Articles Posted in Divorce

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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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 ›

Florida law permits parties to submit proposed orders in family law proceedings. The courts rarely adopt such orders as is, however, but instead will exercise their own judgment as to what constitutes an appropriate ruling. If a court does adopt a proposed order verbatim, it must demonstrate that it exercised independent judgment in doing so. Otherwise, the order may be vacated, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a Florida divorce action. If you intend to end your marriage, it is wise to talk to a Miami divorce lawyer about your options.

Procedural Background

It is reported that the parties divorced. After the trial court entered a final judgment, the mother moved for child support determination and retroactive support. The trial court requested the parties to submit proposed orders, and it ultimately adopted the father’s proposed order verbatim. The mother argues that the court’s adoption of the father’s order without independent decision-making constituted an error.

Verbatim Adoption of Proposed Orders in Family Law Cases

On appeal, the court noted that the lack of a transcript from the evidentiary hearing complicated its review. It stated, however, that both parties agreed that the trial court did not announce its ruling and requested proposed orders from them. The order entered by the court matched the father’s submission, including conflicting paragraphs. The court signed the order just one business day after receiving the father’s proposed order, leaving no apparent opportunity for the mother to raise objections before the court’s decision. Continue reading ›

Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that any property deemed a marital asset will be divided equitably among the parties in a divorce action, while any separate property will remain separate. As such, it is critical that the courts properly characterize all property the parties own to ensure a fair distribution. If a court errs when determining the nature of an asset, the parties may be able to appeal the final judgment of dissolution, as illustrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is wise to talk to a Miami divorce lawyer about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband filed a divorce petition in 2015. During the divorce trial, the main points of contention were the classification of financial accounts owned by the wife and real properties owned by the husband. The trial court issued a final judgment of dissolution of marriage in 2016, ruling that certain financial accounts were partially marital assets and that the classification of the properties was marital. The court did not provide a rationale for its decision.

Allegedly, in March 2022, a hearing was held to determine the non-marital portion of the wife’s financial accounts. The wife stipulated that four accounts were entirely marital, but the parties disagreed on the classification of the fifth account, which was an IRA. After the hearing, the trial court determined that the entire IRA was the wife’s nonmarital asset based on her testimony, the testimony of a certified public accountant, and submitted financial records. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida divorce actions, the courts may order one party to pay the other alimony. Generally, the courts will not grant alimony unless the evidence demonstrates both that the party seeking support lacks the financial resources to provide for their basic needs and that the party from whom support is sought has the ability to pay. As such, if either party’s financial situation changes, it may necessitate a modification of the alimony award. In a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action, the court explained what constitutes adequate grounds for granting a modification request. If you wish to end your marriage, you should confer with a Miami divorce lawyer about how your decision could impact you financially.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the parties divorced in 2016. Pursuant to the final judgment of divorce, the husband had an obligation to pay durational alimony to the wife. In 2018, the husband sought a modification of the alimony award based on a change in his income, and the court granted his request. His income fluctuated at that time, though, and the evidence suggested different amounts.

Allegedly, in 2020, the husband lost his job and obtained another position with a lower salary. He then filed a second petition for alimony modification, claiming a substantial change in circumstances due to the reduction in his income. The wife argued that his income was lower than he reported and that the reduction was not substantial enough to warrant a modification. The court denied the husband’s petition, and he appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida divorce actions, the parties will often engage in discovery to gain a better understanding of their separate and marital assets. Such discovery generally must be completed before the parties enter into a marital settlement agreement. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as when one party alleges the other fraudulently withheld information regarding their property interests. In a recent Florida ruling, the court discussed when allegations of fraud constitute grounds for permitting post-marital settlement agreement discovery. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is smart to speak to a Miami divorce lawyer about what actions you can take to protect your interests.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the parties, who were in the process of divorcing, entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA) that addressed alimony, child support, property distribution, and bank accounts, stating that each party would retain 100% interest in the accounts titled under their respective names. The agreement also acknowledged that the parties had legal representation and the opportunity for discovery and waived the right to engage in additional discovery. The parties represented that they had sufficient knowledge of each other’s financial circumstances before executing the MSA.

Allegedly, the court incorporated the MSA into the final dissolution judgment. The wife subsequently moved to set aside the MSA, alleging that the former husband had fraudulently withheld information by opening two undisclosed bank accounts shortly before the MSA was finalized and filed notices of intent to subpoena the two non-party banks involved. The husband objected to the subpoenas, which were overruled. He then appealed. 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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