Florida Family Law Cases

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In this Florida family law case database, Sampson Collaborative Law summarizes interesting Florida family law cases since 2011. Cases show courts’ reasoning in litigated Florida cases that:

  1. were appealed and resulted in a reported appellate opinion,
  2. may or may not be factually like yours, and
  3. if you litigated disputed issues, may or may not be binding in your case.

Every family, client, and case is unique!  You and your professionals have choices!!

Reported appellate decisions seldom detail:

  • the emotional and financial toll the affected families endured,
  • the risks the parties took,
  • differences in experience and effectiveness of the professionals on the case,
  • money and time families spent litigating that preempted things they love to do, and
  • more satisfying and lasting agreements they might have achieved out-of-court.

The Sampson Collaborative Law case summary tool enables keyword searching.  The tool links to case opinions in Google Scholar. Check if later cases or publications have cited the opinions. Please use this tool, not to fixate on legal positions, but to spark thinking about creative solutions for resolving issues.  This case tool may provide you with keywords that help you find more specific Florida case law that gives insight to your family or professionals who may represent you.

The collaborative process enables you, rather than a judge, to take responsibility for and control solutions.  When thinking about the collaborative process and other options for resolving issues, use this Florida family case law tool as a gut check. In the collaborative process, you often have more flexibility to achieve solutions a judge couldn’t order. As you explore solutions that may achieve the family’s goals and interests, is your thinking grounded in reasonable legal principles and fairness?

Proposed Florida Family Law Collaborative Forms 12.985(a) - (g), Case No. SC19-1032Supreme Court of FloridaJune 21, 2019Proposed Florida Collaborative Family Law Process Forms for Dissolution of MarriageSummary of Proposed Collaborative Forms

Proposed Florida Collaborative Law Process Forms 12.985(a)-(g)
Collaborative Practice
Hardy v. Hardy, Case No. 1D17-2771st DCASeptember 9, 2019Trial court properly used its discretion to freeze 100% of alcoholic arsonist’s employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) & trust, while awarding wife only 50%. Husband – out-of-work, alcoholic, repeat violator of domestic violence injunctions burned the marital home to the ground, was serving 20 years for arson, burglary, aggravated stalking.
Pending appeal, trial court could freeze the entire ESOP to protect former wife’s rights to meaningful financial relief, including making up for loss of the burned home.
HardyEquitable Distribution
Rios v. Rios, Case No. 3D18-8983d DCASetpember 11, 2019Husband, wanting cash to play the stock market, signed & delivered quitclaim deed to Miami Beach marital residence to wife, she’d paid him $80,000. A decade later, he sued for divorce & partition of the property.
Trial court correctly found property deal between H & W 10 years earlier was a clear, unambiguous, enforceable contract. FL law generally says cts should construe together 2 or more contracts the same parties sign at or near the same time as 1 contract.
H signed & delivered quitclaim to W; she pd $80 K evidenced by notarized, written agreement; after conveyance, W maintained property exclusively from her own earnings.
RiosPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Barrett v. Kapoor, Case No. 3D18-00943d DCAAugust 28, 2019Trustees properly distributed residuary trust estate in accordance with Trust. Widow died before late husband’s property was sold & before closing. Surviving wife’s entitlement to net proceeds from sale of late husband’s property was contingent on her being alive at the time of closing.Trusts & Estates
Janet Meliha Reno v. James Alan Hurchalla, Case No. 3D18-23253d DCAAugust 21, 2019Janet Reno’s niece appealed judgment modifying revocable trust Janet Reno created before death, which, upon death, became irrevocable.
Successor trustee & all living beneficiaries agreed to Trust modification to fulfill charitable intent: maintain the Reno Homestead in perpetuity & preserve its unique character & history – by replacing University of Miami with Miami Dade College.
“Cy pres” is French for “as near as may be,” Under the Florida Trust Code, §736.0413, Florida Statutes (1) If a particular charitable purpose becomes unlawful, impracticable, impossible to achieve, or wasteful, the court may apply the doctrine of cy pres to modify or terminate the trust by directing that the trust property be applied or distributed, in whole or in part, in a manner consistent with the settlor's charitable purposes. (2) A proceeding to modify or terminate a trust under this section may be commenced by a settlor, a trustee, or any qualified beneficiary.

Janet Reno wanted to give her homestead & surrounding undeveloped land to Univ of Miami, but it rejected the bequest after she died. The Reno estate still owned the Reno Homestead at her death. Her 2 brothers, including the suing niece’s dad, predeceased her.
Rights of the contingent beneficiaries (nieces & nephews) to a revocable trust, the settlor of which was living, were subject to her powers to retain the property or mortgage or sell it. One trust provision directed homestead be sold on brothers’ death, with proceeds to go to nieces & nephews, but a more specific provision devoted exclusively to the charitable gift of the unique, historically important homestead controlled when the Settlor died.
Ms. Reno died when the trust still owned the homestead & she couldn’t know the Univ of Miami would decline her charitable gift, so cy pres permitted modifying the trust.
Seventy years ago, the Florida Supreme Court explained cy pres: “Roughly speaking, it is the principle that equity will make specific a general charitable intent of a settlor, and will, when an original specific intent becomes impossible or impracticable of fulfillment, substitute another plan of administration which is believed to approach the original scheme as closely as possible.” Christian Herald Ass'n v. First Nat’l Bank of Tampa, 40 So. 2d 563, 568 (Fla. 1949) Ordinarily, the cy pres doctrine is applied “where the named beneficiary is a corporation or institution that has ceased to exist at the time of the testator's death.” SPCA Wildlife Care Ctr. v. Abraham, 75 So. 3d 1271, 1276 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011).
Janet Reno TrustTrusts & Estates
Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch, 174 So. 3d 983Supreme Court of FloridaSeptember 19, 2015Where a contract is clear and unambiguous, it must be enforced pursuant to its plain language. In such a situation, the language itself is the best evidence of the parties’ intent, and its plain meaning controls.HahamovitchPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Marini v. Kellett, Case Nos. 5D17-1726, 5D17-34795th DCAAugust 16, 2019Two parents who loved their son spent a great deal of time and money on litigation because they couldn’t agree on most aspects of each party’s relationship with their son.
Court-ordered timesharing required 5-year old boy to travel alone 3 of 4 weekends every month by plane between NC & FL.
The parties made the trial court’s already difficult job all the more so by their unwillingness to agree, failing to timely provide relevant evidence to the trial court, and failing to focus primarily on their child’s best interests.
Trial court abused its discretion in establishing unreasonable timesharing & travel schedule to require a young child to take 24-36 annual flights. "Such frequent flights with the predictable occasional delays are not in the best interest of the child. Additionally, both parents have testified that they cannot afford the expense of the airline tickets nor the time and income lost from work associated with the travel. We must conclude that no reasonable person would take the view adopted by the trial court."
Given that the travel expenses are necessary expenses incurred pursuant to court order & the parties both professed difficulty paying such exorbitant expenses, the court abused its discretion in failing to consider the expenses when calculating child support & in failing to consider the travel expenses when determining the parties’ income & ability to pay.
Marini v. KellettChild Support
Hubbard v. Berth, Case No. 5D18-5035th DCAAugust 16, 2019By tacking together duration of 1st & 2nd marriages, trial court incorrectly calculated marital portion of pension. Parties married & divorced each other twice, each time with marital settlement agreements.
Under 2d MSA, ex-wife was entitled to one-half ex-husband’s pension
Reconciliation or remarriage abrogates executory provisions of prior MSA unless parties explicitly state they intend otherwise. Cox v. Cox, 659 So. 2d 1051 (Fla. 1995).
In Hubbard, ex-Wife waived interest in pension during 1st marriage in 1st MSA.
Allowing the former wife to obtain pension benefits accrued during the first marriage—benefits she did not bargain for in the first or second marital settlement agreement—would rewrite both of the parties’ settlement agreements.
Hubbard v. BerthMarital Settlement Agreements
Wilson v. Wilson, Case No. 4D18-36914th DCAAugust 14, 2019In prenuptial agreement, couple waived elective share but reserved rights to make gifts by will or codicil. Husband’s later will created trust directing trustee to set aside “as much property as is necessary to satisfy the Wife’s elective share.” W files notice of election to take elective share, which trial court struck. Did husband’s creation of trust requesting setting aside property to satisfy the same elective share modify the wife’s waiver of elective share in prenuptial (premarital) agreement? Answer: No.
Prenup unambiguously expressed wife waived her elective share. Later trust could not modify prenup under its terms & §61.079(6) (Florida’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act). To modify prenup, the parties had to do so in writing that both parties’ signed. Where a contract is clear and unambiguous, it must be enforced pursuant to its plain language. In such a situation, the language itself is the best evidence of the parties’ intent, and its plain meaning controls.” Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch, 174 So. 3d 983, 986 (Fla. September 10, 2015). Decedent could’ve given wife a testamentary gift by will or codicil without relying on an elective share & the elective share statute.
WilsonPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
In re Marriage of Kirby, Case No. 4D18-13864th DCAAugust 14, 2019After wife died, before her estate was even opened or substituted as a party in dissolution of marriage, trial court erred by granting ex-husband’s motion for attorney fees, intending to bind the former wife’s estate and heirs. Upon a party’s death, if a claim isn’t thereby extinguished, abate the action until the estate or proper legal representative is substituted. See Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.260. KirbyAttorney Fees
Logue v. Book, Case No. 4D18-11124th DCAAugust 14, 2019What vulgar & distasteful social media conduct is NOT cyberstalking under Florida law?
The 2d, 3d, and 4th DCAs interpret cyberstalking, that is, “a course of conduct directed at a specific person,” to exempt social media messages from conduct covered by stalking statute (784.0485, Florida Statutes).
Horowitz v. Horowitz, 160 So. 3d 530, 531 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015) (reversing injunction because Facebook posts weren’t directed at a specific person); Chevaldina v. R.K./FL Mgmt., Inc., 133 So. 3d 1086, 1092 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014) (reversing injunction against cyberstalking for internet posts);
Chevaldina v. R.K./FL Mgmt., Inc., 133 So. 3d 1086 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014)
[a]ngry social media postings are now common. Jilted lovers, jilted tenants, and attention-seeking bloggers spew their anger into fiber-optic cables and cyberspace. But analytically, and legally, these rants are essentially the electronic successors of the pre-blog, solo complainant holding a poster on a public sidewalk in front of an auto dealer that proclaimed, “DON’T BUY HERE! ONLY LEMONS FROM THESE CROOKS!”; David v. Textor, 189 So. 3d 871, 874 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).
As the U.S. Supreme Court has stated: [O]ne of the costs of the First Amendment is that it protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace. Though few might find respondent’s statements anything but contemptible, his right to make those statements is protected by the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech and expression. U.S. v. Alvarez, 567 U.S. 709, 729–30 (2012).
Florida case law has mandated that threats via social media be directed to the individual—not by content, but by delivery—to fall within the purview of section 784.0485. See Textor, 189 So. 3d at 875.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression, even if distasteful and vulgar. Although the appellant’s position may be socially abhorrent, he has a First Amendment right to express his views. While we understand and appreciate the appellee’s fear, the First Amendment protects the appellant’s despicable speech and his right to make it.

Concurring opinion by Judge May:
Correct outcome, but concerned social media postings have led people to lash out and wreak havoc on children, families, friends, communities.
“Recently, a man was arrested for sending pipe bombs to a number of legislators allegedly as a result of social media encouragement. Indeed, international terrorists have been radicalized through social media. And, our elections have now fallen prey to manipulated social media.”
“Perhaps thought should be given to whether the law should provide some protection for those at which social media directs its attention, and others are motivated to act…”
Logue v. Book Domestic Violence
Orban v. Rorrer, Case No. 3D18-16183d DCAAugust 14, 2019Discussion contrasting civil contempt w criminal contempt. Ex-wife said ex-husband wilfully violated court orders to pay attorney fees. Improper civil sanction where court omitted purge provision.
Civil contempt proceedings involve a two-stage inquiry: first, the court must determine that the allegedly contemptuous respondent willfully violated the court’s order; and second, decide what remedy is appropriate. Perez v. Perez, 599 So. 2d 682, 683 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992).
Florida jurisprudence recognizes three kinds of sanctions: (1) criminal sanctions, (2) compensatory civil sanctions, and (3) coercive civil sanctions. Creative Choice Homes, II, Ltd. v. Keystone Guard Servs., Inc., 137 So. 3d 1144, 1146 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014).
“The key distinction between criminal and civil contempt is that criminal contempt is punitive in nature and imposes an unavoidable sanction, whereas civil contempt is remedial or incentive-based and allows the contemnor to purge the contempt and avoid or reduce the sanction by complying with court orders.” Id. (citing Parisi v. Broward Cty., 769 So. 2d 359, 365 (Fla. 2000)).
Coercive civil sanctions are imposed by courts to prompt—coerce—alleged contemnors to comply with court orders. See id. “[T]here is a broad arsenal of coercive civil contempt sanctions available to the trial court, including ‘incarceration, garnishment of wages, additional employment, the filing of reports, additional fines, the delivery of certain assets, the revocation of a driver’s license . . . .’” Parisi, 769 So. 2d at 365 (Fla. 2000) (quoting Gregory v. Rice, 727 So. 2d 251, 254 (Fla. 1999)).
Orban v. Rorrer Contempt
Allen v. Juul, Case No. 2D17-29652d DCAAugust 9, 2019No motion for rehearing was required where, in denying attorney fees, trial judge failed to make findings under 61.16(1), Florida Statutes re parties’ respective financial needs & abilities to pay.
Section 61.16(1) "expressly requires the court to make findings regarding the parties' respective financial needs and abilities to pay." Sumlar v. Sumlar, 827 So. 2d 1079, 1084 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002). The parties' financial resources are the primary factor that the trial court must consider; after all, "the purpose of section 61.16, Florida Statutes, is to ensure that both parties have comparable ability to retain competent counsel." Hanson v. Hanson, 217 So. 3d 1165, 1169 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017); see generally Phillips v. Phillips, 264 So. 3d 1129, 1132 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019) (explaining what evidence the requesting party must present to support an award of attorney's fees under section 61.16). "Even in those cases raising issues of inappropriate conduct, the trial court still must consider the parties' respective need for suit money and ability to pay." Sumlar, 827 So. 2d at 1085.
On remand, the trial court shall take into consideration and make specific detailed findings of fact regarding the parties' financial resources and any of the Rosen factors that are relevant to its determination.
Allen v. Juul Attorney Fees
Cruz v. Community Bank & Trust of Florida, Case No. 5D18-33105th DCAAugust 9, 2019Tracy & Gregory sued bank, as trustee, for mismanagement of Trust & to invalidate dad’s will & pour over trust. Tracy & Gregory claimed dad lacked testamentary capacity when he signed will. Trust directed most assets to to Hospice of Marion County & leukemia research.
Tracy & Gregory weren’t named beneficiaries of Trust. But they alleged they were “interested persons” under 736.201(23), Florida Statutes who had standing because they’d inherit their dad’s estate if his Will & Trust were invalidated.
Section 731.201(23), Florida Statutes (2016), defines “interested person” under the Trust Code as “any person who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of the particular proceeding involved.” The meaning of interested person, “as it relates to particular persons, may vary from time to time and must be determined according to the particular purpose of, and matter involved in, any proceedings.” Id. § 736.201(23). Thus, for Appellants to have standing as interested persons—those affected by the outcome of the breach of trust action—they must have some cognizable interest in the underlying trust property.
Cruz Trusts & Estates
Abdo v. Abdo, Case Nos. 2D18-2270, 2D18-27642d DCAAugust 7, 2019Siblings fight over ownership of 6 websites & income stream from them. Claim brother took sole control, then stiffed them on income.
Trial court imposed a constructive trust on websites, appointed trustee. Orders exceeded the purpose of a constructive trust because the trial court lacked jurisdiction over 2 defendants the orders seek to enjoin.
Website companies previously secured dismissal because of no personal jurisdiction.
Sibling sued brother on behalf of corporation & shareholder, claiming brother transferred websites & merchant accounts to ltd partnership or LLC w/o approval or compensation.
A constructive trust is a remedy, not an independent cause of action. A constructive trust, "ust be imposed based upon an established cause of action." Such as: breach of fiduciary duty.
A constructive trust serves two purposes: "to restore property to the rightful owner and to prevent unjust enrichment." Brown v. Poole, 261 So. 3d 708, 710 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018) (quoting Provence v. Palm Beach Taverns, Inc., 676 So. 2d 1022, 1025 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996)). It "is 'constructed' by equity to prevent an unjust enrichment of one person at the expense of another as the result of fraud, undue influence, abuse of confidence or mistake in the transaction that originates the problem." Wadlington v. Edwards, 92 So. 2d 629, 631 (Fla. 1957); see also Caryl A. Yzenbaarda, George Gleason Bogert & George Taylor Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees, § 471 (June 2018) ("The constructive trust may be defined as a device used by equity to compel one who unfairly holds a property interest to convey that interest to another to whom it justly belongs.").
"The very essence of the remedy of constructive trust is the identification of specific property or funds as the res upon which the trust may be attached." Collinson, 903 So. 2d at 229. It "may be imposed only where the trust res is 'specific and identifiable property,' or can be 'clearly traced in assets of the defendant.' " Frieri v. Capital Inv. Servs., Inc., 194 So. 3d 451, 455 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016) (quoting Bank of Am. v. Bank of Salem, 48 So. 3d 155, 158 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010)). "The remedy is 'an extraordinary one,' subject to the discretion of the court and traditional equitable defenses." Joseph v. Chanin, 940 So. 2d 483, 487 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006) (quoting Collinson, 903 So. 2d at 228).
Abdo Trusts & Estates - Constructive Trusts
M/I Schottenstein Homes, Inc. v. Azam, 813 So. 2d 91Supreme Court of FloridaMarch 7, 2002 Knowledge of clearly revealed information from recorded documents contained in the records constituting a parcel’s chain of title is properly imputed to a purchasing party, based upon the fact that an examination of these documents prior to a transfer of the real property is entirely expected.”M/I Schottenstein Homes, Inc. v. Azam Property
Norman v. Jaimes, Case No. 4D19-834th DCAJuly 31, 2019Buyer of home property was on constructive notice of recorded county code enforcement lien for unauthorized structure (trailers). Trial judge improperly rewrote parties’ contract by allowing buyer to pay a small portion of purchase price, netting balance due on county lien.
Buyer shouldn’t have stopped monthly payments towards purchase price for property. Error for court to find seller’s present inability to satisfy code enforcement lien constituted anticipatory breach.
Until the buyer made the payments set forth in the contract to buy the property, under the contract’s plain language, seller had no obligation to delivery clear title to buyer. Regardless of whether seller informed buyer of the lien’s existence, the lien was recorded before the parties entered into contract. Buyer presented no evidence the seller made any misrepresentation regarding whether a lien existed or not. Buyer had constructive notice of lien. M/I Schottenstein Homes, Inc. v. Azam, 813 So. 2d 91 (Fla. 2002) (“Knowledge of clearly revealed information from recorded documents contained in the records constituting a parcel’s chain of title is properly imputed to a purchasing party, based upon the fact that an examination of these documents prior to a transfer of the real property is entirely expected.”) https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=2102352380347978716&q=813+So.+2d+91+&hl=en&as_sdt=4,10
Circuit court, motivated to “do equity between the parties,” went too far when it used its declaratory relief powers to modify parties’ contract to a contract of the court’s own creation.
Norman v. Jaimes Property
Postma v. Baker, Case No. 4D18-32324th DCAJuly 31, 2019A party who has a contractual right to exercise discretion must exercise it reasonably & with proper motive, not arbitrarily, capriciously, or inconsistently w/ parties’ reasonable expectations.
Buyers alleged sellers lied when they said motorcoach had never been wrecked. Inspection clause in settlement agreement: Buyer’s exercised right to inspect & determine if motorcoach was to his satisfaction.
Postma sold to Baker motorcoach w/ 76,000 miles. At mediation, Postma learned Bakers had driven it 40,000 more miles since they bought it. Postma agreed to buy it back, subject to his right to inspect it. At inspection, Postma found issues and didn’t complete repurchase. Trial court granted Bakers’ motion to enforce settlement agreement.
Reversing, 4th DCA agrees the clear & unambiguous inspection clause in the confidential mediated settlement agreement was a condition precedent to enforcing it & requiring Postma to buy back motorcoach. Trial court erred in finding inspection right was limited to confirming Bakers accurately described motorcoach’s condition at mediation.
Postma v. Baker Marital Settlement Agreements
Lattanzio v. Hoffmann, Case No. 3D18-934 3d DCAJuly 31, 2019Reversing severest sanction of striking husband’s pleadings when husband didn’t show up for hearing on order to show cause why he shouldn’t be held in contempt. But order wasn’t sent to him. It went to his former attorney, who’d withdrawn.Lattanzio Contempt
Beth Hicks, LCSW v. State of Florida & Robert Steven Price, Case No. 1D18-45271st DCAJuly 23, 2019Why would a child victim of sexual abuse be open, honest or even willing to seek necessary treatment if he or she believes that others, including the perpetrator of the sexual abuse would have unlimited access to those mental health care records?
Dad, accused of sexually assaulting daughter, sought LCSW’s privileged notes of communications in therapy with children. Judge ordered in-camera inspection. Granting certiorari, appeals ct finds order departs from essential requirements of law & causes material injury to LCSW or her patients throughout remainder of proceedings, for which no adequate remedy is available on appeal.
Absent clear, unequivocal waiver of psychotherapist-patient privilege, compelled disclosure of confidential therapy notes for 3 minor children is a fishing expedition against which courts have strongly cautioned.” See also J.B. v. State, 250 So. 3d 829, 833 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018).
Privilege exists to encourage patients to seek counseling & treatment for psychological harm.
Limited litigation activities failed to establish clearly a waiver of 3 minor children’s (all under age 12) psychotherapist-patient privilege w/ Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Christy Dale Springer v. Nicole Ann Springer, Case No. 2D18-2265 2d DCAJuly 19, 2019Same sex former partners. Christy (non bio mom) paid for intraeuterine insemination of Nicole (bio mom). Non bio mom had no biological connection to child, born July 2014. Child was 4 years old when former partner sued to enforce pre-birth coparenting agreement, a form for which Christy pulled from the internet. Agreement referred to child to be born as “our child” expressed the intention for the parties to "jointly and equally" share parental responsibility. But the agreement recognized that under the law their power to contract regarding the child was limited. The agreement also stated "that the law will recognize [the Biological Mother] as the only mother of the child."
Former Partner sought to be recognized as a legal parent of the child and to be awarded parental responsibility & timesharing. However, a coparenting agreement between a biological parent and a nonparent is not enforceable under Florida Law.
See Wakeman v. Dixon, 921 So. 2d 669, 671-73 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006) (determining that a coparenting agreement between a same-sex couple was unenforceable under Florida law where a former partner sought a declaration of parental rights); D.M.T. v. T.M.H., 129 So. 3d 320, 346 (Fla. 2013) (involving a partner who was the egg donor seeking parental rights and distinguishing Wakeman because the partner there who claimed parental rights was not a biological mother; recognizing that cases involving nonparents did not apply to biological parents); Russell v. Pasik, 178 So. 3d 55, 59-60 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015) (relying upon Wakeman in determining that the time-sharing provisions of section 61.13 apply to parents, not nonparents, and determining that a "de facto" parent in a same-sex relationship had no standing to seek time-sharing); De Los Milagros Castellat v. Pereira, 225 So. 3d 368, 372 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) (Logue, J., concurring) ("In D.M.T., the Florida Supreme Court expressly approved Wakeman's holding that the lesbian partner who was the birth mother had parental rights protected by the constitution that prevailed over the claims of a partner who was neither the biological nor legal mother, even though the couple clearly intended to raise the children together." (citing D.M.T., 129 So. 3d at 346)).
"We commend the trial court for its thorough analysis and acknowledge its concerns that 'the law is slow to address' changes in this area 'as society and medicine create new factual situations,' echoing Judge Van Nortwick's special concurrence in Wakeman. See Wakeman, 921 So. 2d at 674-76 (Van Nortwick, J., specially concurring). Despite his observations, Judge Van Nortwick recognized that Florida law does not provide a remedy to a partner who has no biological connection to a child. See id. at 674. Based on the applicable law, we affirm the trial court's order."
SpringerTimesharing & Parental Rights - LGBTQ Issues
Wakeman v. Dixon, 921 So. 2d 6691st DCAJanuary 24, 2006A coparenting agreement between a same-sex couple was unenforceable under Florida law where a former partner sought a declaration of parental rights.WakemanTimesharing & Parental Rights - LGBTQ Issues
D.M.T. v. T.M.H., 129 So. 3d 320Supreme Court of FloridaNovember 7, 2013Same sex partner who was the egg donor sought parental rights.
Two women, D.M.T. and T.M.H., in a long-term committed relationship, agreed to conceive jointly and raise a child together, as equal parental partners. Their child was conceived through assisted reproductive technology, with T.M.H. providing the egg and D.M.T. giving birth to the child. After the child was born, the couple gave her a hyphenation of their last names. Both T.M.H. and D.M.T. participated in raising their child until their relationship broke down. D.M.T. absconded to Australia with the child. T.M.H. sought to establish her parental rights to the child and to reassume parental responsibilities. D.M.T. sought to prevent T.M.H. from doing either. D.M.T. asserted she alone should have the fundamental right to be the parent of the child.
Cases involving nonparents did not apply to biological parents. TMH provided the egg, so had a biological connection to the child.
"We conclude that the State would be hard pressed to find a reason why a child would not be better off having two loving parents in her life, regardless of whether those parents are of the same sex, than she would by having only one parent."
DMTTimesharing & Parental Rights - LGBTQ Issues
Russell v. Pasik, 178 So. 3d 552d DCAOctober 14, 2015Relying on Wakeman v. Dixon, , 921 So. 2d 669, 671-73 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006), court holds timesharing provisions of section 61.13 apply to parents, not to nonparents, and determining that a "de facto" parent in a same-sex relationship had no standing to seek timesharing.Russell v. PasikTimesharing & Parental Rights - LGBTQ Issues
De Los Milagros Castellat v. Pereira, 225 So. 3d 3683d DCAAugust 16, 2017Logue, J., concurring: "In D.M.T., the Florida Supreme Court expressly approved Wakeman's holding that the lesbian partner who was the birth mother had parental rights protected by the constitution that prevailed over the claims of a partner who was neither the biological nor legal mother, even though the couple clearly intended to raise the children together." (citing D.M.T., 129 So. 3d at 346)De Los Milagros v. Pereira Timesharing & Parental Rights - LGBTQ Issues
Fla. Dep't of Children & Families v. Adoption of X.X.G., 45 So.3d 793d DCASeptember 22, 2010Florida law prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting is unconstitutional.DCF v. XXGAdoption - LGBTQ Issues
Miller v. Miller, Case No. 1D19-8431st DCAJuly 16, 2019Reverses temporary order granting dad’s petition to relocate with children. Court must consider factors in 61.13(3) & 61.13001(7), Florida Statutes. But here, trial court determined every statutory factor (there are ~30 factors) was “neutral.” Because it’s unclear how statutory factors may change, prospective-based analysis of a child’s best interest is unsound. Arthur v. Arthur, 54 So. 3d 454, 459 (Fla. 2010). Trial court’s conclusions of blanket neutrality re statutory factors, without saying how it got to those conclusions wasn’t supported by competent substantial evidence.
Trial court granted temporary relocation despite uncertainty of the dad’s chief exam status. That led to the trial court’s unsound, prospective-based analysis.
Miller Timesharing - Relocation
Szurant v. Aaronson, Case No. 2D18-20922d DCAJuly 17, 2019Order granting charging lien for attorney fees & costs in #divorce case was overly broad, because it extended beyond the proceeds divorce attorney recovered through his efforts. Charging Lien judgment states lawyer was entitled to the equitable distribution of funds Wife got from the divorce and “all of her money and/or personal property in her possession.”Szurant v. AaronsonAttorney Fees
Dunn v. Dunn, Case No. 5D18-1115th DCAJuly 12, 201985% cut in permanent alimony reversed. Former Wife a homemaker & primary caregiver for 4 children. Ophthalmologist Former Husband files in 1999 for divorce. He netted $46,000/month. She gets $1.3 million assets + $12,000/month alimony. In 2014, when kids are adults, he sues to cut her alimony. 3 years later, trial.
By trial, Former Husband grossed $101,000/month before alimony & taxes. In marriage, parties owned 2 airplanes, 2 fly-in homes, took trips to vacation homes.
Former Wife’s dad lived with her 3 year before he died. He reimbursed her for his care expenses.
She paid dad’s $700/month expenses from account titled in her name, but containing dad’s VA benefits he left to her. She omitted account on her financial affidavit because she didn’t consider it her money.
Parties’ adult son who had mental health issues, lived with her since 2014. She also gave $ to parties’ children, including for college expenses.
FH questioned FW about her travel for family visits & events during pendency of modification petition, all in US, all of which she paid.
Ophthalmologist ex-husband grossing over $100,000/month disputed ex-wife’s inability to work. She’d undergone back surgery. hadn’t worked outside the home during entire marriage. But he pointed to her caring for her dad as proof she could earn a living caring for the elderly. Trial court didn’t impute income to her.
Doctor used forensic expert @Adam_Magill, who examined ex-wife's financial records from 2 years before trial. He opined she didn’t need alimony to cover her expenses, because she wouldn’t have to invade $950,000 principal investment. Her experts opined differently. Volusia County trial court accepted @Adam_Magill's testimony.
Trial judge cut alimony from $12,000/month to $1,819/month, retroactive to date FH filed modification petition, & ordered her to repay him $400,000 (38 months of litigation). Reversing, appeals court disagreed FW’s financial growth was “phenomenal” and unanticipated.
trial court in alimony modification case mistakenly looked at it entirely from FW’s current standard of living, rather than from the standard of living the parties enjoyed during their marriage. “The purpose of permanent periodic alimony is to provide for the needs and necessities of life for a former spouse as they were established during the marriage of the parties.” Mallard v. Mallard, 771 So. 2d 1138, 1140 (Fla. 2000) (citing Canakaris v. Canakaris, 382 So. 2d 1197, 1201 (Fla. 1980).
Trial court shouldn’t have punished ex-wife for living more modestly since the parties’ divorce. She lives in a less expensive home, doesn’t own a plane, spends less. She shouldn’t be penalized for trying to ensure her financial future by limiting her expenditures.
Cutting alimony by 85% dramatically altered FW’s marital standard of living.
The court accepted expert Adam Magill’s figures without considering the impact of the retroactive payment ($400,000) on the investment account. Her monthly investment income will drop after repaying Former Husband. Trial court should have recalculated her need based on her monthly investment income following repayment, considered tax implications of ruling, & considered mode of repayment.
Remand for further proceedings.
Bob Mazur v. Francisco Javier Ospina Baraya, Case Nos. 2D18-4268 and 2D18-42692d DCAJuly 10, 2019Baraya sued alleging book & movie defendants falsely portrayed him as money launderer & integral member of Pablo Escobar’s criminal operations in The Infiltrator.
Although books and movies may address topics of public interest, they are not part of the traditional news media or press, and therefore the Petitioners/Defendants in this case are not "media defendants" for § 770.01, Florida Statutes.
Book & movie defendants are non-media defendants for purposes of §770.01, & not entitled to presuit 5-day notice before suing for libel or slander. It applies to “newspaper, periodical, or other medium” – not books or movies.
Florida courts interpret “other medium” in the statute protecting free press to be limited to news media who publish statements by an “other medium.”
Especially as technology develops and society's media consumption changes, becoming increasingly geared toward instantaneous access, the line between traditional news media and other forms of media may become blurred. Many people get their news via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Reddit.2 Podcasts have boomed in popularity, and many cover current events.3 Shows and movies— many of which are documentaries, docuseries, or based on true stories—can be streamed on services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.4 These technological developments may also make it easier to issue corrections and retractions that actually reach the intended audience. Apps can send push notifications with corrections or retractions straight to users' smart phones.5 Corrections and retractions can be posted to and shared widely on social media.6
It's for the Florida Legislature to decide if the presuit notice statute should have wider reach in light of technological developments.
Ziegler v. Natera, Case No. 3D19-863d DCAJuly 10, 2019Affirms invalidating premarital (prenuptial) agreement fianceé signed on wedding eve in Venezuela. She was 4 months pregnant with their 2d child. Perfunctory financial disclosures. Prenup didn’t provide for equitable distribution or alimony.
He let fianceé glance at draft, and promised financial disclosures he didn't make.
Day before wedding, he threatens to cancel ceremony if she didn’t sign; told her not getting marriage certificate would thwart their imminent plan to emigrate to US. So she signed.

Choice of law where agreement didn’t provide otherwise was, lex loci contractus (the place they signed it, Venezuela). Venezuelan law governs execution, interpretation, validity. But both parties urged Florida law should apply; trial court ratified their tacit stipulation.
Court discusses prenups and duress.
“[I]t is black letter law that the parties to an antenuptial agreement do not deal at arm[’]s length with each other.” Lutgert v. Lutgert, 338 So. 2d 1111, 1115 (Fla. 2d DCA 1976). Rather, “[t]heir relationship is one of mutual trust and confidence.” Id. As such, “the parties must exercise the highest degree of good faith, candor[,] and sincerity in all matters bearing on the terms and execution of the proposed agreement, with [f]airness being the ultimate measure.” Id. Florida's Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, Section 61.079(7)(a), Florida Statutes (2019) provides:
“A premarital agreement is not enforceable in an action proceeding under the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves that . . . [t]he agreement was the product of fraud, duress, coercion, or overreaching.” Duress means “a condition of mind produced by an improper external pressure or influence that practically destroys the free agency of a party and causes him [or her] to do and act or make a contract not of his own volition.” Herald v. Hardin, 95 Fla. 889, 891, 116 So. 863, 864 (1928) To prove duress, “[i]t must be shown (a) that the act sought to be set aside was effected involuntarily and thus not as an exercise of free choice or will and (b) that this condition of mind was caused by some improper and coercive conduct of the opposite side.” City of Miami v. Kory, 394 So. 2d 494, 497 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981). Thus, duress involves a “dual concept of external pressure and internal surrender or loss of volition in response to outside compulsion.” Id. (quoting 17 C.J.S. Contracts § 168 (1963)). “It is not . . . duress for the proponent of the agreement to make it clear that there will be no marriage in the absence of the agreement.” Eager v. Eager, 696 So. 2d 1235, 1236 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997). Nonetheless, a party may not exploit another “for his [or her] own pecuniary advantage.” Berger v. Berger, 466 So. 2d 1149, 1151 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985) (citing Paris v. Paris, 412 So. 2d 952 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982)).

Wife's testimony established husband initially presented his pregnant fianceé with the disputed document six days before the wedding. At that time, she requested he produce evidence re his holdings & net worth. He assured her such evidence would be forthcoming. In lieu of honoring his pledge, the day before the wedding, he demanded execution, with the ultimatum of “[n]o agreement, no wedding.” Lutgert, 338 So. 2d at 1116. He threatened life-altering consequences, by imperiling their shared, long-term plan to begin life anew with their children in the United States.
Held: these circumstances, unrebutted by husband, supported finding duress. See Hjortaas v. McCabe, 656 So. 2d 168, 170 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995) (“First, the timing of the signing of the document indicates that [the wife’s] signature was the product of duress. Two days before the wedding [the wife] was presented with a document, the actual terms of which were previously unknown to her and which contained no information about [the husband’s] finances. She had only one day to seek counsel from her own attorney, to make an independent evaluation of the contract, or to cancel her wedding. The only rational conclusion is that her signature was the product of unwarranted compulsion, and the document should have been set aside on that basis.”)
Ziegler v. NateraPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Flinn v. Doty, Case No. 4D18-12734th DCAJuly 10, 2019In earlier case, Flinn v. Doty , 214 So. 3d 683 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017) – Ct allowed foreclosing equitable lien on homestead for moneys paid to satisfy mortgage on property.
Because amended judgment converted equitable lien to a money judgment, because original judgment was reversed, but the property owner failed to get a stay of the original judgment, the property on which the equitable lien was imposed was sold by judicial sale. Remedy now: pursue deficiency decree.
Incapacitated dad. 1 daughter is guardian. She sought (& got) an equitable lien on sister’s homestead for $$$ sis rec’d by selling properties dad deeded to her when he was incapacitated. Sis used funds to pay off home mortgage.
But add’l funds not used to satisfy home mortgage couldn’t be included in foreclosure of equitable lien on home.
Election of remedies discussed. PR elected remedy of foreclosing equitable lien on home, to satisfy both equitable liens. PR now has to pursue deficiency decree under the remedy he elected, not also entitled to a money judgment for the entire amount not subject to the foreclosure.
Flinn v. DotyHomestead
Lapciuc v. Lapciuc, Case No. 3D18-18043d DCAJuly 3, 2019Ex-wife & her limited liability company appeal order granting emergency motion to enforce settlement agreement filed by ex-husband’s & company he & ex-wife owned 85%-15%.
Under 2013 marital settlement agreement, he agreed to pay her $4 million for buy out, then, after he paid that, she’d get a reissued 15% & 10-year employment contract at $200,000/year. Under the MSA, he signed all rights in the LLC to her, leaving her as sole member.
Former husband bought new business and pledged assets in the family company, and cross-collateralized them with assets of the acquired company, to get financing for its acquisition.
Ex-wife objected and filed a shareholder derivative action against ex-husband and the family company. The parties settled the derivative action by 2017 settlement agreement.
Then, he negotiated increases in the LLC's and corporation’s portfolios. To finance increased demand for inventory, he applied to increase an asset-based line of credit. Ex-wife objected, asserting she had the right to okay or object to the new LOC. She also claimed the loan wasn’t "commercially reasonable" as contemplated by the 2017 Settlement Agreement.
Mercantile Bank wouldn’t close the loan until the parties resolved the dispute.
Ex-husband sued to enforce the 2017 agreement (the one settling the derivative action).
Held: The trial court should not have decided the merits of the ex-husband’s motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement without evidence to evaluate the commercial reasonableness of the increased line of credit.
LapciucMarital Settlement Agreements
Singer v. Singer, Case No. 4D18-11702d DCAJuly 3, 2019Parties divorced in 1990. From 1995 – 2019, in the appeals court alone, they generated 25 proceedings & 6 reported opinions!
In Broward County, from 1989-2019 -- over 30 years of litigation -- there are 2855 docket entries in the family law case.
In 2009, trial ct found ex-wife’s violation of cohabitation clause in marital settlement agreement meant she should’ve received no alimony after November 30, 1991. In 2015, court entered final judgment for FH for $285,000 for overpaid alimony plus found ex-wife owed him fees under 57.105, Florida Statutes.
The Singers spent 30 years litigating at the trial level and appeals. Money spent on fees? Time spent absorbed in the lawsuits & appeals? Court resources diverted?
Purposes of Florida's Dissolution of Marriage, Support, and Time-Sharing StatuteFlorida Statutes, 61.001July 1, 1971For nearly 5 decades, since July 1, 1971, the purposes of Florida's Dissolution of Marriage Statute, Chapter 61, Florida Statutes, have been: (a) To preserve the integrity of marriage and to safeguard meaningful family relationships; (b) To promote the amicable settlement of disputes that have arisen between parties to a marriage; (c) To mitigate the potential harm to the spouses and their children caused by the process of legal dissolution of marriage.
Which path for resolving issues best achieves these goals for your family? #collaborative #mediation or #litigation?
Purposes of Florida Dissolution of Marriage, Support, and Time-Sharing StatuteCollaborative Practice
Engle v. Engle, Case No. 2D17-620 2d DCAJuly 3, 2019No motion for rehearing is required for family law to preserve a challenge to a trial judge’s ruling for lack of required statutory fact findings.
- Second District breaks First, Third & Fifth Districts – which still require motion for rehearing to preserve argument for reversal because trial court’s ruling lacked sufficient statutory findings.
2d DCA traces the "culprit" causing the incorrect conclusion that a motion for rehearing is required to preserve argument on appeal that trial ct failed to make required statutory findings is the lead case of Ascontec Consulting, Inc. v. Young, 714 So. 2d 585, 587 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998), followed in Broadfoot v. Broadfoot, 791 So. 2d 584 (Fla 3d DCA 2001). See also
Mathieu v. Mathieu 877 So. 2d 740 (Fla 5th DCA 2004) and Owens v. Owens, 973 So. 2d 1169 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007).
The trial judge should know what findings are statutorily required in a final judgment of dissolution. Remand to the trial court to make the required findings is appropriate.
A stated purpose of Florida’s divorce statute is “To mitigate the potential harm to the spouses and their children caused by the process of legal dissolution of marriage.” 61.001(2)(c), Florida Statutes.
EngleFamily Law Procedure
Covey v. Shaffer, Case No. 2D18-30842d DCAJuly 3, 2019Reverses trial court’s granting without a hearing Linda’s Shaffer’s petition to appoint emergency temporary guardian for Beulah Covey.
Beulah’s partner of 36 years, Linda alleged Beulah suffered from Alzheimer’s. Beulah’s niece took her to Michigan, cut off aunt Beulah’s communication w/ partner, and revoked her partner’s power of attorney.
Judge issues order w/o notice to Beulah, appointing Linda as Beulah’s emergency temporary guardian, & appoints attorney to represent Beulah. Beulah & niece come to FL, challenge temporary guardian appointment. During appeal, trial court determined Beulah was incapacitated & appointed partner, Linda, as permanent guardian of Beulah’s person & a professional guardian of Beulah’s property.
Reversing, appeals court holds Section 744.3031, Florida Statute, & FL Probate Rule 5.648 require a hearing prior to appointment of an emergency temporary guardian. A hearing is not optional.
CoveyTrusts & Estates
Gudur v. Gudur, Case No. 2D16-31272d DCAJune 28, 2019Court reverses equitable distribution. trial court must reconsider distribution of former wife’s interest in medical building & former husband’s student loans incurred during the marriage. Wife filed for divorce 2012 after 14 years marriage. In marriage, parties moved to Brooklyn from Houston, TX, she completes residency, they move to FL.
Former Wife grossed 31,600 per month as internist. FH gets MBA & law degree, . resigns as Naples public defender, then enrolls in Ph.D. program to become professor, but was axed from it. He stays unemployed when trial concluded in 2015 – 3 years after the divorce petition was filed!
Trial court imputes income to FH after vocational expert testifies at trial. Also had a valuation expert testify about value of FW’s minority interest in Naples Medical & Professional Center. Uses discount for lack of control & lack of marketability.
Trial court abused its discretion by not requiring Former Wife to pay Former Husband his share of the asset at any specific time. Any post-dissolution gain or loss in the value of the doctor’s business is not marital.
Trial court’s plan improperly allowed FW to benefit from postdissolution gain in the value of her business interest, but required FH to share in postdissolution loss.
Student Loans taken out during the marriage are a marital liability. But FH consolidated premarital & marital student loans. Court’s attaching FH’s demonstrative exhibit wasn’t competent substantial evidence supporting finding of value of the marital student loans. That 1 party will receive no benefit from the other’s education because of the divorce can’t be considered when allocating a marital debt for student loans.
If on remand, trial court can come to a valuation for marital portion of FH’s student loan debt based on competent substantial evidence of record, it should reconsider allocation of the marital student loan debt with appropriate findings supporting the distribution.
To enable trial court to allocate a marital component of student loans, FH is required to meet his burden of proof of the valuation of the marital student loans. But, if there isn’t competent substantial evidence in the trial record to enable to the trial court to do that, it appears FH will be stuck with the entire student loan liability as his nonmarital liability
GudurEquitable Distribution
Will v. Will, Case No. 2D18-5392d DCAJune 28, 2019In calculating the appropriate amount of alimony, a trial court must consider the payor’s living expenses when determining his or her ability to pay.
In developing & considering financial options, divorcing parties in #collaborativepractice may use one neutral financial professional to calculate & work with each party’s anticipated reasonable living expenses.
Kvinta v. Kvinta, Case No. 5D17-1348 5th DCAJune 28, 2019Ohio couple divorced in 1979, lived together in the 80s, became common law spouses in Kansas. They finally separated in 1995. OH grants legal separation & awards Former Wife marital OH home in 2003 ruling. FW files in 2004 for divorce in OH, naming ex-husband & his current wife. OH grants divorce in 2008. FW got $350,000 ex-husband fraudulently transferred to current wife.
OH lacked jurisdiction to divide pension or retirement accounts, so enters partial property division judgment in 2008. Former Wife asks FL court in 2009 to determine & distribute marital assets & award her alimony. Trial takes place 7 years later.
On retirement, Former Husband elected “survivor annuity” option benefiting his current wife, but, the trial court correclty found, unfairly shortchanging his ex-wife. Court awards former wife lump sum ½ of pension benefits paid to ex-husband since he retired, plus interest, payable monthly, equal to half of the “life only” amount had he not elected survivor annuity option. Trial court failed to consider taxes ex-husband would have to pay on pension payments. Trial court must consider income tax consequences on distribution of marital assets & alimony.
Competing financial experts attempted valuing as of January 10, 1995 (valuation date trial court thought was equitable) former husband’s ownership in marital business obtained in 1991, sold in 2006 for $2.3 million.
Valuation expert for Former Husband testified the only viable way to value business interest 11 years before he sold it was using a “coverture fraction” method: fraction equals # months assets were marital divided by total months of ownership. Then multiply by 2006 sales price, divide in half & consider taxes on sale to get former wife’s share.
For calculating coverture fractions and marital components of nonmarital accounts in #collaborative #divorce cases, see free calculator at: https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/premarital_accounts_calc

KvintaEquitable Distribution
In re: Amendments to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-7.14 Case No. SC18-2019Supreme Court of FloridaJune 27, 2019Under Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-7.14, a lawyer may claim specialization or expertise in an area of practice, even if not board certified, if the lawyer can objectively verify the claim based on “education, training, experience, or substantial involvement in the area of practice….”
If a lawyer practices only in certain fields, or will not accept matters except in those fields, the lawyer is permitted to indicate that. A lawyer also may indicate that the lawyer concentrates in, focuses on, or limits the lawyer’s practice to particular areas of practice as long as the statements are true.
Rule 4-7.14Family Law Procedure
Martin v. Martin, Case No. 1D18-2546 1st DCAJune 20, 2019CASE OF FIRST IMPRESSION - the trial court correctly found a portion of pension attributable to Former Husband’s premarital military service was marital. Those years of service had no retirement value until he “purchased” them with marital funds during the marriage so they’d “count” towards his civil service pension. Had ex-husband not purchased his 8+ years of military service, to apply them towards his civil service retirement, they’d have had no value for retirement. Enhanced value (zero value became worth something once Husband bought years with marital funds) was marital value. He’d have had to serve in military for 20 years to receive military retirement benefits.
Florida court draws from other jurisdictions: Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Oregon. NY & California reached the opposite result: years of premarital employment purchased during marriage were nonmarital property.
Florida’s 2d, 3d, 4th Districts have held burden is on pensioner to prove if pension benefits accrued prior to marriage should not be included as a marital asset. The option & decision to purchase the prior service arose out of former husband’s 2d tenure w/ civil service, which occurred entirely during the marriage.
First District holds, where marital funds are used to purchase nonvested premarital years of service, Florida law presumes the acquired years is a marital asset, subject to #equitabledistribution.
How might the parties have handled the issue in a premarital agreement or postnuptial agreement?
Martin Equitable Distribution
Hollis v. Hollis, Case No. 2D18-22932d DCAJune 19, 2019Mom & Dad had strained relationship, challenges communicating, but each had been complying w/ existing timesharing arrangement. Dad moved 47 miles away. Dad testified the new distance 47 miles away didn’t impact the children’s routine or compliance with timesharing schedule. Parents’ acrimony & problems communicating were insufficient to modify #custody & award dad majority #timesharing of 3 kidsHollis Parenting Plans
Thomas v. Cromer, Case No. 3D18-140 3d DCAJune 12, 2019Amended paternity judgment adopting mom’s proposed parenting plan restricted dad’s access to child without due process.Thomas Parenting Plans
Accardi v. Accardi, Case No. 4D18-16694th DCAJune 12, 2019Trial court properly found Former husband in contempt for failing to pay $2.7 million outstanding alimony the Marital Settlement Agreement required. Parties’ son testified in deposition, for ownership in dad’s auto dealerships, son agreed to support dad for the rest of his life. Son was providing dad $20,000 a month.
Trial judge erred by ordering writ of arrest & bodily attachment would issue if FH fails to pay $100,000 purge amount or “any of the monthly payments” for outstanding & continuing alimony obligations.
Error to order incarceration based on future noncompliance to pay alimony. Civil contempt orders may not provide for incarceration based on future, anticipated noncompliance with a court’s periodic support order.
Tritschler v. Tritschler, Case No. 2D18-761 2d DCA June 7, 2019If divorcing couple hasn't agreed by valid separation agreement to a date for identifying marital assets & liabilities, ct must use date of filing petition. But trial court may choose valuation date for assets IF date is justified & supported by findings that establish the chosen date is equitable. Trial court failed to identify valuation date for marital assets; W's accountant used different dates for assets. Court used multiple valuation dates w/o explaining why dates were proper & equitable.
For calculating coverture fractions and marital components of nonmarital accounts in #collaborative #divorce cases, see free calculator at https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/premarital_accounts_calc
TritschlerEquitable Distribution
Holder v. Lopez, Case No. 1D18-1870 1st DCA June 7, 201965-year old retired tractor-trailer driver petitioned to lower or end alimony. Marital settlement agreement & final judgment were silent about what would happen on either spouse's retirement. Trial court imputed nonexistent expenses to FW in determining continued need for alimony. She was living w/ her kids to spend time with grandkids & had a bungalow at her son's house. Trial court erred by finding FH voluntarily underemployed after retirement & imputing income to him. FH testified he retired 5 years past age most truckers do. After 36 years' military service + 21 years' driving truck, he had physical limitations-back hurt, fatigue, fibromyalgia. Reasonable retirement on these facts, so court shouldn't have found voluntary underemployment and imputed income. HolderAlimony
Rokosz v. Haccoun, Case No. 3D18-2459 3d DCAJune 5, 2019Trial court should have granted motion to discharge lis pendens on homestead property. Divorcing spouses signed partial marital settlement agreement. FW argued FH violated status quo order by signing a 1031 exchange agreement with his dad. Under the agreement, FH swapped his NYC condo for a condo in Pompano Beach he claimed was his protected homestead + 159 Duval County parcels. FW got lis pendens on all FH properties he rec'd in swap. In partial marital settlement agreement, FH agreed a lis pendens would remain on Hialeah condo. After FH's property swap w/ dad, FW wanted lis pendens on other properties to block FH from getting rid of or encumbering assets before trial judge could determine FW's entitlement to attorney fees. But court denied FH due process. It didn't give him a chance to present evidence the Pompano Beach condo on which FW got lis pendens was his exempt homestead property. RokoszHomestead
Schot v. Schot, Case No. 4D18-16074th DCA May 29, 2019Parents inability to agree on healthcare & education decisions for kids supported award of ultimate say-so to dad on these issues. Pediatrician diagnosed 6-month child with"failure to thrive" due to a failure to gain weight. Mom didn't advise dad until nearly 3 weeks later. Mom didn't advise dad of doctor's feeding instructions; instead told him not to feed child at night, then told doctor that dad failed to feed the children. Mom then blamed dad for child's failure to gain weight. Mom took kids to doctors 91 times in 12-months, including for weight checks right before & right after weekends with dad. Dad testifies mom overfed baby before exchanges (which judge called a "circus" & "macabre environment"), & gave daughter laxatives; baby would have explosive diarrhea on car ride home w dad. Parents inability to agree on which school kids should attend supported modification of decision-making with respect to education. But trial court's additional modifications, deletions, editions to parenting plan, which parents neither pled nor proved at trial, couldn't stand.
Florida law treats consent to "mental health treatment" for a child differently from other major decisions responsibility for which parents share. In 2016, Florida law changed to mandate provisions in parenting plans.
SchotParenting Plans
EV v. DMVH, Case No. 2D18-2240 2d DCA May 29, 2019Parenting plan using Florida Supreme Court form was sufficiently specific to meet minimum requirements, including that either parent may consent to health treatment for child. But parenting plan needed to detail methods & technologies parents would use to communicate w children. That section shouldn't have been left blank. EVParenting Plans
In re: Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, Case No. SC19-107Supreme Court of FloridaMay 23, 2019Adopts legislature's Daubert amendments (Laws of Florida 2013-107) to Evidence Code Fla. Stat. 90.702 & 90.704, replaces Frye standard for admitting expert testimony. Frye limited court's gatekeeping to challenged "new or novel scientific evidence," while Daubert expanded expert testimony subject to challenge. As gatekeeper, under Daubert, trial judge must ensure any and all scientific evidence or testimony is both relevant and reliable. DaubertEvidence
Falsetto v. Liss, Case No. 3D18-7943d DCA May 22, 2019Falling out among men who owned 3 valet businesses. A settlement agreement broadly releasing parties from "all known or unknown" claims did not release them from future or unaccrued claims. Release of an "unknown" claim doesn't necessarily release an "unaccrued" or future claim. The terms aren't synonymous. Had a fraud claim accrued when the parties signed the agreement? If not, the unaccrued claim wasn't barred. FalsettoMarital Settlement Agreements
King v. King, Case No. 2D18-1179 2d DCA May 22, 20192d DCA trial court abused discretion in awarding husband marital home purchased during marriage w/o findings supporting unequal distribution of marital assets. If the court determines shared parental responsibility would be detrimental, it may order sole parental responsibility. Under "sole parental responsibility," one parent decides for the child. - Section 61.046(18), Florida Statutes.
KingEquitable Distribution
Alexander v. Harris, Case No. 2D17-3218 2d DCA May 17, 2019Trial court could garnish discretionary payments to dad from a special needs spendthrift trust to satisfy his child support obligations. Mom argues spendthrift provisions of special needs trust aren't enforceable against a child support order. Discretionary disbursements aren't protected from continuing garnishment for support. Mom exhausted traditional enforcement of child support order: dad's sole available income for paying support was the trust. AlexanderTrusts & Estates
Farid v. Rabbath, Case No. 1D17-41731st DCAMay 16, 2019Order redistributing property distribution violated equitable distribution & final judgment. Both parties violated final judgment. Court improperly changed the property distribution the final judgment fixed as a matter of law. FaridEquitable Distribution
Alliant Tax Credit 31, Inc. v. Murphy, Case No. 15-14634 11th Cir May 15, 2019As divorce settlement agreement required, Georgia judgment debtor transferred millions in cash, commercial paper, stock shares, a mountain cabin, furniture, apartment complex. After divorce settlement, Companies got judgment against now judgment-proof former husband in Kentucky. Sued in federal court in Georgia under Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act, amended by Uniform Voidable Transactions Act. Company claimed divorce settlement & asset transfers were ruses to evade ex-husband's creditors. Jury found 23 transfers were fraudulent; awarded company $1 million punitives against ex-Husband, $100,000 against ex-wife. Discusses domestic relations exception to federal diversity jursidiction. Stone v. Wall, 135 F.3d 1438, 1441 (11th Cir 1998), certified question answered 734 So. 2d 1038 (Fla. 1999). Federal judiciary traditionally abstained from deciding domestic relations cases. Ingram v. Hayes, 866 F. 2d 368, 369 (11th Cir 1988). But 3d party companies (parties to the federal court proceeding) weren't parties to the divorce (state court proceeding). Even if GA divorce judge had to ensure property distribution was "equitable," Federal judgment holders were not barred from proving ex-W gave no "reasonably equivalent value" for transfers" under divorce settlement. Companies weren't parties to divorce case. AlliantMarital Settlement Agreements
Famiglio v. Famiglio, Case No. 2D18-4672d DCA May 10, 2019Every word counts in a #prenuptial agreement, even "a" the smallest word in English. It meant the difference in outcome of $1.5 million. Under #premarital #prenuptial agreement, length of marriage at the time "a" petition for dissolution was filed determined corresponding amount owed under escalating schedule of $ for each year of marriage. W filed "a" petition after 7 years; didn't serve it; filed another petition after 10 years. At 7, she'd get $2.7 million; at 10, $4.2 million. Both H & W believed prenuptial agreement was clear, unambiguous. Only evidence at trial was the Prenuptial Agreement. No one claimed latent ambiguity. Trial court side-stepped problem by tacking words on to clear provision. Trial court's invocation of the absurdity canon of contractual construction recounted hypothetical scenarios that could be deemed absurd if the court were to apply the parties' competing interpretations under those hypothetical facts. Trial court conflated an interpretive reductio ad absurdum argument about the provision w/ a finding the provision actually yielded an absurd result. But $2.7 million W would get wouldn't be an absurd result. Applying the natural & plain meaning of "a", ties variable alimony to the singular occurrence of filing "a petition", which meant the first time such petition was filed, even though never served. FamiglioPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Goley v. Goley, Case No. 1D18-9 1st DCA May 6, 2019Parties bought 120 acres bordering FW's parents' land & titled in parents' names. Oral agreement that H & W would pay property loan then W's parents would transfer title to ½ property to H & W. Parties paid off loan, but W's dad refused to transfer title as promised orally. Parents weren't parties to or witnesses in divorce. Property ownership or interests in it weren't properly before the trial court because the titled property owners (parents) weren't parties to the litigation. Following Sandstrom v. Sandstrom, 617 So. 2d 327 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993), court reverses trial ct's decision property titled in W's parents' names was marital; neither party filed claim against W's dad, who wasn't a party in dissolution proceedings. Trial ct erred in finding parties had an equity interest & claim to the 120-acres. FW has no right to participate in its future appreciation & may never even get the property - her dad has refused to transfer title. Goley Appeals court upholds trial ct unequal distribution giving FW > 50% of marital assets in exchange for her claims for alimony & attorney fees & finds that excluding 120-acre property did not affect alimony or attorney fees. GoleyProperty
Stone v. McMillian, Case No. 1D17-5332 1st DCA May 2, 2019Neighborly feud that included uncivil, immature acts, didn't warrant injunction against stalking. After altercation (neighbor 1 honked at neighbor 2 & his dog) & angry letter from N2, N1 took every innocuous act by N2 as aggression & intimidation. N1 scrupulously logged each time N2 walked by on his loop (same one for 7+ years!), N1 installed motion-sensing sprinkler to soak him when he walked dog on adjacent vacant city lot; N2 put dog's "gift" in N1' trash once on trash day. For stalking, the person willfully, maliciously, & repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another. "Harass" means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress & serves no legit purpose. Courts use a "reasonable person" rather than a subjective standard in determining if an incident causes substantial emotional.StoneDomestic Violence
DiPasquale v. DiPasquale, Case Nos. 2D17-2266, 2D17-22672d DCA April 24, 2019Look to the effective date of settlement agreement for determining whether parties contemplated a substantial change in circumstances. DiPasqualeMarital Settlement Agreements
De Diego v. Barrios, Case No. 3D17-19903d DCA April 24, 2019Reverses imposition of equitable lien on homestead when disabled FH failed to pay timely FW 1/2 home's appraised value. Marital home titled in FH's name only, which he bought before marriage, became a marital asset: its value had been mortgaged 2X; FW signed mortgage note both times; both mortgages were paid off during marriage using marital funds. Although homestead property may be subjected to equitable liens where fraud, reprehensible or egregious conduct is demonstrated, trial judge took no sworn testimony or evidence, but based its findings of egregious conduct solely on FW's unsworn motion to enforce & lawyers' argument. Appeals ct sends it back to trial ct. If, on remand, trial ct reconsiders imposing equitable lien on marital home based on FH's alleged egregious conduct, it should make specific findings based on evidence & testimony at a hearing. Case ongoing since 2014. How much has this dispute cost the parties in money, time & emotional energy? How much more will it cost them? Having invested this much, are they too entrenched in positions to achieve peaceful resolution? Might #collaborativepractice have helped w/ a long-term, satisfying resolution? De DiegoHomestead
Florida Investment Group 100, LLC v. Lafont, Case No. 4D18-20754th DCA April 24, 2019Court applies contract principles to find buyer breached contract to buy home: Contract construction principles' equally applicable to prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, & #collaborative marital settlement agreements - are: In construing a contract, the legal effect of its provisions should be determined from the words of the entire contract. The actual language used in the contract is the best evidence of the intent of the parties, and the plain meaning of that language controls.
The court must apply the parties' contract as written, not "rewrite" it under the guise of judicial construction. Courts must not read a single term or group of words in isolation.
An interpretation of a contract which gives a reasonable, lawful and effective meaning to all of the terms is preferred to an interpretation which leaves a part unreasonable, unlawful or of no effect.
No word or part of an agreement is to be treated as a redundancy or surplusage if any meaning, reasonable and consistent with other parts, can be given to it. Courts will generally strive to interpret a contract based on the definitions contained within the contract. Where parties to a contract take pains to define a key term specially, that definition governs their dealings under the contract.
Florida Investment Group 100Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Estape v. Seidman, Case No. 4D17-3336 4th DCA April 24, 2019Divorcing parents agreed to use psychologists as reunification therapist for children. Dad accused doctor of breaching psychotherapist-patient privilege. See 490.0147, Fla. Stat. Doc asserted "litigation privilege" insulated him; that is, because communications occurred within litigation, they weren't subject to the psychotherapist-patient privilege. Statutory grant of confidentiality of psychotherapist-patient communications prevails over common law "litigation privilege." Trial ct needs to resolve fact issue about doc & dad's relationship as psychotherapist-patient. During #divorce, dad was prevented form seeing kids, until 2 psychologists recommended reunification w/ dad. Parents agreed to commence visitation, w/ doc to serve as reunification therapist. Doctor email Guardian ad litem & nixed 1st visit, relating some info dad communicated to him in short session. More litigation ensued. Dad sued doc for breach of fiduciary duty & negligence. Before 1st session between dad & doc, doc had him sign form including a confidentiality statement that info shared would be kept strictly confidential & not disclosed w/o written ok, except for danger to signer or children. Statutory interpretation: interpret statutes by their plain meaning. No listed grounds for waiving statutory privilege applied to communications reunification therapist made in divorce case. All isn't lost for doctor: he contended dad wasn't his patient, because the form dad signed applied only to those to whom the doc was giving TREATMENT. Florida Legislature did not intend absolute immunity apply whenever a court appoints a therapist in dissolutions of marriage. 61.122, re parenting plans, 61.125 (parenting coordinators), don't provide for absolute immunity. Under 64B19-19.006, Fla. Administrative Code, psychotherapists performing evaluations must explain to person being evaluated the limits of confidentiality. The statutes don't use "reunification therapist" or explain reunification therapist's duties. Court order or parties' agreement should clarify the intended relationship & if the appointed MHP is to provide reports to the court itself.
May 2, 2019 - Judicial notice in family law cases - Florida Surpreme Court adopts 90.204(4), Florida Statutes (effective May 12, 2014) to the extent procedural. In family cases, the court may judicially notice any matter in 90.202(6) (US court records) when imminent danger to persons or property has been alleged and it's impractical to give prior notice of intent to take judicial notice.
Pelphrey-Weigand v. Weigand, Case No. 2D17-15032d DCAApril 17, 2019Judge Northcutt explains difference between res judicata and collateral estoppel. Collateral estoppel: is concerned with previously determined issues of fact. For an issue to be precluded under collateral estoppel, an identical issue must have been (1) presented in a prior proceeding, (2) critical & necessary for the prior determination, (3) subject to a full & fair opportunity to be litigated, and (4) actually litigated. Res judicata: precludes relitigating a cause of action. It also bars considering issues that could've been but weren't raised in 1st case. On fee motions jurisdiction over which trial court hadn't reserved in final judgment or decree, trial court's ended on entry of a judgment or final decree & when time for rehearing or new trial has expired or been denied. Pelphrey-WeigandFamily Law Procedure
Levy v. Levy, Case No. 4D18-35354th DCA April 17, 2019Trial court could award uncontested alimony under durable power of attorney spouse before incapacity signed authorizing agent to support other spouse. Durable power of attorney signed marital settlement agreement saying agent could support other spouse in customary standard of living, & later incapacity wouldn't terminate that authorization. By denying alimony based on H's potential incapacity, court failed to give effect to his intent under the durable power of attorney to designate agent to act on his behalf notwithstanding his subsequent incapacity. LevyAlimony
Bowen v. Volz, Case No. 1D18-9121st DCA April 11, 2019Trial court divided the parties' marital business & distributed to each 50% ownership, because they presented little evidence of its worth. Equitable distribution & business valuation of closely held family company: Improper leaving exes in closely held business together as business partners, an "intolerable" financial arrangement. 1st DCA follows Menendez v. Rodriguez-Menendez, 871 So. 2d 951 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004); Robbins v. Robbins, 549 So. 2d 1033 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989). Garrison v. Garrison, 255 So. 3d 877 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018). Bowen v. Volz endorses Menendez remedy: divorcing spouses must present proper evidence of value of closely held marital business. Court must award business to 1 spouse & devise a distribution plan that least interferes w/ ongoing business, yet is practical & benefits both spouses. #collaborativepractice #collaborative #divorce offers parties options to plan for post-divorce ownership & operations of closely held business in ways judges can't impose at trial. BowenEquitable Distribution
Benitez v. Eddy Leal, PA, 272 So. 3d 5063d DCA April 10, 2019Attorney's charging lien denied as untimely. Late notice to former client fatal (after final judgment entered, before m for reh'g resolved). http://www.3dca.flcourts.org/Opinions/3D18-0771.pdf
Benitez v. Leal 04/10/2019 - Other grounds for denying charging lien: no written fee agreement w/ client; no evidence of express or implied understanding for payment of attorney fees out of recovery.
BenitezAttorney Fees
Corrigan v. Vargas, Case No. 5D18-21585th DCA April 5, 2019Dad couldn't pursue motion for relief from order approving mediated agreed parenting plan setting child support at $0, in exchange for 50-50 timesharing, where any fraud was perpetrated by dad & his lawyers. Dad's unclean hands & misdeeds brought about results he sought to undo - agreeing to forego child support from child's mom. He falsified his income, financial affidavit; he agreed to lie about income to get more timesharing. CorriganMarital Settlement Agreements
Johnson v. Johnson, 268 So. 3d 2035th DCA April 5, 2019Reversed order approving parenting plan that gave dad 9 overnights/month. Trial court incorrectly awarded retroactive child support w/o considering dad's mortgage & bankruptcy payments made during divorce case. JohnsonParenting PLans
Sibley v. Estate of Sibley, Case No. 3D18-20273d DCA April 3, 2019Administratively dissolved corporations: 607.1421(3), Florida Statutes provides: A corporation administratively dissolved continues its corporate existence but may not carry on any business except that necessary to wind up and liquidate its business and affairs under s. 607.1405 and notify claimants under s. 607.1406. Under Charitable Trust, upon dissolution of the Curtiss F. Sibley Charitable Foundation, all remaining assets & money in trust estate were ordered to go to Fellowship House of South Miami. 607.1422(3) states reinstatement of a dissolved corporation relates back to and takes effect as of the effective date of its administrative dissolution & the corp resumes carrying on its business as if the administrative dissolution had never occurred. But, 607.1422(3) reinstatement doesn't apply to determining at a fixed time (date settlor died), when entity "was no longer in existence" under trust's time-certain testamentary provision. A basic tenet in the construction of trusts is to ascertain the intent of the settlor and to give effect to this intent. SibleyTrusts & Estates
Rowe-Lewis v. Lewis, Case No. 4D18-19824th DCA April 3, 2019Final judgment was silent on value of solely-owned S-corporation family towing business. Judge should've allowed evidentiary hearing on Rule 12.540(c) mot to set aside final judgment; ex-W alleged ex-H's financial affidavit & testimony were fraudulent & specified undisclosed assets & income sources. Rowe-LewisEquitable Distribution
Dorsey v. Dorsey, Case No. 1D17-53751st DCA April 3, 2019Pensacola case; 2 kids, 23 year marriage; 7 homes, 7 vehicles, airplane, private school. Homemaker mom worked temporarily & sporadically as part-time clerk & admin for 1 of FH's 3 marital businesses. Former Husband gets 3 businesses & debt, 3 residential properties, 6 vehicles, trailer. Former Wife gets 2 residences, $ from sale of 2 properties, a vehicle, her jewelry, cash, equalization payment. Distributing to managing spouse business debt he incurred when other spouse isn't involved in the business is within trial court's discretion. Appeals court is prohibited from engaging in piecemeal review of trial court's equitable distribution scheme. Upheld trial court's overall equal apportionment of assets & liabilities. 2-day trial, then 2 more hearings. Consider avoidable steps (and associated attorney fees and costs) in #litigation by choosing #collaborative approach to resolve #divorce issues. https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/dispute-resolution-options-cost-of-collaborative-v-cost-of-litigation
Revised Florida Rule of Professional Conduct 4-1.19 Collaborative Law Process in Family Law SC18-1683 - 01/04/2019
DorseyEquitable Distribution
Andre v. Abreu, 272 So. 3d 4673d DCA March 27, 2019Wrong to sanction mom for contempt by modifying timesharing. To modify timesharing, parent must invoke court's jurisdiction by filing a pleading for modfication, then prove grounds.AndreContempt
Dray v. Shendell, 271 So. 3d 1403d DCA March 20, 2019Can't undo irrevocable trust, where settlor was subject to no coercion, fraud, misrepresentation, overreaching, or undue influence when settlor signed trust documents, & elements of unilateral mistake failed. DrayTrusts & Estates
Miller v. Miller, 186 So. 3d 1128 4th DCA March 16, 2019To include a dissipated asset in equitable distribution scheme, need evidence of spending spouse's intentional dissipation or destruction of asset. Trial court must make specific finding that dissipation resulted from intentional misconduct.MillerEquitable Distribution
Frerking v. Stacy, Case No. 5D18-2327 5th DCA March 15, 2019Imputing income: Court must focus on recent work history, current (not potential) occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings in community. Collaborating parties may contract to different levels of imputing income and tiered support coupled with retraining milestones - completing a degree with in X time. Trial court improperly awarded durational rather than permanent alimony in 18+ year marriage & concluded spouse could immediately work as a full-time public school teacher (she'd never taught full time), earning more than 2X salary she'd ever earned. A party's best efforts to find work don't include retraining, but only finding a job for which the party is already qualified. FrerkingAlimony
Snyder v. Florida Prepaid College Board, Case No. 1D17-47681st DCA March 13, 2019When parties say their agreement is subject to statutes "as amended from time to time," they intend amendments to become part of the controlling document. When parties contract about a matter a statute regulates, they're presumed to have entered into their agreement with reference to the statute, which becomes part of the contract, unless the contract discloses a contrary intention. Courts must construe contracts to give reasonable meaning to all provisions of a contract, rather than one which leaves part of the contract useless or inexplicable. For Florida marital settlement agreements & premarital agreements incorporating Florida law, under what circumstances must the parties' contract express their intention to override Chapter 61 (dissolution of marriage) Chapter 732 (estate rights of a spouse on death)? SnyderMarital Settlement Agreements
Mattison v. Mattison, Case No. 5D18-3045th DCA March 8, 2019Trial court erred when it determined Former Husband's income for child support purposes to be his anticipated gross income from self-employment w/o factoring in ordinary & necessary expenses he incurs to produce this income. Trial court erred in conflating 2 methods for calculating half equity interest in marital home. Each spouse was entitled to either half equity in home as of valuation date (filing date) w no reduction for mortgage, taxes, & insurance payments on home post-separation or, alternatively, half equity in home based on its appreciated value at time of trial and the reduced mortgage balance, less half the net amount of credits to the spouse who paid post- separation mortgage, taxes, & insurance (reduced by reasonable rental value of home). FH correctly contends ruling results in his reimbursing FW for ½ her mortgage, taxes, & insur payments on home while she reaps 100% of benefits from appreciation in home's value & reduced mortgage loan balance, plus tax benefits for mortgage interest & property taxes deductions. Section 61.075(6), Florida Statutes (2018) replaces Kaaa v. Kaaa formula! For a calculator to help #collaborativepractice teams consider possible marital components of nonmarital real property, see https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/nonmarital_prop_calculatorMattisonChild Support
Laux v. Laux, Case No. 4D18-11724th DCA March 6, 2019If parties intend to waive future attorney fees for modification or enforcement, put specific waiver in marital settlement agreement. LauxMarital Settlement Agreements
Welton v. Welton, Case No. 4D18-15164th DCA March 6, 2019Except when dissipation of assets results from intentional misconduct, it's generally error to include dissipated assets in equitable distribution. No findings Husband's liquidating assets & paying marital debts was intentional misconduct. 4th DCA - On ability to pay alimony, finding husband would receive 1/3 of mom's estate w/o regard to deduction of costs, debts, or expenses was an abuse of discretion. WeltonEquitable Distribution
Lightsey v. Davis, 267 So. 3d 124th DCA March 6, 2019Section 61.13(2)(c)2., Florida Statutes, provides that "[t]he court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child." Finding shared parental responsibility would be detrimental is necessary, but the court may make it on the record or in the final judgment. Failure to include finding of detriment doesn't render judgment fundamentally erroneous.LightseyParenting Plans
Phillips v. Phillips, 264 So. 3d 11292d DCAFebruary 20, 2019Lost Heaven Trust, Encore Trust, and Legacy Trust. In dissolution case, Court quashes trial court's order sustaining nonparties' (trusts) objections to production of documents and trial court's quashing subpoenas for records.
For hearing on Wife's requests for temporary support and attorney fees, she sought to subpoena updated financial records from the Trusts. Trusts & Husband failed to object to earlier similar discovery requests. Trusts regularly disbursed funds to or on behalf of Husband in amounts he failed to show on his financial affidavit. He magnanimously stipulated he could afford "whatever the trial court ordered." But the court's ruling based on that stipulation prevented the Wife from getting evidence she needed to meet her burden of proof under 61.16, Florida Statutes of the parties' relative financial needs and abilities. Without info Wife needed relevant to her claims for temporary support & attorney's fees, her claims were effectively eviscerated because she was prevented from offering evidence to establish the Husband's financial resources and ability to pay "information that was required to enable the trial court to make the findings required of it by statute."
The Court distinguished cases involving famous parties with reasonable concerns about disclosing assets to the media:
(1) Woodward v. Berkery, 714 So. 2d 1027 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) (protecting Tom Jones from child's mother's attempt to get discovery, where he indisputably had over $89,000/month income & stipulated to his ability to pay any amount of child support awarded);
(2) Granville v. Granville, 445 So. 2d 362 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984), protecting a famous author and market forecaster, who stipulated to his financial ability and willingness to pay a reasonable increase in child support, from "almost oppressive interrogatories" and request for production former wife served seeking extensive financial information.
(3) Palmar v. Palmar, 402 So. 2d 20 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981), protecting husband from discovery in a very short-term marriage (2-years) where he stipulated he could pay whatever was awarded.
PhillipsAttorney Fees
Cancino v. Cancino, Case No. 3D17-601 3d DCA February 13, 2019Reversed indirect criminal contempt probation order finding mom violated mediated marital settlement agreement, parenting plan, & shared parenting. Dad alleged mom (1) mom got child diagnosed by pediatrician w ADD w/o telling him prior to appointment, then failed to notify him. Dad alleged mom (2) signed consent form to screening at school for child's accommodation plan & (3) failed to provide dad prior notice of non-emergency medical & dental appointments for children. Dad alleged mom (4) made appointment for child to enroll in an experimental visual therapy program, but gave dad 45 minute notice of appointment, to which he objected.
Probation order had no clear, precise order mom intentionally violated. How mom was to comply w courts command was unclear. A finding of contempt can't be based on violating "merely inherent" provisions in an order or its "spirit" or "intent." Finding contempt requires violating the letter of an order, not its spirit.
Would experimental visual therapy for Attention Deficit Disorder constitute "mental health treatment" consent to which parents sharing parental responsibility each retains without having to confer with each other? https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/amended-florida-parenting-plan-law-mandates-each-parents-retaining-consent-to-mental-health-treatment
How may parents, using #collaborativepractice, address protocol for "mental health treatment," unilateral consent to which each parent retains? See blog at: https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/collaborative-process-clarifying-parents-intent-about-mental-health-treatment
Matthews v. Matthews, 264 So. 3d 3552d DCAFebruary 8, 2019Failure to award reimbursement of half payments spouse made - 16 months - on mortgage & home equity line of credit during divorce proceedings was wrong.MatthewsEquitable Distribution
Mendez v. Lopez, 271 So. 3d 723d DCA February 6, 2019Temporary care by an extended family member who has signed, notarized consent of child's legal parents or is caring full time as substitute parent for child may ask circuit court to determine temporary or concurrent custody of minor child. Chapter 751, Florida Statutes - Miami-Dade County adult brother's petition for temporary custody of minor sister was legally sufficient. Trial court erred by dismissing it. Trial court's concluding "certain immigration benefits" to petitions for temporary care by extended family members being granted "in circumvention of existing immigration laws," was no basis to deny a legally sufficient petition. Adult son of Guatemalan parents attached both parents' consent. Guatemalan parents did not waive their parental rights or consent to determination of dependency of their minor daughter and re-establish their custody of her. Trial court on remand must conduct hearing on petition for temporary custody by extended family member (adult son of minor sister) & hear evidence of child's need for care by petitioner. Unless parents object, trial court "shall award temporary or concurrent custody" of child to petitioner "if it is in the best interest of the child." If the parents object to petition for concurrent custody, the court must let petitioner convert petition to a request for temporary custody. Petitioner would then have to prove by clear & convincing evidence the child's parents are unfit to care for child because they abused, abandoned, or neglected her. MendezTimesharing
Yost-Rudge v. A to Z Properties, Inc., 263 So. 3d 954th DCA February 6, 2019Spouse must agree to sale of homestead protected property. Injunction for municipal violation (junk, improper structures) that prevented owners from returning to the property wasn't abandonment that destroyed homestead protections. Wife's husband sold property to buyer, but wife wasn't a party to warranty deed. In quiet title action, Wife alleged she'd intended to return to homestead property & had been trying to return it to habitable condition, & had never claimed another homestead. Under Article X, section 4 of Florida Constitution, a married owner or a homestead property may not alienate it w/o joinder or consent of other spouse. Once homestead status is established, owners can lose it by abandoning it, but both the owner & his family must have abandoned it. A finding of abandonment of homestead property requires a "strong showing" of intent not to return to the homestead. An owner's involuntarily ceasing to reside on the property doesn't constitute abandonment. Courts have upheld homestead protections even when property has been left unoccupied.Yost-Rudge Homestead
Sarazin v. Sarazin, 263 So. 3d 2731st DCA February 5, 2019Attorney fees denied to spouse whose family paid them, with no proof of obligation to repay family. With no obligation to repay fees the family paid, spouse had no financial need relating to fees.

Consider avoidable steps (and associated attorney fees and costs) in #litigation by choosing #collaborativepractice to resolve #divorce issues.
Sarazin Attorney Fees
Lizzmore v. Lizzmore, 263 So. 3d 2681st DCA February 4, 201936 yr marriage. Parties' financial affidavits showed deficits. But FH who earned $13/hour as a valet - listed $1,553 household expenses he wasn't actually paying because house was in foreclosure. Former wife, in poor health, couldn't get more alimony than she asked for in her petition ($100/week). Case went on 4 years. How much did the parties spend on fees? Might this struggling couple have benefited from a reduced fee collaborative team approach? LizzmoreAlimony
Rawson v. Rawson , 264 So. 3d 3251st DCA February 4, 201928-year marriage; parties moved often; FW served on and off for 20 years in US Navy. 4 children; 1 minor. FW borrowed $87,500 from her dad for home + $100,000 for legal expenses. Trial court awarded FW the FH's marital share of her military retirement as lump sum alimony. Unequal distribution through award of lump sum alimony enabled the court to do equity and justice between the parties. A pension may be considered a source of paying permanent periodic alimony instead of being equitably divided.RawsonEquitable Distribution
Lennon v. Lennon, 264 So. 3d 10842d DCAFebruary 1, 2019statutory change in 2016 to section 61.13(2)(b)3 - After July 1, 2016, failure to include in a parenting plan or final judgment a provision that either parent alone may provide consent for a child to receive mental health treatment is legal error. remanding for trial court to include missing “retained consent to mental health treatment” provision in final judgment that ordered shared parental responsibility.LennonParenting Plans
Hall v. Hall, Case No. 5D18-16085th DCA February 1, 2019Spouse divorcing doctor could subpoena some non-party (Brevard Physician Associates) medical practice's financial records. One (of 70) doctor's ownership interest was contested in #floridadivorce. Operating Agreement of medical professional limited liability corporation (PLLC) predetermined value of doctor's interest as "Book Value," binding on all owner-members, but only under specific circumstances not applicable in divorce of 1 doctor who'd continue. Husband argued divorce from doctor-wife would trigger no conditions invoking book value formula in PLLC's operating agreement. Wife would remain an owner/member after the divorce. Husband could get reasonable discovery from medical practice to determine actual value of W's interest in Brevard Physician Associates, under a fair market valuation or other reasonable valuation methodology. Some information about value of non-party medical practice may shed light on doctor's ownership interest, therefore, was discoverable. Non-party medical practice must produce all stock option plans, option agreements, other plans providing vested benefits in practice's stock, list of options granted LIMITED to those that apply to wife's interest. Non-party medical practice must produce all closing statements & purchase agreements related to all medical practice stock since 2012, any stock appraisals in last 5 years, & description of any bona fide offers to purchase the medical practice in last 5 years. HallEquitable Distribution
Julia v. Julia, 263 So. 3d 7954th DCA January 16, 2019Court failed to make finding that no form of alimony other than permanent was fair or reasonable. When 1 parent pays other's mortgage or housing expenses on marital home, it's an in-kind contribution for calculating retroactive child support. Between parties' 2d marriage to each other, ex husband earned pension benefits the trial court should have determined were his nonmarital contributions.JuliaAlimony
Griffitts v. Griffitts, 263 So. 3d 2205th DCA January 11, 2019Reversing 3 years' durational alimony. Former husband didn't overcome rebuttable presumption permanent alimony is appropriate after a long-term marriage. Mom sacrificed a career to be primary caregiver for the parties' four children. Even after imputing income to her, the parties would have significant income disparity. Mom's parents "invested" in marital home so she could stay in it indefinitely without having to make mortgage payments, but, once she would sell it, they'd recoup their "investment" plus interest. At trial, that amount exceeded the property's fair market value.No evidence supported findings mom's parents' significant financial assistance was "continuing and ongoing, not sporadic" or their gifts would continue.GriffittsAlimony
Bolden v. Bolden, 263 So. 3d 2161st DCA January 10, 2019Trial court miscalculated the marital portion of retirement pay for equitable distribution. When allocating nonmarital & marital components of retirement accounts, court must calculate the "coverture fraction" the time employee married while participating in retirement plan divided by total time in plan. For calculating coverture fractions and marital components of nonmarital accounts in #collaborative #divorce cases, see free calculator at https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/premarital_accounts_calc
For discussion of sole parenting, shared parenting & parents' decisions in #parentingplans reached in #collaborativepractice in #divorce cases, about "mental health treatment," & options available to them, see https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/parental-responsibility-and-decision-making and https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/collaborative-practice-shared-parental-responsibility-for-health-care
BoldenEquitable Distribution
Clarke v. Stofft, 263 So. 3d 844th DCA January 9, 2019Reverses giving mom ultimate decision-making authority over "all major decisions affecting the welfare of the children" without specifying areas over which she could exercise that authority. Open-ended, broad language giving a parent ultimate say-so over major decisions "including, but not limited to" listed areas is contrary to Florida law. ClarkeParenting Plans
Fox v. Fox, 262 So. 3d 7894th DCA December 19, 2018Failure to comply with statute's requirement of fact findings to support alimony award is reversible error regardless of whether loser moves for rehearing. Parties settled everything but alimony; went to trial on that. Duel between preservation of error for appeal and reversible error. 4th DCA certifies conflict with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th DCAs & says no motion for rehearing is required. A family court judge should know the statutory requirements in rendering a decision on alimony, equitable distribution, child support. Failure to make required factual findings isn't error preservation rules were designed to avoid; those rules were designed to prevent a party from blindsiding judge by raising an issue on appeal not brought to trial court's attention.FoxAlimony
Schroll v. Schroll, 227 So. 3d 232 1st DCA December 14, 2018In #divorce of couple married 35 years ("They disagreed about much."), judge improperly used contempt powers to jail ex-husband to enforce monetary judgment in equitable distribution scheme. Courts can use contempt powers to compel actions to facilitate property transfers, but can't convert a gen'l duty to pay $$ into something enforceable by contempt by characterizing it as an obligation to perform a specific act.SchrollContempt
Bro v. Bro, 262 So. 3d 2182d DCA December 14, 2018Court had no authority to order sale of property of family business not a party to #divorce lawsuit. Court's disbelief of 1 party's uncontradicted testimony on how marital funds were spent (to pay marital expenses or not) isn't enough to include the dissipated funds in equitable distribution.BroEquitable Distribution
Walsh v. Walsh, 262 So. 3d 2125th DCA December 14, 2018Trial judge committed many errors. Parties' interpretations of "gross income" "periodic income" & "periodic alimony" differed. Court misinterpreted Marital Settlement Agreement, improperly excluded parol evidence about intended meaning of words by finding them clear & unambiguous. The MSA definitions didn't clearly show parties meant to exclude from income for calculating alimony "incentive based payments or bonuses" & other types of income. Appeals ct drew from Miriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary on plain meaning of words, but definitions revealed 2 reasonable interpretations of "periodic income" used in MSA. Trial court should've allowed extrinsic evidence about parties' intent. Trial court erred by denying Wife's requst for attorney fees: marital settlement agreement had no express waiver stating the parties waived their right to attorney fees under section 61.16, Florida WalshMarital Settlement Agreements
Kenney v. Goff, 259 So. 3d 1404th DCA December 12, 2018Trial court erred by treating lump sum rehabilitative alimony as property settlement. The Marital Settlement Agreement read as a whole & parties' testimony show they intended it was exclusively spousal support.
Pipitone v. Pipitone, 23 So. 3d 131 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009) 4 factors for determining if lump sum alimony is for spousal support or equitable distribution. Look at substance of obligations, not necessarily parties' characterization. The conclusive 1st Pipitone factor is whether lump sum alimony payments are made in exchange or consideration for transfer of property interests; if so, they're equitable distribution payments, not spousal support. Parties can always agree to support obligations that are nonmodifiable, nonterminable on death, & nondeductible. Lump sum alimony, whether property settlement or spousal support, isn't dischargeable under Ch 7 bankruptcy. 11 USC §523(5) (15); In re Okrepka, 533 BR 327, 333 & n. 16 (Bankr. D. Kan. 2015). Property settlement in divorce is dischargeable in a Ch 13, but not Ch 7, bankruptcy.
{Andrew Chmelir appellee attorney} {Marcia Lippincott & Clay Simmons appellant}
KenneyMarital Settlement Agreements
McAbee v. McAbee, 259 So. 3d 134 4th DCA December 12, 2018Florida trial court didn't communicate with VA ct when it exercising temporary emergency jurisdiction under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Trial court failed to consult with the VA court "where custody proceedings had been ongoing for years, & which made a custody determination 2 months earlier” before making its own custody determination, in violation of mandatory directive of UCCJEA. McAbeeTimesharing
Palmateer v. Palmateer, 242 So. 3d 1072 2d DCA December 5, 2018Precedent & statutes required reversal of agreed upon income deduction order. IDOs & QDROs can't be used to force direct payment to a nonparticipating spouse of a spouse's municipal pension benefits for equitable distribution. PalmateerEquitable DIstribution
Subramanian v. Subramanian, 260 So. 3d 10754th DCA December 5, 2018After contentious 10-day trial where ex-husband represented himself, he had to pay 60% of ex-wife's trial fees & costs. She'd incurred trial & appellate fees totaling $578,693.75.
Amended Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.407 (December 13, 2018) is intended to protect children who may be harmed by unnecessary involvement in family law proceedings.
Children who may be harmed by unnecessary involvement in family law proceedings include those who may be the subject of the family law case & those who are witnesses, potential witnesses, or extensively involved w/ the family.
SubramanianAttorney Fees
Puhl v. Puhl, 260 So. 3d 3234th DCA November 28, 2018Agreed parenting plan gives mom ultimate decision making when dad & she can't agree. Dad alleges mom took child to therapy the child doesn't need without first consulting him. But, before entry of final judgment, medical professional diagnosed child with condition for which mom sought treatment. No substantial change in circumstances - facts don't support finding a "substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances."PuhlParenting Plans
Seligsohn v. Seligsohn, 259 So. 3d 8744th DCA November 28, 2018Court erred by awarding dad ultimate decisionmaking authority over all issues if parents, who had shared parental responsibility, disagreed. SeligsohnParenting PLans
Saponara v. Saponara, 261 So. 3d 5704th DCA November 21, 2018Coast Guard dad stationed in Calif; mom & child move to MD during divorce. 11-day trial. Judge orders timesharing allowing dad to visit child 12 times/year - 10 in MD (close to Coast Guard base for dad's work), 2 in Calif. 7 months after final judgment, mom seeks relocation to NC. Dad objects - closest Coast Guard base to Charlotte, NC is 3 hours away. 2-day hearing. Judge oks mom's relocation conditioned on all of dad's timesharing taking place in Calif. When court approves relocation petition, it has discretion to adjust timesharing to ensure child has "frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with the non-relocating parent."SaponaraTimesharing - Relocation
Olaechea v. Olaechea, 260 So. 3d 387 3d DCA November 21, 2018An equitable lien may be imposed on homestead property where funds obtained through fraud were used to purchase the homestead, and even where one spouse was not a party to the fraud.OlaecheaHomestead Property
RB v. BT, 259 So. 3d 9102d DCANovember 9, 2018No evidence supported restricting dad's timesharing with child to St. Petersburg or Austin. Parents' personal animosity created potential for either of them to attempt to capitalize on the restricted locations of dad's time-sharing. Trial ct needed to fix that to avoid unnecessary litigation.RBTimesharing
Vinson v. Vinson, Case No. 1D18-40 1st DCA November 7, 2018Divorcing parties took many detours before final hearing. Temporarily agreed on equal timesharing for 3 yr old daughter. 8 months later, enter new timesharing agreement. Parents agreed dad gets majority of time, mom all of summer, every 3 or 4 day weekends, alternating holidays. Each parent's attorney confirmed before ct reporter parents were ok w/ new plan. 3 days before final hearing, mom moves to set aside agreement. Says she was afraid, anxious & her own attorney pressured, coerced her into signing it. Trial ct considered witnesses' credibility. Ct correctly denied mom's motion to set aside timesharing plan, adopted it, incorporated it in judgment. Judge must take testimony to ascertain child's best interests. Trial courts are in a better position than appellate courts "to discern delicate vibrations and hidden influences, and to interpret nuances" in testimony re best interests. Florida courts respect separation agreements if fair & not trained by fraud, overreaching, concealment, but best interests of child predominate over any parental agreement, & trial ct must determine best interests independently. FW waived claim trial ct failed to make specific "best interest" findings, because she failed to apprise the trial ct in a motion for rehearing, to give ct chance to address matter while facts fresh. FH, age 64, received unlawful discrimination award from firing by US Army Corps of Engineers. Award included $70,000 compensatory damages. Attempting to follow analytic approach in Weisfeld v. Weisfeld, 545 So. 2d 1341 (Fla. 1989), trial ct held there was no evidence the $70 K was a nonmarital award for pain & suffering. Because husband testified with no rebuttal it was for pain & suffering, appellate ct concludes it should have been allocated to husband as his nonmarital property. Trial court's wrong designation of $70,000 personal injury award as marital required vacating entire equitable distribution scheme and remand to trial ct to reconsider. Rehearing - substitute opinion.VinsonTimesharing
Horton v. Horton, 257 So. 3d 11971st DCA November 6, 2018Ordering a graduated, stepped-up timesharing schedule, circuit judge hoped to restore strained relationship between dad & son. Trial court's well meaning, but prospective-based approach to timesharing, was prohibited. Best interests of the child must be determined in the present. Concurring Judge Bilbrey observes many decisions judges must make involve "evidence-based anticipation or prospective determination of likely future events." E.g., considering bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, "anticipated division of parental responsibilities after litigation," continuity of child's current environment. Judge Bilbrey: "But even when future events are almost sure to occur, our case law based on Florida Supreme Court precedent prohibits a prospective determination." Preudhomme v. Preudhomme, 245 So. 3d 989 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), Arthur v. Arthur, 54 So. 3d 454 (Fla. 2010). https://edca.1dca.org/DCADocs/2017/5223/175223_1286_11062018_12164880_i.pdf Prohibiting any prospective determination of parenting means many parties end up back in court seeking to modify the parenting plan or timesharing. Timesharing impacts child support, so financial information has to again be disclosed. Judge Bilbrey: "[C]rowded court dockets, discovery, and counsels' schedule means that family law litigation can take many months or years."
[SCL retweet Horton - #collaborativepractice #collaborativedivorce #collaborativepaternity give parents power to look ahead to likely future events, write parenting plans encompassing them, and present their agreements to the court as promoting children's best interests, avoiding costly, time-consuming modification, financial discovery, litigation.]
Rotunda v. Rotunda, 259 So. 3d 2165th DCA November 2, 2018Reverses $50,000 temporary attorney fee award to pro wrestler's wife. Ct fails to award W expert fees & attorney fees moving forward, failed to make findings re reasonable hourly rate & number of hours spent. Wife hired attorney at $575/hr who'd representing pro wrestlers' wives. Temporary fees & costs through temporary hearing were $172,000, w/ est. $69,000 more through trial. Quarter million $ just for Wife's fees & costs. Both parties had forensic accountants. W's accountant fees $75,000. Wrestler's salary as independent contractor based on event performances & royalties made computing net income tricky. Reasonableness findings are required for temporary fee awards. How many hours are reasonable? At what reasonable hourly rate? Was this #divorce case suitable for #collaborative resolution? Could #collaborativepractice have reduced fees, costs, publicity, time consumed?RotundaAttorney Fees
Martinez v. Valerio, 255 So. 3d 519 3d DCA October 10, 2018Based on Simmonds v. Perkins, 247 So. 3d 397 (Fla. 2018) Third District reverses dismissal of bio dad's paternity petition. Bio dad of married woman's child may petition to establish his parental rights & overcome presumption of legitimacy. BUT: he must have "manifested a substantial and continuing concern for the welfare" of the child.MartinezPaternity
Garrison v. Garrison, 255 So. 3d 877 4th DCA October 10, 2018Ownership of closely held family prosthetic business awarded 50-50 to divorcing spouses but not valued. Forcing ex spouses to stay in business together creates an "intolerable situation" and is an abuse of discretion. Acrimonious divorcing couple. FH fired FW from closely held business, denied her access to business bank accounts, took complete control of business. Trial court MUST value family business, devise distribution that's "practical and beneficial to both parties." In dividing a family business, can a trial court do better than the parties themselves in achieving their financial interests in a way that is "practical and beneficial" to both of them and their family? #collaborativepractice #collaborative. With a neutral financial professional & neutral facilitator trained in refocusing from acrimony to positive dispute resolution, couples in #collaborativedivorce could control their financial futures rather than transfer control to a judge.GarrisonEquitable DIstribution
Masino v. Masino, 254 So. 3d 6492d DCA September 14, 2018Reversed imputation of income & decisions re alimony & attorney fees. Judge imputed income based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data not in record. No evidence re local job market for someone w/ wife's occupational qualifications. As the #collaborative team develops support options, for imputing income, consider gathering information not only about a spouse's work history, job qualifications, & current job market in the community now, but also, looking to the future (which courts generally can't do in litigated #alimony and #childsupport cases), info about what the spouse's qualifications can reasonably be & job market will be in the mid- to longer-term. #collaborativepractice. Court failed to treat reduction in principal of debt on nonmarital property as marital. Property had negative equity. Trial court misapplied Kaaa v. Kaaa. Kaaa applied only to passive market driven appreciation in nommarital assets, but here there was no appreciation. MasinoAlimony
Frederick v. Frederick, Case No. 2D17-36682d DCA September 14, 2018Wife was entitled to a credit for pay down on mortgage on Husband's nonmarital property, because that paydown increased the value of Husband's equity in the property. The passive depreciation of a nonmarital asset is not a marital liability to be automatically shared by the nonowning spouse.
For a calculator to help #collaborativepractice teams consider possible marital components of nonmarital real property, see https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/nonmarital_prop_calculator
FrederickEquitable Distribution
Matyjaszek v. Matyjaszek, 255 So. 3d 3724th DCA September 14, 2018Court used wrong fraction under Kaaa v. Kaaa to measure marital portion of passive appreciation of nonmarital real property. Nonmarital property started with negative equity at beginning of marriage. Using a debt-to-equity ration of > 100% would lead to an absurd result, so court allocated 100% of passive appreciation as a marital asset. Section 61.075(6), Florida Statutes (2018) replaces Kaaa formula! For a calculator to help #collaborativepractice teams consider possible marital components of nonmarital real property, see https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/nonmarital_prop_calculatorMatyjaszekEquitable Distribution
Engstrom v. Engstrom, 258 So. 3d 507 3d DCA September 12, 2018Genuine issues of fact re whether former spouse's financial affidavit was fraudulent & other spouse relied on draft when entering into marital settlement agreement precluded summary judgment on Florida Family Law Rule 12.540 petition. EngstromMarital Settlement Agreements
Maio v. Clarke, 255 So. 3d 369 4th DCA September 12, 2018Oral cohabitation agreement before two women married and divorced. Both signed testamentary docs leaving assets to each other upon death. During cohabitation, each kept indiv bank accounts. Did not pool income or assets. Trial court rejected Lenore's claims Patti, during premarital cohabitation, promised her premarital retirement earnings would fund parties' golden years & parties pooled assets. MaioPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Martin v. Social Security Administration, 903 F. 3d 1154 11th Circuit Court of AppealsSeptember 7, 2018Boundaries of "payment based wholly on service as a member of a uniformed service" for Social Security benefit calculations. Service person appeals SSA's reduction of monthly retirement benefits, applying "windfall elimination provision" of Social Security Act.
Under Social Security Act, SSA doesn't pay benefits as flat % of earnings, but adjusts payouts so those w lower avg indexed monthly earnings get greater % of earnings than those w/ higher avg earnings. Not all employment is subject to Social Security contributions. Noncovered employment is exempt from Social Security taxes, but many noncovered jobs include separate annuity or pension. Someone who worked in both covered & uncovered jobs might double dip - get pension or annuity from noncovered employer while receiving higher than warranted Social Security benefits. Social Security Act's "windfall elimination provision" helps eliminate double-dipping by adjusting default formula to account for worker who receives monthly payment base in whole or in part on earnings for noncovered work.
Martin v. Social Security Administration - Uniformed services exception from "windfall elimination provision": any "payment based wholly on service as a member of a uniformed service." See 42 U.S.C. §415(a)(7)(A)(III). "Members" includes members of the Army National Guard. Donald Martin was a National Guard military technician - "dual status technician." Only dual status technicians must maintain membership in Selected Reserve & a specified military grade, & to dress in uniform while performing technician duties. Unlike non-dual status technicians, dual status technicians are "authorized and accounted for as a separate category of civilian employees" & are exempt from the competitive service & requirements for reductions in Department of Defense civilian personnel.
Despite these differences, a dual status technician is "assigned to a civilian position as a technician,"and consistently referred to as a civilian employee. Martin was National Guard "dual status technician" for 23 years & member of Alabama Army National Guard during same period. Neither job was covered employment for Social Security purposes. After medical board determined Martin was nondeployable, his service w/ National Guard was terminated & civil service terminated as dual status technician. Based on Martin's receiving civil service disability retirement payments, Social Security Administration applied "windfall elimination provision" and cut his monthly benefits by one-third.
Martin said any payments based on service as dual status technician were based wholly on service as a member of a uniformed service, thus subject to the uniformed services exception to the windfall elimination provision. Agreeing with the SSA, 11th Circuit concludes, because dual status technicians don't' "wholly" perform their service as members of the National Guard, uniformed services exception doesn't apply. Part of the dual status technician's work is civilian employment.
Martin v. SSAChild Support
McKenzie v. McKenzie, 254 So. 3d 9934th DCA September 5, 2018Error to assign $26,000 in Wife's accounts when dissolution action was filed to her, after she depleted them, including $6,000 to pay her attorney. No evidence she dissipated funds. Appellate ct remands case for trial court to correct final judgment, but sees no need for additional evidence. If needed, parties may submit stipulations to assist trial judge in carrying out remand instructions, but that won't enable rehearing or reconsideration of appellate determinations. McKenzieEquitable Distribution
Keogh v. Keogh, 254 So. 3d 633 5th DCA August 31, 2018Trial court mistakenly concluded it had no jurisdiction to award child support for child who lived in Ireland, because it wasn't the child's "home state" under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). http://www.5dca.org/Opinions/Opin2018/082718/5D18-1080.op.pdf
Keogh v. Keogh - But UCCJEA applies only to custody. "Child custody determination" under the Act specifically excludes orders relating to child support or other monetary obligation of a person. Under 61.13, Florida Statutes, courts may order either or both parents with duty to support child to pay support to other parent. With personal jurisdiction over the parents, court had jurisdiction to order dad to pay mom child support.
Spikes v. Fonville, 252 So. 3d 4191st DCA August 30, 2018Trial court may adjust total minimum child support award considering impact of IRS dependency tax exemption by ordering a parent to execute a waiver of the exemption, contingent upon the parent paying child support being current in support payments. § 61.30(11)(a)8., Fla. Stat. Court may order dependency exemption alternate between parents, but has no authority to allocate tax exemption directly; court is only permitted to order a party to execute a waiver of the exemption. SpikesChild Support
In re: Amendments to Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms, 232 So. 3d 285Supreme Court of FloridaAugust 27, 2018Updated Approved Family Law Form 12.961 - Notice of Hearing on Motion for Contempt/Enforcement - Notice to person allegedly in contempt that present ability to pay is critical & of opportunity during contempt hearing to respond to allegations & questions about financial status.
Notice of Hearing on Motion for Contempt/Enforcement - The court won't provide electronic recording or court reporter, but a party may provide a court reporter at that party's expense.
Senopoulos v. Senopoulos, 253 So. 3d 12281st DCAAugust 24, 2018Parties sign prenuptial agreement, marry, 4 days later he dies from gunshot. Wife & father-in-law (accusing her) fight over who should be appointed personal representative. But statute 733.301(1)(b) ranks her #1 in order of preference for appointment as PR. §733.301(1)(b), Fla Stats ranks spouse #1 in order of preference for appointment as PR. Trial courts have "inherent authority" to consider character, ability & experience to serve as PR and refuse to appoint statutorily preferred person. Trial judge didn't state those reasons for appointing dad-in-law as PR, so appeals ct kicks it back to trial court. SenopoulosTrusts & Estates
St. Onge v. Carriero, 252 So. 3d 12801st DCA August 24, 2018Marital settlement agreement requiring dad pay half children's uncovered dental expenses didn't define them to include orthodontic expenses, so ct erred by holding him in contempt for not paying them. An implied provision of marital settlement agreement can't be the basis for an order of contempt. Concurring judge emphasizes importance of wording settlement agreement in determining if requirement of paying dental expenses is specific enough to encompass orthodontic expenses. St. Onge v. Carriero, 252 So. Marital Settlement Agreements
Fields v. Fields, 256 So. 3d 2225th DCAAugust 24, 2018Error for trial judge to set aside final judgment of dissolution and also require parties to attend mediation & renotice case for trial, when they'd already entered into a valid settlement agreement. FieldsMarital Settlement Agreements
Cooley v. Cooley, 253 So. 3d 1223 2d DCA August 24, 2018Parties married for 8 years, separated after 4 years. Unequal equitable distribution in ex-husband's favor reversed. During marriage, parties' income dipped while W attended law school. Some of wife's student loan proceeds went into joint account used for living expenses. Parties agreed to use separation date for valuing marital assets & liabilities, except didn't agree on date for valuing marital home & allocation of its appreciation. That 1 spouse is primary wage earner in marriage doesn't support unequal distribution of marital assets. That he wouldn't benefit from her (marital) student loans for law school didn't justify unequal distribution in his favor. CooleyEquitable Distribution
Gordon v. Fishman, 253 So. 3d 12182d DCA August 24, 2018Fla. Stat. § 732.507(2) doesn't apply to will made by an unmarried man who left property to his then-fiance, then didn't change it after he married & divorced her. Decedent never changed or revoked his premarital will after divorce. His surviving dad's guardian asked the court construe premarital will as if ex-wife predeceased decedent, so late son's 2 surviving children would be beneficiaries. Parties' prenuptial agreement & divorce decree allegedly forbid ex-wife from inheriting from estate, but nothing in appellate record showed guardian ever entered those in evidence in the probate proceedings. Plain language of section 732.507(2) voids only provisions of wills executed by "a married person" that affect the person's spouse upon divorce or dissolution or annulment of marriage. But this will making fiance beneficiary was executed by an unmarried person.
Read article: Remind employees to update beneficiary designations - https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/remind-employees-to-update-beneficiary-designations
Read article: Update beneficiary designations after divorce or annulment -https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/update-beneficiary-designations-after-divorce-or-annulment
GordonTrusts & Estates
Olivarez v. Olivarez, 250 So. 3d 872 1st DCA August 16, 2018Reverses judgment that included $23,000 former wife allegedly dissipated, but with no findings she committed misconduct causing diminished or dissipated assets. This error affected overall financial package the court ordered, so required reversing equitable distribution, alimony, child support, & attorney fee decisions for judge to take another crack at them. How much did this divorcing couple spend in time, money, & rancor at trial & on appeal fighting over this $23,000? Could #collaborativelaw #collaborativedivorce #collaborative have helped? OlivarezEquitable DIstribution
DiStefano v. DiStefano, 253 So. 3d 1178 2d DCA August 15, 2018Reverses findings family home & Camry bought during marriage are nonmarital property. They're marital property: FW commingled funds (such as paychecks) earned during the marriage with her premarital funds. During marriage, FW acquires with proceeds from her premarital assets, plus funds in accounts titled in her name only, plus borrowed funds (1), a home where she, dad, & baby live & (2) a Camry. Appeals court reviews a trial court's characterizing asset as marital or nonmarital with fresh eyes ("de novo review"). Such characterization doesn't come to the appellate court presumptively correct. From accounts titled in former wife's name only, but into which she mixed marital funds ($ earned during marriage), she pays down payment on home, mortgage on home, car payments, & other marital expenses. Once former wife commingles sale proceeds from premarital home into personal accounts where she deposited marital paychecks, all funds in those accounts become marital. Court follows Pfrengle v. Pfrengle, 976 So. 2d 1134, 1136 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008) - Important to maintain nonmarital & marital assets separately, especially $ held in bank accounts. Money is fungible; once commingled, loses its separate character. DiStefanoEquitable DIstribution
Bauchman v. Bauchman, 253 So. 3d 11434th DCA August 15, 2018Ex-husband correctly challenges trial court's denying modification of 2005 final judgment's alimony award & finding his voluntary impending retirement & ex-wife's improved finances didn't constitute substantial change of circumstances. Parties' marital settlement agreement after 27 years of marriage silent on either party's retirement & affect on agreed-on permanent alimony. 10 years after divorce, after FH turns 65, but 2 years before target retirement date, he petitions to modify or terminate alimony. He kept working after 65 - sick current wife needed health insurance until she reached 65. "Settlement agreements are to be interpreted in accordance with laws governing contracts. Thus, absent evidence of the parties' intent to the contrary, the unambiguous language of the agreement should be interpreted according to its plain meaning." Dogoda v. Dogoda, 233 So. 3d 484, 487-88 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017) (quoting Johnson v. Johnson, 848 So. 2d 1272, 1273 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)).
"Consistent with notions of equity is the consideration of whether the parties contemplated the substantial change in circumstances and accounted for such change when they agreed on the terms of the support award." Dogoda, 233 So. 3d at 487.
Lesson for #collaborativedivorce & #maritalsettlementagreements & #florida divorce final judgments - If you anticipate or foresee events or contingencies, consider & negotiate language now & include a provision in the agreement about handling them once they occur. There is no discussion of "anticipated," "unanticipated," or "foreseeable" events in Pimm v. Pimm, 601 So. 2d 534 (Fla. 1992).
Pimm focused on the reasonableness of a former spouse's voluntary retirement as a basis for modification. Including a provision about retirement in an MSA or final judgment is preferable, but not doing so doesn't preclude a spouse from petitioning for modification for those reasons. When considering a party's financial need for funds to secure competent legal counsel, there's no requirement both parties have legal counsel of equal experience or ability; nor is an impecunious spouse entitled to retain legal counsel charging fees comparable to those of attorney retained by other spouse. The purpose of a fee award in a dissolution action is to "ensure that both parties . . . have similar access to counsel and that neither has an unfair ability to obtain legal assistance because of the other's financial advantage." Young v. Young, 898 So. 2d 1076, 1077 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005). Original settlement agreement equalized parties' financial positions through alimony & equitable distribution of marital assets. FW had substantial nonmarital assets: $66,000/year alimony, owned over $600K cash assets, had net worth of $2.6 million.
Masnev v. Masnev, 253 So. 3d 6384th DCA August 15, 2018Reverses lump sum child support award no statute or case precedent allows lump sum child support. Trial court on remand may consider sequestering obligor's assets to secure child support award. MasnevChild Support
Frank v. Frank, 253 So. 3d 124th DCA August 8, 2018Ex husband had to pay alimony, left ex-wife postdated checks while he was on a long trip sailing. First check bounces; she moves for contempt, serving motion by email, mail, fax, & published notice of action. Contempt order transferring rights to marital home for failure to pay alimony was improper. Courts broad discretion to sanction creatively to enforce a judgment has limits. Contempt does not lie to enforce a property settlement from a dissolution of marriage. FrankContempt
Ryan v. Ryan, 252 So. 3d 272 4th DCA August 8, 2018Mom's late response to dad's relocation petition after she timely got a lawyer was the lawyer's fault, for reasons he couldn't control: his hospitalization, his child's sudden illness. 61.13001(3)(d), Florida Statutes allows granting relocation when other parent fails to object, absent "good cause," but should be used for parents who put up roadblocks to relocation, not when a parent shows intent to participate in the relocation process. Florida law frowns on defaults, encourages hearing for both parents to present evidence and judge to consider multiple factors to determine if relocation is in children's best interests. RyanTimesharing - Relocation
Knecht v. Palmer, 252 So. 3d 8425th DCA August 3, 20183 yr marriage - realtor wife enters marriage w assets; CPA husband enters with debt. Appreciation in marriage of home for which realtor made down payment w her premarital $. Title, debt to home in her name only. During marriage, mortgage payments came from her premarital assets. Purchase price $412,000"¦then parties spent ½ million remodeling home, but agreed value at divorce was $575,000. Agreed appreciation = $163,000 (agreed value - purchase price). FH argues money for renovations coming from FW's nonmarital sources were commingled into joint account. $ came from her trust, transferred into business account she owned individually but on which FH could sign, then into joint checking account to pay for renovations. Appellate court agrees FW commingled funds in joint checking account into which FH has deposited some $, triggering a presumption she intended to give him ½ of funds she contributed.
For calculator of marital component of appreciation in nonmarital property useful as a tool in #collaborativedivorce #collaborative, try out @SCL_Collaborate https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/nonmarital_prop_calculator
Knecht v. Palmer - BUT - Fifth DCA concludes facts caused for unequal distribution of marital assets in FW's favor & trial court's findings supported such unequal distribution.
Court's blanket reservation of jurisdiction for any modification of final judgment of dissolution is legally wrong and unnecessary. Parties' property rights if determined by judgment are fixed.
KnechtEquitable Distribution
McKnight v. McKnight, 252 So. 3d 8251st DCA August 1, 2018"Special circumstances" warranting order that spouse secure alimony with life insurance include:
(1) potential recipient will be left in dire circumstances if obligor dies
(2) obligor is in poor health
(3) minors living at home
(4) supported spouse has limited earning capacity
(5) obligor in arrears on support obligations
(6) obligor agrees to secure alimony with life insurance
St. Mary's School of Medicine Limited v. Zabaleta, 252 So. 3d 3713d DCA August 1, 2018Med student, to whom his former med school (St. Mary's) refused degree, sued. School said he didn't finish paying tuition. To enforce settlement agreement an attorney allegedly signs for a client, party seeking enforcement must show a clear unequivocal grant of authority to attorney to enter into agreement. Attorneys emailed back-and-forth negotiated terms and spoke by phone, but their testimony conflicted, including whether St. Mary's authorization to agree still had to be obtained. Former med student failed to show "clear and unequivocal grant of authority" by medical school (which closed 5 years after suit began) to its attorney to settle 12-year running lawsuit on terms laid out in email of August 30, 2016. 14 years later, 2004 case remanded for further proceedings.ZabaletaMarital Settlement Agreements
Buschor v. Buschor, 252 So. 3d 8335th DCA August 1, 20185th DCA reverses final judgment modification denying mom's petition for relocation & changing child's primary residence to dad's - something he didn't request - w no notice to her. Mom & dad divorce prior to son's birth, agree on graduated timesharing based on child's age. But dad files modification action when child is 3 months old, resulting in mediated increased agreed timesharing. Both parents remarry. A year goes by. Dad files 2d action to modify, asking for 50-50 overnight timesharing & alleges but fails to prove parental alienation & that mom interfered w/ his time. Mom's current husband's job comes to abrupt end; he's given option to keep working same job in South Florida or Alabama. Child's dad had to but didn't maintain son on his insurance plan. Child is on mom's current husband's health insurance, as are newborn & his 2 kids by prior marriage. Mom files motion to relocate to S. Fla for financial necessity caused by current husband's change of employment. Judge orders parents to try resolving things themselves. The next day, FW files petition to relocate, but without court order moves with child to South Florida. Dad files motion for contempt & return of child. Parents reach temporary agreement they share equal timesharing alternating week on, week off for 6 months. Judge denies mom's request for relocation, concluding she wouldn't cooperate in allowing dad "liberal and frequent" visitation, but never defines that inviting repeat returning to court. Judge appears to punish mom for not buckling to dad's ever-increasing demands for more time, contrary to emails & texts backing mom's testimony she's allowed dad extra time. Dad is aggressive: After mom agrees he could pick up child early on day he wasn't working, he ignores agreed-upon pickup time, shows up at & breaks into mom's home, & takes sleeping son from his room. Combative dad routinely removes son from daycare with no prior notice to mom, making other kids in daycare cry. He conducts surveillance on mom's home. He discusses disputes in child's presence over mom's requests he not do that. Mom meets her burden of proving relocation to South Florida is in son's best interests. Once burden of proof shifts to dad to show otherwise, he fails to meet burden. Even though mom relocates without dad's consent or prior court approval, that alone isn't enough to deny relocation. BuschorTimesharing - Relocation
McNeil v. Jenkins-McNeil, 252 So. 3d 354 5th DCA July 27, 2018Failure to prove 6-month residency for Florida court to have jurisdiction over #divorce. Former husband didn't attend trial. Former wife failed to present valid FL driver license, FL voter's registration card, FL ID card or testimony or affidavit of 3d party to corroborate residence. Residency requirement can't be established by uncorroborated testimony of 1 party; parties can't waive requirement by admission in pleadings; parties can't establish residency by agreement.McNeilJurisdiction
Franco v. Thomas, 251 So. 3d 325 3d DCA July 25, 2018Parties agreed each would keep nonmarital assets, w/ husband to retain family home he purchased prior to marriage. Trial court enters final judgment incorporating settlement agreement. But where will 2 minor kids live after judgment? Dad files unlawful detainer action to evict mom & kids from home. Mom files 12.540 motion to vacate judgment, saying final judgment she agreed to, never sought to be reheard & never appealed wasn't fair to kids. Mom cites Dorsett v. Dorsett, 902 So. 2d 947 (Fla 4th DCA 2005) rev'd FJ premised on parents' oral agreement re relocating child, requiring trial ct to determine independently if agreed-upon arrangement wouldn't harm child's interests. Too late for mom to claim legal error under 12.540 (or Fla. Rule Civ. P. 1.540) - She had to seek timely rehearing under Family Rule 12.530 or timely appeal final judgment. FrancoPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Elkins v. Elkins, 252 So. 3d 254 4th DCA July 18, 2018Because trial court found "best efforts" used in parties' marital settlement agreement was ambiguous, it was premature to force former husband to disclose extensive personal financial information to ex-wife about his girlfriend, business, and himself. Before deciding if extensive financial discovery former wife requested about whether ex-husband used "best efforts" to remove her from mortgage on property, trial court first had to decide meaning of ambiguous marital settlement agreement. Former Husband argued "best efforts" is ambiguous, and parties didn't mean he had to devote all his resources to paying off mortgage if that would be financially unreasonable. Former wife argued he had $$ to pay off mortgage, but used his money to do other things, like supporting his girlfriend and her kids in an affluent lifestyle.ElkinsMarital Settlement Agreements
Holloway v. Holloway, 246 So. 3d 1307 5th DCA July 13, 2018Error for court to order former husband to pay portion of former wife's attorney fees when he was in no better financial position than she to pay her fees. How much did they spend fighting over fees, including fees on appeal? #collaborativedivorce HollowayAttorney Fees
Gibson v. Wells Fargo Bank, 255 So. 3d 9442d DCA July 13, 2018Proceedings supplementary. Creditor can't satisfy debt 1 spouse incurs by garnishing federal tax refund issued in both spouses' names & deposited in joint checking account. Tenancy by entirety status can attach to anticipated receipt of a tax refund when spouses filed amended joint tax return. Once TBE status of asset is established, later transfer to another asset (joint bank account) doesn't terminate unities of title or possession. In Beal Bank, SSB v. Almand & Assocs, 780 So. 2d 45 (Fla. 2001) - Florida Supreme Court eliminated distinctions between real property & personal properyt held jointly by H & W, presumed tenancy by entireties. State law creates & defines property interests. Butner v. United States, 440 US 48, 55 (1979). Federal tax law creates no property rights but merely attaches federally defined consequences to rights state law creates.
United States v. Bess, 357 US 51, 55 (1958)
United States v. Nat'l Bank of Commerce, 472 US 713, 722 (1985).
Unless both spouses incurred debt, funds they own as tenants by entireties are beyond the reach of a creditor of either spouse. Atuna v. Dawson, 459 So. 2d 1114 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984)
IRS's power to tax and attach liens, unlike other creditors, gives IRS special authority under Internal Revenue Code to defeat unity of interest presumed to exist under Beal Bank & go after tenancy by entireties property. In re Uttermohlen, 506 BR 142 (2012). Tenancy by entirety status can attach to anticipated receipt of a tax refund when spouses filed amended joint tax return. Once TBE status of asset is established, later transfer to another asset (joint bank account) doesn't terminate unities of title or possession. Whether tax refunds were related to husband's economic activity alone is irrelevant.
FCCI Commercial Insurance v. Empire, 250 So. 3d 858 2d DCA July 13, 2018Attorney's fees, inherent authority - evidence didn't support finding insurance co engaged in egregious or bad faith conduct. Trial court's inherent authority to award attorney fees when a party exhibits egregious or bad faith conduct should rarely be exercised. This inherent authority is reserved for extreme cases where a party acts "in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons." Imposition of sanctions under inherent authority must be supported by detailed fact findings describing specific acts of bad faith conduct resulting in unnecessary attorney fees.FCCIAttorney Fees
Williams v. Williams, 251 So. 3d 926 4th DCA July 11, 2018Trial court misunderstood: through contempt power, it COULD compel former wife to comply with marital settlement agreement it found she breached. She failed to make "all reasonable efforts" to refinance marital home - never even applied for refinancing. Contempt isn't available to punish failure to pay money equitable distribution requires, but is available to compel performing an act.WilliamsContempt
Lane v. Lane, 254 So. 3d 570 3d DCA July 11, 2018Shared parenting when divorced parents disagree over public versus private school. If parties haven't agreed on alternative dispute resolution (mediation, #collaborative), trial court must resolve impasse by determining child's best interest. Short time between best interest determination and deadline for applying to private school distinguished facts from those when judges made improper prospective best interest determinations. Trial court can't preclude a parent from practicing relighion or influencing religious training of child inconsistent w that of other parent. But mom's objection to private school wasn't over its religious affiliation or conflict w her religious beliefs. No violation of shared parental responsibility for dad to take son for academic testing (admission assessment test) w/o mom's knowledge or consent. LaneParenting Plans
New Florida Family Law RulesFlorida LegislatureJuly 1, 2018Effective July 1, 2018, the Florida Legislature, joining 13 other states, adopts "Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act" (UDPCVA). Ch. 18-69, § 1, Laws of Fla. (creating new sections 61.703-773, Florida Statutes). Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act
New 61.739(1) reads: Upon the motion of a deploying parent and in accordance with general law, if it is in the best interest of the child, a court may grant temporary caretaking authority to a nonparent who is an adult family member of the child or an adult who is not a family member with whom the child has a close and substantial relationship.
In the case of an adult who is not a family member with whom the child has a close and substantial relationship, the best interest of the child must be established by clear and convincing evidence.
New 61.703 defines "close substantial relationship": "a positive relationship of substantial duration and depth in which a significant emotional bond exists between a child and a nonparent."
Court declines to reach mom's constitutional challenge to 61.13002(2), Florida Statutes.
Simmonds v. Perkins, 247 So. 3d 397Supreme Court of FloridaJune 28, 2018Supreme Court of Florida holds biological dad may rebut common law presumption bio mom's husband is child's legal father, where she or husband objects to allowing rebuttal. Conditions for bio dad rebut presumption of legitimacy:
(1) Bio dad has "manifested a substantial and continuing concern" for the welfare of the child
(2) there is a "clear and compelling reason based primarily on the child's best interests"
Mom told dad she married another man for "immigration purposes" only. When child was born, bio dad had no idea there was an intact marriage. Bio dad was at hospital for child's birth, husband's name not on birth certificate, mom gives child bio dad's last name, raised child with him. Bio dad took child to doctor visits, enrolled child in day care, regularly & voluntarily paid child support. Child knows bio dad as "daddy." The presumption of legitimacy creates no absolute bar to a biological father's action to establish parental rights when mom was married at child's birth and both she & husband object.
Mulvey v. Stephens, 250 So. 3d 106 4th DCA June 27, 2018Daughter sues dad's widow (step-mom) for tortious interference with expectancy (inheritance). Because daughter failed to show alleged undue influencer (widowed stepmom) committed an independent tort against decedent (dad), jury improperly found in favor of daughter on her tortious interference claim. MulveyTrusts & Estates
Rivera v. Purtell, 252 So. 3d 283 5th DCA June 22, 2018Dad was right: trial court was mistaken concluding it couldn't prospectively modify timesharing once child starts kindergarten. Child's starting kindergarten was an objectively, reasonably certain future event. It was not improperly prospective to order what timesharing would be once child started kindergarten. Distinguishing Arthur v. Arthur, 54 So. 3d 454 (Fla. 2011), the decision about where the child would reside (w dad) once kindergarten starts was not a ruling on a relocation request. The Supreme Court's of Florida's decision in Arthur only prohibits the trial court from predicting a change in a child's best interest at some future date or event. But the prohibition does not prohibit a timesharing plan that applies a child's best interests as determined at the time of the final hearing to an event reasonably and objectively certain to occur at an identifiable time in the future. For such cases, no "crystal ball" is required. "When crafting a timesharing plan, a trial court must be free to account for reasonably and objectively certain future events. Otherwise, the parties would be required to continuously seek permission from the court after every change that inevitably occurs in a child's life, like starting school. We decline Mother's invitation to interpret Arthur's prohibition so broadly that Florida's trial courts become de facto parents." RiveraTimesharing - Relocation
Malowney v. Malowney, 250 So. 3d 204 2d DCA June 20, 2018For modifying alimony, changes must be substantial, not contemplated at dissolution judgment, and "sufficient, material, permanent, and involuntary." MalowneyAlimony
Solomon v. Solomon, 251 So. 3d 2443d DCA June 20, 2018Final Judgment failed to set forth specific steps dad must take to obtain unsupervised time sharing with his children. Court can't simply adopt evaluator's & GAL's reports recommending short-term supervised timesharing but not identifying steps for terminating it.
Solomon Timesharing
Daniels v. Caparello, 249 So. 3d 760 1st DCA June 18, 2018Mom can't belatedly seek to back out of her mediated settlement agreement w dad, resolving paternity action or later week-on, week off schedule she agreed to. Mom can't now say specific schedule the trial court established & she agreed to wasn't in child's best interest when she never presented that to the trial court for a ruling.Daniels Parenting Plans
In re: Amendments to Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms, 246 So. 3d 1131Supreme Court of FloridaJune 15, 2018New form 12.913(a)(3) - Notice of Action for Termination of Parental Rights and Stepparent Adoption
Florida Family Law Forms Amended June 2018
Amended Form 12.951(a) Petition to Disestablish Paternity or Terminate Child Support Obligation
Amended Form 12.951(b) Order Disestablishing Paternity and/or Terminating Child Support Obligation
FormsFamily Law Procedure
Bouin v. DiSabatino, 250 So. 3d 168 4th DCA June 13, 2018Husband sues wife during divorce for 7 separate interspousal counts: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; Tortious Interference with a Business Relationship; Breach of Contract; Conversion; Civil Theft; Violation of the Civil Remedies for Criminal Practices Act; & Defamation by Implication. He claimed she forged checks, stole credit cards out of mail, transferred $ to his mother-in-law & herself, caused lender to reject application for $2.5 million mortgage. Citing Beers v. Beers, 724 So. 2d 109 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998), trial court ruled counts arose during marriage, so were under exclusive jurisiction of family court handling dissolution proceeding. Distinguishing Beers, appellate court held interspousal claims involving nonmarital property were not barred. Whether spouse's complaint could be brought separately, or was exclusively within the jurisdiction of the dissolution case, depends findings of fact about whether claims involved marital or nonmarital property.Bouin Equitable Distribution
Rodriguez v. Roca, 254 So. 3d 541 3d DCA June 6, 2018Remand for trial judge to receive evidence on whether, under Casto v. Casto, 508 So. 2d 330 (Fla. 1987) a postnuptial (marital settlement) agreement providing for no alimony should be set aside. Notary who didn't speak but could read, write English well helped parties fill out Family Law Self Help form for marital settlement agreement. Trial judge made no finding of fraud, deceit, duress, coercion, misrepresentation, overreaching under Casto. Judge took no evidence the agreement made an unfair or unreasonable provision for wife or about husband's financial means. Judge took no evidence about adequacy of wife's knowledge of financial condition at the time of agreement and if she were prejudiced by lack of information. Might #collaborative comediation have helped the parties avoid 2 years of litigation, appeal, remand, fees?Rodriguez Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Gutierrez v. Gutierrez, 248 So. 3d 271 3d DCA June 6, 2018Judge's findings of fraud, misrepresentation, coercion in mediated marital settlement agreement were not supported by competent substantial evidence. Former husband's translator for mediation testified he incorrectly translated MSA, assets were excluded, former husband felt coerced into signing because his former attorney told him he'd have to pay to leave mediation. Former husband freely chose interpreter at mediation. Any misunderstandings w his interpreter wasn't fraud. Alleged misrepresentation in discovery came from nondisclosure of former husband's own assets, not former wife's. "Pressure to settle" is insufficient proof of coercion necessary to set aside marital settlement agreement reached after mediation. Crupi v. Crupi, 784 So. 2d 611 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001)GutierrezMarital Settlement Agreement
Amro v. Gazze, 244 So. 3d 334 4th DCA June 6, 2018When judge orders defaulting party to pay attorney fees under Marital Settlement Agreement to nondefaulting party, judge must find reasonable hourly rate & number of hours expended. Failure to do so resulted in appeal, remand, more expenses & delay.AmroAttorney Fees
Gelber v. Brydger, 248 So. 3d 1170 4th DCA June 6, 2018Former spouse's ability to access retirement accounts w/o penalty may be considered in analysis of sufficient change in circumstances warranting downward modification of alimony "IF MSA or final judgment didn't already take retirement accounts into consideration in setting alimony. MSA did not take into account income from retirement accounts FW would receive w/o penalty once she reached retirement age. Former wife, arguing her future receipt of income from retirement accounts, being "anticipated," "foreseeable," couldn't be grounds for modification, because only "unanticipated, "unforeseeable" changes provide grounds for modification. Alimony modification statute (Fla Statutes 61.14) makes no reference to a change in circumstances being "unanticipated." The notion of "anticipated" change in circumstances crept into FL law over years. Word choice of "anticipated" was unfortunate. Florida's alimony modification statute refers to changed circumstances & financial ability, & permits court to enter orders "as equity requires." Underlying legal principle: If a particular occurrence was a factor considered in initially fixing award in question, don't change award in parties' marital settlement agreement or final judgment because of that occurrence. Gelber Alimony
Castleman v. Bicaldo, 248 So. 3d 1181 4th DCA June 6, 2018Philippine immigrant married husband, got conditional permanent resident status (Green Card). 26-months after marriage, husband files for dissolution. Trial court erred by ruling if wife's application for citizenship were denied, she could take the parties' child w/ her to Philippines, but court didn't comply with Florida's 61.13001 relocation statute. Mom might be forced to go back to Philippines, but judge must still make relocation inquiry under 61.13001 to determine if child should be allowed to relocate. Court erred by making prospective-based finding it was in child's best interest to move to Philippines at future, uncertain date. See Arthur v. Arthur, 54 So. 3d 454 (Fla. 2010). Error to award durational alimony longer than duration of marriage, measured by date of marriage through date of filing petition for dissolution. Parties' attempts to reconcile after filing don't extend length of marriage.
In Re: The Name Change of Maria Fernanda Benitez - 06/13/18 - 3d DCA - mom seeking name change of child knew identity of father, but paternity hadn't been sought or established. She failed to find & serve him w name change petition.
In Re: The Name Change of Maria Fernanda Benitez - Known father entitled to consent or be served w name change petition for child, paternity of whom hadn't yet been established.
Castleman Timesharing - Relocation
Williams v. Sapp, 255 So. 3d 912 1st DCA May 31, 2018In wife's absence and with no notice to her, trial judge performed an unsolicited rewrite of a signed mediation marital settlement agreement. Mom & Dad finally settled after years of protracted litigation, agreeing she'd have sole parental responsibility. At 5-minute status conference, rather than approving agreement as parties requested, judge reworked it, struck through provisions, inserted handwritten edits. Later, judge said Wife failed to attend a trial never scheduled or noticed! "Blindsiding a party by announcing on the day of the hearing that the court will entertain evidence at a hearing not noticed as an evidentiary hearing is the epitome of a due process violation." (cites omitted)WilliamsMarital Settlement Agreement
Horgan v. Cosden, 249 So. 3d 683 2d DCAMay 25, 2018Beneficiaries of mom's trust wanted their money now! Son, the income beneficiary of revocable trust that became irrevocable on mom's death, w/ charities to receive principal on son's death, sought modification of trust. Florida Statutes, §736.04113 allows terminating irrevocable trust if purposes of trust have become fulfilled or wasteful. §736.04115 allows a judge to modify irrevocable trust if in best interests of beneficiaries. Plain language of trust showed mom wanted to provide for son by incremental distributions of income, THEN give entire principal to educational institutions. Early termination would frustrate the purposes of the trust.There'd been no waste of trust assets; no evidence the trust purposes had been fulfilled, or termination of trust was in beneficiaries' best interest. No indication admin expenses were unusual, or principal had been invaded, or market fluctuations created real risk mom's intent would be thwarted. Settlor (mom) may not have wanted to spell out in trust document why she didn't want to provide son & charitable remainder beneficiaries with a lump sum distribution. That's her prerogative! Horgan Trusts & Estates
Carefirst of Maryland, Inc. v. Recovery Village at Umatilla, LLC, 248 So. 3d 1354th DCA May 23, 2018In evaluating minimum contacts for personal jurisdiction, purposeful availment of the benefits of Florida law by directing action at Florida is the correct test. Carefirst is a MD-based insurance co & licensee of Blue Cross & participant in Blue Card Program, which allowed members to get care nationwide & Carefirst to charge in-state discounts Blue Cross uses in that state. Customers accessed website directing them to BC's national doctor & hospital finder. Carefirst contracted w/ FL Blue for it to pay health care providers a price determined by FL Blue. Carefirst then reimburses FL Blue. 8 MD residents get treatment from Umatilla Florida-based substance abuse & eating disorder facility, which claimed Carefree shorted it on reimbursements. Carefirst's contact w provider was based on customer's unilateral decision to get treatment in FL. Not enough to establish specific personal jurisdiction over foreign insurer. Florida Blue was not Carefirst's Florida agent. CarefirstJurisdiction
Heard v. Perales, 247 So. 3d 533 4th DCA May 16, 2018Court did not abuse discretion by imputing minimum wage income to wife. Once court found mom could work, court must impute some income to her. Evidence supported court's rejecting mother's contention she couldn't work & her job search was inadequate. No showing her disabilities prevented her from getting a job. A successor judge may not enter order or judgment based on evidence the predescessor judge heard.Heard Child Support
Fazio v. Fazio, 247 So. 3d 531 4th DCA May 16, 2018Court finds marital settlement agreement ambiguous because "marital portion" of Florida Retirement System was susceptible to more than 1 interpretation, as applied to FRS enhancement purchased during marriage. Remanded for evidentiary hearing on meaning of disputed language. How much in attorney fees did the parties devote to litigating, appealing, remand of this "settled" case? FazioMarital Settlement Agreements
Sealy v. Sealy, 245 So. 3d 808 4th DCA May 16, 2018Mediated settlement agreement clear if FW failed to refinance mortgage in 6 months, FH could have house sold or refinance it in his name & buy FW out for 50% equity. But trial court erred in determining FH would be entitled to 50% proceeds of forced sale of home (only if he refinances & buys out FW's interest). Reversed & remanded for evidence to determined parties' entitlement ot sale proceeds under MSA if house is sold but not refinanced. SealyMarital Settlement Agreements
Morrison v. Morrison, 247 So. 3d 604 2d DCAMay 11, 201827-year marriage resolved by marital settlement agreement, but its ambiguous terms required external evidence of intent re % of former husband's future inheritance former wife would receive as part of equitable distribution. former husband's dad created spendthrift trust to pay former husband periodically on dad's death. Former husband's refused to pay any to former wife, claiming such funds weren't "inherited." When a marital settlement agreement (read: contract) is latently ambiguous, parol evidence establishes what the parties would've done, had they thought to do it.
Key extrinsic fact: the means by which former husband would receive funds when parents died. What would former wife and former husband have provided, had they known he'd not receive funds outright, but would receive them only as beneficiary of a spendthrift trust?
MorrisonMarital Settlement Agreements
Quillen v. Quillen, 247 So. 3d 40 1st DCA May 3, 2018Former husband's "Motion to Dismiss" a motion - not a pleading - was not an authorized response to FW's motion for contempt & enforcement, under Florida Family Rules of Procedure 12.100(b). Nonmoving party may respond to motion with written response or memorandum of law. A motion is not a responsive pleading. Appellate court exercises de novo review of a consent final judgment - as with settlement agreements. Rule is don't disturb parties' agreement unless it's ambiguous or needs clarification, modification, or interpretation. Trial court finds unambiguous, but appellate court finds ambiguous - relevant terms concerning FW's right to continuing alimony after child support terminates were latently ambiguous: what did the parties intend about alimony once youngest child reached majority? Case remanded. Further proceedings to receive parol evidence regarding parties' intent. Final judgment was entered 13 years earlier. Had the parties tried #collaborativedivorce #collaborative in initial proceedings, how many "alimony" payments could have been made with $$ spent on attorney fees & costs for protracted postjudgment proceedings, appeal, remand, further proceedings?QuillenMarital Settlement Agreements
Preudhomme v. Preudhomme, 245 So. 3d 989 1st DCA May 3, 2018Trial court engaged in prohibited prospective based analysis when it set a timesharing plan for child. Arthur v. Arthur, 54 So. 3d 454 (Fla. 2010) - a petition for relocation must be determined based on the present best interests of the child, because "a trial court is not equipped with a "˜crystal ball' that enables it to prophetically determine" whether any changes would occur in the parties' lives in the interim.
J.P. v. D.P., 196 So. 3d 1274 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016) Court disapproved the use of a prospective-based analysis, where the trial court found that it was in the first-grade child's best interest to be with the father during the school year, but then ruled that the child should move over 300 miles away five years later to live with the mother. In ruling that it was in the best interest of the child for the parties to continue to rotate weekly timesharing until the child entered kindergarten, when it would be in the child's best interest to begin majority timesharing with Appellee, the court engaged in the type of prospective-based analysis prohibited.
Although parties, by collaboratively reached parenting plan, cannot divest the trial court of its independent obligation to consider child's best interests, or invite adoption of a parenting plan with prospective-based terms upon happening of future events, in #collaborative #collaborativefamilylaw, parties could agree to return to collaborative team upon occurrence of future events that would modify the parenting plan.
PreudhommeTimesharing - Relocation
Morris v. Morris, 255 So. 3d 908 1st DCA April 30, 2018Bio mom dies. 16-year old girl's step-dad (her bio-dad's brother!) against her bio dad. Bio dad should have had custody unless step-dad proved: (1) bio dad unfit; or (2) remaining with bio dad would result in substantial threat of significant & demonstrable harm to child. Best interest standard is NOT the correct standard under 751.03, temporary custody by extended family member. Preference to natural parent prevails despite 3d persons' capability & willingness to provide better financial, social benefits to child. Step-dad never adopted child. Rather than go to Germany to live with surviving bio dad, 16-year old wanted to stay in FL with younger brother, near older sis, finish school with friends. Parental Preference Rule - natural parent's right to enjoy custody, fellowship, companionship of offspring - older than common law itself. Remand for trial court to analyze detriment in the context of relocation of a child. By the time proceedings after remand conclude"¦ teenage daughter may no longer be a minor. How much did all of this cost everyone? How much upheavel, angst? Could #collaborativelaw have helped this family?MorrisTimesharing - Relocation
Schanck v. Gayhart, 245 So. 3d 970 1st DCAApril 30, 2018$2.5 million equalizing payment owed to FW survived her death. FH defaulted on monthly payments, resulting in money judgments. FW's estate sought order in aid of execution asking FH to turn over stock in company & membership certificates in LLC. FH testifies certificates were transported to new wife's home in Canada. While court has no in rem jurisdiction over property located outside jurisdiction, it has in personam jurisdiction over former husband to order him to take actions with respect to certificates. Provided court doesn't directly affect title to property while it remains in foreign jurisdiction, court with personal jurisdiction over defendant may order him to act on the property.
Compare Sargeant v. Al-Saleh, 137 So. 3d 432 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) - reversed a judgment compelling the turnover of stock certificates located in foreign countries - lower ct lacked in rem jurisdiction over certificates, and in personam jurisdiction over debtors did not confer upon ct power to enter order affecting the certificates. Outlines how creditor may reach debtor's security interests and invoke court's power to, by injunction or otherwise, reach certificated securities or satisfy creditor's claim by means allowed at law or in equity. Court may order certificates cancelled and reissued. Entities (corporation and LLC) didn't need to be made parties to proceedings. Issuer of a certificated security must reissue certificate upon the certificate owner's request. 678.4051.
See also House v. Williams, 573 So. 2d 1012, 1012 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991) - When 1 debtor refused to respond to discovery, other said she didn't know where stock was, court could order corporation to reissue stock certificate.
Schanck Equitable Distribution
De La Piedra v. De La Piedra, 243 So. 3d 1052 1 st DCA April 25, 2018Reverses order setting temporary alimony, child support, and wife's attorney fees representing more than 90% of net income of husband-attorney, who financially supported family while homemaker-mom raised 3 kids. Alimony, including in-kind payments for wife's mortgage, medical insurance & car insurance, student loans, cell phone & medical bills should've been included in wife's income and deducted from husband's income in calculating child support. In award of $10,500 toward wife's temporary attorney fees, trial court failed to take into account alimony & child support payments, to determine husband's ability to pay attorney fees. Remand for court to revisit issues. Compared to the $10,500 temporary attorney fees in dispute, how much money did the family spend for the temporary hearing, appeal, and remand? Could the parties have worked these temporary (and all other) financial issues out using #collaborative interest-based resolution? #collaborativepractice #collaborativelaw #collaborativedivorce. De La PiedraAlimony
Overstreet v. Overstreet, 244 So. 3d 11821st DCA April 25, 2018Case of first impression. 3-year assignment of Navy servicemember to Guam would be a permanent change of station, not triggering right of servicemember to designate family member to exercise time-sharing during a temporary assignment. To interpret statute, court looks to 61.13001 stating relocation with a child is a change in location of the parent's principal residence at least 50 miles from previous residence and for at least 60 consecutive days. To interpret statute, Court also looks to military's technical definitions for "temporarily assigned" and "Permanent Change of Station" (PCS) and Navy's "Temporary Duty" (TEMDU).Overstreet Timesharing - Relocation
Lewis v. Juliano, 242 So. 3d 1146 4th DCA April 18, 2018Trial court couldn't cut off mom's timesharing as sanction for her disobeying order to provide her address. Modification requires substantial change in circumstances & proof modification is in child's best interests. Lewis Timesharing
Greene v. Greene, 242 So. 3d 52 1st DCA April 18, 2018Mom & Dad's disagreement re meaning of "Thanksgiving" winds up in threats, texts, police intervention. Mom's interpretation was unreasonable, but trial court improperly tagged her with dad's attorney fees. Trial Court improperly exercised its inherent authority to award dad attorney fees, but made no express findings of mom's bad faith conduct that caused dad to incur attorney fees unnecessarily. Detailed fact findings of bad faith conduct supporting award of fees under inequitable conduct doctrine must be highly specific and directly correlate to amount of attorney fees & costs imposed on bad faith actor.Greene Attorney Fees
Russell v. Russell, 240 So. 3d 8901st DCA April 5, 2018Court erred by granting mom unpled relief - changing agreement w dad he'd have ultimate say-so over child's daycare, when she never asked for that & parties didn't try that issue by consent. Court increased dad's child support obligation but made no findings regarding parties' incomes. Court cites Aguirre v. Aguirre, 985 So.2d 1203 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008), (final judgment facially erroneous, requiring remand, because it failed to make finding about each party's net income & explain how CS was calculated). Should #collaborative #marital settlement agreements & final judgments - set forth parents' net income & child support calculation? Can collaborative team effectively preserve this baseline information in anticipation of later enforcement or modification?RussellParenting Plans
Harris v. Harris, 241 So. 3d 270 5th DCA March 29, 2018Spouse can't complain on appeal about inadequate findings by trial court without bringing alleged defect to court's attention in motion for rehearing. See also Mathieu v. Mathieu, 877 So. 2d 740, 741 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004) HarrisFamily Law Procedure
Trigeorgis v. Trigeorgis,240 So. 3d 772 4th DCA March 28, 2018Slander of title - Dad against son. Condo investment they were both going in on. Dad fronts $; son belatedly signs loan agreement. When son tries to sell, Dad files claim of interest in public records. Son loses on slander of titled claim. Son failed to present specific evidence showing how Dad's notice of interest played any part (let alone a material part) in inducing others not to deal with him. TrigeorgisProperty
Hedden v. Hedden, 240 So. 3d 148 5th DCA March 16, 2018In 37-yr marriage, permanent alimony presumed for spouse who could earn minimum wage. Combo award of durational & permanent alimony improper when ongoing need for alimony shown. Court should base alimony on snapshot of existing financial circumstances, not on on possibilities likely but not yet realized, such as amt of SS benefits W might receiv or FH's future retirement. Compare flexibility to parties in #collaborativelaw #collaborative to consider, rather than a snapshot, a "moving picture" of their expected financial circumstances & interests, now and as they evolve, to avoid modification actions & further attorney fees & court involvement.HeddenAlimony
Robinson v. Robinson, 248 So. 3d 174 1st DCA March 15, 2018On rehearing, court reverses order dismissing FH's lawsuit based on FW's venue motion. Potential grounds for dismissal discussed in earlier opinion should be addressed by trial court if raised by a proper motion. RobinsonFamily Law Procedure
Leslie v. Gray-Leslie, 187 So. 3d 380 5th DCA March 14, 2018Striking pleadings. Court must still take evidence to support counterpetition, child's best interests. LeslieTimesharing
Subramanian v. Subramanian, 239 So. 3d 719 4th DCA March 14, 2018Trial court erred by delegating to therapists & guardian ad litem authority to determine visitation. With reversal of 1 aspect of timesharing, trial court may reconsider entire plan & take additional testimony. SubramanianParenting Plans
LaMorte v. Testoni, 238 So. 3d 855 4th DCA March 14, 2018Court initially entering order requiring child support payments has continuing jurisdiction to modify the amount & terms & conditions of the child support payments if section 743.07(2), Fla. Stat. applies - that section authorizes a court to require support "for a dependent person beyond the age of 18 years when such dependency is because of a mental or physical incapacity which began prior to such person reaching majority. LaMorte Child Support
Eberhart v. Eberhart, 238 So. 3d 4281st DCA February 23, 2018In their settlement agreement, parties should have defined clearly the "marital portion" of Navy pension benefits accrued during the marriage to which ex husband was entitled to half. EberhartMarital Settlement Agreements
Brooks v. Brooks, 239 So. 3d 758 1st DCAFebruary 23, 2018Court quashes 3 subpoenas by wife for husband's medical, psychotherapist, pharmacy, employment records. Parent's medical records must be relevant to present ability to parent, so prior mental health of parents is rarely relevant or material in a child custody case. Ordered production of privileged medical records to judge for in-camera inspection, rather than directly to opposition, is ok, but, with no alleged calamitous event justifying invading privilege, disclosure shouldn't take place at all.BrooksEvidence
Perez v. Perez, 238 So. 3d 422 5th DCA February 23, 2018"Absent an agreement, a nonmarital asset may not be awarded to the non-owner spouse as equitable distribution." Court's distribution improperly included non-marital assets, i.e., property the divorcing couple had jointly deeded to their sons. Court lacked jurisdiction to compel nonparty sons to return properties to mom or dad. PerezEquitable Distribution
Clayton v. Poggendorf, 237 So. 3d 1041 4th DCA February 21, 2018Attorney no longer representing client principal still had apparent authority as agent, established by practice of receiving notices of late settlement payments and client curing default. Discussion of latent and patent ambiguity in agreements may guide drafters of collaborative marital settlement agreements. Patent ambiguities are on the face of agreement. Latent ambiguities in agreements don't become clear until extrinsic evidence is introduced and parties must interpret language in 2 or more ways. But courts can't give clear, unambiguous language in agreement meaning other than that the parties expressed; courts don't have free reign to modify contracts by supplying information the parties didn't choose to include. When language of settlement agreement was clear, trial court erred by receiving testimony about settlement negotiations, then finding the agreement to be ambiguous.Clayton Marital Settlement Agreements
Wells v. Wells, 239 So. 3d 179 2d DCA February 14, 2018Marital settlement agreement provision saying mom could live in home during daughter's minority and college contemplates property would then be sold. Can't read provision in marital settlement agreement as giving wife the right to live in home indefinitely simply by refusing to sell after daughter finishes college. She must now sell at mutually advantageous price.WellsMarital Settlement Agreements
Persaud v. Persaud, 244 So. 3d 410 5th DCA February 9, 2018Retroactive alimony must be based on recipient's need and payor's ability to pay. Under Section 61.082(h), Florida Statutes, trial court must consider tax consequences to both parties of prospective durational alimony. Substitute opinion replaces earlier one on retroactive support, tax consequences. PersaudAlimony
Soria v. Soria, 237 So. 3d 454 2d DCA February 7, 2018After divorce case was filed, FH transferred 30,000 shares of stock in closely held company to girlfriend, but no evidence countered his testimony it was for her work for company's benefit. No expert testimony about business value, but owner may testify to its value. When valuing business for equitable distribution, consider both company's assets and liabilities. Arbitrary par value ($1/share) bore no relationship to stock's market value. Court specified no valuation date. Value of personal goodwill in business (nonmarital) must be excluded from divisible marital enterprise goodwill. H claimed he WAS the business, which couldn't function without him.SoriaEquitable Distribution
Burnett v. Burnett, 237 So. 3d 447 1st DCA February 5, 2018Award of attorney fees can't be based solely on disparity of income; court must also consider parties' overall financial positions. Ct failed to account that W got $450,000 in liquid assets. BurnettAttorney Fees
Ash v. Campion, 247 So. 3d 581 1st DCA February 5, 2018Discussing criminal and civil contempt, court reverses $100,000 fine against W. If criminal contempt, no requisite protections provided. If civil contempt, no purge provision for fine to be coercive; no evidence of H's losses for fine to be compensatory. Very NON-collaborative behavior. Makar in dissent says, in flagrant disregard of parties' agreement not to harass, molest, or disturb each other, W "sent numerous harassing photographs, text messages, and voicemails that, charitably, can be described as outrageous, profane, and vile."AshContempt
Kirschner v. Kirschner, 244 So. 3d 11054th DCA January 24, 2018Reviewing marital settlement agreement de novo, court finds trial court erred by finding FH's sale or refinance of home was a condition precedent to paying FW's equitable distribution. Payment of former wife's equitable distribution from sale proceeds or a refinance wasn't a condition precedent - only a source for payment. But the parties failed to say what would happen if the sale or refinance did not occur. When and how would ex become obligated to make equitable distribution payment? If home doesn't sell or isn't refinanced, when and how would ex become obligated to make equitable distribution payment? Appeals court sends case back to trial court to resolve latent ambiguity in MSA. Resolving ambiguity in a marital settlement agreement after receiving extrinsic evidence about the parties' intent does not impermissibly modify their agreement. The circuit court should have concluded former marital home may not have sold because former husband's asking price was consistently too high. The court also should have concluded FH, who had no motivation to sell, listed the home at an unrealistic price. Court substitutes this opinion on H's motion for clarification & rehearing. Fact resolution of ambiguity in MSA would not impermissibly modify parties' agreement, but merely would clarify the ambiguity.KirschnerMarital Settlement Agreements
Verrier v. Oaks, 235 So. 3d 1050 2d DCA January 19, 2018Court imposed unsupportable restrictions terminating dad's contact with kids for at least 2 years. VerrierTimesharing
Wohlberg v. Conner, 234 So. 3d 841 4th DCA January 10, 2018Be precise when writing marital settlement agreements! Fourth DCA remands case to consider parties' extrinsic evidence to resolve ambiguity about when equal timesharing would begin. Lesson from noncollaborative case: be precise when writing settlement agreements. With collaborative communications confidential, what could extrinsic evidence to resolve ambiguous provisions be? When circuit court resolves ambiguous time sharing agreement, it must interpret it in accordance with the child's best interests.Wohlberg Marital Settlement Agreements
Price v. Price, 233 So. 3d 525 2d DCA January 5, 2018Equitable distribution reversed on issues about furniture, furnishings, a hot tub, entertainment equipment - how much $$ and time did parties spend to fight over "stuff" at trial, on appeal, after remand?PriceEquitable Distribution
Greenberg Traurig v. Starling, 238 So. 3d 8622d DCA January 5, 2018Trial court strikes law firm's charging lien. It failed to file its notice of charging lien before the parties dismissed the case with no notice to law firm. Threatening letters from the firm to client were insufficient to perfect lien.Greenberg TraurigAttorney Fees
Robinson v. Robinson, 248 So. 3d 174 1st DCAJanuary 3, 2018Trial judge driven by "tipsy coachman" to the right result. FH said FW coerced him to sign settlement agreement w/ pix of him and his mistress. He waits 2 ½ years to try undoing final judgment. Too late: case dismissed. Intrinsic fraud - 1 year deadline.RobinsonMarital Settlement Agreements
Lockett v. Lockett, 235 So. 3d 1003 2d DCA December 27, 2017Order finding husband in default on alimony issue failed to state husband deliberately & willfully failed to comply with discovery orders. How much $$ for 2 motions to compel, 3 motions for contempt on discovery bickering?LockettContempt
Ramos v. Ramos, 230 So. 3d 893 4th DCA November 29, 2017Once owner proves he owned business before marriage, burden shifts to spouse to prove it became marital through enhancement of value. RamosEquitable Distribution
Brady v. Brady, 229 So. 3d 892 5th DCA November 9, 2017Alimony must be calculated on parties' net incomes, not gross incomes.BradyAlimony
Lancaster v. Lancaster, 228 So. 3d 1197 1st DCANovember 6, 2017Trial court has independent duty to determine appropriateness of parents' child support agreements. LancasterChild Support
Kane v. Sanders, 232 So. 3d 1107 3d DCA November 1, 2017Contempt reversed. 2 doctors agreed on indefinite right of first refusal in parenting plan for daughters. Dad interprets restrictively (alleged 45-minute trip to grocery store triggered violation). #collaborativelaw. Imagine the financial, emotional costs from parents' cross-sniping, cross-accusations, & nitpicking for years. #collaborativelaw #collaborative practice. "No written parenting plan can be so complete and unambiguous as to address every eventuality that occurs with developing children over a course of years." "Good will and the best interests of the children are to be the lodestars for former spouses and parents when the parenting plan is incomplete or ambiguous." #collaborativedivorce. Apply common sense to imprecise provisions for rights of first refusal in marital settlement agreements and parenting plans. #collaborativelaw.KaneContempt
Huertas Del Pino v. Huertas Del Pino, 229 So. 3d 8384th DCA November 1, 2017If a party would receive larger benefits by deferring social security benefits, absent evidence suggesting contrary motivation, such a decision could be prudent investment strategy, thus not subject to imputation for alimony.Huertas Del PinoAlimony
West v. West, 228 So. 3d 727 5th DCA October 27, 2017Reverses judgment adopting verbatim husband's proposed judgment, without a single edit. "It is difficult to believe, on such fact-intensive issues as presented here, that an attorney can be so omniscient as to the court's findings that they could be entirely correct without a single edit where the court made no rulings in open court." Ross v. Botha, 867 So. 2d 567, 572 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004) WestJudgments
Campos v. Campos, 230 So. 3d 553 1st DCAOctober 24, 2017Parties litigated for 12+ years - from when 2 kids were preschoolers.CamposAttorney Fees
Goodman v. Goodman, 231 So. 3d 574 2d DCA October 20, 2017Court must make findings re character of stock options as either (or both) a source of income or marital or nonmarital assetsGoodmanEquitable Distribution
Scudder v. Scudder, 228 So. 3d 703 2d DCA October 20, 20176 month residency, subject matter jurisdiction never established in FL, despite parties' agreement.ScudderJurisdiction
Duncan v. Brickman, 233 So. 3d 4772d DCA October 20, 2017Trial court failed to rule for 3 years on mom's contempt motions. Parents litigating more than a decade over child rearing. Baby when litigation began is now 12 years old.Duncan Contempt
Hoyt v. Chalker, 228 So. 3d 697 1st DCAOctober 18, 2017Relocation: How can #collaborative team develop options to meet parties', children's interests? Among court's difficult decisions - How to allocate timesharing between parents. No abuse discretion denying mom's request to move to VA with 2 sons to be with new husband. HoytTimesharing - Relocation
Hodge v. Hodge, 227 So. 3d 1284 5th DCA October 16, 2017Trial court misapplied Kaaa v. Kaaa factors to calculate passive appreciation of nonmarital property - 2 appeals! HodgeEquitable Distribution
Broga v. Broga, 227 So. 3d 239 1st DCA October 11, 2017Court erred by imputed income to corporate pilot in appropriate geographic area. who had equal timesharing. Court failed to distinguish attorney fees for vexatious litigation from those that would've been spent w/o inappropriate litigiousness.BrogaAttorney Fees
Dukes v. Griffin, 230 So. 3d 155 1st DCAOctober 11, 2017Unlike 2d and 4th districts, says trial court has no duty to list steps mom must take to reestablish majority timesharing. No statutory basis for requiring courts to list steps for dissatisfied parties to get more favorable timesharing. 6 rocky years of litigating timesharing, contempt, modifications. Could #collaborativelaw have helped?DukesTimesharing
Schroll v. Schroll, 227 So. 3d 232 1st DCA October 6, 2017Don't use date of filing balance of depleted money market used during divorce for parties' living expenses. Trial. Appeal. Remand. Amount of combined attorney fees? Could they have saved using #collaborativelaw #collaborative?SchrollEquitable Distribution
Neville v. McKibben, 227 So. 3d 12701st DCA October 5, 2017Blanket award of ultimate parental decision making is contrary to statutory concept of shared parental responsibility. Self-serving testimony that changing child's name to "carry on" family name was insufficient.Neville Parenting Plans
Kohl v. D'Ambrosio, 232 So. 3d 3834th DCA October 4, 2017Former wife claims former husband lied on financial affidavit, resulting in wrong 2009 "final" judgment. Remand. KohlFamily Law Procedure
Perkins v. Simmonds, 227 So. 3d 646 4th DCA October 4, 2017Bio dad financially supported & had strong relationship w/ child could pursue paternity action. Not in child's best interest to apply presumption of legitimacy at the cost of child's established relationship with bio dad.Perkins Paternity
Kuchera v. Kuchera, 230 So. 3d 135 4th DCA September 27, 2017Prejudgment interest due on alimony arrearages, despite alleged scorched-earth litigation by former wife. No case law in FL denying prejudgment interest in contract case on the basis of equitable considerations. KucheraAlimony
Bell v. Broch, 230 So. 3d 1252 4th DCA September 27, 2017Guidelines and final judgement ordering wife to pay husband child support conflicted with Marital Settlement Agreement re her yearly income to be used in calculations. BellMarital Settlement Agreements
InIn re Amendments to Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, 227 So. 3d 115Supreme Court of FloridaSeptember 27, 2017Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.4501 on taking judicial notice in family law cases reflects Fla Stat 90.204. 12.902(f)(3) - marital settlement agreement - simplified dissolutions: list last 4 digits of account #s.RulesFamily Law Procedure
Landau v. Landau,230 So. 3d 127 3d DCA September 20, 2017Probate court had inherent jurisdiction to freeze trust assets under court's supervision.LandauTrusts & Estates
Carson v. Carson, 226 So. 3d 37 5th DCA September 18, 2017Court cant's order compliant former husband to complete 8-week cooperative parenting program. Mom in contempt of timesharing plan: withheld kids from dad. She must attend classes.
CarsonParenting Plans
Buchanan v. Buchanan,225 So. 3d 10021st DCA September 13, 2017Wrong to require husband's LLC to continue paying Wife weekly stipend; she did no work for it; LLC wasn't a party. BuchananAlimony
Pulkkinen v. Pulkkinen, 226 So. 3d 352 1st DCA September 5, 2017FL must enforce sister state's order lawfully entered, even if it violates FL public policy re child's right to child support.PulkkinenChild Support
Smith v. Smith, 224 So. 3d 740Supreme Court of FloridaAugust 31, 2017Where right to contract removed, court approval before marriage can be given legal effect, but ward may exercise right to marry. Marriage could be ratified by getting ok after it was solemnized. Supreme Court of Florida discussed "void" and "voidable" marriages. Hearing needed to verify ward understands marriage contract, wants marriage, relationship isn't exploitative.SmithGuardianship
Law Offices of Herssein and Herssein, P.A. v. USAA, 229 So. 3d 408 3d DCA August 23, 2017No disqualification of judge, a Facebook friend of lawyer. Brace yourselves: Facebook friendship doesn't necessarily signify a close relationship! Facebook Friends - Use of data mining and networking algorithms reflects "astounding development in applied mathematics; it constitutes a powerful tool to build personal and professional networks; and it has nothing to do with close or intimate friendships of the sort that would require recusal."HersseinJudiciary
Miller v. Finizio & Finizio, 226 So. 3d 979 4th DCA August 23, 2017Wife's voluntary acceptance of marital settlement agreement didn't bar legal malpractice claim. In malpractice case against Wife's former lawyers, she claimed they failed to get H's mandatory fin disclosures. Wife claimed lawyers told her to just sign marital settlement agreement; they'd pursue financial disclosures later. MillerMarital Settlement Agreements
Sturms v. Sturms, 226 So. 3d 1004 1st DCA August 21, 2017Premarital drilling rights lost marital character when commingled w marital funds. Court double dipped - counted $75 K Jaguar twice. Equitable distribution reversed. Court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate property rights of nonparty 50 % owner of company. SturmsEquitable Distribution
Vilardi v. Vilardi, 225 So. 3d 395 -5th DCA August 18, 2017Gap in spouses' earning abilities not sufficient basis for unequal distribution. VilardiEquitable Distribution
Bond v. Bond, 224 So. 3d 874 2d DCA August 16, 2017Paying mortgage on home where child, other parent reside - factor into child support as in-kind contribution. BondChild Support
Cardona v. Paulhiac Casas, 225 So. 3d 384 3d DCA August 16, 2017Former wife shouldn't have been named beneficiary of life insurance policy to secure child support. Life insurance policy to secure child support must be for benefit of child; no one else. CardonaBeneficiary Designations
Platinum Luxury Auctions v. Concierge, 227 So. 3d 685 3d DCA August 16, 2017Settlement agreement, enforcement #collaborative #MSA. Settlement agmt's terms circumscribe extent of Ct's continuing jurisdiction to enforce agreement. #collaborative #enforcement. Appellate ct quotes portion of sealed settlement agreement - central to issue on appeal. FL Rule Judicial Admin. 2.420(c)(9). Under the guise of enforcing the Settlement Agreement, the trial court impermissibly re-wrote it. #collaborative #settlement Platinum Luxury AuctionsMarital Settlement Agreements
Strinko v. Strinko, 225 So. 3d 367 3d DCA August 16, 2017OH order awarding grandparent visitation entitled to enforcement under Full Faith and Credit Clause of US Constitution. StrinkoTimesharing
DeStefanis v. Tan, 231 So. 3d 5373d DCA August 2, 2017Same sex UK marriage - Italian & Malaysian dads. FL not convenient forum under UCCJEA. Neither dad was a US citizen; didn't now reside in FL, no witnesses in FL, no evidence in FL. Child (born in MO - surrogate) residing in NY with genetic dad. Ct should've considered time child spent living outside FL. Petitions for DOM in London & Miami-Dade. FL home state under UCCJEA - child lived in Miami-Dade for 15 months. Court must consider §61.520(2) inconvenient forum factors including how long child spent residing in NY. But no family in FL, no ties in FL, no FL witnesses, no FL property. Could #collaborativelaw have helped this family?DeStefanis Family Law Procedure - LGBTQ Issues
Dyal v. Dyal, 223 So. 3d 470 5th DCA July 28, 2017Venue fight: Former Husband said, after divorce, ex-wife used up limited Disney free admission passes allocated to him. Former husband sues former wife for conversion and civil theft of Disney spouse pass allowing him limited free admissions. Compared to attorney fees, what were the Disney passes worth? Could collaborative resolution have helped?DyalProperty
Botta v. Ciklin, Lubitz & O.Connell, 222 So. 3d 6054th DCA July 26, 2017Daughters' fight venue (Broward v. Seminole) against lawyers who drafted late mom's Powers of Attorney. Botta Trusts & Estates
H Gregory 1, Inc. v. Cook, 222 So. 3d 610 4th DCA July 26, 2017Mandatory exclusive venue selection clause must be honored unless unreasonable or unjust. H Gregory 1Family Law Procedure
Fischer v. Fischer, 221 So. 3d 1290 1st DCA July 20, 2017No alimony modification: FH change in circumstances not unanticipated or involuntary. FischerAlimony
Whissell v. Whissell, 222 So. 3d 5944th DCA July 12, 2017Parties waived alimony; Court erred by not enforcing prenuptial agreement. Parties intended to take gross salary pymts under prenup in lieu of alimony out of Ch 61. & contempt powers.WhissellPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Spector v. Spector, 226 So. 3d 2564th DCA July 12, 2017Ex-wife can't get attorney fees in divorce appeal against ex-Husband's new wife! SpectorAttorney Fees
Hua v. Tsung, 222 So. 3d 584 4th DCA July 5, 2017Husband's dad transferred stock into son's name to avoid death tax; can't now claim stock still dad's.HuaEquitable Distribution
Sickels v. Sickels, 221 So. 3d 7785th DCA June 30, 2017No finding of compelling reason to separate siblings (1 to stay w mom in FL, 2 to go w/ dad to VA).SickelsTimesharing
Threadgill v. Nishimura, 222 So. 3d 633 2d DCA June 28, 2017Former husband agreed to calculate alimony based on gross income; usually based on net inc. Self employed h's business income means gross receipts minus ordinary, necessary expenses.Threadgill Alimony
Lord v. Lord, 220 So. 3d 5754th DCA June 21, 2017If parties can't amicably divide personal property, court must do it for them. LordEquitable Distribution
Corporate Creations Enterprises v. Fons, 225 So. 3d 296 4th DCA June 21, 2017For personal jurisdiction, can't ignore operating agreement of LLC specifying jurisdiction in FL.Corporate CreationsJurisdiction
Chittim v. Chittim, 230 So. 3d 9662d DCA June 20, 2017Post-bankruptcy, Former Wife may still pursue attorneys fees against former husband. Former wife not judicially estopped from claim for fees; diss'n & bkrtcy proceedings didn't involve same parties.ChittimAttorney Fees
E-Commerce Coffee Club v. Miga Holdings, Inc., 222 So. 3d 9 4th DCA June 18, 2017Internal contradiction in settlement agreement - patent ambiguity. Don't use "defective, obscure, or insensible language in your settlement agreements!E-Commerce CoffeeMarital Settlement Agreements
Nikolits v. Haney, 221 So. 3d 7254th DCAMay 31, 2017Appraiser can't "correct" errors amounting to changes in property appraiser's judgment. Homeowners may seek to prove the market or just value of property was less than Save Our Homes capped value.NikolitsProperty
Newman v. Newman, 221 So. 3d 642 4th DCAMay 31, 2017Self-employed spouses can control & regulate their income. Self-employed spouse's testimony, tax returns, business records may not reflect true earnings, wealth. Failure to comply with discovery may allow court to assign value to closely held business "as equity requires." Could outcome in collaborative approach have been better? What if they had openly exchanged financial info from the start? Avoid fees for prolonged discovery disputes, litigation? #collaborativelaw Newman Equitable Distribution
Spector v. Spector, 226 So. 3d 256 4th DCAMay 24, 2017When is homestead NOT exempt from court's contempt powers? Fraud against alimony creditor. Ex-husband quitclaims home to new wife & himself; title to life ins policy to her, too. Homestead protection no shield against ex who acts egregiously, reprehensibly, fraudulently. SpectorContempt
Downs v. Ledoux-Nottingham, 219 So. 3d 244 5th DCA May 19, 2017Make-up visitation. FS § 61.526, authorizes "any remedy" to enforce another state's child custody determination. Grandparents may pursue makeup visitation. Trial ct must decide if GP visitation would be in children's best interest. Col GP visitation order s.t. Full Faith & Credit - Ledoux-Nottingham v. Downs, 210 So. 3d 1217, 1219 (Fla. 2017). DownsTimesharing
Martinez v. Martinez, 219 So. 3d 259 5th DCA May 19, 2017Dissolution; summary judgment. Son allegedly acting in concert with dad properly made a respondent in divorce. No need to specify separate cause of action against 3d party; it's incidental to the divorce. 3d parties whose property rights equitable distribution would affect are indispensable.MartinezEquitable Distribution
Rosaler v. Rosaler, 219 So. 3d 840 4th DCA May 10, 2017Yellow diamond sold for $142,000. $60,000 went to wife's attorney & CPA fees. With no findings entitling Wife to separate award for temporary attorney fees, she'd bear them. Remand - more delay, fees & costs! Court must consider tax implications of alimony award. RosalerAttorney Fees
Robinson v. Robinson, 219 So. 3d 933 4th DCA May 5, 2017Court abused discretion; modified agreed child support; dad changed jobs, income dropped. Consider writing in collaborative Marital Settlement Agreements baseline & conditions for later modification. #collaborative RobinsonMarital Settlement Agreements
Hua v. Tsung, 222 So. 3d 5844th DCA May 5, 2017Husband and dad claimed family stock nonmarital, but wanted tax savings from transferring stock to husband during marriage. Husband and dad's desire to avoid 40% tax on stock resulted in presumption they'd lose 50% to wife! HuaEquitable Distribution
Hanson v. Hanson, 217 So. 3d 1165 2d DCA April 28, 2017After equalizing assets, income, court improperly ordered husband to pay wife $86,000 more in fees. Husband already paid $47,277 towards wife's fees. >$130,000 just for wife. Husband grossed $6,842/mo. Wife's attorney fees = 1 ½ years of H's working! More than 20 % of marital assets she received. Don't know how much H's own attorney fees were. Appeals ct remands for further proceedings. More attorney fees, delay.HansonAttorney Fees
Wilkerson v. Wilkerson, 220 So. 3d 480 5th DCA April 21, 2017Court may set initial child support obligation, impute income to incarcerated parent. May impute income to sex criminal in federal prison. Certifies case conflict. Voluntary crimes don't shield prisoner from obligation to support child. Court may establish support.WilkersonChild Support
Aranda v. Padilla, 216 So. 3d 652 4th DCA April 12, 2017Error not to give dad holiday timesharing absent findings justifying such denial. Right to child on rotating holidays has become so routine & necessary, that to deny it requires factual findings. Parents should share travel costs for timesharing according to their financial means. ArandaTimesharing
Regan v. Regan, 217 So. 3d 914th DCA April 12, 2017Former Wife cut expenses by > ½, court cut alimony she and Former Husband agreed he'd pay her. Should hidden strings be attached to agreed amount of alimony? Should how alimony is spent justify modification? If there are to be strings, conditions to spending alimony, say so in the marital settlement agreement. ReganAlimony
Hooker v. Hooker, 220 So. 3d 397 Supreme Court of FloridaMarch 30, 2017Prenuptial agreement, but interspousal gifts of real property. Parties treated horse farm & home as marital. Evidence & conduct showed properties were interspousal gifts. Husband had requisite donative intent for 2 properties to be considered interspousal gifts. Standard of review: did competent substantial evidence support ct's finding donative intent? Wife could, did treat horse farm & home as her own, even though H pd living expenses from his separate assets. Wife active in design & constrn of horse farm; she took care of barn. Ct looked at conduct, not strict title. Husband transf'd prop during marriage to corp. H & W signed deed transf'g title, used prop for a decade as marital home.HookerPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Rorrer v. Orban, 215 So. 3d 148 3d DCA March 29, 2017Post-divorce combat: 4 years more litigation & 60 motions! #collaborative #collaborativelaw. Combined fees & costs of $515,272.65 #collaborative #collaborativelaw ½ million dollars in attorney fees & costs in post-divorce case. Didn't even include appeal! #collaborative #collaborativelaw RorrerAttorney Fees
Zarzaur v. Zarzaur, 213 So. 3d 1115 1st DCA March 27, 2017Court failed to limit time of order that Wife produce mental health records for 7 yrs. Court and parties must focus on Wife's present parenting ability and fitness.ZarzaurFamily Law Procedure
Myrick v. Myrick, 214 So. 3d 769 2d DCA March 24, 2017Postjudgment litigation. ~$100K just for former husband's attorney fees. #collaborativelaw. Former wife failed to revisit amicably parenting plan that required parties to do that if FH relocated within 10 miles. Trial ct failed to make findings for award under inequitable conduct doctrine (Bitterman, 714 So.2d 356 Fla 1998). Court must explicitly find bad faith & apportion amt of fees, costs directly related to related to bad faith conduct. Could postjudgment #collaborativelaw have avoided costly modification/enforcement action? MyrickAttorney Fees
Bair v. Bair, 214 So. 3d 750 2d DCA March 22, 2017Erred in computing marital portion of husband's interest in nonmarital boat business. How much did 2 experts, discovery, 3-day trial, 8-mo. delay, appeal & remand cost family? #collaborativelaw. Parties were $1 million apart on valuation. Court failed to include value of co's real property. Value of 1 parcel dropped significantly during the marriage, resulting in ct's overstating company's value. Erred in computing marital portion of H's interest in nonmarital boat business. Asset appreciation is a marital asset subject to equitable distribution when marital labor contributes to its value. Appreciation is a marital asset even if primarily created by inflation, market conditions, or other people. Retained earnings are a corporation's accumulated income after dividends have been distributed. Retained earnings acct is a bookkeeping acct, not a corporate cash savings account. Double dip: Ct can't consider same asset twice: can't order distribution of R/E & include them for valuation. How much marital labor actually contributed to enhanced value of business? Don't look at who "owns" what percentage of the enhanced value given the business's corporate structure. Battle of experts Ct accepts 19%, rather than 30%, discount for lack of marketability & control. No evidence undistributed pass through income was being retained for any noncorporate purpose. BairEquitable Distribution
Van Maerssen v. Gerdts, 213 So. 3d 952 4th DCA March 22, 2017Court abused discretion. Awarded "undifferentiated" spousal & child support. Calculate them separately! Van MaerssenAlimony
Ocheesee Creamery v. Putnam, 851 F. 3d 1228 Eleventh Circuit Court of AppealsMarch 20, 2017Florida violated First Amendment by prohibiting use of "skim milk" to describe product. Ocheesee CreameryConstitutional Rights
In re Amendments to Family Law Rules, 214 So. 3d 400Supreme Court of FloridaMarch 16, 2017Florida Supreme Court adopts stand-alone Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure RulesFamily Law Procedure
In re Amendments to Family Law Rules, 214 So. 3d 400Supreme Court of FloridaMarch 16, 2017FL Supreme Court adopts Family Law Rule 12.210 allowing court discretion to appoint a guardian ad litem. "Family cases" includes "declaratory judgment actions related to premarital, marital, or post marital agreements." Interrogatories: Family Rule 12.340 - answering party may produce records in lieu of a written response if sufficient. Fla Sup Ct declines to adopt proposed amendment to Rule 12.610 to replace "immediate and present" danger w/ "imminent danger." Family Rule 12.280 - scope of discovery, protective orders, claims of privilege, electronically stored information.RulesFamily Law Procedure
Viscito v. Viscito, 214 So. 3d 736 3rd DCA March 15, 2017Kaaa formula for marital share of appreciation in nonmarital property. Under Kaaa, marital share = ½ of ((loan-to-value ratio on date of marriage X current FMV) - current mtge balance). Trial ct properly denied voluntarily unemployed gambler permanent periodic alimony in 21-yr marriage. Unemployed gambler's conduct increased the aggregate mortgage debt, forced FW to use nonmarital property to get refinancing. ViscitoEquitable Distribution
Spradley v. Spradley, 213 So. 3d 1042 2d DCA March 8, 2017Jailed brother could maintain claim against mom's estate, brothers for conversion of his legal documents. An "˜estate' isn't an entity that can be a party to litigation; name the personal representative instead. SpradleyTrusts & Estates
Asperbras Tecnologia v. Good Hope, 213 So. 3d 1061 3d DCAMarch 8, 2017Upheld service of process by attorney in Brazil. Inter-American Convention's provisions regarding service of process neither mandatory nor exclusive. Florida courts may accept any method of service of process that doesn't contradict any self-executing international agreement or implementing statutes, or if the foreign state's law doesn't expressly prohibit that method. See Alvarado-Fernandez v. Mazoff, 151 So. 3d 8, 14 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014). Asperbras Family Law Procedure
Flinn v. Doty, 214 So. 3d 683 4th DCA March 8, 2017Court allows foreclosing equitable lien on homestead for money paid to satisfy mortgage on property. FlinnProperty
Conlin v. Conlin, 212 So. 3d 487 2d DCA March 1, 2017Base alimony on net income, not gross income.ConlinAlimony
Schafstall v. Schafstall, 211 So. 3d 1108 3d DCAFebruary 22, 2017Mandatory to include in wife's income in-kind mortgage pymts H made. Include in wife's gross monthly income in kind contributions from her mom. Impute income to bookkeeper Wife. Expert testified wife's chronic fatigue syndrome was self-reported, not based on independent medical evaluation (IME).SchafstallAlimony
Duke v. Duke,211 So. 3d 1078 5th DCA February 10, 2017Court should have imputed to former wife interest income from her half of former husband's retirement account.DukeAlimony
Barsis v. Barsis, 209 So. 3d 654 5th DCA February 3, 2017Court violates mom's due process rights. Gave dad 100% time, but the only issue was place for exchange. BarsisTimesharing
AAF v. Department of Children and Families,211 So. 3d 271 4th DCA February 1, 2017Putative father's claimed he received no notice before termination parental rights. Man who failed to register with Florida Putative Fathers Registry under §63.054, Florida Statutes not entitled to notice. AAFDependency
Raton v. Wallace, 207 So. 3d 9785th DCA December 22, 2016No contempt; Marital Settlement Agreement specified counselor - who was no longer practical when mom relocated. Mom complied with intent of MSA by continuing taking kids for counseling. RatonContempt
Naime v. Corzo, 208 So. 3d 296 3d DCA December 21, 2016Wrong to restrict mom, child future relocation from Miami-Dade County. Mediated settlement agreement never addressed future relocation of child. Could parents have avoided years of litigation and saved $$$$ if they'd used the collaborative team model? #floridacollaborativelaw NaimeTimesharing - Relocation
Nelson v. Nelson, 206 So. 3d 818 2d DCADecember 16, 2016Asset transferred to irrevocable trust in marriage not subject to equitable distribution. Irrevocable trust is a separate legal entity from the divorcing parties. Assets held by nonparty LLCs, corps, partnerships, trusts ordinarily not divisible in divorce. Under §736.0602(1), settlor can't change irrevocable trust f/b/o ex wife & descendants. Trustee or beneficiary may apply to modify irrevocable trust, but ex-wife who was both trustee & beneficiary. didn't do that. §736.0602(1) doesn't authorize court to modify irrev trust to distribute its assets in divorce. Calif home ceased being a marital asset once transferred into irrevocable trust. To reach asset of irrevocable trust, court needs joined all contingent remainder beneficiaries - indispensable parties. Court impermissibly adjudicated property rights of a nonparty to the divorce: the trust. NelsonTrusts & Estates
Coffey-Garcia v. South Miami, 194 So. 3d 533 3d DCA December 16, 2016Attorney-client privilege: Witness must reveal lawyers consulted & when, but not the advice received.Coffey-GarciaEvidence
Harris v. Harris, 205 So. 3d 873 5th DCA December 2, 2016Need for alimony doesn't include voluntary support of grandson, daughter from another relationship. HarrisAlimony
Golson v. Golson, 207 So. 3d 321 5th DCA November 18, 2016Frmer husband can't modify alimony down for circumstances parties contemplated in Marital Settlement Agreement.GolsonAlimony
Henderson-Bullard v. Lockard 5th DCA November 18, 2016Dad with notice of mom's relocation request not entitled to set aside judgment as void. Technical noncompliance with service requirements doesn't render judgment void. No due process violation requiring setting aside order allowing mom to relocate.HendersonTimesharing - Relocation
Ter Keurst v. Ter Keurst, 202 So. 3d 123 2d DCA October 14, 2016Court incorrectly relied on abolished concept of special equity. Court failed to analyze unequal distribution factors. Ter KeurstEquitable Distribution
Berger v. Berger, 201 So. 3d 819 4th DCA October 13, 2016There's still a presumption of permanent alimony after long-term marriage. BergerAlimony
Saucier v. Nowak, 200 So. 3d 1298 5th DCA October 10, 2016No abuse discretion to award dad 45 minutes/day videoconferencing with child. SaucierTimesharing
Clemens v. Clemens, 200 So. 3d 237 5th DCA September 30, 2016No evidence to rebut presumption in long-term marriage for permanent alimony.ClemensAlimony
Guerra v. Guerra, 210 So. 3d 1712d DCA September 28, 2016Court can't say now if support obligations will be dischargeable later in bankruptcy. GuerraAttorney Fees
Koch v. Koch, 207 So. 3d 914 1st DCA September 28, 2016Court can't restrict parent's religious beliefs, even if unconventional. But consideration of religiously motivated acts that affect child's welfare can't be ignored. Dad's actions towards kids, threats of damnation, demonization of mom, caused kids severe distress. Dad's use of Biblical verses as a rod to justify severe punishments of kids was abusive. No violation of dad's rights by restricting discussion of "religious matters" during dad's time with kids. KochParenting Plans
Magwitch, LLC v. Pusser's West Indies Limited, 200 So. 3d 2162d DCA September 7, 2016No FL personal jurisdiction under Long Arm Statute - no personal jurisdiction: sole business contact was using a Florida fulfillment house to process distribute internet orders. MagwitchJurisdiction
Manubens v. Manubens, 198 So. 3d 10725th DCA August 19, 2016Parent may request psychological evaluation only if mental condition in controversy and for good cause. Order compelling psychological evaluation too broad: must specify length of exam, type of testing, limits. Order compelling psych eval defective if it gives examiner carte blanche to perform testing, analysis. Open-ended order compelling psych eval departs from essential requirements of law, results in miscarriage of justice. ManubensTimesharing
Department of Revenue v. Shirer, 197 So. 3d 1260 2d DCAAugust 17, 2016Trial court improperly considered child's SSI in calculating need for child support. Child's supplemental security income SSI was for his own disability. Can't cut child support for that - 61.30(11)(a)(2). Mom's IQ 70; Dad's 75 - Trial ct found they had no ordinary capacity to pay child support. But court made no findings re mentally challenged dad's current ability to maintain a job, earn income. 61.30(2)(b) - Ct may decline to impute income if history of unemployment / underemployment results from physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which parent has no control. ShirerChild Support
Palmer v. Palmer, 198 So. 3d 1035 5th DCA August 12, 2016Former husband made much ado about nothing: award of website to former wife no one testified to or valued.PalmerEquitable Distribution
Loza v. Marin, 198 So. 3d 1017 2d DCA August 12, 2016Court has no jurisdiction to extend child support beyond 18th birthday. When son graduated high school & turned 18, it's presumed he's independent. Florida Statute 743.07(2) (dependent child) applies if parties agreed or court finds child is dependent. 61.13(1)(a)(1)(a) - child ends when child reaches majority unless 743.07(2) applies or parties agree otherwise. Was child's dependency due to incapacity that began prior to reaching age of majority? Continuing jurisdiction to modify support is only during period provided for support. Support period is only until child reaches age of majority, parents agree otherwise or 743.07(2) applies. Has the child's continuing dependence after majority been adjudicated before his age of majority? Court had no subject matter jurisdiction to modify ch support after child turned 18. LozaChild Support
Gross v. Zimmerman, 197 So. 3d 1248 4th DCA August 10, 2016Error to award cost of extracurricular activities when child had none. Parties never asked ct to take judicial notice of evidence or findings from temporary hearing. Don't expect court to judicially notice evidence considered at temporary relief hearing! Ask! Burden of proof was on dad to persuade court presumptive guidelines amount was inappropriate.GrossChild Support
Palmer v. Palmer,206 So. 3d 74 1st DCA August 9, 2016No authority to deny attorney fees solely for failure to accept settlement offer. Offers of settlement (45.061(4)) and offers/demands of judgment don't apply in dissolution of marriage cases. After considering all circumstances, court may exercise its inherent powers and deny fees. 1st DCA certifies conflict with 4th in Hallac v. Hallac, 88 So.3d 253 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012) PalmerAttorney Fees
JP v. DP, 196 So. 3d 1274 1st DCA August 4, 2016Can't know changing child's residence in 5 years will be in her best interest. Equal time w/ parents when child starts middle school doesn't mean moving would be in her best interests. Prospective-based analysis of best interest was impermissible, unsound. Trial court has no crystal ball. JPTimesharing
Dickson v. Dickson, 204 So. 3d 498 4th DCA August 3, 2016Trial court must apply presumption favoring permanent alimony in 19 year marriage.DicksonAlimony
Mobley v. Homestead Hospital, Inc., 202 So. 3d 868 3d DCA July 20, 2016Dates, places, names of consulted attorneys are generally not privileged. Intentions, thoughts, motivations for seeking legal counsel not protected by attorney-client privilege, if not based on communications with attorney. MobleyEvidence
Holaway v. Holaway, 197 So. 3d 612 5th DCA July 8, 2016Post-valuation profits were passive income to Husband. Error to award to Wife. Distributions from business to H that he used for both parties' litigation expenses was a liability.HolawayEquitable Distribution
Freiha v. Freiha. 197 So. 3d 606 1st DCA June 28, 2016Absence of a parenting plan specifying a timesharing schedule is fundamental error. Saying the parents should continue working together to create their own timesharing schedule won't fly. FreihaParenting Plans
Martin v. Robbins, 194 So. 3d 5635th DCA June 24, 2016Court should have found a supportive relationship; erred by denying petition to modify alimonyMartinAlimony
Smith v. Smith, 224 So. 3d 740 Supreme Court of FloridaJune 20, 2016Does FS 744.3215(2)(a), require ward to get court's approval before marrying? If court's ok to marry is required but not gotten, is ward's marriage is absolutely void? Voidable? Can court bless it later?
Where the right to contract has been removed under section 744.3215(2)(a), Florida Statutes, the ward isn't required to get court approval before exercising the right to marry, but court approval is necessary before such a marriage can be given legal effect.
Haritos v. Haritos, 193 So. 3d 1050 2d DCA June 15, 2016No final judgment ever entered on financial matters. Court divorce parties, didn't decide support. Temporary order didn't merge into final judgment, which divorced parties but reserved jurisdiction on financial issues.HaritosFamily Law Procedure
Wichi Management v. Masters, 193 So. 3d 961 3d DCA May 31, 2016Entitled to equitable lien if written contract allows or arises from conduct. Funds secured by equitable lien must be directly traceable to property in question. For equitable lien, debtor's interest in property must have been unjustly enriched.Wichi ManagementProperty
Maciekowich v. Maciekowich, 192 So. 3d 623 4th DCA May 25, 2016In 22-year marriage, former husband's paying all household bills in and of itself established wife needed alimony.MaciekowichAlimony
RJ v. Department of Children and Families,187 So. 3d 3624th DCA May 16, 2016Once a child adjudicated dependent, court may force DCF to render services. RJDependency
Steinman v. Steinman, 191 So. 3d 954 4th DCA May 11, 2016Mom not in contempt for exposing kids on her time to Orthodox Jewish activities.SteinmanContempt
Feliciano v. Munoz-Feliciano, 190 So. 3d 2324th DCA May 4, 2016Plain meaning of marital settlement agreement governs interpretation.FelicianoMarital Settlement Agreements
State Department of Revenue v. Hartsell,189 So. 3d 363 1st DCA April 29, 2016Disestablishing paternity, good cause requirement for ordering genetic testing. DOR v. HartsellPaternity
Mills v. Mills, 192 So. 3d 515 5th DCA April 29, 2016Husband forged wife's name on home equity loan. She didn't ratify it. Debt his sole, nonmarital debt.MillsEquitable Distribution
State Department of Revenue v. Ceasar, 188 So. 3d 989 1st DCA April 25, 2016If paternity isn't in controversy, it's wrong to order dad and adult son to submit to genetic testing. DOR v. CaesarPaternity
Felice v. Felice, 194 So. 3d 1037 2d DCA March 30, 2016Broad language of prenuptial agreement - wife waived all rights to appreciation in premarital home. Court follows Florida Supreme Court in Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch, 174 So. 3d 983 (Fla. 2015) FelicePrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Palmer v. Palmer, 199 So. 3d 919 5th DCA March 24, 2016Trial court's decision not to restrict allergic child's exposure to dogs reversed. No dogs allowed for allergic child! PalmerParenting Plans
Abramovic v. Abramovic, 188 So. 3d 614th DCA March 23, 2016Error to force spouse to make lump sum equalizing payment she couldn't afford.AbramovicEquitable Distribution
Neiditch v. Neiditch, 187 So. 3d 374 5th DCA March 18, 2016Spouse may testify to premarital balance of thrift savings plan. NeiditchEquitable Distribution
Rautenberg v. Falz, 193 So. 3d 924 2d DCA March 11, 2016Insufficient allegations of specific or general personal jurisdiction under long arm statute. Plaintiff fails to allege defendant committed tortious act within FL. No specific jurisdiction. RautenbergJurisdiction
Lentz v. Community Bank of Florida, Inc., 189 So. 3d 8823d DCA March 9, 2016Florida's strong policy is to promote settlement, enforce mediated settlement agreements.LentzMarital Settlement Agreements
State Department of Revenue v. Haughton, 188 So. 3d 32 3d DCA March 9, 2016No notice to DOR, interested party, violated its due process - void order terminating child support arrears.DOR v. HaughtonChild Support
Marquez v. Lopez, 187 So. 3d 335 4th DCA March 9, 2016Trial Court failed to provide for equal timesharing w/o finding that to be in children's best interest. MarquezTimesharing
Farghali v. Farghali, 187 So. 3d 338 4th DCA March 9, 2016Preserve alleged errors! Move for rehearing or risk losing appeal. Must alert the trial court to failure-to-make-findings issue in a motion for rehearing.FarghaliFamily Law Procedure
Magdziak v. Sullivan, 185 So. 3d 1292 5th DCA February 26, 2016Parenting plan legally insufficient under FS 61.13(2)(b). Too general, vague.MagdziakParenting Plans
Mata v. Mata, 185 So. 3d 1271 3d DCA February 24, 2016Once court appoints magistrate to take testimony, make findings, it can't substitute its judgment.MataFamily Law Procedure
Preudhomme v. Bailey, 204 So. 3d 91 4th DCA February 24, 2016Trial court may clarify parenting plan. PreudhommeParenting Plans
Loebs v. Loebs,185 So. 3d 721 2d DCA February 19, 2016Can't delegate decisions to kids; gratify their wishes at expense of parent's rights.LoebsParenting Plans
Dennis v. Dennis, 184 So. 3d 656 1st DCA February 10, 2016Exclude from alimony need amounts spent on adult child. Parent's support of adult child is an improper consideration in determining alimony need.DennisAlimony
Gomez v. Fuenmayor, 812 F. 3d 1005 11th Circuit February 5, 2016Hague Convention "grave risk" of harm defense. Grave risk - significant threats and violence by mom. Grave risk - Dad's girlfriend shot, mother's car vandalized, drugs planted. Dad flees for US with daughter. 11th Circuit upholds of grave risk of harm defense to wrongful removal claim. Serious threats and violence against child's parent can pose a grave risk of harm to child.GomezHague Convention
Ebanks v. Ebanks, 198 So. 3d 712 2d DCA January 29, 2016Former spouse dies - 3 Cayman Island properties pass to surviving former wife. Decedent made will on date he filed for divorce - left property to his "survivor." Marital Settlement Agreement did not address Cayman Islands properties if 1 spouse predeceased other. Former wife wins.EbanksMarital Settlement Agreements
Tzynder v. Edelsburg, 184 So. 3d 583 3d DCA January 27, 2016Final judgement fails to identify steps to reestablish unsupervised timesharing with child.TzynderTimesharing
Brennan v. Brennan, 184 So. 3d 583 4th DCA January 27, 2016Trial court exceeds scope of remand; revisited value of assets, liabilities. Trial court improperly revisited value of dental practice, reduced duration of alimony. But trial court may hear evidence regarding parties' current income if support obligations still in play on remand. BrennanEquitable Distribution
David v. Textor, 189 So. 3d 871 4th DCA January 20, 2016That retweets or other online postings may be embarrassing, doesn't mean it's cyberstalking. Michael Jackson holograms - patent infringement opponents. 1 sues for cyberstalking. For injunction against cyberstalking, conduct must cause substantial emotional distress. Trial court can't prohibit postings about a party or order removal of already posted materials. Prior restraints on speech are most serious, least tolerable infringement 1st Amendment rights. Heated rhetoric between warring businessmen isn't cyberstalking.DavidDomestic Violence
JP v. Florida Department of Children and Families, 183 So. 3d 1198 2d DCA January 15, 2016There were grounds for TPR, the least restrictive means, & in child's manifest best interest. Child with nephrotic syndrome couldn't be safely reunited with mom because of her actions and inactions. Mom didn't support child's dietary restrictions, fed child pizza + potato chips, hopitalized many times. Dad sexually abused 1 of 3 daughters, youngest child a son, gave up rights to all 4 kids. Mom's continuing involvement w/ 3 kids not abused threatens their well-being, mental health. Upheld TPR. Courts take care in applying statute w/ nexus requirement in 39.806(1)(f) gone. Law amended 7/1/14: Proving nexus between parent's bad conduct to 1 child & harm to sibling not required. Courts be prudent: allow DCF to present evidence of nexus until constitutionality of 39.806(1)(f) can be resolved.JPDependency
In re SARD, 182 So. 3d 897 3d DCA January 13, 2016Dismiss 17-year old Honduran's private petition for dependency. Honduran teen crosses border between Mexico & US, 9 days before age 18. Honduran teen claims dad abandoned & mom neglected him. Sought Special Immigrant Juvenile status visa. SIJ provision of Immigration Act protect abused, neglected, abandoned kids who illegally entered US. Special Immigrant Juveniles may seek special status to say in US, but only after state ct finds child dependent. SIJ status allows child in US illegally to jump to front of the line of those wanting to immigrate lawfully. What is in the child's best interest? What is in the country's best interest? Ch. 39 is not a gateway to citizenship for children here illegally, searching for better life.SARDDependency
Reed v. Reed,182 So. 3d 837 4th DCA January 6, 2016No modification just because dad stabilized life & wanted more time with child. 5 yrs after settlement agreement, dad wanted 50/50 time, after sporadically exercising rights before then.ReedTimesharing
Jaeger v. Jaeger, 182 So. 3d 697 4th DCA December 20, 2015Attorney's charging lien may not apply against award of undifferentiated temporary support. Temporary undifferentiated support provides for needs and necessities of life of spouse, children. JaegerAttorney Fees
In re AW, 184 So. 3d 11792d DCA December 18, 2015Wrong to apply retroactively potential harm to sibling" amendment - 39.806(1)(f). violence between girlfriends, one abused the other's daughter but not her own. They all lived together. 2014 amendmt 39.806(1)(f) "sibling" includes child residing with or cared for by parent, even if unrelated.AWDependency
Portalp International SAS v. Zuloaga, 198 So. 3d 669 2d DCADecember 18, 2015Hague Convention permits service of process by mail, FEDEX. PortalpFamily Law Procedure
Taylor v. Taylor, 183 So. 3d 1121 5th DCA December 18, 2015Latent ambiguity in Marital Settlement Agreement - division of City of Orlando Police Pension. City of Orlando Police Dept rejected using QDRO to enforce distribution of husband's pension as parties agreed. Extrinsic fact or extraneous circumstance altered parties' understanding of means of payment, duties. On remand, court must take evidence to clarify means for payment of pension and Husband's duties. TaylorMarital Settlement Agreements
Theodorides v. Theodorides, 201 So. 3d 141 3rd DCA December 16, 2015Rule 12.540 wrong avenue for review of substance of order changing child support.Theodorides Child Support
Gossett v. Gossett, 182 So. 3d 694 4th DCA December 16, 2015Equitable doctrine of renunciation / invalidating trusts. Son's renounced interests in allegedly invalid trusts - not required to return $$$ he'd received. Under any version of the trust, the son would have received more than what he'd already gotten. Trust settlor died the same day he and surviving spouse were in a divorce settlement meeting. What if they had pursued collaborative resolution? GossettTrust & Estates
Gustafasson v. Levine, 186 So. 3d 562 4th DCA December 2, 2015Mom fails to show grounds for personal jurisdiction over Swedish dad. GustafassonJurisdiction
Addie v. Coale, 179 So. 3d 534 4th DCA November 25, 2015Error not to consider all 10 alimony factors & rely on unsworn statements. AddieAlimony
Brown v. Brown, 180 So. 3d 1070 1st DCA November 23, 2015Improper to modify parenting plan absent changed circumstances. Income used for business purposes isn't considered income for child support. BrownParenting Plans
In re Estate of Murphy, 184 So. 3d 1221 2d DCA November 6, 2015What is "dependent relative revocation"? 107-year old woman, Virginia Murphy had $12 mm estate. no extended family. Trial court looked at her last 6 wills. Held most of her $$$ would pass to intestate heirs - yet unknown. 4 years of litigation later"¦48 heirs found. 44 never appeared in Virginia Murphy's 6 prior wills. 2d cousin alleges & court finds undue influence by lawyer, former FBI agent, military veteran. Second cousin gets residuary of estate as the last remaining devisee. Dependent relative revocation" presumes a testator would prefer a prior will be effected than die intestate. Is present will sufficiently similar to former will? If so, presume she would've preferred prior will. Any facts to overcome presumption? If not, which prior will or residuary devise reflects true intent? When there's undue influence, court would incline towards broader definition of "similarity". Court should start with documents, then look to outside evidence of intent prior to taint of undue influence. Pall of case cast long shadow over exemplary professional reputation of undue influencer. MurphyTrusts & Estates
McLane v. Automotive Resource Network Holdings, 178 So. 3d 5254th DCANovember 4, 2015Affidavits critical for personal jurisdiction arguments! McLaneJurisdiction
Lippens v. Powers, 179 So. 3d 374 5th DCA October 30, 2015No evidence to support stalking injunction against ex same sex partner who helped raise daughter. Daughter, conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), hyphenated last name, had "familial relationship" with nonbiological mom. Text messages served legitimate purposes given familial relationship between nonbiological mom & daughter.LippensDomestic Violence - LGBTQ Issues
Noormohamed v. Noormohamed, 179 So. 3d 3795th DCA October 30, 2015Court lacks jurisdiction to order wife to return jewelry to ex mother-in-law, not a party.NoormohamedJurisdiction
Vinsand v. Vinsand, 179 So. 3d 366 2d DCAOctober 28, 2015County couple last resided together? Where does defending spouse now reside? Final judgment set aside after parents of autistic child spent a fortune and after great personal cost.VinsandFamily Law Procedure
RREF SNV-FL SSL, LLC v. Shamrock Storage, LLC, 178 So. 3d 90 1st DCA October 26, 2015Husband transferred all shares in hotel to wife for $0. He, not his creditor, had burden to prove no fraud. RREFProperty
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries v. Ruiz, 181 So. 3d 5132d DCAOctober 15, 2015Long arm jurisdiction, specific & general jurisdiction, minimum contacts, due process. See article: Corporate Challenges to Service of Process and Jurisdiction (2015). http://www.cfjblaw.com/Family-Law-Corporate-and-Trust-Challenges-to-Service-of-Process-and-Jurisdiction-02-10-2015Teva PharmaceuticalJurisdiction
Russell v. Pasik, 178 So. 3d 55 2d DCAOctober 14, 2015Same Sex couple. 2 moms; bio half-siblings. Standing is the issue. Non-bio mom lacks standing to seek visitation w/ half-siblings not biologically connected to her. Bio-mom's children viewed other "mom" a parent from birth. Both women helped raise the children. Events preceded Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) and Brenner v. Scott (2014). RussellTimesharing - LGBTQ Issues
Gromet v. Jensen, 201 So. 3d 132 3d DCA October 14, 2015Accounts husband funded with inheritance all nonmarital. No enhancement: They dropped in value. GrometEquitable Distribution
State Department of Revenue v. Pare, 177 So. 3d 663 1st DCA October 12, 2015Admitted bio dad can seek child support from mom, even with no prior paternity order.DOR v. PareChild Support
JL-B v. Department of Children and Families, 175 So. 3d 944 1st DCA October 12, 2015Order ok finding mom's 7 kids dependent, but adjudicating as to only 2 in phys altercation with her. JL-BDependency
Hutchinson v. Hutchinson, 185 So. 3d 5281st DCA October 2, 2015Final judgment left parties in same financial positions, equally able to pay fees and costs.HutchinsonAttorney Fees
Wells v. Whitfield, 175 So. 3d 926 1st DCA September 30, 2015No findings of amount of S-corp's retained earnings to exclude from income for child support.WellsChild Support
BL v. Department of Children and Families, 174 So. 3d 1125 4th DCA September 30, 2015Reverse dependency adjudication. Evidence all hearsay: mom's statements to domestic violence investigating officers.BLDependency
Bailey v. Bailey, 176 So. 3d 344 4th DCA September 20, 2015Dad must submit to psychosocial & substance abuse evaluation. Was Baker Acted.BaileyTimesharing
Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch, 174 So. 3d 983 Supreme Court of Florida September 10, 2015Important prenuptial agreement case! Prenuptial agreement: each spouse shall be sole owner of property titled in his/her name. Prenuptial agreement: Each spouse waived & released rights to property titled in other's name. Prenuptial agreement: - Waiver bars any claim to share assets titled in other spouse's name. Prenup:Makes no difference if assets were acquired in the marriage due to parties' marital efforts. Prenuptial agreement -Makes no difference if assets grew in value due to parties' marital efforts.HahamovitchPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Airsman v. Airsman, 179 So. 3d 342 2d DCA September 9, 2015Mom can't change daughter's surname from dad's last name. No competent, substantial evidence name change was in child's best interest or necessary. AirsmanParenting Plans
Temares v. Temares, 201 So. 3d 646 3d DCA September 2, 2015Quash order for psychiatric exam. No showing mental health "in controversy" or "good cause" for exam. TemaresTimesharing
Berg v. Young, 175 So. 3d 8634th DCA September 2, 2015Prenuptial agreement bars claim to equitable distribution of family business. Court bifurcated proceedings. Round 1: premarital agreement valid. Round 2: Prenuptial agreement: Appellate court takes fresh [de novo] look. "Title presumption" controls. Prenup: title presumption: any property titled in 1 name is that person's separate property. Title presumption barred claim to enhancement, even if due to marital earnings or labor. Prenuptial agreement entitled Husband to attorney fees from wife he spent to defend her failed challenge to agreement. BergPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Niekamp v. Niekamp, 173 So. 3d 1106 2d DCA August 26, 2015Depressed dad not granted so much as a weekly phone call with kids. Trial court failed to set a schedule or benchmarks for dad to reestablish parenting. Error to distribute nonexistent or depleted asset used to pay for support, living, or litigation. Inconsistent to deny alimony, find dad incapable of parenting yet able to become gainfully employed. NiekampTImesharing
Kyriacou v. Kyriacou, 173 So. 3d 11112d DCA August 26, 2015Reverse unequal distribution. Court failed to consider 10 unequal distribution factors.Kyriacou Equitable Distribution
Hooker v. Hooker, 174 So. 3d 507 4th DCA August 26, 2015Prenuptial agreement; assets; interspousal gifts. Gift requires: 1. donative intent, 2. delivery or possession, 3. surrender of dominion & control of property. Was there intent to divest sole owner of all dominion and control over a 1/2 interest in the property? No testimony husband otherwise affirmatively acknowledged wife had an interest in property; she just believed that. Husband's non-actions in regards to property and wife's contributions to property don't change the analysis - no gift! Including spouse's name in sale docs solely to establish she had no homestead interest doesn't show donative intent. By including spouse's name in sale docs, husband was ensuring the buyer of unburdened title. HookerPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Blevins v. Blevins, 172 So. 3d 568 5th DCA August 21, 2015No basis for modification of timesharing. No modification: Location of parties homes known at time of final judgment. No modification: Parents' inability to communicate doesn't satisfy substantial change requirement. BlevinsTimesharing
Weaver v. Weaver, 174 So. 3d 482 4th DCA August 19, 2015No justification for unequal distribution of equity in marital property. WeaverEquitable Distribution
Floyd v. Walker-Gray, 174 So. 3d 1034 1st DCA August 14, 2015Evidence established dating violence. Mom gets injunction for 14-year old. 8th graders' relationship more significant than mere acquaintances. Injunction sticks. FloydDomestic Violence
Kemp v. Kemp, 171 So. 3d 243 1st DCA August 14, 2015Court effectively made improper interim equitable distribution of bank accounts. KempEquitable Distribution
Stoltzfus v. Stoltzfus, 172 So. 3d 526 2d DCA August 12, 2015For alimony, interest on 401(k)s and equalizing payment wife received are income.StolzfusAlimony
Toribio v. City of West Palm Beach, 171 So. 3d 813 4th DCA August 12, 2015Substituted service of process on ex-girlfriend quashed. But she'd stabbed him, he wasn't living with her. Default judgment void.ToribioFamily Law Procedure
Hall v. Hall, 171 So. 3d 817 4th DCA August 12, 20152-page handwritten Marital Settlement Agreement valid as to matters covered. Court could resolve matters on which Marital Settlement Agreement was silent: child support, alimony, timesharing, attorney fees.HallMarital Settlement Agreement
Lopez v. Lopez,190 So. 3d 117 4th DCA August 5, 2015Motion for rehearing nonfinal order unauthorized, doesn't toll time for appeal. LopezFamily Law Procedure
Somasca v. Somasca, 171 So. 3d 780 2d DCA July 31, 2015Error not to treat as marital property the reduction in mortgage on nonmarital property using marital funds. Distinguish between appreciation in overall value of asset and paydown of mortgage that causes increase in equity.SomascaEquitable Distribution
Larwa v. Department of Revenue Ex Rel Roush, 169 So. 3d 1285 5th DCA July 31, 2015Parent's child support obligation ends when child turns 18, except if dependent is incapacitated. When child is emancipated, trial ct loses subject matter jurisdiction to modify or extend support. But dependent adult may bring separate action for support under Florida Rule of Civil P. 1.210(b). LarwaChild Support
Hutchinson v. Hutchinson, Case No. 1D15-232 1st DCA July 29, 2015Final Judgment left parties in substantially same financial positions; equally able to pay fees.HutchinsonAttorney Fees
Statewide Guardian Ad Litem Program v. AA, 171 So. 3d 174 5th DCA July 27, 2015Trial court should have granted DCFs petition to terminate mom and dad's parental rights. Clear & convincing evidence of abuse and in children's manifest best interest to terminate rights. Court erred by concluding TPR wasn't "least restrictive means" of protecting kids. Children entitled to permanency. Mom's boozing & drug taking bf battered her when she was drunk and her son who tried to help. Mom lived in squalor; lied; failed to complete case plan; took no steps to protect 4 children from abuser. "Least restrictive means" test for TPR doesn't mean there are no available alternatives. Test means must use measures short of termination if they'll permit safe reestablishment of parent-child bond.GALDependency
Harrell v. Badger, 171 So. 3d 764 5th DCA July 24, 2015Trustee breach fiduciary duty improperly invaded principal of trust. Trustee failed to give 60 days' notice of intent to invade principal. Decantation of assets from original trust into 2d trust was invalid.HarrellTrusts & Estates
Tucker v. Tucker, 171 So. 3d 158 4th DCA July 22, 2015Stock valuation - error to "split the difference" average experts' opinions. Stock valuation - error to rely on attorney's unsworn statement re value. TuckerEquitable Distribution
OICL v. Department of Children and Families, 169 So. 3d 1244 4th DCA July 22, 2015Deny petition for dependency to help child get a Special Immigration Juvenile Status visa. With SIJS visa, child could apply for green card and fast track to US citizenship. When evaluating private dependency petitions, trial courts should consider five factors: (1) the nature, severity and frequency of the abuse, neglect or abandonment; (2) the time that has elapsed between the abuse, neglect or abandonment and the filing of the petition; (3) is child presently at a continued, but not necessarily imminent, risk of harm before turning 18; (4) availability of a caregiver capable of providing both supervision and care; and (5) any other health dependency statutes as worded present a situation ripe for potential misuse to bypass immigration laws. Trial judge doesn't set immigration policy or make humanitarian gestures to let alien minor stay in US.OICLDependency
Dickson v. Dickson, 169 So. 3d 287 5th DCA July 17, 2015Shared parental responsibility on school. Parents must confer, agree. If impasse, present dispute to court. Court must then determine child's best interests. No evidence returning child to former school & changing schedule would promote his best interests. Unsworn arguments and statements about factual matters don't constitute evidence. If modification is in child's best interests because of parents' inability to agree on school, court may adjust schedule.DicksonParenting Plans
Dravis v. Dravis, 170 So. 3d 849 2d DCA July 15, 2015Marital funds commingled with nonmarital cash gifts made account marital. Depleted acct included in distribution. Even though there was evidence misconduct caused depletion, the trial judge made no specific finding to that effect.DravisEquitable Distribution
Fosshage v. Fosshage, 167 So. 3d 525 3d DCA July 15, 2015Reverses order allowing relocation of child from Florida Keys to Wisconsin. Mom's new boyfriend interfered w/ dad's timesharing. Modification & relocation different standards. Dad can't avoid relocation requirements by shoehorning relo petition into modification statute.FosshageTimesharing - Relocation
Sikora v. Sikora, 173 So. 3d 1028 2d DCA July 10, 2015No need for alimony to maintain "two home lifestyle" while market rebounded. No evidence to support 3.5% as reasonable rate of return for income on retirement accounts. On rate of return on retirement accts, no agreement by experts and no evidence of historical rate.SikoraAlimony
JB v. Florida Department of Children and Families, 170 So. 3d 780Supreme Court of FloridaJuly 9, 2015TPR case - denied mom's claims trial attorney ineffective; Florida Supreme Court answers certified questions. Calls for new procedure in TPR cases to raise claims of ineffective assistance of counsel when not apparent from record.JB v. DCFDependency
JB v. Florida Department of Children and Families, 170 So. 3d 780Supreme Court of Florida July 9, 2015Criminal standard of ineffective assistance of counsel doesn't apply in TPR cases. Indigent's right to counsel in termination of parental rights proceedings is to effective assistance. Florida Supreme Ct establishes standard for determining if attorney assistance in TPR was constitutionally ineffective.
Temporary procedure for bringing claims in TPR proceedings counsel's assistance was ineffective. Constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel derives from due process clause of article I, §9 of Fla constitution. Interest in finality is heightened in TPR context by child's interest in reaching permanency. Standard for effective assistance: strong presumption atty represent'g parent provided professional assistance. Parent must id specific errors of commission or omission evidencing a deficiency in exercise of reasonable, professional judgment. Parent must show deficient representation so prejudiced TPR proceeding that, but for it, parent's rights wouldn't have been terminated. If parent meets test, vacate order terminating parental rights and return case to circuit court.
Stantchev v. Stantcheva, 168 So. 3d 313 5th DCAJuly 2, 2015Wife should bear half loss in value of funds husband transferred to Bulgaria. When husband transferred US $100,000 to Bulgaria, husband didn't know wife was going to seek divorce.StantchevaEquitable Distribution
Richeson v. Richeson,170 So. 3d 842 5th DCA July 2, 2015Trial court erred in ordering sale of property with no pleading for partition.RichesonEquitable Distribution
Suleiman v. Yunis,168 So. 3d 319 5th DCA July 2, 2015Vacate ex parte emergency order that kids live with dad. Mom moved from Orange to Polk County w/o dad's consent, but no evidence of Gielchinsky emergency. Once mom contested initial ex parte order, dad had burden to show evidence supported issuing it. Decision to change temporary timesharing must be based on child's best interest, not as a sanction. SuleimanTimesharing
MM v. Department of Children & Family Services,170 So. 3d 8403d DCA July 1, 2015Florida Rule of Juvenile Procedure 8.345(b) - request for termination of supervision. Court should not have left dad's future contact with teenage kids solely up to them. Dad had unqualified ability to return to ct to seek modif., elimination of visitation restrictions. MMDependency
Carroll v. Israelson,169 So. 3d 239 4th DCA July 1, 2015Man fails to change will after divorcing wife; dies a month after divorce. FS 732.507(2) protects divorced persons from inattention to estate planning. 732.507(2), provisions of wills affecting surviving ex spouse: void upon divorce or annulment.CarrollTrusts & Estates
San Pedro v. Law Office of Paul Burkhart,168 So. 3d 299 4th DCA July 1, 2015Charging lien - attorney must prove up amount by testimony or fee expert.San PedroAttorney Fees
Elias v. Elias, 168 So. 3d 301 4th DCA July 1, 2015Before deviating, trial court must determine child support guidelines.EliasChild Support
Drouin v. Stuber,168 So. 3d 3054th DCA July 1, 2015Mom can't get Rule 1.540 relief from default paternity judgment. Mom alleged violation of nonparty "legal father's" (ex-husband's) due process. Mom's ex husband's constitutional rights are personal; she could not assert them vicariously. Mom alleged child born during marriage to her ex was presumed his and he was indispensable party. Mom alleged failure to join presumptive legal dad establishing bio dad's parental rights rendered paternity judgment void.DrouinFamily Law Procedure
Sowell v. McConnell, 167 So. 3d 521 5th DCAJune 29, 2015Husband must reimburse wife for portion of medical bills paid during separation. SowellChild Support
Dottaviano v. Dottaviano, 170 So. 3d 98 5th DCA June 26, 2015No findings wife was voluntarily unemployed to impute income to her. Woman diligently trying to find a job. Husband had burden to show she was employable + jobs were available. Court should have partitioned home. Special circumstances - no other significant marital assets. DottavianoAlimony
Banks v. Banks, 168 So. 3d 273 2d DCA June 24, 2015Reverses award of 2-year durational alimony in 33-year marriage. BanksAlimony
Goldman v. Estate of Goldman,166 So. 3d 927 3d DCA June 17, 2015Inherent authority sanction bad faith award Moakley v. Smallwood attorney fees. Moakley v. Smallwood sanctions: need detailed findings of bad faith acts causing extra fees. GoldmanAttorney Fees
Martinez v. Izquierdo,166 So. 3d 947 4th DCA June 17, 2015Domestic Violence Court may limit in personal use of guns by law enforcement officer.MartinezDomestic Violence
Carmouche v. Tamborlee Management, Inc., 789 F. 3d 1201 11th Circuit Court of AppealsJune 15, 2015No general personal jurisdiction in Florida. Jurisdictional discovery showed def's limited FL activities rendered it not "at home" in FL. No general personal jurisdiction in FL over Panamian excursion operator in Belize. Fla Stat §48.193(2). In contract between def & cruise line, def listed PO Box in Key West as principal place of business. Contract's forum selection clause specified SD of FL IF Carnival were a party; but it wasn't a party here. Declaration of Def's co-founder said PO Box in Key West a mistake. No continuous, systematic connections with FL to render d "essentially at home" in FL.
In only "exceptional" cases will foreign corp's connections render it "at home" other than place of incorp'n or princ. place of business. Maintaining US bank accounts alone aren't enough to create general personal jurisdiction. Foreign corporation can't be subject to general jurisdiction here unless its activities here closely approximate activities that ordinarily characterize a corporation's place of incorporation or principal place of business.
Department of Revenue v. ANJ, 165 So. 3d 846 2d DCA June 10, 2015Failure to file child support guidelines worksheet. Worksheet is mandatory. Error to credit dad for support of a child he did not actually pay. Abuse of discretion to fail to award support retroactive to 24 months before support petition filed. ANJChild Support
Kingland Estates, Ltd. v. Davis 3d DCAJune 10, 2015Barbados defendant's dismissed from RICO case. No long arm personal jurisdiction. Sales of shares in family owned company to hold Barbados property. Ms. Knox sued Barbados def's + 2 relatives: They forced me to sell shares for less than fair market value. Alleged FL conduct: (1) Posted anonymous threats on blog, (2) delivered false records in FL. (3) lied in Miami court proceeding, (4) tampered with Miami potential witness. Alleged crimes, torts committed in FL created basis for long arm jurisdiction. Long arm jurisdiction if tortious acts committed within FL. Plaintiffs met neither prong of Venetian Salami test for personal jurisdiction. Unrefuted affidavits by Barbados defendants: We weren't involved in alleged internet blog! Plaintiffs spent years trying, but failed to tie blog posts to anyone, including those they sued. After years of trying, plaintiffs failed to ID posters of offending statements on blog.Kingland EstatesJurisdiction
Bisel v. Bisel, 165 So. 3d 833 4th DCA June 6, 2015Hearing notice fails to notify former wife court would rule on request to increase child support.BiselFamily Law Procedure
Shaw v. Shaw, 177 So. 3d 977 2d DCAMay 29, 2015Case No. 2D14-2384 - Reverses trial court's refusal to divorce same sex couple married in MA. 2d District follows Brandon-Thomas v. Brandon-Thomas. Prior Shaw opinion in August 2014: 2d DCA Trial court refused to grant dissolution and incorporate collaborative agreement. ShawCollaborative Practice - LGBTQ Issues
Haywald v. Fougere,164 So. 3d 786 1st DCA May 28, 2015Must deduct alimony, child support before determining ability to pay attorney fees. HaywaldAttorney Fees
Tucker v. Tucker,165 So. 3d 798 4th DCA May 27, 2015Charging lien can't be used to secure time to enforce, adjudicate lien. Must determine if enforcing charging lien on alimony would deprive ex-wife of daily sustenance or minimal necessities of life.TuckerAlimony
Edgar v. Firuta,165 So. 3d 758 3d DCA May 20, 2015Court should have allowed NC mom to testify by phone. New Fla. Rule Civ. Pro. 1.451. Rule 1.451 effective 1/1/14 allows trial ct discretion to permit testimony by phone for good cause, even if dad objected.EdgarEvidence
Bronstein v. Bronstein,167 So. 3d 462 3d DCAMay 20, 2015Quashing order depriving mom of contact with 6-year old son for 4 months. Quashed order allowing 6-year old boy to live in CO with dad. He alleged mom committed fraud. Order entered w/o proof or hearing, on dad's unsworn motion attaching private investigator's report mom was w/ ex-boyfriend.BronsteinTimesharing
Badgley v. Sanchez, 165 So. 3d 742 4th DCA May 20, 2015Unequal distribution reversed. Must begin with equal distribution. For other than equal distribution, court must consider, make fact findings regarding 9 factors. 61.075(1)(a)-(j), (3). BadgleyEquitable Distribution
Corona v. Harris,164 So. 3d 159 1st DCAMay 15, 2015Error to use best interest standard until nonrelative 1st shows natural mom unfit. No best interest analysis unless and until proof of unfitness or substantial threat of harm to child.CoronaPaternity
Fowler v. Fowler,166 So. 3d 188 1st DCA May 15, 2015Premature appeal - reserved jurisdiction to determine child support, parental responsibility.FowlerFamily Law Procedure
Brooks v. Brooks,164 So. 3d 162 2d DCAMay 15, 2015Nothing requires trial court to hold person in contempt for violating timesharing plan. No error to compel non-majority time-sharing parent to seek court permission to relocate, even after move. No error to compel dad to file petition to relocate, even after he already had moved. BrooksContempt
Jamin v. Marchandise, 164 So. 3d 7343d DCA May 13, 2015Upheld order approving parents' emails establishing temporary parenting plan. Temporary order continues until court enters final order with parenting plan, support & timesharing schedule.JaminParenting Plans
Robertson v. Robertson, 164 So. 3d 87 4th DCA May 6, 2015Uninvited ex shines flashlight in ex-wife's window three nights constituting stalking.RobertsonDomestic Violence
JBJ Investment of South Florida, Inc. v. Maslanka,163 So. 3d 726 5th DCAMay 1, 2015Reformation - lis pendens on omitted property continues; court may require bond.JBJProperty
Gilroy v. Gilroy,163 So. 3d 674 2d DCA April 29, 2015Trial court failed to continue hearing - ex wife late filed financial affidavit. Family Rule 12.285(e)(1) requires updated financial affidavit. Nonwaivable; mandatory. GilroyFamily Law Procedure
Beckstrom v. Beckstrom,183 So. 3d 1067 4th DCA April 29, 2015If court orders payment of fees over time, must justify specific plan selected.BeckstromAttorney Fees
Sisca v. Sisca,165 So. 3d 689 4th DCA April 24, 2015Abuse discretion to make wife pay husband's attorney fees; he earned 3X what she did.SiscaAttorney Fees
Brandon'Thomas v. Brandon'Thomas,163 So. 3d 644 2d DCA April 24, 2015FL court must honor valid Mass. same-sex marriage & grant FL divorce. No legit govt interest served by precluding FL ct from exercising jurisdiction for dissolution of same-sex marriage.Brandon-ThomasMarriage
Gilliard v. Gilliard,162 So. 3d 1147 5th DCA April 24, 2015Reversing judgment awarding permanent periodic alimony, based on improper imputation of income & incorrectly using gross rather than net income; and reversing unequal distribution of marital assets without sufficient findings. GilliardEquitable Distribution
Brandon'Thomas v. Brandon'Thomas, 163 So. 3d 644 2d DCAApril 24, 2015FL court must honor valid Mass. same-sex marriage and grant Florida divorce.Brandon-ThomasMarriage
Megiel-Rollo v. Megiel,162 So. 3d 1088 2d DCA April 17, 2015Reform trust (736.0415) to correct drafting error and add list of benefits.Megiel-RolloTrusts & Estates
CD v. Department of Children and Families, 171 So. 3d 7341st DCA April 17, 2015TPR order does not pass the least restrictive means test. Prospective adoptive aunt would allow contact with mom. Kids wouldn't be harmed; would be safe if supervised visitation. No termination of parental rights, even if "little or no bond" between child and mom. CDDependency
Broga v. Broga, 166 So. 3d 183 1st DCA April 15, 2015Past work history alone is insufficient to impute income. No specific findings re qualifications & relevant employment community to impute income. Prevailing income in community, not from a relocation, is to be used in imputing income. BrogaChild Support
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC v. Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust Co., 162 So. 3d 10583d DCAApril 15, 2015Service on hourly employee quashed - not valid service on corp 48.081.Morgan StanleyJurisdiction
BK v. Department of Children and Families, 166 So. 3d 866 4th DCA April 15, 2015Affirming termination of parental rights of incarcerated dad. BKDependency
Liberatore v. Liberatore, 200 So. 3d 76 5th DCA April 10, 2015Court's function in implementing appellate mandate purely ministerial. When court errs in valuing or distributing marital assets, entire distribution plan must be reversed. Each distribution of marital asset/liability interrelated; forms overall scheme fair to both parties. Liberatore Equitable Distribution
Maestrales v. Flaherty, 183 So. 3d 1036 - 5th DCA April 10, 2015GIVE THE DOG BACK!! Sanctions on stepson and attoney - frivolous appeal. MaestralesAttorney Fees
In re YV, 160 So. 3d 576 1st DCA April 9, 2015Child emigrates alone from Honduras. Private petition for dependency may proceed. Dependency statute does not require events occurred in FL. Parens patriae interest to protect child within jurisdiction. FL has jurisdiction unless/until child is in custody of Sec of Health and Human Services. YVDependency
Horowitz v. Horowitz,160 So. 3d 530 2d DCA April 1, 2015Reversing domestic violence injunction - no cyberstalking by accused's posting to own Facebook. HorowitzDomestic Violence
Law v. Law, 163 So. 3d 553 3d DCA April 1, 2015Law firm subject to 57.105 fee award. No basis for seeking lien against homestead. Proceeds from homestead exempt from law firm's claim to attorney fees owed.LawAttorney Fees
AS v. Department of Children and Families,162 So. 3d 335 4th DCA April 1, 2015Father did not abandon child: parental rights hadn't yet been established. TPR reversed. Prospective parent can't "abandon" child. Consider acts only after paternity is established.AS v. DCFDependency
In re RT (KK v. Department of Children and Families), 164 So. 3d 112d DCA March 20, 2015Quashing court-ordered assessments of stepsons imposed condition without notice to parties. Requiring stepsons to undergo therapeutic assessments was not even remotely related to reasons for initial no-contact order. Required assessments was not meaningfully designed to address circumstances that brought children into care. Required assessments was not the least intrusive means possible to protect the children. RTDependency
Kobe v. Kobe,159 So. 3d 986 1st DCA March 18, 2015Amount of alimony awarded and income imputed to former wife exceeded her stated need.KobeAlimony
Martinez v. Guardian of Smith, 159 So. 3d 394 4th DCA March 18, 2015Court failed to find appointment of health care surrogate and preneed guardian was contrary to ward's best interests. Rebuttable presumption designated preneed guardian entitled to serve. Presumption could only be overcome by specific, factually-supportable finding appointing person was contrary to ward's best interests. Trial court failed to honor health care surrogate designation. No shown abuse of proxy's powers. MartinezGuardianship
Rollet v. Gwenaelle,159 So. 3d 351 3d DCA March 11, 2015Dismissed French wife's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Wife sued French husband for equitable rescission of assignment of contract to buy Miami condo. Wife alleged husband fraudulently or with undue influence assigned contract to foreign entity without her consent. Husband & wife, French citizens, lived in Dubai. Wife failed to rebut husband's affidavit of no connection to FL. No allegation alleged fraudulent assignment took place in Florida; no sworn proof from plaintiff to support jurisdiction. With no counter-affidavit rebutting challenge to personal jurisdiction, Husband's affidavit stood unrebutted.RolletJurisdiction
Purin v. Purin,158 So. 3d 752 2d DCA February 25, 2015Obligor's retirement doesn't mandate termination of alimony. Retirement merely allows trial court to revisit parties' respective needs and ability to pay. PurinAlimony
Kelly v. Spain,160 So. 3d 78 4th DCA February 25, 2015Homestead exemption husband alone got inures to wife's benefit after his death. Homestead application filed by one spouse inures to other spouse, if both permanently resided at homestead. Transfer of homestead property between wife and husband through survivorship constitutes no change of ownership triggering reassessment. KellyTrusts & Estates
Butler v. Prine,158 So. 3d 748 2d DCA February 20, 2015Court didn't adequately consider reasonableness of legal work underlying $93,000 fee award. ButlerAttorney Fees
Haeberli v. Haeberli, 157 So. 3d 489 5th DCA February 13, 2015Contempt reversed - motions not noticed for hearing: no due process.HaeberliContempt
Baker v. Baker, 157 So. 3d 491 5th DCA February 13, 2015Temporary change in timesharing reversed - failure to plead, prove substancial change circ.BakerTimesharing
Juchnowicz v. Juchnowicz,157 So. 3d 497 2d DCA February 13, 2015Alimony: Court must specify expenses Wife claimed & the Court rejected and say why. JuchnowiczAlimony
Jonas v. Jonas, 155 So. 3d 12894th DCA February 11, 2015Florida's taking jurisdiction would interfere with NJ exercise of jurisdiction. FL may have subj matter jurisd to adjudicate collateral attack on domesticated judgment IF extrinsic fraud. But claims re management of constructive trust in discharge of ex-H's obligations weren't in the same category. Former husband wasn't challenging validity of NJ judgment. Comity, priority made NJ appropriate forum.JonasJurisdiction
Jonas v. Jonas, 155 So. 3d 1289 4th DCA February 11, 201512 years of litigation enough! Dad must litigate in NJ, not FL.JonasJurisdiction
Atkinson v. Atkinson, 157 So. 3d 473 2d DCA February 11, 2015When is living with a man not "cohabitation with a male"? Tenant, John Doe, had no intimate, supportive relationship with former wife. They never line danced together! Having male tenant wasn't "cohabitation with a male" triggering termination of ex-wife's alimony. Finding "cohabitation" sufficient to cut off alimony requires more than mere presence of another person under recipient's roof. John Doe was not a cohabitant; he was just a lodger. Ex wife and he shared a roof, but not their lives.AtkinsonMarital Settlement Agreements
Card v. Card,160 So. 3d 469 2d DCA January 30, 2015Ex wife invited error she complained about on appeal, ie, cap on her temporary attorney fees. CardFamily Law Procedure
SDS-IC v. Florida Concentrates International, LLC,157 So. 3d 389 2d DCAJanuary 30, 2015Failure to comply with Hague Conv. on Service Abroad invalidated service of process. Service of process void in Hong Kong for failing to comply with Hague and FL law. SDS-ICFamily Law Procedure
JAI v. BR,160 So. 3d 473 2d DCA January 30, 2015Paternity established 60 days after man's signed voluntary ackn, without fraud, duress. JAIPaternity
Patel v. Patel,162 So. 3d 165 5th DCA January 30, 2015Home awarded to husband; court should have directed he try to refinance the home in his own name. PatelEquitable Distribution
Spreng v. Spreng, 162 So. 3d 168 5th DCA January 30, 2015Attorney fee order lacked findings, but without motion for rehearing, error not preserved. SprengAttorney Fees
Rudnick v. Harman,162 So. 3d 116 4th DCA January 28, 2015Spike in dad's income wouldn't recur; error to use higher income for child support. RudnickChild Support
Perez v. Fay,160 So. 3d 4592d DCA January 23, 2015Reverses ruling mom must speak English only and no Spanish to daughter. PerezParenting Plans
Panopoulos v. Panopoulos, 155 So. 3d 12302d DCA January 23, 2015Appeal dismissed. Notice filed too late. Count days from initial not corrected order.PanopolousFamily Law Procedure
In re Amendments to Florida Family Law Rules of ProcedureSupreme Court of Florida January 22, 2015New Florida family law rule allows court to take testimony by audio or video for good cause.RulesFamily Law Procedure
Florida Dept. of Financial Services v. O'Connor, 155 So. 3d 479 1st DCA January 20, 2015Amounts owed under divorce judgment enables claim to debtor's unclaimed property. Ex-wife can garnish ex-husband's unclaimed accounts held by Dept of Financial Services; no sovereign immunity. State just a custodian of property. FDFS v. O'ConnorChild Support
Jarrard v. Jarrard,157 So. 3d 332 2d DCA January 7, 2015Downward modification alimony. FH established substantial change in circumstances. Alimony should have been modified downward. 60+-year old Former Husband's income dropped > 50%. Whether a proven change is substantial and sufficient, material, permanent, & involuntary - legal conclusions reviewed de novo. "Mixed" standard of review - sequence of 2 or more reviews. Presumption trial court's legal conclusions from facts are correct. Reviewing trial court's decision party has not met burden of proof & persuasion. #1: Does comp subst evid support movant's claim? #2:Defer to trial ct on matters of credibility. Accept disputed evidence, reasonable inferences in light most favorable to upholding ruling. #3: In this deferential light, was the trial ct, in light of the evidence, required to conclude movant established burden on legal issues?JarrardAlimony
Wiesenthal v. Wiesenthal,154 So. 3d 484 4th DCA January 7, 2015For civil contempt,must find present ability to comply with purge & ID source of payment. Finding a party got rid of assets doesn't substitute for finding present ability to pay.WiesenthalContempt
Nucci v. Target Corporation, 162 So. 3d 146 4th DCA January 7, 2015Order compelling discovery of Facebook photos upheld. Photos plaintiff posted on social media sites highly relevant. Limited privacy interest if any, in posted pictures. Generally, pictures posted on social networks are not privileged or protected by right of privacy, despite user's privacy settings. NucciEvidence
Winder v. Winder,152 So. 3d 836 1st DCA December 12, 2014Improper to assign dissipated accounts used for living. No misconduct.WinderEquitable Distribution
Brummer v. Brummer,153 So. 3d 338 5th DCA December 12, 2014Court made no finding psychological evaluation, counseling in children's best interest. Court must also find father had ability to pay for evaluation.BrummerTImesharing
Diaz v. Diaz,152 So. 3d 743 3rd DCA December 3, 2014Term of durational alimony can't exceed duration of marriage. DiazAlimony
Elias v. Elias, 152 So. 3d 749 4th DCA December 3, 2014Trial court's threshold determination prenuptial agreement was unambigous wrong. Prenup was ambiguous, rationally susceptible to more than one construction.EliasPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
RC v. Department of Children and Families,150 So. 3d 12773d DCA November 26, 2014Reversing order directing mom to submit to pregnancy test with no due process. Patently obvious trial judge acted for reasons of her own rather than any rule of law. Constitutional right to refuse medical treatment unless there is a compelling state interest great enough to override right. Quoting Hamilton, court finds judge made no pretense of following any legislative directives or intentions.RCDependency
Rudolph v. Rosecan,154 So. 3d 381 4th DCA November 26, 2014Mom of 22-year old autistic man not an "interested person" for guardianship. Autistic son's dad was plenary guardian. Order incorporated parenting & timesharing plan. Dad had ultimate decision making authority if, after conferring, parties disagreed, on major decisions. Mother not an "interested person" for purposes of annual accounting & guardianship financial matters. Parenting plan gave mother no right to or interest in financial decisions guardian made for son. She had no standing.RudolphParenting Plans
Gillislee v. Florida Department of Revenue, 150 So. 3d 2941st DCANovember 20, 2014Fundamental error goes to case's foundation or merits of action. DOR failed to credit dad's child support payments in calculating retroactive constitutes fundamental error. GillisleeChild Support
Albu v. Albu,150 So. 3d 1226 4th DCA November 19, 2014Providing support to needy wife by dividing his Social Security income not abuse of discretion.AlbuAlimony
Moore v. Kelso-Moore, 152 So. 3d 681 4th DCA November 19, 2014Temporary attorney fees - Insufficient findings of reasonableness of hours. Block billing made findings impossible. Excessive hand holding. Award inconsistent with ct's pronouncements. Wife's attorney hours (500.3) unreasonable for "about the same work" H's attys spent 154.35 hours. Comparison allowed. Court implies discovery of other side's hours spent on similar tasks is relevant. MooreAttorney Fees
Castillo v. Castillo,150 So. 3d 1255 4th DCA November 19, 2014Grants writ of prohibition. Court failed to allow Husband due process. Court failed to allow husband to present argument, evidence prior to ruling. Abrupt ruling would place reasonably prudent person in fear of not receiving fair hearing.CastilloFamily Law Procedure
Gerber v. Gerber,153 So. 3d 3042d DCA November 14, 2014Ok to clarify partial settlement agreement - make mechanism for medical reimbursement clearer. Clarifying agreement didn't grant former wife new benefit, but merely enumerated method for recovering former husband's half of kids' medical expenses.GerberMarital Settlement Agreements
Citrus Cty Hosp Bd v. Citrus Mem Health Foundation, 150 So. 3d 1102 Supreme Court of Florida November 13, 2014Special law impaired foundation's contracts.County Hospital BdAgreements
Phillips v. Phillips,151 So. 3d 58 2d DCANovember 7, 2014Vacates expired domestic violation injunction entered without legally sufficient basis because of unintended collateral consequences. PhillipsDomestic Violence
Giddins v. Giddins, 151 So. 3d 54 1st DCA November 6, 2014Court errs by adopting Marital Settlement Agreement without first giving wife opportunity to be heard on her objections. GiddensMarital Settlement Agreements
Spaulding v. Shane,150 So. 3d 852 2d DCA November 5, 2014Prison sentence constitutes a change in circumstances, which eliminated the purpose for injunction. SpauldingDomestic Violence
Krift v. Obenour,152 So. 3d 645 4th DCA November 5, 2014Revolving rotating timesharing - a material departure from plan parties requested.KriftTimesharing
Seilkop v. Barker,148 So. 3d 865 1st DCA October 29, 2014Chapter 751 temporary custody terminates once fit mom can meet child's needs. "Fit parent" means one who hasn't "abused", "abandoned", "neglected" child. "poor parental judgment" is not neglect. Underage drinking, poor romantic choices isn't neglect. Makar, concurring: Bad, or even terrible, childrearing does not render one unfit parent.SeilkopDependency
Hawthorne v. Butler, 151 So. 3d 23 4th DCA October 16, 2014Injunction despite sex offender's probation condition of no contact. Victim could still pursue sexual violence injunction under 784.046 upon sex offender's release from prison.HawthorneDomestic Violence
CB v. Department of Children and Families, 148 So. 3d 8335th DCA October 16, 2014Evidence insufficient father needs anger management counseling. - 8.410(b)(4).CBDependency
Wyandt v. Voccio,148 So. 3d 543 2d DCA October 15, 2014Requirements for stalking injunction under section 784.0485, Florida Statutes. WyandtDomestic Violence
Pashtenko v. Pashtenko,148 So. 3d 545 2d DCA October 15, 2014Failure to state legal grounds to deny stalking injunction petition 784.0485(5)(b), Fla. Stat. 784.0485 sets forth required form & substance of petition for an injunction against stalking.PashtenkoDomestic Violence
Nordt v. Nordt,159 So. 3d 133 3d DCAOctober 15, 2014Husband and attorney sanctioned with 57.105 fees for frivolous appeal devoid of merit.NordtAttorney Fees
Frazier v. Goszczynski, 161 So. 3d 542 5th DCA October 10, 2014Twisted, distorted view of law of adverse possession. Color of title refers to "a claim of title exclusive of any other right" founded on a written instrument of conveyance. Color of title requires grantee accepts deed in good faith & with belief it's a legitimate conveyance of title. Nonsense: asserting valid consideration of conveyance from oneself to oneself is love & affection one has for oneself. Adverse possession law wasn't enacted to give legitimacy to actions of fortune hunters and mischievous interlopers.FrazierProperty
Ayra v. Ayra,148 So. 3d 1422d DCA October 1, 2014Wife's alimony need - earning $5,000/month as police officer not a viable option. AyraAlimony
Herbst v. Herbst,153 So. 3d 290 2d DCA October 1, 2014Marital Settlement Agreement required payment of nonmodifiable alimony to former wife continuing beyond her remarriage. Provision in MSA obligating the former husband to pay nonmodifiable alimony for life of former wife controlled over Fla Stat 61.08. Parties may enter into divorce settlement agreements imposing obligations trial court couldn't otherwise impose.HerbstMarital Settlement Agreements
Kohl v. Kohl, 149 So. 3d 127 4th DCA October 1, 2014Negligent transmission STD may be asserted on common law negligence principles. Former wife asserted count against Former Husband for assault from transmission of HPV, failure to warn or take precautions. Suit for negligent transmission of STD need not be predicated on violation of statute - FS 384.24. Did person know or have constructive knowledge he or she harbors the disease? Court declines to open Pandora's box by imposing a duty in negligence for engaging in "high risk" sex. Tort for negligent transmission HPV can be based only actual knowledge person carries disease, not on constructive knowledge. KohlNegligence
Clark v. Clark,147 So. 3d 655 5th DCA September 19, 2014Unpled issues tried when a party doesn't appear aren't tried by consent. Improper to try unpled issues in absentia. Alimony and fee awards reversed.ClarkFamily Law Procedure
Valente v. Barion,146 So. 3d 1247 2d DCA September 12, 2014Durational or permanent alimony in 12-year marriage? Court must find clear and convincing evidence permanent more appropriate than durational alimony.ValenteAlimony
EH v. Department of Children and Families, 147 So. 3d 6164th DCA September 10, 2014Dependency of newborn. Mother has an untreated mood disorder with a violent component towards a child. Look at nexus between parent's mental disorder and risk of danger to child. Trial court need not wait idly until abuse occurs before adjudicating dependency.EH v. DCFDependency
Shaw v. Shaw,166 So. 3d 892 2d DCA August 27, 2014Collaborative law - same sex married Massachusetts couple. Trial court refuses to grant dissolution and incorporate collaborative agreement. Court certifies to FL Supreme Court issue for immediate resolution re: same sex marriage. Questions of great public importance: Does FL law prohibit dissolution of same-sex marriages other states allow? Does Florida's ban on same-sex marriages, refusal to recognize them unconstitutionally limit constitutional guaranties? Constitutional guaranties include: full faith and credit, access to courts, equal protection, right to travel. ShawCollaborative Practice - LGBTQ Issues
VCB v. Shakir, 145 So. 3d 9674th DCA August 27, 2014Reversing denial of grandparents' adoption & TPR of dad. Dad's abandonment of child harmed child to point dad forfeited liberty interest & privacy right to raise child. Child's right to a stable home environment provided by grandparents must prevail.VCBDependency
McGee v. McGee,145 So. 3d 955 1st DCA August 26, 2014Reversing order transferring venue, no finding substantial inconvenience or undue expense. Case could not be transferred to county where proceeding couldn't have been brought initially. McGeeFamily Law Procedure
Anderson v. Durham,162 So. 3d 65 1st DCA August 20, 2014Reasonableness of an alimony-obligor's retirement is but 1 factor in deciding whether to lower alimony. AndersonAlimony
Chadbourne v. Chadbourne, 146 So. 3d 75 1st DCA August 18, 2014Reversed denial of atty fees. Husband left 26-year marriage with $17 m, W < $1 mm. Requiring wife to pay remaining $200 K in atty fees would inequitably diminish her equitable dist award.ChadbourneAttorney Fees
Pierson v. Pierson, 143 So. 3d 1201 1st DCA August 18, 2014Trial court abused discretion granting mom ultimate authority over children's religious upbringing. Citing Wisconsin v. Yoder, court finds no clear affirmative showing religious activities will harm child. Wrong to restrict noncustodial parent's right to expose child to religious beliefs. No evidence children were harmed by exposure to dad's religious beliefs or activities as Jehovah's Witness.PiersonParenting Plans
Ballard v. Ballard,158 So. 3d 641 1st DCA August 7, 2014Trial court misapplied Kaaa v. Kaaa to exclude pay down of mortgage as marital. Kaaa, 58 So. 2d 867 (Fla. 2011) held passive appreciation in nonmarital property by market forces alone constitutes a marital asset. Court abused discretion by including a diminished account in equitable distribution without finding improper spending of funds. Sums diminished during dissolution for purposes related to marriage should be excluded in equitable distribution scheme. Exception: one spouse intentionally dissipates assets for his/her own benefit & for a purpose unrelated to marriage. To included diminished account, Court must specifically find intentional misconduct. BallardEquitable DIstribution
Rolison v. Rolison, 144 So. 3d 6101st DCA August 1, 2014Mom moved from FL to GA before dad filed for diss'n. Relocation statute did not apply.RolisonTimesharing - Relocation
Wiggins v. Tigrent, Inc., 147 So. 3d 762d DCA July 30, 2014Void versus voidable judgments - Default judgment v. nonresident void for lack of personal jurisdiction. No waiver of objection to personal jurisdiction by waiting until after entry of default. De novo review on whether judgment by default is void for lack of personal jurisdiction. Judgment entered against one over whom court lacks personal jurisdiction is void. No time limitation on setting aside void judgment. If void, trial court must vacate it. No discretion. Looking to similar federal rules, ct concludes defaulted party may challenge judgment as void even after default. Looking to affidavits, ct finds them sufficient to invoke long arm statute, but not to support general personal jurisd. No substantial and not isolated activity in FL arising from defendant's contacts in FL unrelated to the litigation. No specific personal jurisdiction: insufficient minimum contacts with Florida to satisfy due process. No "connexity" between alleged wrongful acts and Florida. Acts of corporate employee performed in corporate capacity don't form basis for personal jurisdiction over him.WigginsJurisdiction
Mills v. Johnson,147 So. 3d 1023 2d DCA July 25, 2014Court erred in accepting, adopting timesharing schedule that did not address holidays. MillsParenting Plans
Pryor v. Pryor,141 So. 3d 1279 1st DCA July 22, 2014Vacating temp domestic violence injunction and order extending it. PryorDomestic Violence
In re AR, 143 So. 3d 449 2d DCA July 18, 2014Failure to find termination was least restrictive means of preventing harm to child. For TPR under section 39.806(1)(d)(1), ct must consider (1) length of parent's incarceration, if termination is least restrictive means to protect child from harm and if termination of parental rights is in child's manifest best interests.In re ARDependency
Peterson v. Lundin,148 So. 3d 784 2d DCA July 18, 2014Reversing order allowing replevin of dog. Fact dispute re whether parties entered into revocable license or were to co-own Krystal, Bedlington Terrier. Order directing return of possession of dog should have been stayed pending appeal and posting $20,000 bond.PetersonFamily Law Procedure
Biden v. Lord,147 So. 3d 632 1st DCA July 16, 2014Delaware Attorney General can't intervene re purpose for DuPont's Nemours Foundation. Intervention by the Delaware Attorney General would injure original litigants and interests of justice would not be served.BidenFamily Law Procedure
In re IB,142 So. 3d 919 5th DCA July 11, 2014Insufficient evidence to revoke mother's consent to adoption - no duress. Trial court must determine if mother's consent should be struck on another basis under Fla Stat §63.2325.In re IBAdoption
Maddox v. Bullard,141 So. 3d 1264 5th DCA July 11, 2014Order for Rule 1.360 psychological examination must specify condition, scope of exam. Order giving psychologist "carte blanche" to perform any psychological inquiry, testing analysis improper.MaddoxFamily Law Procedure
Futernick v. Trushina, 146 So. 3d 63 3rd DCA July 9, 2014Parties must perform contract for sale of marital residence. Contract for sale failed to refer to former husband's right of first refusal.FuternickMarital Settlement Agreements
In re Amendments to Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, 142 So. 3d 831Supreme Court of Florida July 3, 2014New rules for parenting coordinators. Amends Family Law Rule 12.742 and forms. New Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators. Rules 15.000 - 15.210. New Florida parenting coordinator forms.RulesFamily Law Procedure
In re Amendments to Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms, 142 So. 3d 856Supreme Court of Florida July 3, 2014New forms - injunction for protection against stalking, 784.0485, Florida StatutesFamily Law FormsFamily Law Procedure
Sorgen v. Sorgen, 162 So. 3d 45 4th DCA July 2, 2014Commingled inherited asset in joint acount made it marital. Proceeds from sale of inherited home commingled with joint funds. Wife did not overcome presumption of gift of ½ of funds to husband.SorgenEquitable Distribution
Holland v. Holland,140 So. 3d 1155 1st DCA June 30, 2014Error to modify agreed temporary timesharing schedule. No findings of substantial change in circumstances or re best interests of the children to modify timesharing.HollandTimesharing
Olson v. Robbie4th DCA June 18, 2014Joe Robbie's children - no personal jurisdiction over Minnesota resident. No specific jurisdiction under long arm statute. Terms of contract, not familial relationship between parties, determines if FL has jurisdiction over nonresident. Contract itself must require performance in FL in order to invoke FL jurisdiction under section 48.193(1)(g). Venetian Salami hearing - handful of visits to FL friends insufficient to establish gen'l long arm jurisdiction. Sister's status as co-trustee of Florida trust until its termination in 2011 insufficient to establish jurisdiction. Status as a director, filing annual rpts, or svc as trustee in now-defunct Florida trust, are insufficient.OlsonJurisdiction
Carnicella v. Carnicella,140 So. 3d 6975th DCA June 13, 2014Reversing equitable distribution and ordering new trial. Court abdicated judicial responsibility, adopting almost verbatim 25-page proposed final judgment. Adopting proposed order verbatim is suspicious, suggesting court forgot or confused central issues. Husband should have received credit for mortgage payments between date of filing petition and trial. Obligations on Husband imposed by final judgment exceeded imputed income. Delayed ruling of 6 months unreasonable when other red flags were raised; but no bright line test. Facts reflected delay plus indication something was "seriously amiss on the merits." Court failed to attribute any premarital equity in home to husband's premarital contributions.CarnicellaEquitable Distribution
Lutz v. Rutherford,139 So. 3d 501 2d DCA June 6, 2014Court reserved jurisdiction in final judgment to award attorney fees; could rule on charging lien.LutzAttorney Fees
Kilnapp v. Kilnapp,140 So. 3d 1051 4th DCA June 4, 2014Temporary injunction freezing accounts reversed. Husband had no oppty to present evidence regarding removal of funds from frozen accounts. Court only heard from wife's witness, then ended hearing 2 hours early, before wife or husband's accountant could testify.KilnappFamily Law Procedure
Sanchez v. Suasti,140 So. 3d 658 3d DCA May 28, 2014Hague Abduction Convention. Brazilian dad has a "right of custody". Hague Convention - mom can't change children's country of residence (Brazil) without dad's consent. Brazilian dad's right to prohibit mom from changing country of residence allowed him to force children's return.SanchezHague Convention
Adelberg v. Adelberg,142 So. 3d 895 4th DCA May 28, 2014Court failed to impute income from employment and investments. Wife admitted she had no intent to look for a job; expert testified she was qualified.AdelbergAlimony
Sanchez v. Marin, 138 So. 3d 1165 3d DCA May 21, 2014Failure to afford due process by allowing evidence of acts not specified in petition.SanchezDomestic Violence
Turnier v. Stockman, 139 So. 3d 397 3d DCA May 21, 2014Affirming parenting plan ordering deaf child to live with dad most of school year. Deaf child to attend Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind FSDB. No expert testimony or GAL required. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to appoint a GAL where not required by section 61.401.TurnierParenting Plans
Kozell v. Kozell,142 So. 3d 891 4th DCA May 21, 2014Affirming denial of modification of child support. Dad's petition alleged only a decrease in income, but not unanticipated, involuntary, or permanent decrease. Evidence supported finding that dad controlled and could manipulate how much income he receives and when; decrease voluntary.KozellChild Support
Fichtel v. Fichtel,141 So. 3d 593 4th DCA May 21, 2014Upholds denying wife permanent alimony and awarding durational alimony - long-term marriage.FichtelAlimony
Aquilina v. Aquilina,141 So. 3d 597 4th DCA May 21, 2014Reversing award of alimony to former husband. Rejects argument court erred by allocating mortgage payment in alimony award, because mtge was to be paid off in near term. Order barring modification of alimony when mortgage and HELOC were paid, because such payoffs were anticipated, is "patently inequitable". By awarding alimony to cover mortgage & HELOC, court refused to consider likely reduced need once loans were paid. Court's award ignored probable future changes in circumstances; paradoxical to state court did anticipate such changes.AquilinaAlimony
In re Adoption of DPP v. CP, 158 So. 3d 633 5th DCA May 21, 2014Reversing an order vacating final judgment of adoption. Reverses order terminating parent-child relationship between adoptive mom and parties' 5-year-old child. The circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction when it first granted the adoption. Other mom was estopped from challenging validity of the adoption judgment she helped procure. Trial court's focus on parties' status as two unmarried adults was misplaced. It would be unconscionable to allow one parent to invoke jurisdiction of court for the sole purpose of creating a parent-child relationship between other parent and child, then to allow her to destroy that relationship. Fifth District Court of Appeal reinstates final judgment of adoption; directs parenting plan. In re Adoption of DPPTimesharing & Parental Rights - LGBTQ Issues
McCord v. Cassady ex rel. Cassady, 138 So. 3d 1135 1st DCA May 14, 2014Agreed "no contact" order lacked findings to support injunction against violence. No evidence within 6 months of filing motion for inj. 784.046, Florida Statutes.McCordDomestic Violence
Hardy v. State, 140 So. 3d 1016 1st DCA May 14, 2014Error to admit info from computer database under hearsay exception - 90.803(17). Exception for market reports and commercial publications not applicable to EFORCSE database - not available to public. Canon of statutory interpretation ejusdem generis - interpret general phrase after specifics to include only similar items.HardyEvidence
Garvey v. Garvey,138 So. 3d 1115 4th DCAMay 14, 2014Knowledge of multiple sclerosis (MS) at time of settlement agreement does not preclude later modification. Former husband could not have contemplated what course MS would take. Initial alimony not based on consideration that MS would disable him. Knowledge of possibility alone isn't enough to preclude modification of alimony when the possibility comes to fruition. GarveyAlimony
Horowitz v. Horowitz, 139 So. 3d 929 4th DCA May 14, 2014Fla Rule App P 9.600(c) - trial court has limited jurisdiction to consider petition to modify. Trial court may enter temporary order pending appeal of initial alimony award.HorowitzFamily Law Procedure
Cano v. Cano,140 So. 3d 651 3d DCA May 7, 2014Error to order children to attend public school where dad did not seek such relief.CanoParenting Plans
LiFleur v. Webster,138 So. 3d 570 3d DCA May 7, 2014Reversing order denying motion to terminate temporary custody and awarding temp custody to stepmom. Court improperly delegated custody/parental responsibility to stepmom and grandmother. Bipolar mom undergoing treatment had fundamental constitutional right to resume parental responsibility. No proof, let alone clear and convincing, that natural parent (mom) was unfit or abandoned child. Trial court improperly relied on "best interest of child" standard in denying mom custody.LiFleurParenting Plans
Brody v. Broward Sheriff's Office, 137 So. 3d 610 4th DCA May 7, 2014Trial court lacks jurisdiction to entertain charging lien where it hasn't been filed. Charging lien must be timely perfected / filed before court loses jurisdiction through settlement, dismissal or final judgment. BrodyAttorney Fees
In re AK, 161 So. 3d 4312d DCA April 30, 2014Court abused discretion placing children in permanent guardianship with grandparents. Conclusion reunification contrary to children's welfare not based on specific findings; not reasonably objective. DCF did not allege abandonment. Error to find dad failed to complete case plan for which he was given no tasks. Court must set forth plan for returning custody to nonoffending parent, not subject to an indep best int determination.In Re AKDependency
Helmich v. Wells Fargo Bank, 136 So. 3d 7631st DCA April 23, 2014Inherent authority to reconsider nonfinal orders prior to judgment.HelmichJudiciary
Baricchi v. Barry, 137 So. 3d 1196 2d DCA April 23, 2014Amended petition after clerk's default 'not entitled to strategic advantage. Improper after default to award relief not prayed for in initial petition.BaricchiFamily Law Procedure
Billie v. Stier, 141 So. 3d 584 3d DCA April 23, 2014Circuit court, not Miccosukee tribal court, had jurisdiction to decide custody issues. Tribal Court did not substantially comply with the jurisdictional requirements of the UCCJEA. Under the UCCJEA the Miccosukee Tribe is treated as a state in the United States. Tribe's determinations were not made "in substantial conformity" with UCCJEA jurisdictional standards. Non Native American father did not receive notice or due process that allowed meaningful participation.BillieTimesharing
Puglisi v. Puglisi, 135 So. 3d 1146 5th DCA April 17, 201457.105 award reversed. Court not bound by parents' agreement re child support, custody, visitation. Trial court's responsibility to child indisputably can't be abdicated to any parent or expert. Court's heavy responsibility mandates it is not bound by agreement between parents or by opinions of experts.
"Best interests" of child predominate over agreements between parents; court must independently determine best interests.
Wright v. Wright, 135 So. 3d 1142 5th DCA April 17, 2014Final judgement must contain findings re specific, non-exhaustive alimony factors. Court should not leave former wife unable to meet basic needs, let alone enjoy standard of living, if she can show need plus former husband's ability to pay. WrightAlimony
Davis v. Lopez-Davis,162 So. 3d 19 4th DCA April 9, 2014Reverses denial of timesharing to dad. Parent has constitutionally protected inherent right to meaningful relationship with his or her child. Dad's absence from FL and that he and child didn't know each other did not establish his contact would be detrimental to child. When restricting or denying visitation, court must clearly set forth steps parent must take to reestablish timesharing.DavisTimesharing
Taylor v. Lutz, 134 So. 3d 11461st DCA April 7, 2014Court erred as a matter of law in denying former wife bridge-the-gap alimony. Parties can agree to obligations the trial ct couldn't otherwise order absent an agreement. It's not what alimony is called, but what it is in substance that fixes its legal status. Substance over form controls. Former husband's obligation to pay nonmodifiable bridge-the-gap alimony did not terminate on former wife's remarriage.TaylorAlimony
Albanese v. Albanese,135 So. 3d 532 5th DCA April 4, 2014Reversing order allowing temporary relocation to NJ. No evidence in children's best interests to relocate to NJ to be with dad. Mom had close bond with sons.AlbaneseTimesharing - Relocation
Fritz v. Fritz, 161 So. 3d 425 2d DCA April 4, 2014Error in coverture fraction to divide military pension. Wife entitled to one-half share of pension earned during term of marriage, not to postdissolution benefits. Numerator: number of months married while in plan / Denominator: number of months service on date of filing. Multiply by present value of plan. An oral agreement announced to court is a fully enforceable settlement agreement.FritzEquitable Distribution
Glaister v. Glaister,137 So. 3d 513 4th DCA April 2, 2014Error for magistrate to substitute her own experience getting manicures for sworn testimony supporting imputation of income. GlaisterChild Support
Lafferty v. Lafferty, 134 So. 3d 1142 2d DCA March 28, 2014Framework for imputing income and how to calculate amount is issue of law.LaffertyAlimony
State v. Roberts, 143 So. 3d 936 2d DCA March 28, 2014Omission to perform duty imposed by FL law - obtain FL aunt's prior consent - subjected IN niece to jurisdiction. IN niece failed to obtain FL aunt's prior consent - using name and SS# - subjected her to jurisdiction in FL.RobertsFamily Law Procedure
Ehman v. Ehman,156 So. 3d 7 2d DCA March 26, 2014LLC title owner of property was not a party, court had no power to transfer it. EhmanEquitable Distribution
Flores v. Sanchez, 137 So. 3d 1104 3d DCA March 26, 2014Court failed to consider if good cause to order paternity testing of alleged bio dad. Trial court must also determine if paternity testing is in child's best interest.FloresPaternity
Kozell v. Kozell, 142 So. 3d 891 4th DCA March 26, 2014Motion for rehearing untimely 'must be filed within 10 days of filing judgment. No extra five days for mailing - time for motion for rehearing runs from date of filing of judgment.KozellFamily Law Procedure
McNorton v. McNorton,135 So. 3d 482 2d DCA March 21, 2014Expert accountant's testimony about Standard and Poor's index speculative. No evidence of the composition of retirement investments to show how funds actually invested. Husband's withdrawal of retirement funds to buy a new home and pay bills were applied for purpose unrelated to marriage.McNortonEquitable Distribution
JLB v. SJB,135 So. 3d 468 5th DCA March 21, 2014Trial court had broad discretion to craft timesharing and visitation plan. Trial court granted unsupervised timesharing conditioned on mom's completing 3 supervised visits with Family Ties program.JLBTimesharing
Hardman v. Koslowski, 135 So. 3d 434 1st DCA March 12, 2014Court lost subject matter jurisdiction to enforce visitation - adult incapacitated. Court has continuing jurisdiction to order support for adult incapacitated dependent, but no jurisdiction re visitation.HardmanTimesharing
Ingram v. Ingram,133 So. 3d 1205 2d DCA March 12, 2014Court could determine, clarify dollar amount of pension described by percentage in final judgment.IngramEquitable Distribution
Sargeant v. Al'Saleh, 137 So. 3d 4324th DCA March 5, 2014Court lacked jurisdiction to compel turn over of stock certificates. Proceedings supplementary - can't compel debtors to turn over stock certs located outside jurisdiction.SargeantFamily Law Procedure
Williams v. Williams, 133 So. 3d 6051st DCA March 4, 2014Impossible to tell how trial court valued art collection for equitable distribution.WilliamsEquitable Distribution
SB v. Department of Children and Families, 132 So. 3d 12431st DCA March 3, 2014TPR - DCF failed to prove dad's continued relationship with children would harm them.SBDependency
Walden v. Fiore, 134 S Ct 1115, 571 US 277 Supreme Court of the United StatesFebruary 25, 2014Suit-related conduct must create substantial connection with forum state.WaldenJurisdiction
Broadway v. Broadway, 132 So. 3d 953 1st DCA February 21, 2014Camper purchased during separation. Fla. Stat. §61.075(7) - cutoff date for identifying marital assets is date petition filed, absent separation agrmnt. Court's allocation of asset as marital or nonmarital reviewed de novo.BroadwayEquitable Distribution
Motie v. Motie, 132 So. 3d 1210 5th DCA February 21, 2014Court abused discretion by awarding durational not permanent alimony.MotieAlimony
Knight v. Merhige, 133 So. 3d 1140 4th DCA February 19, 2014Negligence - no duty to warn other family of adult son's mental issues. Family members owe no heightened duty to protect other adult family members from each other. Depraved nature of killer's mind was unquestioned - killed other family members at Thanksgiving dinner. No allegations parents sufficiently controlled son's actions to place him within functional equivalent of their "legal custody."KnightAdult Children
Wagner v. Wagner, 136 So. 3d 718 2d DCA February 14, 2014Debts dad incurs for kid's college expenses before mom files petition are marital. WagnerEquitable Distribution
Hachenberger v. Hachenberger, 135 So. 3d 4135th DCA February 7, 2014Judge's Facebook friend request to party disqualifies her.HachenbergerJudiciary
Florida Department of Revenue v. Cody, 131 So. 3d 8231st DCA February 7, 2014Obligor gets no deduction unless prior court-ordered support actually paid.CodyChild Support
CG v. JR, 130 So. 3d 7762d DCA January 31, 2014Undisputed bio dad not the legal dad of child born in intact marriage. Timesharing agreement providing both men with visitation unenforceable - created dual paternity. Court distinguishes and limits TMH v. DMT (two mothers) and Greenfield v. Daniels (two fathers).CGPaternity
Matura v. Griffith, 135 So. 3d 377 5th DCA January 31, 2014Trial court overlooked 61.13(2)(c)2 presumption of detriment to child. Presumption of detriment arises when parent is convicted of misdemeanor battery - domestic violence. Court errs by ordering monetary bond to ensure dad's return of children from Jamaica -not a signatory to Hague Convention. No evidence mom could gain return of the children from Jamaica, no matter how high the bond.MaturaTimesharing
Vyfvinkel v. Vyfvinkel, 135 So. 3d 384 5th DCA January 31, 2014Alimony recipient entitled to cumulative CPI adjustment of alimony.Vyfvinkel Alimony
Byrne v. Byrne, 133 So. 3d 1082 4th DCA January 29, 2014Former husband - no standing to seek appointment of receiver to collect rent. Former husband had no interest in former marital home after entry of Final Judgment of Dissolution.ByrneFamily Law Procedure
Chace v. Loisel, 170 So. 3d 802 5th DCA January 24, 2014Court grants writ of prohibition. Wife's motion to disqualify trial judge. Wife alleged judge retaliated when she ignored judge's Facebook "friend" request. Friend request placed party between rock & hard place: ex parte communication or risk offending judge? A Facebook friendship does not necessarily signify the existence of a close relationship. Other than public nature of the internet, no difference between a FB "friend" and any other friendship.ChaceJudiciary
Passamondi v. Passamondi, 130 So. 3d 7362d DCA January 22, 2014Bifurcated divorce - terminally ill husband. Family judge had jurisdiction to hear and determine former wife's claims to undetermined interests in marital property.PassamondiFamily Law Procedure
Herrera-Frias v. Frias, 130 So. 3d 733 2d DCA January 22, 2014Trial court may award sole responsibility to parent complying with court orders. Other parent (mom) willfully violated order prohibiting removal of children from jurisdiction.Herrera-FriasParenting Plans
TNL v. Department of Children and Families, 132 So. 3d 319 4th DCA January 22, 2014Amended F.S. 39.522 - reunification - best interests. Amended F.S. 39.522'allows a court to deny reunification based solely on best interest of child. If not in child's best interest to reunify, court may deny reunification of child who is with non-offending parent. No longer requires evidence reunification would endanger child. TNLDependency
Weissman v. Braman, 132 So. 3d 327 4th DCA January 22, 2014Reverses order requiring law firm to disgorge liquid assets being held. Order directed firm disgorge marital liquid funds to pay wife's temporary attorney fees. Lack of sufficient notice to firm violates due process. If competent substantial evidence shows misappropriation of escrowed funds, court may exercise inherent power to sanction attorneys. Court, with fair notice and on competent, substantial evidence, may order disgorging of funds.WeissmanContempt
Amendments to Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, 132 So. 3d 1114Supreme Court of Florida January 16, 2014Florida Rules of Judicial Administration & Family Law. New Rules emphasize managing and coordinating cases through unified family court model. Amended family law rules.RulesFamily Law Procedure
Russo v. Russo, 129 So. 3d 507 2d DCA January 10, 2014Final judgment can't order contempt to enforce equitable distribution of retirement benefit.RussoContempt
Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch, 133 So. 3d 1008, 1020, 1062 4th DCA January 8, 2014Reversing award of attorney fees for travel time of lawyer. Affirm award to wife of some costs not within Statewide Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs in Civil Action. "Suit money" authority under 61.16 contemplates broader range of expenses than ordinarily taxable in other cases. wife failed to show prenuptial agreement invalid for fraud, misrep. Prenuptial agreement was fair when entered into. Affirms denial of wife's claim for enhancement. Prenup specific and broad enough to waive wife's right to enhancement of asset titled in husband's name. Wife could petition to modify alimony because prenuptial agreement was silent on right to modification.HahamovitchPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Wilcoxon v. Moller, 132 So. 3d 281 4th DCA January 8, 2014Marital Settlement Agreement - contempt. Reverses contempt finding - order fails to specify nature of contempt court intended to impose. A court cannot base contempt upon noncompliance with something an order does not say. Contempt order failed whether treated as one for criminal or indirect civil contempt.Wilcoxon v. MollerContempt
Tannenbaum v. Shea, 133 So. 3d 1056 4th DCA January 8, 2014Reverses order issued under Fla. Rule Civ P 1.540(b) vacating agreed order. No legal basis under 1.540(b) to grant relief. Agreed judgment was not "void" but was merely "voidable." Distinguishes between "void" and "voidable" judgments. TannenbaumFamily Law Procedure
Wing v. Wing, 129 So. 3d 1116 1st DCADecember 20, 2013Reversing order permitting relocation to Italy. No relocation because mother failed to comply strictly with relocation statute Florida Statutes 61.13001.WingTimesharing - Relocation
Flaherty v. Flaherty, 128 So. 3d 920 2d DCA December 20, 2013Ratification and laches do not validate void prenuptial agreement. Spouse was not required to seek setting aside prenup during intact marriage. FlahertyPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Gregory v. Gregory, 128 So. 3d 926 5th DCA December 20, 2013Former wife found to be in supportive relationship. Ex wife in supportive relationship bore burden of proof of continued need for alimony. Former wife's alimony terminated - evidence of her inheritance, support of roommate, gifts she made, and enhanced lifestyle.GregoryAlimony
Hodge v. Hodge, 120 So. 3d 441 5th DCA December 20, 2013Trial court failed to deduct ordinary, reasonable expenses from rental income. Trial court failed to attribute investment income from property distributed to former wife. 5th DCA follows 5 step analysis in Kaaa v. Kaaa, 58 So.3d 867 (Fla. 2010) for calculating passive appreciation - nonmarital property.HodgeEquitable Distribution
Garrett v. Pratt, 128 So. 3d 928 5th DCA December 20, 2013Inmate denied opportunity to testify by phone. GarrettFamily Law Procedure
Cole v. Cole, 159 So. 3d 1243d DCA December 18, 2013Improper to grant mother "sole custody" w/o giving dad opp'ty to present evidence.ColeTimesharing
Grant v. Grant 1st DCA December 17, 2013Proposals for settlement not appropriate in family law. Fla Fam Rule 12.442. GrantFamily Law Procedure
Naylor v. Naylor, 127 So. 3d 1288 1st DCA December 17, 2013$20,000 valuation of tools unsupported opinion. NaylorEquitable Distribution
Stone v. Stone, 128 So. 3d 239 4th DCA December 11, 2013Reverses domestic violence injunction. Insufficient evidence to establish fear of imminent danger. Even though expired, domestic violence injunction vacated "due to the collateral consequences such an injunction might cause."StoneDomestic Violence
Pierce v. Pierce, 128 So. 3d 204 1st DCA December 10, 2013Following Casto to uphold mediated agreement between sisters in bitter will contest. Probate proceeding -Emotion not sufficient grounds to set aside otherwise duly executed property settlement agreement.PiercePrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Madson v. Madson, 128 So. 3d 207 1st DCA December 10, 2013Wife's Coca Cola stock given by her son not commingled = her nonmarital asset.MadsonEquitable Distribution
Riethmiller v. Riethmiller, 133 So. 3d 926 Supreme Court of Florida December 5, 2013Court sanctions ex wife for numerous frivolous filings.RiethmillerContempt
Hoffman v. Hoffman, 127 So. 3d 8632d DCA December 4, 2013Temporary support and fees ate up 80% of husband's monthly net income - order reversed. HoffmanAlimony
Arias v. Arias, 123 So. 3d 533 2d DCA November 27, 2013Former husband who failed to try to get a job properly held in contempt. Reversed incarceration where there was no evidence former husband had present ability to pay purge amount.AriasContempt
Driggers v. Driggers, 127 So. 3d 762 2d DCA November 27, 2013Court abused discretion. Failed to modify alimony; Contempt order reversed. 40% drop in business was an uncontemplated substantial change in circumstances that was not voluntary or temporary. No money available to former husband from business. He lacked substantial assets to liquidate. His job expectations were grim.DriggersAlimony
Hirsch v. Hirsch, 136 So. 3d 622 2d DCA October 25, 2013Subject matter jurisdiction Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Act. Trial court has no subject matter jurisdiction to order beneficiary designation protected by SGLIA to be changed.HirschBeneficiary Designations
Defanti v. Russell, 126 So. 3d 377 4th DCA October 23, 2013No entitlement under 61.075(5) to interim partial distribution. Former wife did not show extraordinary circumstances required an interim partial distribution.DefantiEquitable Distribution
Wade v. Wade, 123 So. 3d 697 3d DCA October 23, 2013Writ prohibition -Judge failed to give mother opportunity to present evidence. Order that mother submit to psychological evaluation caused her to fear she would not get a fair hearing.WadeFamily Law Procedure
C.B. v. M.A., 124 So. 3d 366 2d DCA October 18, 2013Trial court failed to determine time-sharing schedule for holidays, summer.CB v. MATimesharing
Hedstrom v. Hedstrom, 123 So. 3d 150 5th DCA October 18, 2013Temporary modification or reduction of alimony. Reducing alimony is appropriate where payor has suffered a reduction in income. Through no fault of his or her own and is acting in good faith to return income to its previous level. A payor's complete inability to pay requires cessation of arrearage accrual, not mere abatement of payment. Court should applying reduced amount of alimony retroactively to date income was first reduced.HedstromAlimony
Watson v. Watson, 124 So. 3d 340 1st DCA October 16, 2013Final Judgement failed to address all mandatory factors listed in 61.075(1). "Equity and justice" is not the only factor, nor does it carry more weight than the factors in 61.075(1).WatsonEquitable Distribution
Schoenlank v. Schoenlank 3rd DCA October 16, 2013Upholds trial court's denial attorney fees to either party under MSA. Both parties prevailed on significant issues; neither party was the prevailing party under marital settlement agreement. Claims litigated may be "inextricably intertwined" involving a "common core of facts."SchoenlankAttorney Fees
Brennan v. Brennan, 122 So. 3d 923 4th DCA October 2, 2013Partition - must divide property if no party contests requested partition. Remanded to revisit entire scheme of equitable division devised by court. Court may require payment for private school only if factors are established. Private school: (1) ability to pay for it, (2) expense w/in established st of liv, (3) attending is in child's best interests. Amount of life insurance, if ordered must not exceed support oblig.BrennanEquitable Distribution
Card v. Card, Case No. 2D11-6307 2d DCA September 20, 2013Attorney perfected charging lien by providing timely notice.CardAttorney Fees
Sirdevan v. Strand, Case No. 1D13-16491 st DCA September 19, 2013Man lacked standing to bring paternity case. Child was born to intact marriage.SirdevanPaternity
Emmenegger v. Emmenegger, 135 So. 3d 1103 2nd DCA September 18, 2013Parties intended visitation schedule would not affect child support. No reduction. Father did not explain how prior waiver of reduction now entitled him to reduction now.EmmeneggerChild Support
Austin v. Austin, Case No. 1D13-1766 1st DCA September 13, 2013Trial court can't order transfer of corporate assets without joining corporation. Court may value and distribute corporate stock that is a marital asset. Court may enjoin disposal of corporate assets over which spouse has control without joining corporation. Court abused discretion by ordering liquidation of assets for which Wife did not plead. Interim partial equitable distribution under 61.075(5), Fla. Stat. requires a sworn motion. Motion for partial distribution must identify & value marital, nonmarital assets and liabilities.AustinEquitable Distribution
Graham v. Graham, 123 So. 3d 625 1st DCA September 3, 2013Court erred in calculating wife's share of 401(k) and Army pension. "One-half" (1/2) of ownership of account meant something other than entitlement to a fixed sum. Former wife entitled to 1/2 the value, including gains and losses, of a fluctuating asset. Former wife held a property interest in her 1/2 of 401(k) account, including gains or losses attributable to assets.Graham Equitable Distribution
Kuchera v. Kuchera, 123 So. 3d 631 4th DCA September 3, 2013Former wife held a property interest in her 1/2 of 401(k) account, including gains or losses attributable to assets. Court must decide if nonmodifiable lump sum alimony payments under MSA would be deductible. Nonmodifiable lump sum alimony payments generally are not deductible.KucheraEquitable Distribution
McKee v. Mick, Case No. 1D12-4954 1st DCA August 22, 2013Burial plot an interspousal gift, thus marital property; '99 Cadillac nonmarital.McKee Equitable Distribution
Lopez v. Lopez, 135 So. 3d 326 5th DCA August 16, 2013Trial court improperly allocated full value of depleted asset to husband. Reverses equit distribution. Former husband liquidated 401(k) to pay attorney fees for both parties, taxes, and home repairs. Only funds depleted on girlfriend should have been allocated to former husband.LopezEquitable Distribution
Touchet v. Jones, 135 So. 3d 5235th DCA August 16, 2013Domestic violence - same sex couple lived together as family. Reverses provision of domestic violence injunction requiring victim and son to obtain psychological evaluations. Court has no authority to order a victim of dom violence to get a psych eval and counseling.Touchet Domestic Violence - LGBTQ Issues
Butler v. Hall, Case No. 1D13-250 1st DCA August 15, 2013Trial court must conform written judgment to oral pronouncement on timesharing.Butler Timesharing
KH v. Children's Home Society, Case No. 4D13-15094th DCA August 14, 2013Bio father was failed to comply with statute 63.062(2) to preserve rights as father. Putative father served with Notice of Adoption failed to file in 30 days necessary paperwork. Father lost rights by not complying with requirements of 63.062(2). KHAdoption
Parris v. Cummins Power South, Case No. 1D13-01231st DCAAugust 13, 2013Concurring opinion. J. Makar on use of archaic Latin phrases. Not all Latin that lawyers use is "chanting unknown terms from a dead language," as plaintiff argued.Parris Marital Settlement Agreements
JDC v. MEH, Case No. 2D12-7192d DCA August 7, 2013Social investigation statute entitles parents to due process. Parents may review social investigation reports, to introduce evidence that might rebut conclusions in them. Parents have an opportunity to challenge findings and recommendations in social investigation reports. Court erred by punishing dad for exercising right to challenge social investigation report - 61.20 Fla Statutes.JDCFamily Law Procedure
Shiba v. Gabay, 120 So. 3d 80 4th DCA August 7, 2013Paternity; temporary time'sharing. Affirms order to return child to FL from Illinois. Case not strictly relocation case, but factors 61.13001(7) should be considered re best interests §61.13.Shiba Timesharing - Relocation
Burno v. Burno, 135 So. 3d 323 5th DCA August 2, 2013Remanding for findings regarding mom's violation of contact schedule, unilateral decisions. Trial court's findings supported conclusion mom's improper parenting warranted modification.Burno Parenting Plans
Caryi v. Caryi, 119 So. 3d 508 5th DCA August 2, 2013No waiver of attorney fees in settlement agreement. MSA must contain specific language waiving attorney's fees in future enforcement or modification proceedings.CaryiMarital Settlement Agreements
MDC v. BNMJ, 117 So. 3d 489 1st DCA July 24, 2013Trial court erred by dismissing petition for TPR and for adoption of adult. Trial court incorrectly found strict language of 63.042(2)(c) Florida Statutes did not authorize adoption. No exception to the statutory mandate would be required to allow adoption to move forward. At least, the adoption should have proceeded to an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner could try to show good cause why his present spouse did not join the adoption petition. Petitioner could show that adoption was in the adult child's best interest. If so, adoption may proceed. De novo review - bio dad, who remarried, could adopt despite prior termination of his parental rights. Dad's current spouse did not join petition for adoption, because bio mom would continue to fulfill role of legal mother.MDC Adoption
Nassirou v. Nassirou, 117 So. 3d 451 1st DCA July 15, 2013Reverses award of 401(k) to former wife as punishment for domestic violence.Nassirou Contempt
Schmidt v. Schmidt, Case No. 4D11-3379 4th DCA July 10, 2013Reverses business valuation. Wife's expert opinion incorrectly allocated "personal goodwill" and "enterprise goodwill." Valuation assumed and required husband to sign a non-compete agreement and transitional consulting agreement.Schmidt Equitable Distribution
Amendments to Family Law Rules, 121 So. 3d 505Supreme Court of Florida July 3, 2013New Income Withholding form.RulesFamily Law Procedure
Busciglio v. Busciglio, Case No. 2D11-64812d DCA July 3, 2013Charter school is not "private school". Final judgement must specify circumstances justifying life insurance obligation to secure support.Busciglio Child Support
Wrieden v. Wrieden, 117 So. 3d 8424th DCA July 3, 2013Error to order former husband to pay rent at address different from the one the MSA specified.Wrieden Marital Settlement Agreements
Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S. Ct. 2652, 570 US 693, 186 L. Ed. 2d 768 - Defense of Marriage Act US Supreme CourtJune 26, 2013US Supreme Court Strikes down Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).DOMAMarriage
Sacket v. Sacket, Case No. 4D12-1872 4th DCA June 19, 2013Attorney fee provision in settlement agreement if party "defaults" is not a prevailing party provision. Attorney fee provision in MSA - "defaulting party".SacketMarital Settlement Agreements
Lilly v. Lilly, 113 So. 3d 155 5th DCA May 24, 2013Trial court improperly converted rehabilitative to permanent alimony. Wife failed to present evidence she made reasonable, diligent efforts to comply with rehabilitative plan.LillyAlimony
Parra de Rey v. Rey, 114 So. 3d 371 3d DCA May 22, 2013Wife insisted on signing settlement agreement without full financial disclosure, despite advice not to do so. Failed to plead fraud with specificity. No duress shown.ReyMarital Settlement Agreements
Florida Legislature Passes CS/CS/SB 718:Florida SenateApril 18, 2013Family Law Bill - alimony reform 50-50 time-sharing.2013 Alimony BillAlimony Reform
Rudel v. Rudel, 111 So. 3d 285 4th DCA April 17, 2013Dissolution; jurisdiction; domestic violence.RudelDomestic Violence
Fernandez v. Wright, 111 So. 3d 2292d DCA April 10, 2013Written order different from oral pronouncement. Domestic violence statute section 741.30 does not provide for award of attorney fees.FernandezDomestic Violence
Kunsman v. Wall, 125 So. 3d 868 4th DCA April 10, 2013Failed to plead entitlement attorney fees under marital settlement agreement.KunsmanAttorney Fees
Rivero v. Rivero, 111 So. 3d 233 4th DCAApril 10, 2013Failure to verify timely pleadings not a jurisdictional defect.RiveroFamily Law Procedure
DM v. Elizabeth R Berkowitz , P.A., 112 So. 3d 5754th DCA April 10, 2013Biological dad entitled to access to adoption records. Confidentiality provisions of 63.089(8), 63.162(2) and 63.162(4) do not require parent establish good cause.DMAdoption
Conway v. Conway, 111 So. 3d 9251st DCA April 3, 2013Error to deny prejudgment interest on unpaid alimony. Parol evidence to construe latent ambiguity in MSA re: ex-wife's share of "bonuses" "received" by ex-husband.ConwayAlimony
Centeno v. Centeno, 109 So. 3d 1259 2d DCAApril 3, 2013Reversing denial of petition to modify alimony. Marital settlement agreement did not clearly and plainly limit modification of alimony to one set of facts.CentenoAlimony
Bak v. Bak, 110 So. 3d 523 4th DCA April 3, 2013Appeal of nonfinal order untimely. Motion for rehearing did not suspend rendition of non-final order. Rehearing not authorized for non-final orders.BakFamily Law Procedure
Amendments to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420, 124 So. 3d 819 Supreme Court of Florida March 28, 2013Privacy - public access to confid court records. Extensive changes.RJA 2.420Family Law Procedure
Capote v. Capote 2d DCA March 27, 2013Nonmarital portion business lost separate character. Consistent use of operating account to pay personal expenses - business loses nonmarital character. CapoteEquitable Distribution
Goodman v. Goodman, 126 So. 3d 2103d DCAMarch 27, 2013Reversing judgment allowing man to adopt his 42 year old girlfriend. DUI manslaughter convict could not adopt girlfriend to make her his child under a trust. Other children's interests in trust were directly, immediately and financially threatened by allowing adoption. Failure to give other children notice of adoption under Fla. Stat. 63.182(2)(a) rendered adoption decree void.GoodmanAdoption
Oliver v. Oliver, 112 So. 3d 538 5th DCA March 15, 2013Responsibility for non-elective reasonable necessary medical expenses. Not responsible for elective medical expenses for children unless the parties expressly agree or the court so orders.OliverChild Support
Dybalski v. Dybalski 5th DCA March 8, 2013Attorney fee award reversed. No fees for vexatious litigation. Former husband's conduct (withdrawing motions he filed) was not sufficiently vexatious.DybalskiAttorney Fees
Fazzaro v. Fazzaro, 110 So. 3d 492d DCA March 8, 2013Reversing award ultimate responsibility for all decisions affecting child.FazzaroParenting Plans
Schecter v. Schecter, 109 So. 3d 833 3d DCA March 6, 2013Error to terminate temporary attorney fees. 18 year romantic relationship. Prenuptial agreement. Upholds court's decision to terminate temporary alimony. Wile an agreement concerning payment of temporary attorney's fees need not be deemed controlling, it also should not be ignored.SchecterAttorney Fees
George v. George, 113 So. 3d 972 2d DCA March 1, 2013No jurisdiction modify pension. Trial court had no jurisdiction to modify property rights (Chrysler pension) after they've been adjudicated in final judgment. GeorgeEquitable Distribution
Hardman v. Koslowski, 107 So. 3d 12461st DCA February 27, 2013Reversing contempt order. No specific provision violated. No purge - improper criminal contempt. No specific provision that wife provide "normal and usual routine contact" to support contempt.HardmanContempt
Eckert v. Eckert, 107 So. 3d 1235 4th DCA February 27, 2013Trial court abused discretion by allowing relocation from Broward County to Vero Beach. Court must apply relocation factors in Fla. Stat. 61.13001. Mom's desire to move isn't enough.EckertTimesharing - Relocation
Quintero v. Rodriguez, 113 So. 3d 956 5th DCA February 15, 2013Error to deny award of temporary attorney fees. Even with imputed income, wife's negligible monthly surplus not enough to pay attorney's fees.QuinteroAttorney Fees
Chafin v. Chafin, 133 S. Ct. 1017 Supreme Court of the United StatesFebruary 13, 2013Hague -return of child to Scotland habitual residence does not moot appeal of order.ChafinHague Convention
Hickman v. Milsap, 106 So. 3d 513 5th DCA February 8, 2013Man not child's father disestablished paternity must pay back child support.HickmanPaternity
Neuman v. Harper, 106 So. 3d 974 5th DCA February 8, 2013Mother's deception thwarted relationship between dad, child - majority of time given to dad in Mississippi.NeumanTimesharing
Davis v. Davis, 108 So. 3d 6605th DCA February 8, 2013Former husband failed to prove entitlement enhancement of nonmarital asset. Error to admit DCF investigative summaries containing hearsay. Husband failed to call authors of DCF reports to testify or establish predicate for admission, but no harmless error.DavisEquitable Distribution
Doganiero v. Doganiero, 106 So. 3d 752d DCA February 6, 2013$100/month alimony woefully insufficient and beyond the pale where husband makes $52,000/year. DoganieroAlimony
Toussaint v. Toussaint, 107 So. 3d 474 1st DCA January 24, 2013Plain language prenuptial agreement did not entitle husband to appreciation.ToussaintPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Zvida v. Zvida, 103 So. 3d 1052 4th DCA January 9, 2013Error to include depleted asset in equitable distribution.ZvidaEquitable Distribution
Giorlando v. Giorlando, 103 So. 3d 2474th DCA December 19, 2012Must consider imputed income from MSA. Because former wife sought to modify support, she bore the burden of establishing imputed income should no longer apply.GiorlandoMarital Settlement Agreements
US Bank Nat. Ass'n v. Quadomain Condo Ass'n, 103 So. 3d 977 4th DCA December 19, 2012Lis pendens - intervention. Must timely intervene in the suit creating the lis pendens, to enforce unrecorded property interest.US BankFamily Law Procedure
Amendments to Florida Rules, 104 So. 3d 1043Supreme Court of Florida December 6, 2012Mediation rule change - Rule 12.740 amended. RulesFamily Law Procedure
Amendments to Florida Family Law Rules, 104 So. 3d 1043 Supreme Court of Florida December 6, 2012Florida Supreme Court deletes 10-days for objections when attorney not at mediation and agreement is reached from the MSA must be taken into account in determining whether to award temporary fees.RulesFamily Law Procedure
Strawcutter v. Strawcutter, 101 So. 3d 417 5th DCA November 30, 2012Disqualification of counsel. Wife accessed husband's computer. No evidence wife's attorney became privy to privileged communication or obtained an unfair advantage.StrawcutterFamily Law Procedure
Blackburn v. Blackburn, 103 So. 3d 941 2nd DCA November 30, 2012Modification of 50-50 time-sharing. Cannot dispense with the substantial change in circumstances standard for modifying time-sharing.BlackburnTimesharing
Gottlieb v. Gottlieb, 127 So. 3d 575 4th DCA November 28, 2012Florida Appellate Rule 9.130(f). Court lacked jurisdiction to render final judgment while appeal from nonfinal order was pending in same case.GottliebFamily Law Procedure
Florida Department of Revenue v. Wilson, 100 So. 3d 1283 1st DCA November 26, 2012No deviation from guidelines for shared parenting without approved parenting plan.WilsonChild Support
Miller v. Miller, 107 So. 3d 430 4th DCA November 21, 2012No attorney fees to prevailing party. Prevailing party attorney fees only applied to action to "enforce" agreement, not for "modification" action. Claim modification petition was "inextricably intertwined" with contempt proceedings was without merit. Issues are intertwined when "work for one claim cannot be distinguished from work on other claims" - Franzen.MillerAttorney Fees
Scott v. Scott, 109 So. 3d 804 5th DCA November 16, 2012Error not to lower alimony after two heart attacks .ScottAlimony
Hernandez v. Hernandez, 109 So. 3d 806 5th DCA November 16, 2012Error to base alimony and child support on old financial affidavit.HernandezAlimony
Margaretten v. Miller, 101 So. 3d 395 1st DCA November 16, 2012Permanent alimony. Findings required. Trial court must determine if permanent alimony is the most fair and reasonable type and make findings.MargarettenAlimony
Amendments to Family Law Rules of Procedure, 104 So. 3d 314Supreme Court of Florida November 15, 2012Form amendments. Disclosures from non-lawyers who help fill out forms.RulesFamily Law Procedure
Weiss v. Weiss, 100 So. 3d 12202d DCA November 14, 2012Full Faith and Credit. Contempt to enforce property settlement. Court must enforce contempt feature of IL money judgment as to property settlement, unlike FL law.WeissContempt
Perez v. Perez, 100 So. 3d 769 2d DCA November 9, 2012$200,000 attorney fee award lacked necessary findings. Must set forth specific findings to justify the amount awarded and justifying payment plan selected. Court may not simply choose arbitrary figure to do some esoteric type of equity. Specific findings required for award of fees as a sanction, including Rosen reduction or enhancement factors. PerezAttorney Fees
DOR v. Cessford, 100 So. 3d 1199 2d DCA November 9, 2012Affirms order that DOR return tax refund intercepted. Taxpayer was not in arrears or delinquent in paying child support to warrant interception of tax refund. Retroactive support does mean delinquency or arrears. State court has authority to determine delinquency. Court order that DOR pay attorney fees was justified under section 57.105(1), Florida Statutes.DOR v. CessfordChild Support
Edgar v. Firuta, 100 So. 3d 255 3d DCA November 7, 2012Mother fled to NC in violation of FL court order. Court found mom violated section 787.03, Florida Statutes. Interference with lawful custody of a minor child. NC court never addressed child custody in initial dissolution of marriage proceedings. NC Court was never advised of Monroe County, FL order prohibiting relocation - no jurisdiction under UCCJEA. Trial court properly struck mom's pleadings, but failed to assess the 20 "best interest of the child" factors. Upholds sanctions for mom's precipitous actions, but remands for consideration of best interest of children. EdgarContempt
Bosh v. Mathis, 99 So. 3d 631 5th DCA October 26, 2012Improper "status conference" rulings violated due process. Reversing rulings not noticed, not sought and not based on presentation of evidence. Violated due process.BoshFamily Law Procedure
Symonette v. State, 100 So. 3d 180 4th DCA October 24, 2012Photos of text messages authenticated.SymonetteEvidence
Garvin v. Tidwell, 126 So. 3d 1224 4th DCAOctober 24, 2012Rescission mediated settlement agreement. Party violated discovery obligations. Did not disclose relevant material responsive to discovery requests.GarvinMarital Settlement Agreements
Johns v. Johns, 101 So. 3d 377 1st DCA October 10, 2012Mom denied chance to present evidence before entry domestic violence injunctionJohnsDomestic Violence
Wright v. Milner 1st DCA October 8, 2012Reversed order denying petition to relocate to Virginia.WrightTimesharing
Fonderson v. Lairap, 98 So. 3d 7152d DCA October 5, 2012"Matching" fee award reversed. No evidence of work actually performed by W's attorneys to justify ordering H to pay them what he paid his attorneys. FondersonAttorney Fees
New Family Law Rules, 101 So. 3d 360Supreme Court of Florida October 4, 2012Inadvertent disclosure of privileged materials.RulesFamily Law Procedure
New Family Law Rules, 101 So. 3d 360Supreme Court of Florida October 4, 2012May serve fewer than standard interrogatories.RulesFamily Law Procedure
New Family Law Rules, 101 So. 3d 360Supreme Court of Florida October 4, 2012Proposals for settlement do not apply in family law matters.RulesFamily Law Procedure
Amos v. Amos, 99 So. 3d 979 1st DCA October 3, 2012Court may consider remote dissipation of marital assets, following Beers v. Beers.AmosEquitable Distribution
Hitchcock v. Hitchcock, 126 So. 3d 1184 4th DCA October 3, 2012Attorney fees - equal ability to pay. Trial court erred in reimbursing wife for only half of husband's fees she previously paid, after equal distribution.HitchcockAttorney Fees
Hoff v. Hoff, 100 So. 3d 1164 4th DCA October 3, 2012Temporary attorney fees - ability to pay. Court may consider factors other than parties' relative financial resources, such as access to assets. Detailed findings not required for temporary timesharing determinations. Must have competent substantial evidence.HoffAttorney Fees
Domville v. State, 103 So. 3d 184 4th DCASeptember 5, 2012Disqualification - prosecutor, judge Facebook friends.DomvilleJudiciary
Holtz v. Holtz, 95 So. 3d 457 4th DCA August 22, 2012Reverses contempt order nonpayment equitable distribution payment.HoltzContempt
Wiesenfeld v. Wiesenfeld, 95 So. 3d 959 1st DCA August 15, 2012Revoking past alimony error without finding former wife's capable self-support. Receipt of inheritance a substantial change in circumstances allowing alimony recipient to become self-supportingWiesenfeldAlimony
McCord v. McCord, 94 So. 3d 719 2d DCA August 15, 2012MSA did not establish personal service obligation. Former husband not required under MSA to pilot around former wife.McCordMarital Settlement Agreements
Maher v. Maher, 94 So. 3d 719 4th DCA August 15, 2012Modification of child support - entrepreneur. Income of self-employed "entrepreneur" not involuntarily or permanently reduced to justify downward modification.LinkChild Support
Nousari v. Nousari, 94 So. 3d 704 4th DCAAugust 15, 2012Durational alimony upheld - moderate term. 2011 changes to alimony statute require findings to award permanent alimony that no other form is fair and reasonable. 2011 changes for award of permanent alimony moderate term marriage, prove factors by clear, convincing evidence.NousariAlimony
Cook v. Cook, 94 So. 3d 683 4th DCA August 15, 2012Waiver right to seek modification alimony in MSA. Waiver right to seek modification alimony in marital settlement agreement must be clearly and unambiguously expressed.CookMarital Settlement Agreements
Cole v. Cole, 95 So. 3d 369 3d DCA August 1, 2012Court approved marital settlement agreement is a contract; court will not rewrite terms. Enforcement of "creeping" financial obligations. Resolve under terms of MSA or by seeking modification of obligations.ColeMarital Settlement Agreements
Connell v. Connell, 93 So. 3d 1140 2d DCAAugust 1, 2012Prenuptial agreement - men's jewelry separate property. Premarital agreement provision regarding joint funds did not make husband's Rolex joint property although acquired with joint funds.ConnellPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Jackson v. Jackson, 98 So. 3d 112 2d DCA July 18, 2012Temporary attorney fees and temporary support. On certiorari, court quashes order denying contempt for husband's failure to pay temporary attorney fees and support. Husband, sole shareholder, controlled, had access to corporation's accounts and IRA as sources to pay temp support.JacksonAttorney Fees
Rules of Judicial Administration, 95 So. 3d 96Supreme Court of Florida July 16, 2012New Rule of Judicial Administration 2.514 (Computing and Extending Time). Effective 10/1/2012.RJAFamily Law Procedure
Fazzini v. Davis, 98 So. 3d 98 2d DCA July 13, 2012Domestication of foreign visitation consent judgment. Surviving dad's privacy rights prevail over maternal grandmother's visitation rights under Virginia consent decree. No "involuntariness" element for modification of time sharing. Change may be voluntary, yet meet Wade v. Hirschman test. Parent's fundamental privacy right to raise child trumps grandp's claims, even if he originally agreed, absent demonstrable harm.FazziniTimesharing
Amendments to Florida Family Law Rules of ProcedureSupreme Court of Florida July 12, 2012Family Law Rules amended for injunctions for protection against stalkingRulesFamily Law Procedure
Blossman v. Blossman, 92 So. 3d 878 4th DCA July 11, 2012Error for court to "split the difference" between two stock valuations.BlossmanEquitable Distribution
Le v. Nguyen, 98 So. 3d 600 5th DCA July 6, 2012Parenting plan may be modified prior to incorporation in final judgment if not in the best interests of the child - substantial change test does not apply. Parenting plan may be modified prior to final judgement if not in best interests of child. Substantial change in circumstances does not apply to modification of parenting plan prior to incorporation in final judgmnt.Le v. NguyenParenting Plans
Overton v. Overton, 92 So. 3d 253 1st DCA June 14, 2012Modification alimony - Trial court has discretion to find need for alimony persists despite recipient's supportive relationship.OvertonAlimony
Amendments to Approved Family Law Forms, 96 So. 3d 217 Supreme Court of Florida May 24, 2012Amended for changes to alimony and child support.FamilyFormsFamily Law Procedure
Gilbert v. Cole, 107 So. 3d 4261st DCA May 18, 2012Support award in divorce decree allocated each child half until emancipation.GilbertChild Support
In re KC, 87 So. 3d 827 2nd DCA May 16, 2012Reversed finding dependency. DCF failed to prove mom would fail to protect kids from dad's drinking.
Bellamy v. Langfitt, 86 So. 3d 11703d DCA April 25, 2012Court erred by judicially modifying irrevocable trust contrary to settlor's intent. BellamyTrusts & Estates
King v. King, 82 So. 3d 1124 2d DCA March 7, 2012Supportive relationship pre-divorce - can't cut alimony.KingAlimony
Swergold v. Swergold, 82 So. 3d 1148 4th DCA March 7, 2012Credits under 61.077, Florida Statutes. Error to fail to address entitlement to credits for expenses of marital home during former wife's exclusive possession.SwergoldEquitable Distribution
Simon v. Simon, 83 So. 3d 927 4th DCA March 7, 2012Prenuptial agreements and temporary fees. Court errored by limiting temporary support, attorney fees upon prenuptial agreement. Must apply need and ability test 61.16.SimonPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Gulledge v. Gulledge, 82 So. 3d 11132d DCA February 29, 2012Failure to set date for sale or refinancing residence.GulledgeEquitable Distribution
Palewsky v. Florida DOR, 81 So. 3d 584 3d DCA February 29, 2012Mandatory financial affidavit cannot be waived - no harmless error.PalewskyChild Support
Hallac v. Hallac, 88 So. 3d 253 4th DCA February 29, 2012Court may consider results obtained in case. Court may weigh failure to accept offer to settle a divorce case in denying attorney fees. Error to award attorney fees to a spouse who has no need for fees against a spouse who has lesser ability to pay. Vexatious litigation practices do not abrogate a determination of ability to pay to justify an award of attorney fees. There must be vexatious conduct or bad faith litigation to award attorney fees under the court's inherent authority.HallacAttorney Fees
Slover v. Meyer, 80 So. 3d 453 2d DCA February 24, 2012Substantial change in circumstances test did not apply. Modification of custody. Dispute between natural parent and 3d party. Deny custody to natural parent only when detrimental to child.SloverTimesharing
Preudhomme v. Bailey, 82 So. 3d 138 4th DCA February 22, 2012Reversing supervised visitation. Trial court errored restricted angry mom to 4 hrs/week supervised contact and prohibited modification until completion 1½ yrs therapy.PreudhommeTimesharing
MacLeod v. MacLeod, 82 So. 3d 147 4th DCA February 22, 2012Plain meaning of postnuptial agreement. Clear postnuptial agreement. Character of nonmarital cottage remained separate property. Never was converted to tangible asset.MacLeodPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Drdek v. Drdek, 79 So. 3d 216 4th DCA February 15, 2012Magistrate invoked "manifest injustice". Magistrate has no authority to overrule prior order of a circuit judge based on "manifest injustice."DrdekMarital Settlement Agreements
Sauriol v. Sauriol, 79 So. 3d 204 2nd DCA February 10, 2012Confusing civil contempt order. Order a "repackaged effort" at unauthorized indirect criminal contempt order to punish husband for email in violation of no contact order.SauriolDomestic Violence
Stoothoff v. Hobdy, 79 So. 3d 198 5th DCA February 10, 2012No binding settlement - parenting plan agreement. All aspects of parenting plan had not been reduced to writing, as contemplated by Florida Statutes §61.046(14).StoothoffParenting Plan
McClune v. McClune, 79 So. 3d 194 5th DCAFebruary 10, 2012Latent ambiguity in MSA regarding division of IRA - evidentiary hearing required.McCluneMarital Settlement Agreements
DiNardo v. DiNardo, 82 So. 3d 1102 2nd DCA February 8, 2012Failure to consider consistent history of bonuses.DiNardoAttorney Fees
Robertson v. Robertson, 78 So. 3d 76 5th DCA January 20, 2012Primary asset of marriage - enhanced value of premarital website. Error to deny motion to continue to allow expert to testify to enhanced value of website - domain name registered pre-marriage.RobertsonEquitable Distribution
Byrne v. Byrne, 128 So. 3d 23d DCA January 18, 2012Negative equity in real property - assigning all to one party error. Improper unequal distribution by assuming surrender of property to bank would erase marital deficiency debt. Error not to adjust for husband's spending after separation of wife's funds from joint brokerage account.ByrneEquitable Distribution
Middleton v. Middleton, 79 So. 3d 8365th DCA January 6, 2012Standard for imputing income. Court should have considered wife's work history, occupational qualifications, prevailing earnings in community for class of available jobs.MiddletonAlimony
Saewitz v. Saewitz, 79 So. 3d 8313d DCAJanuary 4, 2012Tortious interference with expected inheritance. No proof stepmother's acts caused them damages with reasonable degree of certainty.SaewitzTrusts & Estates
Koslowski v. Koslowski, 78 So. 3d 642 1st DCA December 30, 20111st DCA Award of respite nursing care adult dependent child justified. Respite care from Registered Nurse (RN) ordered - adult dependent child with acute epileptic condition (Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome). Sec 61.30(11) Fla Stat allows upward adjustment in child support for extraordinary medical, psychological, educational or dental expenses. Adult dependent child's condition and constant need for medical care justified award of respite care.KoslowskiChild Support
Galligar v. Galligar, 77 So. 3d 8081st DCA December 30, 2011Reversing order reducing alimony still beyond former husband's ability to pay.GalligarAlimony
Zambuto v. Zambuto, 76 So. 3d 1044 2d DCA December 16, 2011Court cannot charge husband's share of equitable distribution w gambling losses during intact marriage.ZambutoEquitable Distribution
Buhler v. Buhler, 83 So. 3d 7905th DCA December 2, 2011Fla. Stat. §61.30(11)(b) mandatory. Failure to spend substantial time with child. Mandatory forfeiture of right to reduction in child support. Modification retroactive to the date noncustodial parent first failed to regularly exercise visitation, not later date of filing.BuhlerChild Support
PG v. EW, 75 So. 3d 777 2d DCA November 30, 2011Single spank constituted reasonable and non-excessive parental corporal discipline and, as a matter of law, was not domestic violence. DNA test results former husband learned of since initial paternity determination proved he was not bio dad. Trial ct should have granted petition to disestablish paternity based on newly discovered evidence. Certifies conflict with Oct 6 2011 1st DCA case Hooks v. Quaintance. Certifies conflict with First District's opinion in Hooks v. Quaintance, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D2214 (Fla. 1st DCA Oct. 6, 2011).PGPaternity
Kerzner v. Kerzner, 77 So. 3d 2143rd DCANovember 30, 2011Proceeds from sale of marital home were subject to homestead protection. Marital settlement agreement with wife #2 did not specifically call for payment of ex-wife's claims for back support with proceeds from sale of home.KerznerHomestead
Jurasek v. Jurasek, 67 So. 3d 1210 3rd DCAAugust 31, 2011Claim for unequal distribution not proven. How funds were received or how much each party contributed to buy jointly titled property are irrelevant to disprove gift.JurasekEquitable Distribution
Bush v. Bush, 65 So. 3d 1101 2d DCA July 27, 2011Error to include in equitable distribution depleted marital account when money is spent for needs during case.BushEquitable Distribution
Morenberg v. Morenberg, 65 So. 3d 1199 4th DCA July 27, 2011Error to award spouse future royalties from grammar book written after the date of filing divorce petition.MorenbergEquitable Distribution
Wigley v. Hares, 82 So. 3d 932 4th DCA July 27, 2011Hague Convention and International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA). Mom who wrongfully removed child from St. Kitts proved by clear and convincing evidence that return of child to dad would put child at grave risk of harm. Failed to prove child was in a settled environment after one year. Proved claims of physical violence with testimony dad was abusive and threatened to kill child to punish mom. Mother not required to prove country of habitual residence would not or could not protect the child.WigleyHague Convention
Taylor v. Taylor, 67 So. 3d 359 4th DCA July 20, 2011Final judgment set aside under Fla. Rule Civ P 1.540 where husband, by affidavits, established no notice to him of final hearing. Wife's lawyer's unsworn statements wife lulled husband into false belief she was not pursuing case.TaylorFinality of Judgments
In the Interest of MM v. DCF , 62 So. 3d 12892d DCA June 24, 2011Order suspending contact with children departed from the requirements of law - failure to find visitation not in children's best interest.MMTimesharing
Bachman v. McLinn, 65 So. 3d 71 2d DCA June 10, 2011Retroactive application of section 61.13 as amended in 2008 was improper to "custody" and "visitation" issues - must apply law in effect at time of final judgment. BachmanTimesharing
Horton v. Horton, 62 So. 3d 689 2d DCA June 10, 2011Coverture fraction.HortonEquitable Distribution
Crawford v. Barker, 64 So. 3d 1246 Supreme Court of Florida June 9, 2011Absent MSA providing who is or is not to receive death benefits or specifying beneficiary, the designation on policy, plan, or account controls.CrawfordBeneficiary Designations
Poe v. Poe, 63 So. 3d 842 5th DCA May 20, 2011Upholds not imputing income to spouse based on temporary loans from parents not to be continuing.PoeChild Support
Slowinski v. Sweeney, 64 So. 3d 128 1st DCA May 18, 2011Child born to intact marriage cannot be subject of paternity action brought by biological dad.SlowinskiPaternity
Fuentes v. Fuentes, 59 So. 3d 12042d DCA April 27, 2011Unequal distribution requires findings. Error to include funds paid for living expenses.FuentesEquitable DIstribution
Fortune v. Fortune, 61 So. 3d 441 2d DCA April 27, 2011Affidavits are inadmissible hearsay - can't prove facts at an evidentiary hearing re loan. Award of dependency exemption must be conditioned on being current in payment of child support.FortuneEquitable Distribution
Grillo v. Clay, 59 So. 3d 337 4th DCA April 27, 2011Visitation can't be conditioned on payment of parent's financial obligations, including child support.GrilloTimesharing
Paiz v. CastellanosSouthern District of FloridaAugust 28, 2006The Inter-American Convention's provisions regarding service of process neither mandatory nor exclusive. PaizFamily Law Procedure
Beers v. Beers, 724 So. 2d 109, 1155th DCA October 23, 1998Trial court may consider remote (greater than 2 years) dissipation of marital assets. BeersEquitable DIstribution
Armao v. McKenney, 218 So. 3d 4814th DCA January 1, 1970Trial court rejected Lenore's claims Patti, during premarital cohabitation, promised her premarital retirement earnings would fund parties' golden years & parties pooled assets.
Armao v. McKenney, 218 So. 3d 481, 485 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017) held unmarried cohabitants may agree to enforceable contract that establishes rights & responsibilities as long as there's valid, lawful consideration separate from any express or implied agreement re sexual relations.
Parties could have considered written domestic partner agreement. For overview & more discussion, see https://www.sampsoncollaborativelaw.com/domestic-partnership-agreements-overview
ArmaoPrenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
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