The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined interim attorney’s fees should have been awarded to the nonmonied spouse:
Supreme Court improperly referred to the trial court that branch of the plaintiff’s cross motion which was for an award of interim counsel fees (see Domestic Relations Law § 237[a] …). “Because of the importance of such awards to the fundamental fairness of the proceedings, . . . an application for interim counsel fees by the nonmonied spouse in a divorce action should not be denied—or deferred until after the trial, which functions as a denial—without good cause, articulated by the court in a written decision” … . Here, the court erred in summarily referring that branch of the plaintiff’s cross motion which was for an award of interim counsel fees to the trial court, which functioned as a denial of that relief, and failed to articulate any reasons, much less good cause, for that determination. The evidence submitted by the plaintiff demonstrates that she is the nonmonied spouse, as the defendant earned five to seven times more income than the plaintiff in recent years … . While the defendant argues that the plaintiff has funds available to her, the plaintiff “cannot be expected to exhaust all, or a large portion, of the finite resources available to her in order to pay her attorneys, particularly when the [defendant] is able to pay his own legal fees without any substantial impact upon his lifestyle” … . Fugazy v Fugazy, 2022 NY Slip Op 06115, Second Dept 11-2-22
Practice Point: Here in this divorce action it was deemed an abuse of discretion to, without explanation, deny interim attorney’s fees to the nonmonied spouse.