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Counsel fee awards in matrimonial actions are purely discretionary. The authority for counsel fee awards is Domestic Relations Law §237 and 238. They provide that in certain matrimonial actions the court “may direct either spouse to pay counsel fees … to the attorney of the other spouse to enable the other party to carry on or defend the action or proceeding as, in the court’s discretion, justice requires, having regard to the circumstances of the case and of the respective parties. In exercising the court’s discretion, the court shall seek to assure that each party shall be adequately represented … .”

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