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In many marriages, one spouse will earn a far greater income than the other. If a couple with disparate incomes subsequently divorces, the lesser-earning party will often request spousal support. In determining whether to grant such support, the courts will assess not only the requesting party’s need but also the responding party’s ability to pay. Once a court issues an order directing a party to pay alimony, it generally is not subject to modification absent evidence of a material and enduring change in circumstances. The change must be involuntary as well, as discussed in a recent Florida case in which the court denied the husband’s request for modification of a permanent spousal support obligation. If you or your spouse intend to end your marriage and you want to learn more about the economic impact of the decision, it is in your best interest to speak with a Miami divorce attorney.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and the wife were married for twenty-eight years before divorcing in 2014. During the divorce action, the parties agreed that the husband would pay the wife permanent spousal support in the amount of $1,000 each month. When they made the agreement, the husband worked as a mechanical millwright.

Reportedly, six years after the divorce, the husband left his job. He then filed a petition to modify or terminate his spousal support obligation on the grounds that he developed a disability and could not perform his job requirements, causing a significant decrease in pay. The court held a hearing after which it determined that the husband failed to prove he had a disability and that his decision not to work was voluntary and would not support a request for a modification. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

The Florida courts typically take great care when developing parenting plans to ensure that any division of custody or timesharing rights is in the best interest of the subject children. As such, if a party wants to alter a parenting plan ordered by a court, they generally must demonstrate that a substantial and continuing change in circumstances has occurred. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant a modification in a custody case. If you share custody of your child, and you or your co-parent want to alter the parenting plan, it is wise to consult a Miami child custody attorney to determine your options.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the parties married in 1995. They had two children before the wife filed a petition for dissolution in 2011. The court first conducted a trial on timesharing and parenting issues and then conducted a trial on remaining matters. During the first trial, the wife offered evidence that the husband was diagnosed as a pedophile. Accordingly, she sought sole parental responsibility and asked that the husband have supervised timesharing.

Reportedly, the husband admitted he was attracted to underage boys but opposed the motion’s parenting plan. Based on the admission and other evidence presented in the case, the court found that it was in the children’s best interest to create a timesharing plan that increased the father’s rights upon completion of certain tasks. The court also created other measures for the safety of the children, including the requirement that the father attend therapy. Continue reading ›

Many people take the practical measure of entering into prenuptial agreements prior to marrying. If their marriage ends in divorce, a party that consented to the terms of a prenuptial agreement cannot then attempt to evade them by arguing that they are vague or that the court lacks a basis for enforcing the provisions of the agreement. Rather, as shown in an opinion recently issued by a Florida court, if a court grants a party spousal support, in part due to the terms of a prenuptial agreement, it can be challenging to show that its decision constitutes an abuse of discretion. If you intend to marry and question whether you should execute a prenuptial agreement, it is smart to talk to a Miami family law attorney as soon as possible.

The Agreement in Question

It is alleged that the parties married in 2009. Shortly before marrying, they entered into a prenuptial agreement. They then separated in 2016, and in 2018 the wife filed a petition for dissolution and asked the court to enforce the prenuptial agreement. The court granted the wife temporary spousal support and post-dissolution spousal support. The husband appealed, arguing in part that the court abused its discretion in ordering him to pay temporary spousal support.

Demonstrating a Court Abused its Discretion in Granting Spousal Support

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling. The court noted that the prenuptial agreement provided that in the event the parties separated and filed a petition for dissolution, the husband was to pay the wife temporary support in the amount of $3,000 per month until the court issued a final judgment of dissolution. Continue reading ›

Generally, when Florida residents are engaged in disagreements over parental rights, they will file a custody action in the county in which they or their co-parent resides. If a Florida court can validly exercise jurisdiction in a custody case and issues an initial custody determination, the court’s jurisdiction will typically continue until the parties move out of the state or the court determines that the parties no longer have a connection to the state. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion issued in a custody matter, the argument that a forum is inconvenient is not a sufficient basis for relinquishing jurisdiction to another state. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is wise to confer with a Miami divorce attorney regarding your rights as soon as possible.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the mother’s and father’s marriage was dissolved via a final judgment issued by a Florida court. The judgment also determined their rights with regard to custody and timesharing of their minor children. The father is a member of the military and is a Florida resident, but he is stationed outside of Florida.

It is reported that after obtaining the court’s permission, the mother moved to Idaho with the children while the dissolution was pending. The final dissolution order confirmed her relocation. The mother then filed a motion in an Idaho court to amend the custody agreement. She also filed a motion with the Florida court that issued the final judgment in the dissolution proceeding to transfer jurisdiction of the custody case to the Idaho court, in which she filed her motion on the grounds that Florida had become an inconvenient forum. The Florida court denied her motion, and she appealed. Continue reading ›

Under Florida law, while marital property is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce action, separate property is not; instead, it remains the property of the spouse to whom it belongs. Challenges in determining the nature of property can arise, however, when a party mingles separate and marital assets, as illustrated in a recent Florida divorce action in which the parties disagreed over whether a boat was a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. If you wish to seek a divorce, it is prudent to talk to a Miami divorce lawyer to determine how the end of your marriage may impact your property rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married for eighteen years. After the court issued a final judgment of dissolution, the wife filed an appeal, arguing in part that the trial court erred in determining that a boat was the husband’s separate property for the purposes of equitable distribution.

Separate Versus Marital Property

On appeal, the court adopted the wife’s reasoning and reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that the trial court determined that the boat in question was the husband’s separate property because the husband paid for it with funds he received from his father’s trust. The wife argued, however, that the husband could not prove that the boat was a separate asset because it was bought with money that was commingled with marital funds in the couple’s joint bank account. Continue reading ›

In Florida, the courts look unkindly at one party deliberately wasting community assets during a divorce or the downfall of a marriage. As such, if they find that one party has dissipated marital assets, it may negatively impact their property rights in the context of a divorce. In a recent Florida ruling, a court analyzed whether the cost of one party’s lawsuit filed prior to divorce constituted dissipation, ultimately ruling that it did not. If you or your spouse want to end your marriage, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled Miami divorce attorney.

Background of the Case

It is reported that in 2015, the husband was fired for cause by his employer. After his termination, the employer ordered the husband to repay the bonus he received pursuant to his employment contract. The husband declined and filed a lawsuit against the employer. Ultimately, judgment was entered against the husband. He satisfied the judgment against him using marital assets.

It is alleged that the wife filed for divorce two years later. For purposes of equitable distribution, the court found that the husband engaged in misconduct at work and used marital property to pay the judgment against him without the wife’s consent or knowledge. Thus, it found that it constituted misconduct and assigned it to the husband and reduced the amount of assets he received via equitable distribution. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida, parties have the right to seek alimony in divorce actions. The courts will only award alimony if it is warranted under the circumstances, however. Further, the courts may amend an alimony award if the circumstances that merited alimony change. Recently, a Florida court examined whether a temporary change in employment constituted a change that warranted a reduction in alimony, ultimately ruling that it did not. If you have questions about your alimony and property rights in a Florida divorce, it is wise to talk to a knowledgeable Miami divorce lawyer.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the parties were married for twenty years. In 2013, they divorced. The trial court entered a final dissolution of the marriage that incorporated the parties’ mediated agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, the husband agreed to pay the wife permanent alimony in the amount of $13,500 each month.

It is reported that in 2020, the husband sought a modification of alimony. He asserted several grounds in support of his request, including the wife’s reported increase in earning ability. During a hearing on the matter, testimony was offered indicating that during 2020 and 2021, the wife obtained temporary part-time employment, during which she earned approximately $20 per hour and worked five to ten hours per week. Her employment ended shortly before the hearing. The trial court granted the request, and the wife appealed. Continue reading ›

Under Florida law, any community property is subject to equitable division by the courts in a divorce action. Typically, pension benefits and any other retirement benefits accrued during a marriage constitute community property. Additionally, parties are entitled division of cost of living adjustments under Florida law as well. Recently, a Florida court clarified whether a party that is awarded a portion of a spouse’s pension in a deferred retirement option program  (DROP) is entitled to a cost of living adjustment, even if the DROP account is not created until after the divorce is final. If you want to learn more about how ending your marriage may impact you financially, it is in your best interest to speak to a Miami divorce attorney promptly.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married in 1999. In 2014, the husband filed for divorce. The following year, the court entered a final judgment of divorce that included provisions regarding the equitable distribution of the husband’s pension with the state retirement system. The provisions stated, in part, that the marital estate was distributed equally between the parties and that a QDRO must be prepared with regard to the husband’s retirement pension.

Allegedly, the court entered a QRDO that awarded the wife half of the husband’s retirement benefits that accrued from the date of the marriage to the date the divorce action was filed, to be taken as a deduction from each monthly benefit payable to the husband from the pension plan. One of the paragraphs of the QDRO provided for a proportionate share of any cost of living adjustment the husband received. The husband objected to the cost of living adjustment at the trial level. He then appealed. Continue reading ›

Generally, the Florida courts rely on statutory guidelines when determining what constitutes appropriate child support. Parties are permitted to develop their own support agreements, though, which the courts will generally ratify as long as they are in the best interest of the child receiving support. Parties that develop their own child support agreement may face difficulties if they subsequently want to modify the terms of the agreement, however, as shown by a recent Florida ruling in which the court rejected that mother’s assertion that the trial court erred in approving the agreement. If you have questions about your rights with regard to child support, it is wise to consult a Miami child support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father had two minor children together. Subsequent to a paternity action and mediation, they agreed to the court’s entry of a consent final judgment of paternity and relief. In part, the judgment established the father’s paternity as well as his child support obligation, as well as the parties’ incomes and financial health. Additionally, the child support calculations included a future increase in the mother’s income due to an increase in her work hours and a relative reduction in the father’s child support payments.

Reportedly, the judgment included a signed consent that ratified the parties’ settlement language and stated in part that they voluntarily and freely agreed to be bound by the agreement. Seven months after the court entered the judgment, the mother moved to set it aside, arguing that the trial court erred in imputing income to her and noting that her employer did not increase her work hours as contemplated. The trial court denied her motion, and she appealed. Continue reading ›

Generally, people file family law actions in the court situated in the county in which they reside. If they subsequently move, though, there may be a question as to whether the court can continue to exercise jurisdiction over their case. Recently, a Florida court explained when courts within the state have the right to preside over custody cases in a matter in which it rejected the mother’s argument that the court no longer had jurisdiction over her case. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is smart to talk to a Miami child custody attorney to determine what measures you can take to protect your interests.

History of the Case

Reportedly, the mother and the father married and had two children, both of whom were born in Florida. In 2015, they divorced. The trial court entered a final dissolution of the marriage which, among other things, ratified the parenting plan established by the parties and stated that the trial court had jurisdiction over the matter. A dependency case was opened in 2019, and the dependency court placed the children with the mother in Texas temporarily.

It is alleged that in 2020, the father filed a petition to modify parental responsibility and the parenting plan in Florida. The dependency court awarded the father visitation rights and relinquished jurisdiction over the matter. The mother then moved to dismiss the father’s petition for lack of jurisdiction. The trial court denied the mother’s motion, and she appealed. Continue reading ›