We Fought for Our Client, the Husband had the Attorneys Fees Ordered paid by Our Client to the Wife’s Attorney’s Fees reversed on Appeal.
“[Husband] next argues that the trial court's award of attorney fees failed to meet the requirements of section 508 and was unsupported by the evidence. (111. Rev. Stat, 1991, ch. 40, par, 508.) At the conclusion of the custody trial, the trial court granted [Wife’s] fee petition in its entirety. After a request for a hearing on attorney fees, this ruling was retracted and the matter was set for hearing. Wife first called an expert witness on the matter of attorney fees. The expert testified that the $27,919.66 fee charged by Wife’s attorney was customary and reasonable. The court subsequently ordered Wife to pay $16,501 of her attorneys fees and ordered Husband to pay $10,000 of those fees. Finance charges were deducted from the amount allocated to Wife.
At the fee petition hearing, Mr. Martoccio, counsel for Husband, objected to the fee petition and its attendant computerized fee schedule printout on the ground that it lacked a proper foundation. Martoccio objected to the schedule of hours because no evidence was presented indicating how those hours were transcribed and whether they had been entered accurately into the computer. Wife’s attorney testified that he reviewed the documents and found them to be accurate and necessary, and asserted that this testimony served as a proper foundation for the records. The time records themselves simply provide a general description of the service performed, the time spent on that service and the fee charged for that service.
Based on Martoccio’s arguments, the Illinois Appellate Court stated as follows:
The issue of attorney fees in divorce proceedings rests within the sound discretion of the trial court. (In re Marriage of Brophy (1981), 96 Ill. App. 3d 1108, 1117.) We will not reverse such an award on appeal unless the trial court abused its discretion. (Brophy, 96 Ill. App. 3d at 1117.) According to Brophy, the financial position of the parties, the skill and standing of the attorneys employed, the importance, novelty and difficulty of the questions raised, the degree of responsibility involved from a management perspective/ the time and labor required, the usual and customary charge in the community and the benefits resulting to the client/ are all factors to be considered in determining an attorney fee award. (Brophy, 96 Ill. App. 3d at 1118.) In addition, the matter of fixing fees is one of the few areas in which the trial judge may rely on the pleadings and affidavits on file and its own experience. (Brophy, 96 Ill. App. 3d at 1118). In our view, the trial court below abused its discretion because it did not adequately consider these factors in ruling on attorney fees.
The trial court found the fees to be reasonable based upon its own experience, its understanding of section 508 (111, Rev, Stat, 1991, ch. 40, par. 508), and the amount of time and stress the case involved. Martoccio argued that a mere schedule of hours is insufficient proof upon which to base a fee petition, Martoccio asserted that a fee petition hearing must address the issues regarding the necessity of the fees and the reasonableness of the fees and that neither of those issues were properly addressed by Freddy's attorneys. Martoccio asserted that without more proof, the Judge could not have independent knowledge of these issues with respect to the history of the case before it was reassigned to him.
The amount of fees to be allowed in a divorce proceeding depends:
"n a consideration of the skill and standing of the attorneys employed, the nature of the controversy, and the novelty and difficulty of the questions at issue; the amount and importance of the subject matter, especially from a family law standpoint; the degree of responsibility involved in the management of the case; the time and labor required; the usual and customary charge in the community; and the benefits resulting to the client. [Citations.] The work for which the compensation is sought must be shown to be reasonably required and necessary for the proper performance of legal services under the circumstances." (Christian v. Christian (1979), 69 Ill, App. 3d 450.
General statements in the record regarding the number of court appearances made is insufficient to establish the basis for an award of attorney fees. (In re Marriage of Edelberg (1982), 105 Ill, App. 3d 407, 410 11.) Although the complexity of the case is a factor in determining an attorney fees, the filing of simple motions is not the type of work which requires the "greater skill" contemplated by the rule allowing court time at a higher rate. In re Marriage of Dulyn (1980), 89 Ill. App. 3d 304, 314.
In the present case, apart from Schwarz mere assertion that his fees were reasonable and necessary, along with the unconvincing testimony of Kusniar, we are unable to ascertain the nature of the court appearances specified in Schwarz" computerized fee schedule printout. The hours receiving the higher billing rate for court time are merely described as "Court Appearance" on many occasions. Therefore, the proof offered by petitioner is insufficient to support the pleadings for attorney fees. (See Keno & Sons Construction Co. v. La Salle National Bank (1991), 214 Ill. App. 3d 310, 312.) As a result, we hold that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the fee petition in the absence of sufficient evidence to support that ru1ing..”
As a result of Martoccio’s arguments, the order requiring the Husband to pay Wife’s attorneys fees was reversed.