Articles Posted in Divorce

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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Florida law permits parties to seek alimony in divorce actions. The courts will only grant alimony if they deem it necessary under the circumstances. In other words, the courts must typically find that the divorce will cause a party to suffer financial hardship in order to grant them alimony. Thus, if circumstances change, it may warrant a reduction or elimination of an alimony award, like when a party receives financial support from someone with whom they are romantically involved. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes a supportive relationship in a matter in which it reversed a trial court ruling denying a husband’s request to modify alimony. If you need assistance protecting your interests in a divorce action, it is smart to meet with a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 1975; 20 years later, they divorced. Pursuant to the final judgment of dissolution, the husband was required to make permanent alimony payments to the wife on a weekly basis. The husband petitioned the court for an alimony modification in 2020, arguing that the wife was in a supportive relationship and no longer required alimony.

Allegedly, the trial court held a bench trial on the petition. During the trial, evidence was produced showing that the wife had been living with her boyfriend for fourteen years and had jointly purchased a home with him. Although they did not share bank accounts, they did share expenses. The trial court still found that the wife was not in a supportive relationship and needed alimony, however, and that the husband could pay and, therefore, denied the husband’s petition. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

It is within the authority of the Florida courts not only to award alimony in divorce actions but also to modify existing alimony orders. In either scenario, however, the court must set forth certain factual findings; otherwise, any order issued may be subject to reversal. This was illustrated in a recent Florida action in which the wife successfully appealed an alimony modification due to the court’s failure to set forth required statutory findings. If you have questions about alimony, it is smart to talk to an attorney promptly.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the parties divorced. They entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement in 2007; at that time, the husband was 51 years old. The agreement stated, in part, that the husband would pay alimony to the wife and that the monthly payments, which were subject to an annual adjustment in accordance with the Consumer Price Index, were otherwise not modifiable until the husband turned 60. Between the ages of 60 and 65, the husband could seek a modification for a material, substantial, unanticipated, and permanent change in financial circumstances. The husband sought a modification when he was 62. The court granted the husband’s request and reduced his monthly alimony obligation by over half. The wife appealed.

Required Statutory Findings in Florida Alimony Actions

On appeal, the wife argued that the trial court failed to make the statutory findings required for modifying alimony, the trial court improperly imputed income to her, there was insufficient evidence to show she experienced a substantial and material change in financial circumstances, and the modification was inequitable.   Continue reading ›

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It is not uncommon for the Florida courts to order one party to pay the other alimony in divorce actions. Unfortunately, parties do not always abide by the court’s orders, and legal action must be taken by the courts to compel compliance. For example, the courts may impose equitable liens against the obligor’s account. As shown in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action, though, the courts must abide by certain procedural rules when imposing such liens; otherwise, they may be vacated. If you intend to end your marriage and want to learn more about how divorce may impact you financially, it is prudent to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the parties entered into an Amended Mediated Settlement Agreement in March 2014. Among other things, it stated that the husband agreed to pay permanent alimony to the Wife equal to one-third of his gross income from employment or any other source of earned income. The husband failed to pay the full amount of alimony due, and the wife filed a motion for contempt and enforcement. Following a hearing, the court imposed an equitable lien on the husband’s retirement accounts to secure the payment of alimony arrearages. The husband appealed.

Procedure for Imposing an Equitable Lien in Family Law Matters

On appeal, the husband argued that the trial court imposed the equitable lien without notice or discussion and erred by issuing the lien without finding the special circumstances required for imposing an equitable lien. The court agreed with the husband, noting that Florida case law requires the trial court to set forth specific findings of special circumstances before imposing an equitable lien to protect payment of alimony. Continue reading ›