Orders granting partial summary judgment incorporating injunctive relief.

Woodfield Community Association, Inc. v. Ortiz, 2D18-341 (Fla. 2d DCA July 13, 2018)[.pdf]

The Ortizes sued their homeowner’s association.  In count 1, they sought a declaration that parking restrictions were void and unenforceable.  They moved for partial summary judgment, which the trial court granted.  The court declared prior fines void and enjoined the homeowner’s association from imposing further fines.  The association appealed.

The appellate court recognized that “Generally, orders that merely grant partial summary judgment, such as the one before us, are considered nonfinal, nonappealable orders.”  “However, Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130(a)(3)(B) provides us jurisdiction to review the portion of the order enjoining the association from enforcing the recorded declaration.”  The appellate court dismissed all other portions of the association’s appeal that did “not pertain to injunctive relief,” without prejudice to raising those issues in a later final appeal.

Timeliness of Notice of Appeal.

Elmouki v. Department of Transportation, 1D18-0715 (Fla. 1st DCA July 9, 2018)[.pdf]

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board issued a letter rejecting Elmouki’s challenge to a citation he received while operating a commercial motor vehicle.  The letter was dated January 18, 2018, but included a timestamp showing it was filed with the clerk of the Department of Transportation on January 17, 2018.  Elmouki filed his notice of appeal on Monday, February 19.

The appellate court held that the 30-day time period for Elmouki to file his notice of appeal ran from the date the letter was rendered, which was the date it was filed with the Department.  Consequently, the time for Elmouki to file his notice of appeal expired on Friday, February 16, and Elmouki’s February 19 notice was untimely.

The appellate court dismissed the appeal without prejudice to Elmouki petitioning the Review Board to vacate and reissue the letter so that he could appeal.

In rem vs. personal jurisdiction.

Patel v. Wilmington Savings Bank, FSB, 5D17-1900 (Fla. 5th DCA July 6, 2018)[.pdf]

The trial court denied the Patels’ motion to quash constructive service of process, ruling that it had in rem jurisdiction.  The Patels appealed, presumably pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130(a)(3)(C)(i), which authorizes an appeal from a non-final order that determines the jurisdiction of the person.

However, the trial court did not determine the jurisdiction of the person, it only ruled on jurisdiction in rem, or over the property at issue.  Consequently, the appellate court held that rule 9.130(a)(3)(C)(i) did not provide a non-final appeal from the trial court’s order and thus dismissed the appeal.

Mootness.

Mitchell v. Brogden, 1D16-5849 (Fla. 1st DCA July 16, 2018)[.pdf]

Mitchell appealed a stalking injunction that expired by its own terms while the appeal was pending.  “Nonetheless, [the court held,] we cannot dismiss the appeal as moot because ‘collateral legal consequences flowing from such an injunction outlast the injunction itself.'” (citation omitted).

Preservation by motion for rehearing.

Mahoney v. Mahoney, 1D17-2071 (Fla. 1st DCA July 9, 2018)[.pdf]

Former Husband waived arguments for appeal regarding lack of written findings on trial support and some arguments regarding the cut-off date for the identification of a retirement plan as a marital asset by failing to include those arguments in a trial court motion for rehearing.

Looking for more?

Check out our past blog posts on rendition, timing of your notice of appeal, and post-judgment tolling motions, and check out our Florida Bar Journal article on how trial court motions for rehearing affect preservation on appeal.  Or scroll through the blog for more!

Man with a cart full of money to pay for the family law appeal

Appeals 101: How do I Pay my Family Law Appeal Attorney’s Fees?

Family law cases are oftentimes stressful, lengthy, and expensive ordeals that can extend through trial court into the appellate courts.  But the legislature recognizes that such cases are unique, and thus it provides an avenue for seeking some relief from the cost of attorney’s fees for these cases. As part of our continuing Appeals 101 series, here’s the scoop on getting your ex to pay for your family law appeal attorney’s fees — whether you are appealing an equitable distribution, a child custody order, or any other issue related to your marriage dissolution or custody dispute.

Man with a cart full of money to pay for the family law appeal

It can feel like you need a cart full of money to pay for your family law appeal. You may be able to get your ex to cover those costs.

The basis for attorney’s fees in family law appeals

Section 61.16, Florida Statutes, allows a party to ask a court to force the other side to “pay a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees” in some family law cases.  The purpose of the statute “is to ensure that both parties will have a similar ability to obtain competent legal counsel.”  Rosen v. Rosen, 696 So. 2d 697, 699 (Fla. 1997).  “[I]t is not necessary that one spouse be completely unable to pay attorney’s fees for the trial court to require the other spouse to pay those fees.”  Id.

Section 61.16 also applies on appeal.  The statute states “In determining whether to make attorney’s fees and costs awards at the appellate level, the court shall primarily consider the relative financial resources of the parties, unless an appellate party’s cause is deemed to be frivolous.”  However, the court may also consider what are known as the Rosen factors (for the case from whence they came):  “the scope and history of the litigation; the duration of the litigation; the merits of the respective positions; whether litigation is brought or maintained primarily to harass (or whether a defense is raised mainly to frustrate or stall); and the existence and course of prior or pending litigation.”  Rosen v. Rosen, 696 So. 2d 697, 700 (Fla. 1997).

Can I seek attorney’s fees before the appeal is over, or do I have to wait?

Another way family law fees are different is that, rather than having no choice but to wait until the end of the appeal to seek fees, there is a limited avenue for a party to seek fee assistance during the appeal.  Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.600(c)(1) says the trial court has continuing jurisdiction while an appeal is ongoing to enter orders awarding “temporary attorneys’ fees and costs reasonably necessary to prosecute or defend an appeal, or other awards necessary to protect the welfare and rights of any party pending appeal.”  This means that a party can ask the trial court for assistance from the other side to pay for fees as they are being incurred for the appeal.  In practice this procedure can sometimes be problematic, especially when the trial court does not have sufficient time to rule on such a request while the appeal is pending.  See Kasm v. Lynnel, 975 So. 2d 560 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008).

No matter the family law case, or whether a party has sought temporary fees with the trial court, the party that seeks an award of fees for the appeal should timely file a motion for fees with the appellate court under Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.400(b).  Failure to do so may result in waiver of any ability to claim those fees later.  See Rados v. Rados, 791 So. 2d 1130, 1131-32 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001) (“A trial court cannot award appellate attorney’s fees unless the appellate court has authorized such an award.”).  A motion under rule 9.400(b) must be filed no later than the time for service of the reply brief.

How long will I have to wait for an award of attorney’s fees?

Don’t be surprised if the appellate court decides not to ultimately decide your entitlement to fees, instead sending your motion to the trial court.  Unlike trial courts, appellate courts are simply do not have the capability to take evidence.  Evidence may be necessary to determine the parties’ relative financial positions and the other factors discussed above.  Consequently, the appellate court often relies on the trial court to take such evidence and make those determinations for it.  Rados v. Rados, 791 So. 2d 1130 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001) (identifying the many ways that one appellate court handles such motions).

Most importantly, once an appeal is over, the trial court can only consider appellate fees with permission from the appellate court, usually based on a ruling on a timely-filed 9.400(b) motion.  Even if you would otherwise deserve your fees on appeal under the statute or the Rosen factors, the trial court does not have the power to award them for your appellate efforts if the appellate court does not order it to do so. If you are in, or suspect you will be, in a family law appeal, contact us and we can help ensure that any rights you have to fees are properly raised and preserved.