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In Florida, the courts may terminate parental rights if they believe a child faces a risk of harm if they remain in the parent’s custody. In some instances, however, the courts may find cause to terminate a parent’s rights even if a child is a newborn, as demonstrated recently in a Florida opinion. If you are at risk of losing your parental rights, it is smart to talk to a Miami child custody lawyer about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father, who already had two older children, had a third child. However, both older children were placed in out-of-home care due to an ongoing dependency case. The parents had a significant history with the relevant department concerning the well-being of their children. Specifically, the oldest child, when she was six months old, was removed from the parents’ care due to injuries, including a spiral arm fracture, bruising, and soft tissue damage. The parents denied causing these injuries, offering an explanation that medical professionals found implausible. As a result, the oldest child was deemed dependent. The parents’ second child was sheltered shortly after birth, and the parents agreed to the second child’s dependency status.

Allegedly, since being placed in out-of-home care, both older children have remained separated from their parents, as the parents have not fulfilled the necessary conditions for reunification. They are only allowed supervised visitation with their children. The dependency cases for the older children are still ongoing. When the third child was born, the department removed the child from the parents’ care and initiated proceedings to place the child in out-of-home care as well. However, the trial court denied the shelter petition for the third child, stating that although the parents had a history of involvement with the department, there was no imminent harm identified for the third child. The department appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida, when a couple with minor children divorces, the courts must not only determine the parents’ rights with regard to child support and visitation, but also which parent can make important decisions about how the child will be raised. As explained in a recent Florida ruling, the law dictates that absent evidence that doing so would harm the child in question, the courts must grant equal parental responsibility rights. If you are dealing with a custody dispute, it is wise to talk to a Miami child custody lawyer about what action you can take to safeguard your interests as soon as possible.

Legal Background

It is alleged that in August 2019, the wife initiated legal proceedings to dissolve her marriage. At the time, the couple had two minor children; one is still a minor, while the other has reached the age of majority. In May 2021, the trial court issued a final judgment officially ending the marriage, deferring the resolution of various other matters associated with the dissolution. Subsequently, in 2021, the wife modified her initial petition to request exclusive parental responsibility for the minor child. A consent partial judgment was later reached by both parties and officially sanctioned by the trial court in March 2022. This judgment granted joint parental responsibility.

It is reported that the unresolved issues, primarily involving child support and visitation arrangements, were then brought before the court for trial. The trial court directed both parties to adhere to the previously agreed-upon consent partial judgment and granted joint parental responsibility for the minor child, affirming the shared responsibility aspect of the consent partial judgment. The court also incorporated a comprehensive parenting plan that stipulated shared parental responsibility but granted the wife ultimate decision-making authority concerning the child’s education, academics, and non-emergency healthcare in the event of disagreement between the parties. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

In any Florida family law case involving a minor child, the court is obligated to rule in the child’s best interest. Thus, if a party fails to demonstrate how or why their requested relief will benefit the child in question, their request will likely be denied. This was illustrated recently in a Florida ruling in which the court reversed a trial court order denying parents’ unopposed request to change the first name of their minor daughter. If you need assistance with a family law matter involving a minor child, you should seek advice from a Miami family law attorney about your options for pursuing your desired outcome.

Factual Backdrop of the Case

It is alleged that the parents of a seventeen-year-old child filed an unopposed petition to change their child’s first name. The trial court denied their motion after which they filed a motion for rehearing. The trial court denied their motion as well, after which they appealed.

Grounds for Granting a Name Change Request

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s initial order in which it denied the parents’ petition to change the child’s first name but reversed the second order denying the parents’ motion for rehearing. First, the court explained that it reviews trial court decisions in such matters for abuse of discretion. Continue reading ›

When Florida family courts incorporate marital settlement agreements into final orders of dissolution, they will often retain jurisdiction over any issues that subsequently arise regarding the agreements. In such instances, if a party files an action in a different court, it will most likely be deemed improper. As explained in a recent Florida ruling, though, the improperly filed action should be transferred rather than dismissed. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is in your best interest to speak to a Miami divorce attorney about your options for seeking a just outcome.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and wife divorced. In 2017, the court incorporated their marital settlement agreement, which outlined the distribution of their real property, into their dissolution of marriage. According to the agreement, the wife was to retain possession of certain property and was required to maintain it in good condition. The agreement also required an appraisal of the property and set conditions for refinancing or listing it for sale. If the wife failed to comply with these terms, the husband was entitled to legal and equitable relief, including the right to foreclose on the property. The agreement explicitly reserved jurisdiction to the family court for all future dissolution-related matters.

Reportedly, in July 2020, the husband filed a complaint against the wife in the civil division, alleging that she had not complied with the conditions set in the agreement regarding the subject property. The wife moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the family court had jurisdiction over the matter based on the agreement. The trial court dismissed the case without prejudice, giving the former husband an opportunity to amend his complaint. He refiled his complaint, which was again dismissed, despite the husband’s argument that the case should be transferred to family court. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

Pursuant to Florida law, when a couple divorces, their marital assets are subject to equitable distribution, while their separate assets remain separate. The distribution process can become complicated, however, if the parties mingle separate and joint assets throughout their marriage. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which a Florida court analyzed whether a home purchased prior to marriage was solely separate property or whether any part of it constituted a marital assets. If you want to end your marriage or were served with divorce papers, it is smart to confer with a Miami divorce attorney about what measures you can take to protect your interests.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife were married for over 20 years before the husband for divorce in 2019. The husband and his mother purchased a home three years before the marriage that the husband and wife lived in throughout the marriage. The title of the house remained in the husband’s and his mother’s names.

Allegedly, the value of the house increased to $1.25 million, which was approximately $800,000 more than the husband paid for it. The parties disagreed as to whether the increase in value could be attributed to passive appreciation or active appreciation. The trial court ultimately found that the house was a marital asset subject to equitable distribution, credited the husband the purchase amount, and equitably divided the remaining value of the home. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

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Florida law permits parties to seek alimony in divorce actions. The courts will only grant alimony if they deem it necessary under the circumstances. In other words, the courts must typically find that the divorce will cause a party to suffer financial hardship in order to grant them alimony. Thus, if circumstances change, it may warrant a reduction or elimination of an alimony award, like when a party receives financial support from someone with whom they are romantically involved. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes a supportive relationship in a matter in which it reversed a trial court ruling denying a husband’s request to modify alimony. If you need assistance protecting your interests in a divorce action, it is smart to meet with a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 1975; 20 years later, they divorced. Pursuant to the final judgment of dissolution, the husband was required to make permanent alimony payments to the wife on a weekly basis. The husband petitioned the court for an alimony modification in 2020, arguing that the wife was in a supportive relationship and no longer required alimony.

Allegedly, the trial court held a bench trial on the petition. During the trial, evidence was produced showing that the wife had been living with her boyfriend for fourteen years and had jointly purchased a home with him. Although they did not share bank accounts, they did share expenses. The trial court still found that the wife was not in a supportive relationship and needed alimony, however, and that the husband could pay and, therefore, denied the husband’s petition. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

Generally, when a child is born to a married couple, both parents have the right to care and custody of the child. Pursuant to Florida law, however, when a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is deemed the child’s natural guardian and has the right to sole custody and care of the child absent a court order stating otherwise. Notably, as discussed in a recent Florida case, the purported father of a child born outside of a marriage does not have parental rights even if they file an acknowledgment of paternity that goes unchallenged. If you need assistance handling a paternity dispute, you should consult a Miami paternity attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the parties lived together following the child’s birth in 2014. The father signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity at the child’s birth in accordance with Florida law; the mother did not contest the acknowledgment. However, there were no further orders regarding the father’s parental rights. In 2022, after the parents separated, the mother moved with the child to her parents’ home, which was located about 20 miles away, and enrolled the child in school there.

It is reported that the father filed an emergency motion to compel the mother to enroll the child in a school in the city where the parties previously resided. The court granted the motion, and the mother appealed. Continue reading ›

Discovery is a crucial part of the divorce process, as it allows the parties and court to evaluate community debts and assets. As such, if the court limits or denies a party’s discovery requests, it may impair their right to assert certain claims or arguments. Recently, a Florida court discussed the right to obtain discovery of a party’s assets in a matter in which the court reversed the trial court’s denial of a discovery request related to property awarded to a party in the judgment of dissolution. If you are concerned about how divorce may impact you financially, it would benefit you to meet with a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Case Background

It is reported that the husband and wife divorced in 2008. Pursuant to the final judgment of dissolution, the husband was ordered to pay the wife permanent alimony of $13,000 per month. In 2019, the wife filed a motion for content and enforcement due to the fact that the husband failed to make a required alimony payment.

Allegedly, the husband filed a motion to modify the alimony obligation in response. The wife then sought discovery regarding the husband’s finances, including information about the husband’s sale of an asset that was awarded to him in their divorce settlement. The husband objected to the request, and the court found in favor of the husband, limiting the wife’s discovery with regard to the sale of the asset. The wife filed a petition for certiorari, arguing that the trial court deviated from the essential requirements of the law in limiting her right to discovery. Continue reading ›

It is within the authority of the Florida courts not only to award alimony in divorce actions but also to modify existing alimony orders. In either scenario, however, the court must set forth certain factual findings; otherwise, any order issued may be subject to reversal. This was illustrated in a recent Florida action in which the wife successfully appealed an alimony modification due to the court’s failure to set forth required statutory findings. If you have questions about alimony, it is smart to talk to an attorney promptly.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the parties divorced. They entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement in 2007; at that time, the husband was 51 years old. The agreement stated, in part, that the husband would pay alimony to the wife and that the monthly payments, which were subject to an annual adjustment in accordance with the Consumer Price Index, were otherwise not modifiable until the husband turned 60. Between the ages of 60 and 65, the husband could seek a modification for a material, substantial, unanticipated, and permanent change in financial circumstances. The husband sought a modification when he was 62. The court granted the husband’s request and reduced his monthly alimony obligation by over half. The wife appealed.

Required Statutory Findings in Florida Alimony Actions

On appeal, the wife argued that the trial court failed to make the statutory findings required for modifying alimony, the trial court improperly imputed income to her, there was insufficient evidence to show she experienced a substantial and material change in financial circumstances, and the modification was inequitable.   Continue reading ›

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It is not uncommon for the Florida courts to order one party to pay the other alimony in divorce actions. Unfortunately, parties do not always abide by the court’s orders, and legal action must be taken by the courts to compel compliance. For example, the courts may impose equitable liens against the obligor’s account. As shown in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action, though, the courts must abide by certain procedural rules when imposing such liens; otherwise, they may be vacated. If you intend to end your marriage and want to learn more about how divorce may impact you financially, it is prudent to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the parties entered into an Amended Mediated Settlement Agreement in March 2014. Among other things, it stated that the husband agreed to pay permanent alimony to the Wife equal to one-third of his gross income from employment or any other source of earned income. The husband failed to pay the full amount of alimony due, and the wife filed a motion for contempt and enforcement. Following a hearing, the court imposed an equitable lien on the husband’s retirement accounts to secure the payment of alimony arrearages. The husband appealed.

Procedure for Imposing an Equitable Lien in Family Law Matters

On appeal, the husband argued that the trial court imposed the equitable lien without notice or discussion and erred by issuing the lien without finding the special circumstances required for imposing an equitable lien. The court agreed with the husband, noting that Florida case law requires the trial court to set forth specific findings of special circumstances before imposing an equitable lien to protect payment of alimony. Continue reading ›