RIMA TRAKHTENBERG V JACOB TRAKHTENBERGAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
Oakland Circuit Court
LC No. 94-482811 DM
Before: Holbrook, Jr., P.J., and White and J.W. Fitzgerald*, JJ.
WHITE, J. (concurring in part and dissenting in part.)
I concur in the determinations to remand on the issues of property distribution, spousal support,
and attorney fees. I write separately, however, on the issue of attorney fees.
Plaintiff’s itemized statement of attorney fees and costs as of July 1, 1996, submitted post-trial
pursuant to the trial court’s request,1 totaled $33,016.88 ($28, 573.23 in fees and $4,443.65 in costs).
The trial court ordered that defendant pay $5,000 of plaintiff’s attorney fees and $4,252.65 to plaintiff’s
counsel for costs.2
Plaintiff established that an award of attorney fees was necessary to enable her to prosecute the
action, and that she was thus entitled to a necessary and reasonable award. Thames v Thames, 191
Mich App 299, 310; 477 NW2d 496 (1991); MCL 552.13(1); MSA 25.93; MCR 3.206(C).
Plaintiff did not speak the English language and was not able to obtain employment during the 2 ½ years
of marriage to defendant, and only apparently became able to w in the United States around
October 1996, given her immigration status. Plaintiff brought no assets with her from Israel, other than
approximately $500, which she spent soon after arriving. The record supports that defendant is able to
pay plaintiff’s attorney fees, and defendant does not argue otherwise in his appellate brief.
Plaintiff owes her attorney $23,573.23 in fees, net of the $5,000 the court ordered defendant to
pay. I would remand with instructions that the trial court determine the reasonableness of the attorney
fees requested4 and enter an appropriate award. Further, while the trial court should reevaluate the
* Former Supreme Court justice, sitting on the Court of Appeals by assignment.
attorney fee issue on remand in light of the asset determination on remand, the court should be mindful
that a party may not be required to invade his or her assets to satisfy attorney fees when she is relying
on the same assets for her support. Maake v Maake, 200 Mich App 184, 189; 503 NW2d 664
/s/ Helene N. White
At the conclusion of trial, the trial court requested that both counsel submit itemized statements of fees
The $191.00 discrepancy between the costs awarded and plaintiff’s counsel’s itemized statement of
costs is not explained. However, plaintiff’s counsel stated that the $4,252.65 figure was correct when
asked by the court at the reading of its opinion from the bench.
The trial court stated on October 1, 1996, when it read its opinion from the bench, that plaintiff was
“now” able to work. It was clear that at trial in late May 1996, plaintiff was unable to work because of
her immigration status.
The trial court commented that the case should not have involved the amount of attorney time it did.
However, the court did not address the reasonableness of plaintiff’s attorney fees in light of the attorney
activity necessitated by defendant’s actions.