Articles Posted in Divorce

In many divorce cases, one of the biggest issues is how marital property, including retirement income, should be divided. As such, many couples will develop marital settlement agreements defining their rights and obligations with regard to retirement. If the terms of such agreements are unclear, however, it could create challenges down the road, as demonstrated in a recent Florida divorce action in which the court discussed the construction of marital settlement agreements. If you need help protecting your interests in a divorce proceeding, it is advisable to confer with a Miami divorce attorney.

Factual Background and Procedural Setting

It is reported that in 2001, the husband petitioned for dissolution of marriage from the wife. They subsequently entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA) to resolve their marital issues, which was incorporated into the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage in 2002. Twenty years later, the wife moved to reopen the dissolution and enforce a provision of the MSA regarding the distribution of retirement benefits.

Allegedly, the disputed provision, labeled “Personal Property,” outlined the distribution of the husband’s retirement benefits from his 457 plan with Pinellas County, Florida, and the Florida Retirement System (FRS) pension. The wife argued that she was entitled to half of all FRS benefits received by the husband, including those accrued after the dissolution, based on the language of the MSA. The husband, however, contended that the provision only entitled the wife to half of the marital portion of the FRS benefits, which included benefits accrued during the marriage. The trial court determined that the language of the MSA was clear but interpreted it to mean that the wife was entitled to half of what the husband had at the time of the agreement. The wife appealed. Continue reading ›

Florida is an equitable distribution state. As such, if a couple decides to end their marriage via divorce, the court will distribute any marital property between them in a manner that it deems fair and just. Equitable distribution only applies to marital property, however; separate property remains the sole asset of the spouse that owns it. As such, a property characterization of property in a divorce action is essential for obtaining a just outcome. As illustrated in a recent Florida ruling delivered in a divorce case, if a court misclassifies property or issues a final judgment that does not comply with its oral statements at trial, such errors may qualify as grounds for pursuing an appeal. If you want to learn more about how a divorce may impact your property rights, it is wise to consult a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Setting

It is alleged that the parties, who had been married for twelve years, led largely separate lives, residing in different cities and managing their finances independently before the husband filed a petition for dissolution. At trial, the court ruled that most assets and liabilities were nonmarital, attributing them to the respective parties based on their individual acquisition or handling during the marriage.

Reportedly, the court emphasized the parties’ separate financial activities and concluded that an equal distribution would lead to unjust enrichment. The written final judgment conflicted with the court’s oral pronouncement, though, designating all assets and liabilities as nonmarital, contrary to the court’s acknowledgment of marital ownership of certain vehicles. The wife then appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida divorce actions, the courts will typically issue judgments of dissolution establishing the parties’ rights and obligations with regard to disputed issues like child custody, spousal and child support, and property division. If a court fails to adequately demonstrate the reasoning behind its decision or neglects to take into consideration key evidence, either party may be able to pursue an appeal. In a recent Florida opinion issued in a divorce action, the court explained the grounds for challenging a final judgment of dissolution. If you intend to end your marriage, it is smart to speak with a Miami divorce attorney regarding what measures you can take to protect your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife divorced. During the final hearing, the trial court orally explained its findings on the record. The court subsequently issued a final judgment of dissolution, defining rights and obligations with regard to alimony, timesharing and custody rights, and relocation. The husband then appealed, arguing several points of error. Specifically, he challenged the adequacy of the record on appeal, particularly regarding affidavits related to financial situations, which he failed to include. Additionally, he disputed the start date for child support payments, as the trial court set it before the child’s residency with him ended.

Grounds for Challenging a Final Judgment of Dissolution

On appeal, the court largely affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that while the final dissolution judgment did not precisely adhere to the criteria outlined in the Florida Statutes, the trial court provided oral findings during the final hearing to justify its rulings on relocation, alimony, and timesharing. Further, the court found these findings were backed by ample evidence presented during the proceedings, indicating that the decisions were well-supported despite not aligning perfectly with statutory parameters. Continue reading ›

In many divorce actions, the most contentious issue is how property and assets should be divided. Pursuant to Florida law, the courts generally aim to divide marital property in a fair manner, which in some instances means that they may deem it appropriate to award one party a set-off for an asset or source of income. The courts can only do so if the party awarded the set-off requests it in a pleading, however, as it is considered an affirmative defense. If the courts grant a set-off absent the assertion of it in a pleading, it likely constitutes grounds for appealing the final judgment of divorce. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida divorce action in which the attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. represented the wife and successfully argued that the court improperly granted the husband a set-off. If you need assistance with a divorce issue, it is smart to meet with an assertive Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Case Setting

It is reported that the husband and wife divorced. The wife, who was represented by Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., subsequently appealed the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. The crux of the appeal was the trial court’s decision to award the husband a set-off for the rental value of the marital home. The wife contended that this set-off was improper because the husband had not raised the issue in any prior pleading or motion.

Grounds for Reversing a Final Judgment of Dissolution

On appeal, the court examined the procedural history and relevant legal principles. It pointed out that under Florida Family Law Rules, parties are required to affirmatively state any matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense in their pleadings or motions. Failure to do so results in the waiver of those defenses.

In this case, the husband had not raised the issue of the set-off in any pleading or motion but rather brought it up for the first time during pre-trial proceedings. The court cited precedent emphasizing that affirmative defenses like set-offs must be properly raised to be considered by the trial court, and failure to do so deprives the court of jurisdiction over the matter. Continue reading ›

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When people with children decide to end their marriage, one of their foremost concerns is usually how the divorce will impact their children and their parental rights. As such, they will often take great care when creating a parenting plan. The courts will generally incorporate parenting plans into divorce decrees as long as they are in the best interest of the children involved. While the courts can strike parenting plans, they cannot do so without following the proper procedure, as shown in a recent Florida opinion issued in a divorce action. If you have questions about your rights with regard to divorce, it is wise to talk to a Miami divorce attorney.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that the wife initiated an action seeking a dissolution of her marriage to the husband. The trial court issued a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, incorporating the parties’ Parenting Plan concerning their child’s time-sharing rights and obligations. Subsequently, the husband filed a supplemental petition, later amending it, alleging deficiencies in the Parenting Plan, particularly its lack of provisions for communication between him and the child.

It is alleged that the wife moved to dismiss the husband’s petition and then amended her motion. During a hearing on the wife’s amended motion to dismiss, the trial court not only denied the motion but also, without prior notice, struck the Parenting Plan entirely, citing its failure to meet statutory requirements regarding communication means between the husband and the child. The wife filed a petition seeking a writ of prohibition or certiorari to challenge the trial court’s order. Continue reading ›

Florida law permits the courts to award parties alimony in divorce actions. The duration of alimony granted depends on numerous factors. The amount granted, generally, depends on the need of the party seeking alimony and the ability of the person from whom alimony is sought to pay. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion, this requires an analysis of the parties’ net, not gross income.  If you have questions about how a divorce may impact you financially, including whether you may be eligible for alimony, it is smart to talk to a skilled Miami divorce attorney.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife were married and had one minor child. In 2019, the wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. In response, the husband filed a counterpetition. The parties entered into a partial mediated marital settlement agreement in February 2022. The agreement resolved most issues but did not dictate rights or obligations with regard to alimony, child support, or attorney’s fees. The trial court subsequently ratified the agreement.

It is alleged that the court later held a final hearing to address the remaining issues. Following the hearing, it entered an amended final judgment of dissolution in which it awarded the wife durational alimony for five years. The wife appealed. Continue reading ›

Florida law allows courts to order parties to pay alimony in divorce actions. Generally, the courts will take multiple things into consideration when determining what constitutes an appropriate alimony award. As such, as explained in a recent Florida opinion, a party that wishes to modify an alimony order usually must demonstrate that there has been a significant change since the order was issued in order to show the modification was warranted. If you need help with an alimony dispute, it is in your best interest to consult a Miami divorce attorney to evaluate your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that in 2019, the trial court issued a final judgment of dissolution, which included an unequal distribution of marital assets favoring the wife and nominal alimony awarded to her based on the husband’s purported lack of ability to pay. In 2020, the wife filed a petition seeking modification of the alimony arrangement, alleging that the husband had not made genuine efforts to secure comparable income since the divorce despite having significant earning potential in banking.

Allegedly, however, the wife didn’t assert any substantial and unanticipated changes in circumstances since the initial judgment. Further, during the subsequent evidentiary hearing, the wife failed to present evidence regarding the former husband’s ability to pay or available employment opportunities in his field. The husband argued that his financial situation hadn’t changed and that the modification standard wasn’t met. He provided evidence of operating a hardware store franchise, which incurred losses, and testified to his inability to find employment in banking due to technological advancements and personal factors. Despite this, the trial court granted the wife’s petition, increasing the husband’s alimony payments. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

Divorce actions are often contentious, and it is not uncommon for a Florida court to issue an order in a divorce proceeding that prevents a party from taking intentional or inadvertent actions that harm the other party’s interests. If a person fails to comply with the terms of such order, they may be held in contempt of court. As discussed in a recent Florida divorce case, overturning a contempt finding can be challenging. If you want to obtain a divorce, it is wise to confer with a Miami divorce lawyer to evaluate your options.

Procedural and Factual Setting

It is reported that the husband and the wife were involved in an ongoing divorce case. The wife filed two contempt motions against the husband; one of these motions was granted by the trial court. The contempt order the court granted arose from the husband allegedly canceling a credit card that the wife had access to due to her employment with their jointly-owned business. The husband then sought certiorari relief, arguing that the trial court couldn’t consider the credit card issue as it belonged to the business, a non-party to the case.

Certiorari Relief in Divorce Actions

On appeal, the court first explained the principles surrounding certiorari jurisdiction, emphasizing its extraordinary nature and limited application. Specifically, the court noted that certiorari is considered only when there is a departure from the essential requirements of the law and when irreparable harm, not correctable on post-judgment appeal, is demonstrated. The court underscored the importance of a “jurisdictional evaluation” focused on irreparable harm before certiorari can be used for reviewing non-final orders, aiming to discourage piecemeal review. Continue reading ›

Many people involved in divorce proceedings in Florida cannot resolve their disputed issues without a trial. Once the trial is held and the court makes its determinations, it will issue a final order of dissolution. Parties can appeal such orders, but they must follow the procedural rules and guidelines. Otherwise, their appeals may be rejected. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion in which the court denied an appeal of a final judgment of divorce due to the husband’s failure to file a copy of the trial court’s transcript. If you want to obtain a divorce, it is wise to confer with a Miami divorce lawyer to evaluate your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the wife initiated divorce proceedings in October 2018. A trial was held in November 2022, during which the court addressed issues raised in the divorce petition. Following the trial, the trial court issued a final judgment of dissolution. The husband did not file a motion for rehearing following the final judgment. He then appealed the final judgment of dissolution.

Appealing Final Judgments of Dissolution

The husband raised various errors on appeal, primarily challenging the trial court’s factual findings. However, the court emphasized that when errors appear on the face of a final order for the first time, the party must bring attention to the error through a motion for rehearing or a similar motion to preserve it for appeal. Continue reading ›

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In Florida, marital assets are subject to divorce actions, while non-marital assets remain the property of the spouse that owns it. Assets that become comingled, where marital and non-marital funds intermingle, can present challenges during equitable distribution. The court may need to discern the separate contributions of each spouse to determine the appropriate distribution. This was illustrated in a recent Florida divorce action, in which the husband argued that the home he bought before getting married was not a marital asset. The court ultimately disagreed that the wife had no claim to the value of the home, noting that she contributed to its improvement and maintenance throughout the marriage. If you have questions about how the decision to end your marriage could impact you financially, it is wise to speak with a Miami divorce lawyer at your earliest convenience.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife were divorced after more than twenty years of marriage. The husband subsequently challenged the trial court’s amended final judgment of the dissolution of the marriage. On appeal, the husband disputed the trial court’s decision to award the wife permanent alimony, which the husband deemed excessive. Further, he argued that the family home should not have been classified as a marital asset for equitable distribution, as he bought it prior to the marriage. Finally, he asserted that the wife was entitled to more than a 50/50 split of the proceeds from the husband’s Corvette trade-in.

Equitable Distribution in Florida Divorce Actions

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s alimony award without detailed discussion. In doing so, the court noted the husband’s failure to identify a clear error on the record. Continue reading ›