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In Florida child support cases, it is unfortunately not uncommon for the parent obligated to pay support to fail to uphold their duties. If they do, they can be held in contempt. The party seeking a contempt order and arrearages must act in a timely manner, however, otherwise, they may be precluded from recovering the amounts owed due to the defense of laches. In a recent Florida child support case, the court provided a valuable overview of the affirmative defense of laches, ultimately determining that it did not apply. If you need assistance with a child support matter, it is in your best interest to meet with a Miami child support attorney to evaluate your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the parties divorced in 1994, and the former husband was ordered to pay child support until their child was emancipated in 2005. However, in 1995, the former husband ceased paying child support through the disbursement unit, citing job loss, and instead paid the former wife $100 weekly, with a promise to resume full payments when he found employment. Unfortunately, he never did.

Allegedly, a Judgment/Certificate of Delinquency was filed but expired in 2016. In 2017, the former wife initiated a motion for contempt, which the general magistrate deemed “premature.” The magistrate instructed the former wife to file a motion to determine the child support arrearage, but she never did. Two years later, the former husband passed away, leaving his entire estate to his long-term girlfriend, who subsequently also passed away. Following these events, the former wife filed an independent action to collect the owed amount, totaling $282,070.64. Continue reading ›

Under Florida law, people who marry someone with a child will often embrace the role of being that child’s step-parent. Unless they formally adopt the child, though, they will not have any parental rights in the event of a divorce, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you have questions about how you can protect your parental rights in a custody dispute, it is prudent to confer with a Miami child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background:

It is reported that the wife challenged a final judgment of dissolution of marriage that granted equal timesharing and shared parental responsibility of her minor child to the husband. The situation was complicated by the fact that the husband was not the biological or adoptive parent of the child, and there had been no finding of parental unfitness or harm to the child. The background of the case revealed that the wife initially identified her then-partner as the father of the minor child on the birth certificate. Later, the wife and the husband married, and during their marriage, she obtained a judgment disestablishing the putative father’s paternity of the minor child. However, the husband neither adopted the minor child nor sought to establish paternity.

Allegedly, in 2021, the husband filed a petition to dissolve the marriage and asserted that there were three minor children born to the parties, including the minor child. He sought equal timesharing and shared parental responsibility. The husband identified himself as the “father” of the minor child in an affidavit and mentioned that paternity had been disestablished in 2018. The trial court conducted a hearing and ultimately rendered a judgment granting equal timesharing and shared parental responsibility. The wife appealed this decision. Continue reading ›

In family law disputes, particularly during contentious divorces or custody battles, it’s not uncommon for individuals to resort to various tactics in order to gain the upper hand. One of the most troubling and potentially damaging tactics is the weaponization of domestic violence allegations. If a court finds that a party maliciously alleged that their former spouse engaged in acts of domestic violence, it may impose punitive damages on the party, as discussed in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce case.  If you need assistance with a domestic violence issue, it is in your best interest to meet with a Miami domestic violence lawyer to determine your rights.

Case Background

It is alleged that the wife initiated an interlocutory appeal in response to a court order that allowed her husband to assert a punitive damages claim against her. This claim arose from the wife’s alleged malicious prosecution of a domestic violence complaint against her husband. Notably, the wife had submitted the domestic violence petition just a month after filing her petition for the dissolution of their marriage, and both cases were consolidated under the jurisdiction of the family court. Subsequently, the wife withdrew her domestic violence petition after the parties agreed to a no-contact order.

Reportedly, however, two years later, the husband took legal action by filing a complaint for malicious prosecution. In this complaint, he asserted that there existed a complete and utter lack of probable cause for the domestic violence injunction petition and contended that the sole purpose of the petition was to gain an advantage in their divorce proceedings. To substantiate his claims, the husband presented evidence, including testimony from a family friend who recalled the wife boasting about filing the petition. Additionally, he pointed out inconsistencies in her accounts of the alleged domestic violence and cited testimonies from police officers who had not observed any physical injuries on the wife. Continue reading ›

In divorce actions involving children, it is not uncommon for the parties to come to an agreement regarding custody and child support. In most instances, such agreements are enforceable, and a party that fails to abide by the terms of their agreement may be held in contempt. As discussed in a recent Florida case in which the court affirmed a contempt ruling against a party that paid child support via unauthorized means, strict compliance is often required. If you are considering filing for divorce and you have minor children, you should consult a Miami child support attorney to determine your potential rights and obligations.

Case Background

It is alleged that the husband and the wife divorced; during their dissolution proceedings, they entered into a settlement agreement that required the husband to channel his child support payments through the state disbursement unit. However, following a motion for contempt and enforcement by the wife, a court order decreed that the husband would only receive credit for payments made through the disbursement unit.

It is reported that despite this, the husband persisted in making direct payments directly to his ex-spouse. This recalcitrant behavior prompted another motion for contempt/enforcement by the wife, culminating in a subsequent order that denied the husband credit for the direct payments and imposed a $33,000 purge. The husband then appealed. Continue reading ›

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 ›