Martindale-Hubbell
The National Advocates
The National Advocates
National Board of Trial Advocacy
The Florida Bar
Best Lawyers
Client Distinction Award
The National Advocates

In many marriages, one party earns the bulk of the income while the other takes care of the home. If a couple with such an arrangement decides to divorce, the lesser-earning party may be eligible for alimony. Further, if the court errs in determining the amount of alimony owed, they may be able to seek an adjustment, as discussed in a recent Florida case. If you want to learn more about how a divorce may impact your rights, it is prudent to speak with a Miami divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual Setting and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the parties were married in 1986 and had three children who had all reached the age of majority prior to the end of the marriage. The wife filed for divorce in 2015, and the husband filed a counter-petition. During their marriage, the husband was the sole income earner, while the wife was a homemaker.

Reportedly, after a trial in 2019, the court entered a final judgment dissolving the marriage. The appellate court reversed this judgment in 2020, however, because of an error committed by the trial court when it rejected the wife’s request to reopen the case. On remand, additional trial proceedings were held, and a new final judgment was entered in November 2022. The wife then appealed the final judgment. Continue reading ›

Posted in:
Published on:
Updated:

In Florida divorce proceedings, it is not uncommon for parties to enter into a marital settlement agreement that defines their post-dissolution rights and obligations. Such agreements are contracts and are enforceable as such, which means if one party fails to abide by the terms of the agreement, the other party can seek a contempt ruling from the court. Parties can only be held in contempt if the contract provisions clearly allow for such a finding, though, as discussed in a recent Florida case. If you want to pursue a divorce, it is important to understand the implications of your decision, and it is advisable to talk to a Miami divorce lawyer about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife divorced; as part of their dissolution proceeding, they entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA). The MSA required the wife to execute a quitclaim deed (Deed 1) conveying her interest in the marital residence to the husband, to be held by her counsel until certain conditions were met. The MSA also stipulated a lump sum alimony payment from the husband to the wife, with a default leading to the release of a second quitclaim deed (Deed 2) conveying the husband’s interest in the marital residence to the former wife.

Allegedly, the wife moved to have the husband and his attorney held in contempt for not delivering Deed 1, alleging that the attorney promised to have the former husband sign both deeds and deliver Deed 1 but failed to do so. At the contempt hearing, it was acknowledged that the wife’s counsel eventually received Deed 1, but the wife sought attorney’s fees and costs for the delay. The trial court found both the husband and his attorney in contempt and ordered them to share the former wife’s attorney’s fees and costs. The attorney appealed. Continue reading ›

People who decide to end their marriage have the right to determine their rights and obligations and to memorialize them in a marital settlement agreement. Any agreement entered into with regard to the division of property and debts, custody, and other family law issues must be entered into knowingly and willingly, however. As such, if a party alleges that they signed a marital agreement under duress, the court may set the agreement aside. A party making such assertions must comply with any procedural rules and file their objections in a timely manner, though, as explained in a recent Florida opinion. If you are considering seeking a divorce, it is important to understand your options, and you should confer with a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Case Background

It is reported that after twenty-eight years of marriage, the parties executed a marital settlement agreement (MSA), where the wife agreed to pay a substantial share of her income to the husband. The husband then filed for a simplified dissolution of marriage, resulting in a final judgment that ratified the MSA. Over a decade later, the wife ceased payments as outlined in the MSA, prompting the husband to seek enforcement of the judgment, along with an order of contempt and attorney fees.

Allegedly, in response, the wife sought to set aside the MSA and judgment, claiming lack of consideration, duress, unconscionability, and fraud. She invoked the analysis from a Florida prejudgment challenge case and the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. The trial court, following an evidentiary hearing, found that the wife had signed the MSA under duress and fear induced by the husband, relying exclusively on the case cited by the wife without addressing the timeliness of the wife’s claims. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

Posted in:
Published on:
Updated:

Florida courts handling child custody disputes are driven by what is in the best interest of the child. Absent an emergency situation, though, parents in child custody cases have the right to due process, which means, among other things, they should be provided notice of any hearings impacting their rights. If they are denied such notice, any judgment entered against them may be reversed, as discussed in a recent Florida opinion issued in a custody case. If you have questions about what measures you can take to protect your rights regarding time-sharing and parental responsibility, it is wise to speak with a Miami child custody attorney.

Factual History and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the wife and the husband were divorced and shared custody of their minor child pursuant to a parenting plan. The husband subsequently filed a supplemental petition to modify parental responsibility and other aspects of the parenting plan. The trial court then entered a judicial default against the former wife for failing to respond to the husband’s petition.

Allegedly, the wife, who was representing herself pro se at the time, did not designate an email address for service, and service was not effectuated following the required procedures. Despite this, she received notice of the proceedings through the email address used by the court and the former husband. The court entered a default judgment against her, modifying her parental responsibility and time-sharing rights. The wife appealed, arguing that she was denied proper notice before the entry of default against her. Additionally, she contested the husband rather than the court, setting the trial date. Continue reading ›

In any child custody dispute, the Florida courts’ main priority is what is in the best interest of the child that is the subject of the action. Therefore, in some cases, they will issue emergency ex parte orders if they deem it necessary to protect the child. Such orders are only appropriate in certain situations, though, as discussed in a recent Florida opinion. If you need help protecting your custody rights, it is in your best interest to talk to a Miami child custody attorney at your earliest convenience.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and father, who were divorced, had a minor child for which they shared time-sharing and parental responsibilities. The father filed a motion for contempt against the mother, alleging she was not ensuring the child’s attendance at school during her designated time-sharing. During a hearing on this motion, the father disclosed that the mother had taken the child to Orlando without providing details about their whereabouts or the individuals involved. The judge, although acknowledging these issues, suggested the father file an emergency ex parte motion to suspend the mother’s time-sharing instead of addressing them immediately.

Allegedly, thirteen days later, the father filed the emergency motion, which led to an ex parte order restricting the mother’s overnight time-sharing and prohibiting her from leaving the county with the child. At a subsequent return hearing scheduled on a non-evidentiary motion calendar, the father sought to extend these restrictions to investigate further, while the mother argued the ex parte order was invalid from the start due to procedural errors and lack of due process. The court, initially planning a non-evidentiary review, abruptly shifted to offer an evidentiary hearing on the spot, which the mother objected to on grounds of inadequate notice and due process violations. Eventually, the court modified the ex parte order to allow limited time-sharing and scheduled a return hearing months later. The mother appealed. Continue reading ›

Many divorcing couples in Florida develop marital settlement agreements to determine their rights and obligations. While the courts will generally enforce the agreement as to the ex-spouses, it is unlikely that a third party has any right to pursue claims under the agreement. This was illustrated in a recent Florida divorce action in which the court ruled that a man was not obligated to pay a debt owed to his ex-mother-in-law pursuant to the terms of his marital settlement agreement. If you have questions about how a divorce could impact your finances, it is smart to speak to a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that a woman sued her former son-in-law for breach of contract, claiming she was an intended third-party beneficiary of a marital settlement agreement (MSA) between him and her daughter. The woman and her mother had loaned money to the defendant during his marriage. Following the divorce, the MSA was created to settle the couple’s assets and liabilities. The agreement listed debts, including the loans from the plaintiff and her mother that the defendant was supposed to pay.

It is reported that approximately twenty-one months later, the plaintiff sued the defendant for not paying the amounts specified. The defendant sought summary judgment, asserting that the MSA did not intend to benefit the plaintiff or her mother. The trial court ruled in favor of the defendant, determining that the MSA’s purpose was to divide the couple’s assets and liabilities without expressing a clear intent to benefit the plaintiff or her mother. The plaintiff appealed. Continue reading ›

In many divorce cases, one of the biggest issues is how marital property, including retirement income, should be divided. As such, many couples will develop marital settlement agreements defining their rights and obligations with regard to retirement. If the terms of such agreements are unclear, however, it could create challenges down the road, as demonstrated in a recent Florida divorce action in which the court discussed the construction of marital settlement agreements. If you need help protecting your interests in a divorce proceeding, it is advisable to confer with a Miami divorce attorney.

Factual Background and Procedural Setting

It is reported that in 2001, the husband petitioned for dissolution of marriage from the wife. They subsequently entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA) to resolve their marital issues, which was incorporated into the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage in 2002. Twenty years later, the wife moved to reopen the dissolution and enforce a provision of the MSA regarding the distribution of retirement benefits.

Allegedly, the disputed provision, labeled “Personal Property,” outlined the distribution of the husband’s retirement benefits from his 457 plan with Pinellas County, Florida, and the Florida Retirement System (FRS) pension. The wife argued that she was entitled to half of all FRS benefits received by the husband, including those accrued after the dissolution, based on the language of the MSA. The husband, however, contended that the provision only entitled the wife to half of the marital portion of the FRS benefits, which included benefits accrued during the marriage. The trial court determined that the language of the MSA was clear but interpreted it to mean that the wife was entitled to half of what the husband had at the time of the agreement. The wife appealed. Continue reading ›

Parents who share custody of a child will often live in the same geographic area, which makes custody exchanges relatively easy. It is not uncommon, though, for one parent to wish to relocate to another city and to take their children with them. While a parent has the right to ask the court to allow them to relocate, such a request should not be granted unless the parent shows that relocation would be in the child’s best interest. As demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, if a court allows for relocation absent such a showing, their order may be overturned. If you have questions about relocation in the context of custody, it is smart to speak with a Miami child custody attorney.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the mother and the father, who resided in Nassau County, Florida, had established paternity and a timesharing schedule, with the mother having majority timesharing. The mother recently married and her husband, a member of the U.S. Navy, received orders transferring him to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for approximately two years. The mother filed an expedited temporary petition for parental relocation, seeking to move to Cape Canaveral with the children. The father objected to the relocation.

It is reported that at the evidentiary hearing, the mother testified about her desire to be with her new husband and baby, but she offered no evidence supporting the relocation’s best interest for the children. The father, however, presented evidence of his active involvement with the children and the strong family support system in the area. The trial court orally granted the mother’s temporary motion without stating findings, and a written order followed, noting the mother’s good faith in filing the petition. The father appealed. Continue reading ›

Florida is an equitable distribution state. As such, if a couple decides to end their marriage via divorce, the court will distribute any marital property between them in a manner that it deems fair and just. Equitable distribution only applies to marital property, however; separate property remains the sole asset of the spouse that owns it. As such, a property characterization of property in a divorce action is essential for obtaining a just outcome. As illustrated in a recent Florida ruling delivered in a divorce case, if a court misclassifies property or issues a final judgment that does not comply with its oral statements at trial, such errors may qualify as grounds for pursuing an appeal. If you want to learn more about how a divorce may impact your property rights, it is wise to consult a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Setting

It is alleged that the parties, who had been married for twelve years, led largely separate lives, residing in different cities and managing their finances independently before the husband filed a petition for dissolution. At trial, the court ruled that most assets and liabilities were nonmarital, attributing them to the respective parties based on their individual acquisition or handling during the marriage.

Reportedly, the court emphasized the parties’ separate financial activities and concluded that an equal distribution would lead to unjust enrichment. The written final judgment conflicted with the court’s oral pronouncement, though, designating all assets and liabilities as nonmarital, contrary to the court’s acknowledgment of marital ownership of certain vehicles. The wife then appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida divorce actions, the courts will typically issue judgments of dissolution establishing the parties’ rights and obligations with regard to disputed issues like child custody, spousal and child support, and property division. If a court fails to adequately demonstrate the reasoning behind its decision or neglects to take into consideration key evidence, either party may be able to pursue an appeal. In a recent Florida opinion issued in a divorce action, the court explained the grounds for challenging a final judgment of dissolution. If you intend to end your marriage, it is smart to speak with a Miami divorce attorney regarding what measures you can take to protect your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife divorced. During the final hearing, the trial court orally explained its findings on the record. The court subsequently issued a final judgment of dissolution, defining rights and obligations with regard to alimony, timesharing and custody rights, and relocation. The husband then appealed, arguing several points of error. Specifically, he challenged the adequacy of the record on appeal, particularly regarding affidavits related to financial situations, which he failed to include. Additionally, he disputed the start date for child support payments, as the trial court set it before the child’s residency with him ended.

Grounds for Challenging a Final Judgment of Dissolution

On appeal, the court largely affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that while the final dissolution judgment did not precisely adhere to the criteria outlined in the Florida Statutes, the trial court provided oral findings during the final hearing to justify its rulings on relocation, alimony, and timesharing. Further, the court found these findings were backed by ample evidence presented during the proceedings, indicating that the decisions were well-supported despite not aligning perfectly with statutory parameters. Continue reading ›