The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Marriage of de Koning on Thursday, January 2, 2014.
During this highly contested dissolution of marriage proceeding, wife incurred approximately $90,000 in attorney fees. By court order, husband paid $20,000 of those fees before the permanent orders hearing. At the permanent orders hearing, wife requested that husband pay her remaining attorney fees. Following the hearing, the court entered a decree of dissolution of marriage and permanent orders, reserving the issue of payment of wife’s attorney fees for a separate hearing. Wife thereafter requested additional production of documents regarding husband’s finances, and the court granted husband’s motion for protective order, finding that husband’s current finances were not relevant to the upcoming hearing on attorney fees. At the hearing on attorney fees (six months after permanent orders), the court ordered the parties to pay their own attorney fees.
On appeal, wife argued that the court erred in denying her request for production of documents and not considering evidence of the parties’ financial circumstances on the date of the attorney fees hearing. The attorney fees hearing was an extension of the permanent orders hearing; therefore, the permanent orders were not fully resolved until the attorney fees order was entered. As such, evidence of the parties’ financial resources when the attorney fees hearing occurred was not only relevant but was necessary for the court to determine whether wife was entitled to fees under CRS § 14-10-119. The court therefore erred by prohibiting evidence of the parties’ financial resources as of the date of the attorney fees hearing. The Court of Appeals reversed that part of the judgment pertaining to the attorney fees award, vacated the protective order finding that the parties are entitled to discover any relevant information on that issue, and remanded the case for the trial court to reconsider the issue based on the parties’ financial circumstances at the time of the hearing on remand.
Summary and full case available here.