The recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling in In re the Marriage of Bollermann v. Nowlis, CV-13-0279-PR,has clarified a procedural concern in the interpretation of when a judgment is final for purposes of appeal when there are still pending issues regarding the award of attorney’s fees.
The Supreme Court granted review of conflicted lower court cases in order to determine “whether a party may appeal family court orders that neither resolve a pending request for attorneys’ fees nor include language making the orders appealable” pursuant to Rule 78(b) of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (ARFLP).
The Supreme Court indicated that Rule 78(B) was nearly identical to Rule 54(b) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The case law which has interpreted the civil rule “prohibits the entry of final judgment absent a determination of all issues, including attorneys’ fees, except upon express direction from the trial court.” As a consequence, the Supreme Court held that “absent Rule 78(B) language determining there is no just reason for delay and directing the entry of final judgment, a judgment that does not dispose of a request for attorneys’ fees in not final for purposes of appeal.”
In view of this ruling, it may be appropriate to include Rule 78(B) language in any decree. This would especially be true if a case is tried to the Court and one or both of the parties is requesting attorneys’ fees upon which request the Court will have to rule. At the conclusion of presentation of the evidence in Court or as part of the relief identified in the Joint Pretrial Statement, it might be important to remind the trial judge to include Rule 78(B) language in any minute entry ruling, if attorneys’ fees are reserved for determination after the main ruling is entered.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Divorce Attorney, Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5318, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area.