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Generally, in family law cases, parties are required to pay their own attorneys’ fees. There are exceptions, however, where the court will order one party to pay another’s counsel. Generally, though, such orders are only issued as sanctions for vexatious litigation or when one party has a need and the other has the ability to pay. If a court orders a party to pay attorneys’ fees without conducting the necessary analysis, the order may be reversed, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action. If you are considering seeking a divorce, it is wise to meet with a Miami divorce attorney to determine your options.

Procedural Setting of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and the wife divorced in 2009. In 2020, the husband filed a modification petition and accused the wife of not repaying a loan, prompting both parties to accuse each other of contempt. The court rejected the husband’s modification petition, granted his contempt claim, and denied the wife’s contempt claim. The wife, representing herself, appealed this decision, and the husband cross-appealed. The appeals court upheld the contempt rulings but dismissed the appeal regarding fees.

It is reported that the husband then sought and was awarded attorney’s fees for contempt and the previous appeal. The order incorrectly referenced a non-existent rule regarding the ability to award fees for contempt, however. There were also mathematical errors in the calculations of fees, and some statements were directly copied from the husband’s proposed order. The court’s order mentioned the wife’s financial situation, questioned her credibility, and ordered her to pay. The court did not discuss the husband’s financial situation. Continue reading ›

Alimony plays a crucial role in many Florida divorces in that it helps lesser-earning parties maintain financial stability after their marriage ends. Merely because a party requests alimony does not mean that it should be granted, however, and even if a court finds that alimony is appropriate, it must comply with statutory guidelines when issuing a support award. In a recent Florida opinion, the court discussed the analysis a court must conduct before issuing an alimony award in a matter in which it ultimately vacated the lower court’s order. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is important to understand how ending your marriage may impact you financially, and you should speak to a Miami divorce attorney.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the parties divorced. In the final judgment of dissolution of marriage, the trial court ordered the husband to pay alimony to the wife. The husband appealed, arguing that the trial court made numerous errors during the process of determining alimony.

Findings Required Prior to Awarding Alimony

The primary issues on appeal were whether the trial court erred in failing to set forth specific findings relating to the parties’ net incomes and in relying on gross income instead of net income for alimony calculations. Continue reading ›

Generally, people have the right to seek discovery of any evidence relevant to their claims or defenses in divorce actions. Issues can arise, however, when the information sought is private or generally protected from disclosure. In a recent legal ruling issued in favor of the wife, a Florida court addressed the question of how to balance an individual’s privacy rights with the need for pertinent medical information in divorce proceedings. Attorney Sandy T. Fox, who represented the wife, successfully demonstrated that the husband waived his right to privacy by placing his health at issue. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is important to understand how your decision may impact your right to privacy, and it is smart to talk to a Miami divorce attorney.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married for over four decades. The husband filed for divorce, and the wife responded with a counter-petition seeking alimony. The wife subsequently requested that the husband provide his medical, psychological, health, and mental health records for the preceding three years. Despite the husband’s objections, the court granted the wife’s request. The husband filed a petition for a writ of certiorari.

Compelled Disclosure of Medical Records in Divorce Actions

The court ultimately denied the husband’s petition. In doing so, it explained that in order for a writ of certiorari to issue, the petitioner must demonstrate specific criteria: the challenged order should deviate from essential legal requirements, lead to significant harm for the case’s remainder, and be uncorrectable after judgment. Continue reading ›

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In Florida child support cases, the courts typically refer to statutory guidelines to determine what constitutes an appropriate obligation. While the courts are permitted to deviate from the guidelines, if they do so, they generally must demonstrate that the deviation is warranted. In a recent Florida opinion issued in a child support matter, the court discussed what constitutes appropriate grounds for a deviation. If you have questions about what steps you can take to protect your interests in a child support case, it is advisable to speak with a Miami child support attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother filed a lawsuit seeking to establish sought to ascertain paternity. She also requested child support and other relief. The father responded pro se to the petition but did not file a counterpetition. After a DNA test confirmed the father’s biological paternity, the trial court issued a final judgment establishing his legal and biological paternity and ordered him to pay child support. The mother appealed on the grounds that the child support obligation was less than half of the amount recommended under the statutory guidelines.

Deviation from Child Support Guidelines

On appeal, the court reversed the child support ruling, noting that the trial court did not cite sufficient reasons for deviation. While the child support guidelines are clearly rebuttable, if a court deviates more than five percent from them, it must set forth either in writing or on the record why an award that aligned with the guideline amount would be inappropriate or unjust. Continue reading ›

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that, for the most part, any assets acquired during a marriage are considered the property of both parties. Further, such property is subject to division by the courts in the event a couple decides to divorce. The courts do not have to divide marital property equally, however, but can disburse them in a manner they deem fair. Recently, a Florida court examined the process of fashioning an equitable distribution in a case in which the husband appealed the trial court’s ruling. If you are interested in learning more about how the decision to divorce could impact you financially, it is advisable to speak with a Miami divorce lawyer promptly.

Procedural Setting of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 2002 and separated in August 2012. They lived apart for six years until the husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. The trial court conducted a trial and issued a final judgment of dissolution of marriage, which included an attached equitable distribution spreadsheet. Following the trial court’s decision, the husband filed a motion for rehearing, which was denied. The husband then appealed.

Equitable Distribution in Florida Divorce Actions

On appeal, the husband raises several issues with regard to the court’s equitable distribution, including the assertion that the trial court erred in granting the wife credit for tax liability owed by the husband. Continue reading ›

In divorce actions involving minor children, the courts will typically determine parental responsibility and time-sharing rights. Regardless of whether a parent agrees with the custody determinations made by a court, they must abide by them; otherwise, they may be sanctioned. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the court granted the father compensatory time-sharing days due to the mother’s refusal to comply with the custody order. If you have questions about your options with regard to protecting your parental rights, it is recommended that you consult a Miami child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the mother and father had two minor children before divorcing. The final judgment of dissolution included a parenting plan. The father filed a contempt motion against the mother, alleging that she had denied him timesharing with their younger child on multiple occasions. In his motion, the father requested compensatory timesharing for the missed days. After an evidentiary hearing, the court granted the father’s request and awarded him compensatory timesharing for thirteen overnights that were denied to him. The mother appealed, arguing that the court violated her right to due process by providing relief beyond what the father sought in his motion.

Sanctions for Violating a Parenting Plan

On appeal, the court rejected the mother’s reasoning. In doing so, the court explained that if a court grants a remedy that a party did not request, it constitutes a violation of due process. As such, the trial court would have violated the mother’s due process rights if it granted the father greater compensatory timesharing than he sought. Contrary to the mother’s assertions, however, the court found that the trial court did not do so. Continue reading ›

Florida law permits parties to submit proposed orders in family law proceedings. The courts rarely adopt such orders as is, however, but instead will exercise their own judgment as to what constitutes an appropriate ruling. If a court does adopt a proposed order verbatim, it must demonstrate that it exercised independent judgment in doing so. Otherwise, the order may be vacated, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a Florida divorce action. If you intend to end your marriage, it is wise to talk to a Miami divorce lawyer about your options.

Procedural Background

It is reported that the parties divorced. After the trial court entered a final judgment, the mother moved for child support determination and retroactive support. The trial court requested the parties to submit proposed orders, and it ultimately adopted the father’s proposed order verbatim. The mother argues that the court’s adoption of the father’s order without independent decision-making constituted an error.

Verbatim Adoption of Proposed Orders in Family Law Cases

On appeal, the court noted that the lack of a transcript from the evidentiary hearing complicated its review. It stated, however, that both parties agreed that the trial court did not announce its ruling and requested proposed orders from them. The order entered by the court matched the father’s submission, including conflicting paragraphs. The court signed the order just one business day after receiving the father’s proposed order, leaving no apparent opportunity for the mother to raise objections before the court’s decision. Continue reading ›

Under Florida law, parents have a duty to provide financial support for their children. In the context of custody cases, this obligation is often the impetus for imposing a child support obligation. The courts determine what constitutes an appropriate amount of child support by analyzing numerous factors, including each parent’s income. If a parent is willfully underemployed, however, the courts may impute income to them. In a recent Florida case in which the court ultimately reversed the trial court ruling, the court discussed the grounds for imputing income to a parent. If you have questions about your rights with regard to child support, it is in your best interest to speak to a Miami child support lawyer at your earliest convenience.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the mother and the father divorced in 2014. During their divorce, they agreed to a marital settlement and parenting plan; pursuant to the plan, the mother had the majority of timesharing with the couple’s two children and home-schooled them. In 2019, the husband filed a petition to modify the timesharing and child support, seeking equal timesharing and claiming that the mother was voluntarily underemployed. He argued that modifying the timesharing would allow her to work more hours and increase her income.

Allegedly, following a hearing, a magistrate recommended modifying the timesharing to be more equal, ending the home-schooling arrangement, and imputing additional income to the mother. The mother filed exceptions to the recommendation, and the trial court largely adopted the report but granted her exception regarding the imputation of income and remanded the issue for further consideration. Following subsequent hearings, the magistrate again recommended imputing additional income to the mother, claiming she voluntarily cut her work hours in half and had not shown effort in finding alternative employment. The trial court adopted the report and recommendation. The mother then appealed. Continue reading ›

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that any property deemed a marital asset will be divided equitably among the parties in a divorce action, while any separate property will remain separate. As such, it is critical that the courts properly characterize all property the parties own to ensure a fair distribution. If a court errs when determining the nature of an asset, the parties may be able to appeal the final judgment of dissolution, as illustrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is wise to talk to a Miami divorce lawyer about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband filed a divorce petition in 2015. During the divorce trial, the main points of contention were the classification of financial accounts owned by the wife and real properties owned by the husband. The trial court issued a final judgment of dissolution of marriage in 2016, ruling that certain financial accounts were partially marital assets and that the classification of the properties was marital. The court did not provide a rationale for its decision.

Allegedly, in March 2022, a hearing was held to determine the non-marital portion of the wife’s financial accounts. The wife stipulated that four accounts were entirely marital, but the parties disagreed on the classification of the fifth account, which was an IRA. After the hearing, the trial court determined that the entire IRA was the wife’s nonmarital asset based on her testimony, the testimony of a certified public accountant, and submitted financial records. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida divorce actions, the courts may order one party to pay the other alimony. Generally, the courts will not grant alimony unless the evidence demonstrates both that the party seeking support lacks the financial resources to provide for their basic needs and that the party from whom support is sought has the ability to pay. As such, if either party’s financial situation changes, it may necessitate a modification of the alimony award. In a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action, the court explained what constitutes adequate grounds for granting a modification request. If you wish to end your marriage, you should confer with a Miami divorce lawyer about how your decision could impact you financially.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the parties divorced in 2016. Pursuant to the final judgment of divorce, the husband had an obligation to pay durational alimony to the wife. In 2018, the husband sought a modification of the alimony award based on a change in his income, and the court granted his request. His income fluctuated at that time, though, and the evidence suggested different amounts.

Allegedly, in 2020, the husband lost his job and obtained another position with a lower salary. He then filed a second petition for alimony modification, claiming a substantial change in circumstances due to the reduction in his income. The wife argued that his income was lower than he reported and that the reduction was not substantial enough to warrant a modification. The court denied the husband’s petition, and he appealed. Continue reading ›