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Articles Posted in Divorce

There are different types of alimony the Florida courts can award in divorce proceedings, including permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is not as permanent as the name suggests but can be adjusted if a court finds that a modification is warranted. The court will only grant a modification if there is evidence that it is necessary due to a change in circumstances that is both material and substantial, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case. If you have questions regarding alimony or the financial ramifications of divorce, it is smart to confer with a knowledgeable Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the wife filed a petition to modify the periodic payment of permanent alimony awarded to the husband via a marital settlement agreement that was adopted by the trial court as part of the parties’ divorce judgment. Specifically, she requested that the court impute income to the husband based on the fact that he was eligible to receive Social Security benefits, even though he had not applied for such benefits. The court denied her petition, finding that she failed to adequately prove that there had been a material and substantial change in either her or the husband’s circumstances that warranted a modification. The wife then appealed.

Grounds for Modifying Alimony Awards

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it stated that pursuant to established case law, a trial court cannot impute the value of Social Security benefits that a person is eligible to receive but has not yet applied for as income to a person if they offer evidence showing that their decision to defer the benefits is merely a prudent investment strategy, as their benefits will increase if they do not take them until a later date. Continue reading ›

It is not uncommon in divorce actions for the parties to develop a marital settlement agreement, which is essentially a contract that sets forth their rights and obligations, or for the court to incorporate the agreement into the final judgment that dissolves the marriage. If a party refuses to comply with the terms of a marital settlement agreement, however, a dispute may arise as to whether an action to enforce the agreement is subject to the statute of limitations that applies to contracts or the one that applies to judgments. Recently, a Florida court addressed this issue in a case in which the wife waited almost twenty years to file a motion to enforce a divorce judgment. If your spouse refuses to comply with the terms of your marital settlement agreement, it is advisable to contact a seasoned Miami divorce attorney to assess your rights and your options for seeking enforcement.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the husband and the wife entered into a marital settlement agreement in 1997. The agreement divided their marital property, business assets, and debts and dictated that the husband was to pay the wife close to half a million dollars, either in a lump sum or in five principal payments, plus interest, which were due each year beginning in 2001. The agreement was incorporated into the final judgment dissolving the marriage, which was issued in April 1997.

It is reported that the husband failed to make any payments as required under the agreement, however. Then, in 2017, one day shy of the twentieth anniversary of the entry of the divorce judgment, the wife filed a motion to enforce the judgment. The court granted the motion and ordered the husband to pay close to one million dollars to the wife based on the amount of principal payments plus accrued interest. The husband appealed, arguing that the wife’s motion was barred by the statute of limitations. Continue reading ›

It is not uncommon for family court hearings to be conducted in front of a magistrate judge in Florida. If parties do not agree with the recommendations set forth in the magistrate’s report they can file exceptions, but in many cases, the magistrate’s recommendations will be adopted regardless. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case involving the enforcement of a martial settlement agreement, in which an appellate court affirmed an order denying a husband and wife’s exceptions to the report of a magistrate. If you wish to end your marriage or need assistance with another family law matter, it is advisable to seek the counsel of a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History

The wife filed a petition to dissolve the marriage in 2012. They entered into a marital settlement agreement which was filed with the court and their divorce was finalized later that year. In 2017, the wife filed a motion to enforce provisions of the agreement pertaining to health insurance and life insurance. The trial court referred the matter to a magistrate, who conducted two hearings and then issued a report setting forth recommendations. The husband and wife both filed exceptions to the report but the trial court entered an order denying them. The husband and wife both appealed.

Magistrate Authority in Divorce Cases

On appeal, the husband argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to enforce the agreement because the divorce judgment did not expressly incorporate the agreement or order the parties to comply with same. The appellate court rejected this argument noting that the agreement provided that it could be enforced by the court and that courts inherently retain jurisdiction to enforce their orders. The husband further argued that the wife’s action was actually in the nature of a modification and should have been conducted via a supplemental petition. The appellate court rejected this argument as well. Continue reading ›

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Typically, divorce actions and equitable distribution claims only involve two people. In some cases, though, other parties will have an interest in assets that may be subject to equitable distribution and therefore may intervene in dissolution proceedings. Recently, a Florida court evaluated a third party’s right to challenge a ruling issued in a divorce case, in a matter in which the husband’s mother sought to disqualify the wife’s forensic accountant. If you have questions regarding how your assets may be divided in a divorce, it is smart to speak to a Miami divorce attorney.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the wife filed a petition for dissolution in 2019. Two years prior to filing for divorce, the husband’s mother was involved in commercial litigation relating to entities that she owned. As part of that action, she hired a forensic accountant. The matter was ultimately resolved via a confidential settlement agreement. Subsequently, the wife retained the same forensic accountant to opine as an expert in the dissolution proceedings. The husband’s mother then filed a motion asking the court to disqualify the accountant and a motion to stay the divorce proceedings while the motion to disqualify was pending. The court denied the husband’s mother’s motion to stay, after which she filed a petition for certiorari review.

Third-Party Rights in Divorce Proceedings

On appeal, the appellate court denied the husband’s mother’s petition. In doing so, it noted that in order to be entitled to certiorari relief, a party must demonstrate that a trial court’s order departed from the essential requirements of the law in a manner that will lead to irreparable harm. The appellate court explained that a departure from the critical requirements of the law means that a violation of a clearly established legal principle has occurred, resulting in the miscarriage of justice. Continue reading ›

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There is typically some delay between the time a couple decides to end their marriage and the date ultimately determined to be the effective date of the end of the marriage. While the difference may seem insignificant, it is essential for determining issues like property division and spousal support. Recently, a Florida court discussed the distinction between the two dates in a case in which the wife argued that the court relied on the wrong date when determining equitable distribution.  If you are contemplating seeking a divorce, it is advisable to confer with a seasoned Miami divorce lawyer to assess your rights.

The Divorce Action

It is reported that the couple married in 1996 and separated in 2008. They did not enter into a formal separation agreement, but both began relationships with other people. In 2018, the husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. The wife filed a counter-petition in which she sought alimony. The court held a trial on the issue of alimony and equitable distribution, during which it determined the effective date of the end of the marriage to be 2008. As such, it denied the wife’s request for alimony. The wife filed a motion for rehearing, arguing that the court erred in determining the effective termination date to be 2008 rather than 2018.

Determining the Effective Date for the Termination of Marriage

The appellate court agreed with the wife’s argument that the trial court improperly calculated the effective date for the termination of the marriage. It found the error to be harmless, however and therefore affirmed the trial court’s rulings with regard to property division and alimony. Continue reading ›

While people do not typically think of divorce actions and a person’s health as being related, a party’s health can play a prevalent role in dissolution proceedings. For example, if one spouse alleges they cannot work due to a chronic condition or that the opposing party caused them to suffer mental or emotional distress, their health may be at issue, and in such instances, their medical records may come into play. If a party does not place their health at issue, though, their health information is privileged under Florida law. Recently, a Florida court discussed the disclosure of a party’s medical records in divorce cases in a matter in which it ultimately ruled the wife’s health information was privileged. If you aim to end your marriage, it is important to talk to a skillful Miami divorce attorney about what information you may have to produce to establish your claims.

History of the Case

The underlying facts of the case were not provided in the court’s opinion. It is alleged, however, that the parties were involved in a dissolution proceeding. Subsequently, the wife sought a writ of certiorari quashing the order issued by the trial court to the extent it compelled her to produce her mental health records and personnel records without requiring that they first undergo an in-camera review before they were turned over to the husband’s expert. Further, the wife asserted that the trial court failed to issue a finding that she waived her privilege to the records.

Discoverability of Health Records in Divorce Cases

The court found that the records in question were privileged pursuant to case law and statute. Specifically, Florida law is clear that a person’s medical records are confidential. Additionally, Florida law cautions against permitting parties to discover entire personnel files, as it could lead to the disclosure of information that is not relevant but could cause irreversible harm. Continue reading ›

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Many people who come to the decision to end their marriage want it to be over as soon as possible. Others, though, will engage in behavior that ultimately delays the resolution of the case. The Florida courts will grant requests to continue divorce trials in some instances, but only if a continuance will not be prejudicial to the other party; otherwise, such requests may be denied. Recently, a Florida court discussed the grounds overturning the denial of a continuance in a divorce matter in a case in which the husband argued that the trial court erred in refusing to push back his divorce trial.  If you decided to seek a divorce, it is in your best interest to talk to a trusted Miami divorce attorney regarding your rights.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the trial court entered a final judgment dissolving the marriage between the husband and the wife. The husband appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in refusing to grant his prior motion to continue the trial which forced him to proceed without an attorney, placing him at a disadvantage.

Grounds for Overturning a Denial of a Motion to Continue in Divorce Cases

The Florida appellate courts will review a trial court’s denial of a motion to continue for an abuse of discretion. In doing so, the appellate court will weigh whether the moving party will suffer injustice due to the trial court’s denial of the motion, whether the underlying impetus for the motion could not have been foreseen by the moving party of whether it is motivated by dilatory tactics, and whether the opposing party will suffer injustice or prejudice if the trial court granted the motion. Continue reading ›

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When a couple that runs a business together decides to end their marriage, one spouse will frequently buy out the other’s business interests. In cases in which the relationship between the parties is contentious, the court may have to order the party that sold their shares not to interfere with the business operations. As demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a Florida case, though, the court cannot completely stifle a party’s ability to communicate. If you want to end your marriage and you and your spouse own a business, it is smart to talk to a Miami divorce attorney to determine your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and the wife owned a marine towing business. When they divorced, the husband sold his shares in the business to the wife. They later entered into a post-judgment agreement that prohibited the husband from interfering with the wife’s business, which in part meant that he could not make disparaging remarks about it.

It is reported that the husband subsequently posted comments on his Facebook account disparaging the business, however, and the wife moved to enforce the agreement. The trial court entered an injunction that precluded the husband from making any posts on social media. The husband appealed, arguing that the terms of the injunction were overbroad and burdensome. Continue reading ›

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While many people assume that women are the primary caregivers for their children, it is not unusual for a husband and wife to decide that the husband will stay at home to care for the children while the wife works. As a result, if a marriage terminates because the husband does not work, the husband has the right to claim alimony from the wife. In a recent divorce case in Florida, the court explored when alimony is acceptable and what considerations should be considered when deciding whether it should be granted. If you or your spouse intends to file for divorce, consult with an experienced Florida family law attorney to see how the breakdown of your marriage will affect your finances.

History of the Case

It alleged that the husband and wife married in 2006 and had two children. From 2011 until 2017, the couple decided that the husband would stay at home and care for the children, and he did not work. He acquired a job in retail when he returned to work, earning around $1,400.00 per month. The wife worked as an auditor and got annual payments from a family trust fund, earning roughly $9,000.00 each month.

According to reports, the wife petitioned for divorce in 2017 and the husband counter-petitioned for alimony. The court awarded the husband $2,000.00 per month in alimony for sixty months and ordered the woman to pay child support to the husband in the final decision released in 2018. The wife filed an appeal, claiming that the trial court erred in giving the husband durational alimony. Continue reading ›

Many people put money into retirement savings accounts during the course of their employment. While retirement plans can only be in one person’s name, income deposited into a retirement account during a marriage is generally considered marital property and is subject to equitable distribution unless otherwise agreed. As discussed in a recent Florida ruling, a party who waives their right to their former spouse’s retirement benefits through a marital settlement agreement is not entitled to such benefits simply because of a mistake in the plan contract. If you or your spouse intends to divorce, you need to obtain the services of an experienced Florida divorce attorney to help you preserve your assets.

Procedural History

According to reports, the couple married in 1988. Throughout the marriage, the husband made contributions to an ERISA-governed 401k. Under the plan, he named his wife as the principal beneficiary and his children as secondary beneficiaries. They divorced in 2017 and signed a marital settlement agreement (MSA) that stated, among other things, that each person would get benefits from any retirement plan in their name and relinquished all interest or claims in the benefits of the other party.

The MSA is said to have been ratified through the final dissolution of marriage. The spouse died two years after the divorce, and his personal representative was chosen as his daughter from a previous marriage. He did, however, forget to update the primary beneficiary on his 401k plan before he died. Although both the wife and the daughter claimed the plan proceeds, the plan administrator only gave them to the wife. A motion to enforce the MSA was filed by the daughter. In response, the wife claimed that under the MSA, she had not waived her right to death benefits. A magistrate ruled in favor of the wife after a hearing. An exception was filed by the estate. The exceptions were upheld by the trial court, and the wife was forced to hand over the 401k funds. The wife filed an appeal. Continue reading ›

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