In many Florida divorces, the parties will draft a marital settlement agreement that sets forth the terms of the dissolution of their marriage. Such agreements are contracts and, like any other contract, are enforceable by the courts. The courts will typically look at the terms of the agreement to determine each party’s rights and obligations; when the terms of a marital settlement agreement are ambiguous, though, the court may need to consider outside evidence, as discussed in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action. If you or your spouse intend to seek a divorce, it is wise to speak to a Miami divorce lawyer about what measures you can take to protect your rights.
Factual Background of the Case
It is reported that the parties were married and had two minor children during their marriage. They subsequently divorced, and the trial court entered a final dissolution judgment in 2001. The court orally entered the parties’ marital settlement agreement into the record and incorporated it as part of the final judgment. The judgment contained a provision related to child support that stated each party would pay half of each child’s college expenses.
Allegedly, the wife moved for enforcement of the judgment, arguing that the husband refused to pay half of the children’s college expenses. The husband sought discovery, but the wife objected to all of his requests. The husband filed a response in opposition to the wife’s motion, arguing that the phrase “college expenses” was latently ambiguous and, therefore, the court should consider parol evidence to determine the intent of the agreement. The trial court did not permit such evidence and entered a judgment against the husband. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›