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Articles Posted in Post Final Judgment

Here in Florida, as in every state, the time that you have for pursuing your rights in a civil court action is limited. These deadlines are called statutes of limitations or limitations periods. If you wait too long to file your lawsuit, the other side can seek a dismissal of your action, and can get it thrown out no matter how strong your factual evidence is. So, if your ex-spouse isn’t doing what he/she promised under the terms of your marital settlement agreement, then it’s important to know just how long you have to act, and make sure you’re not waiting too long. For this and other essential pieces of legal knowledge, rely on advice from an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

While all kinds of legal actions where you’re seeking enforcement of your marital settlement agreement have a limitations period, not all of those periods are the same length of time, as a recent case from southwest Florida illustrates.

In that case, the spouses signed a marital settlement agreement in March 1997. The agreement called for the husband to pay the wife the sum of $487,000, either as one lump sum due Jan. 1, 2001, or as five installment payments (plus interest) due on Dec. 31, 2001 and each Dec. 31 thereafter.

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As you prepare to create a marital settlement agreement in Florida, there are several things you should be certain you do. One is to negotiate carefully and diligently to include all of the terms you need and exclude everything that you need left out. After that, you need to be sure that the written document presented for your signature accurately reflects everything for which you negotiated. This is vital because, if there is a dispute later, the court will rely heavily on what is in “black and white” in the written marital settlement agreement. An experienced South Florida divorce attorney can provide you with invaluable representation throughout this process, including both the negotiation and drafting of your marital settlement agreement.

Jay and Jane were a couple in Broward County whose marital settlement agreement was on center stage in their Court of Appeal case. The spouses had created a marital settlement agreement in the fall of 2015 and finalized their divorce shortly thereafter. Just a few weeks later, the husband passed away.

The couple had agreed in their MSA that, as a “contingency arrangement for the equalizer payment,” the husband would pay the wife 120 monthly payments of $5,000 each starting in November 2015 (for a total of $600,000.) The husband’s estate, though, paid Jane $400,000 up front and then made 28 monthly payments of $5,000, after which the payments stopped.

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There are several things that are essential in order to make a proposed marital settlement agreement appropriate for you to sign. Any agreement should appropriately protect your interests. The agreement also, though, should be completely clear and unambiguous so that any disputes that arise later will not trigger a whole new round of discovery and litigation. For all of these things, rely upon a skilled Florida divorce attorney to help you get the marital settlement agreement you need.

The case of Michael and Regina was an example of what happens when a marital settlement agreement isn’t unambiguous. When the couple married in 1987, Michael was a seven-year veteran of a local police department in Broward County. In 1989, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office absorbed Michael’s employer. When that happened, the couple decided to cash out the husband’s pension and spend the money.

After becoming an employee of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the husband became eligible for an account with the Florida Retirement System. The FRS allowed some members, including this husband, to purchase service credit, which meant that the employee would be entitled to a larger benefit when he retired.

There is an old and colorful saying about the perils of making assumptions. The saying, which popped up on a 1973 episode of The Odd Couple, admonishes that you should “never assume” and reveals its lesson by separating the word “assume” into its first through third letters, its fourth letter, and its fifth through sixth letters. Before entering into any contractual agreements, including marital settlement agreements, it would be wise to heed this advice. It would also be wise to seek out the advice and counsel of an experienced Florida divorce attorney.

One case in which one of the spouses didn’t heed that advice was a recent action that originated in Sarasota County. James and Pamela were married for 27 years before their marriage ended in divorce. James was the son of very wealthy parents. In fact, James’ parents’ wealth was the source of the couple’s retirement plan. According to the court, they never saved for retirement; they simply made plans to live in their retirement years off the very large lump-sum inheritance they expected James to get once both of his parents had passed away.

James’ parents survived longer than James’ marriage to Pamela. Thus, when it came time for James and Pamela to enter into a marital settlement agreement, they simply included their assumptions about James’ inheritance in their MSA.

A 1960s song written by Chuck Berry, which was later re-recorded by artists ranging from rock icon Bruce Springsteen to country star Emmylou Harris, states in its refrain that “it goes to show you never can tell.” Litigation — especially family law litigation — can be a lot like that. There are a great many facts, legal issues, and procedural nuances that can make your case unique and unpredictable. Legal counsel can help you deal with the peculiarities and detours of your case. Take, as an example, a recent case in which the Third District Court of Appeal granted a husband’s appeal and awarded a new trial in the man’s divorce case after the court reporter’s records of the original trial were lost through no fault of the husband.

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Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals has ruled that attorney’s fees may be awarded pursuant to Section 61.16(1) of the Florida Statutes in a marital property settlement agreement enforcement action. In De Campos v. Ferrara, a former married couple dissolved their marriage in 1991. As part of the dissolution action, the parties entered into a property settlement agreement that required the former wife to pay her ex-husband one-half of the sale proceeds for a business the couple owned during their marriage. Although the business was not immediately sold, the trial court retained jurisdiction to enforce the parties’ settlement agreement.

In 2008, the wife sold the business, reportedly without telling the husband. He subsequently sought relief from the trial court that included a temporary injunction and an order compelling payment of his half of the sale proceeds. Although the wife argued that she previously disposed of the business by incorporating it into a new business and paying her former husband $48,000, the trial court disagreed. Instead, she was ordered to pay her former spouse one-half of the proceeds from the 2008 sale.

In 2009, the former husband filed a petition with the trial court for an award of attorney’s fees and other costs. The trial court denied his petition based on Flanders v. Flanders, stating that the action was “an equitable declaratory proceeding to construe and enforce the parties’ Property Settlement Agreement.” According to the trial court, Section 61.16(1) of the Florida Statutes did not apply to the parties’ case and the husband was not entitled to attorney’s fees since the property settlement agreement was silent on the matter.

On appeal, the Third District reversed the trial court by stating the matter was simply an enforcement action for a final judgment previously entered by the trial court. According to the Appeals Court, there was no ambiguity regarding whether the husband was entitled to proceeds from the sale of the business. Additionally, his former wife did not contest his rights. Instead, she merely contested whether her obligations under the property settlement agreement were previously satisfied. The Appellate Court stated Flanders did not apply to the case at hand because the proceeding was not a declaratory action. According to the Third District, Section 61.16(1) applied to the parties’ case because the court was merely being asked to enforce a marital property settlement agreement in a divorce matter filed pursuant to Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes.

The Appeals Court also found the husband may be entitled to attorney’s fees because neither party expressly waived their statutory right to such an award in the property settlement agreement. Additionally, there was no implied waiver because the agreement failed to contain any language regarding an award of attorney’s fees. Since Section 61.16(1) applied to the case and governed any award of attorney’s fees, Florida’s Third District reversed and remanded the matter to the trial court.
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A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that 73% of attorney’s who practice marital and family law are reporting an increase in the demand for prenuptial agreements. Broward divorce attorneys believe that the recession has effected people’s assets which now require protection in the event of a dissolution of marriage. Nowadays, the demand for prenuptial agreements is seen in the middle class and those individuals with substantial assets. While some individual’s want no responsibility for their spouse’s dent, others are protecting their pensions, 401k and retirement from equitable distribution.

An entrepreneur has recently created divorce insurance called WedLock. Customers are able to decide the size of the policy and the monthly premium based upon the selected plan. Divorce insurance polices range from $99 to $1,073 per month. Claims can not be submitted until a policy holder has had the plan for 36 months.

Marriage rates in the USA continue to drop. In 2000, 34.5% of individuals aged 25-34 had never been married. In 2009, the number increased to 46.3%. While marriage rates have dropped, many couples have just decided to live together and enter into a cohabitation agreement.

The purpose of civil contempt is to obtain compliance with a child support, alimony or general court order and can only be used when the contemnor has the ability to comply.

First, your divorce lawyer in Fort Lauderdale must have the court determine whether the defaulting party has willfully violated the court order. Next, the court must determine the appropriate remedial measure. If the Florida marital and family law judge orders that the contemnor is to be jailed, the court must make a specific finding that he or she has the present ability to pay the purge.

In Aburos v Aburos, the former husband appealed an order finding him in indirect civil contempt and requiring him to be incarcerated which was entered by Miami divorce court Judge Amy Steele Donner for failing to pay the former wife alimony and child support pursuant to the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Specifically, the former wife asked the trial court to find the former husband in contempt of court for his failure to pay $1,700 per month for permanent periodic alimony and $1,693 per month in child support.

Sandy T. Fox, Esquire, a divorce lawyer in Broward and Miami-Dade, represented the Former Wife in an enforcement proceeding in the Florida marital and family law court located north of Fort Lauderdale. The equitable distribution provision of the marital settlement agreement provided that the Former Wife was to receive $141,263.72 from the Former Husband. The Former Husband retained his real property in New York. While no date of payment to the Former Wife was specified in the marital settlement agreement, the final judgment of dissolution of marriage ordered the parties to comply with the marital settlement agreement.

The Former Wife filed a motion to enforce the equitable distribution provision of the final judgment since the Former Husband had only made 5 incremental payments. At the hearing, she testified that she was to receive $141,263.72 upon entry of the final judgment. On the otherhand, the Former Husband testified that the Former Wife was to be paid upon the sale of his New York property.

On appeal in the case of Crespo v. Crespo, the Former Wife argued that the trial court erred in admitting parol evidence as to the intent of the parties. In affirming the decision of the divorce court located north of Ft. Lauderdale, the Fourth District Court of Appeal found that the marital settlement agreement contained a latent ambiguity since it failed to specify the time in which the Former Wife was to receive payment from the Former Husband. The court explained that a latent ambiguity arises when the language in a contract is clear and intelligible and suggests a single meaning, but some extrinsic fact or extraneous evidence creates a necessity for interpretation or a choice among two or more possible meanings.

During a Broward divorce, your Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer may request that you be awarded alimony. A Florida marital and family court can award you bridge-the-gap, temporary, lump sum, rehabilitative or permanent periodic alimony. However, after the conclusion of your Broward divorce case, one spouse may have their Broward child support, child custody and divorce attorney ask the judge to reduce or terminate the alimony because of a statutorily created supportive relationship.

In determining whether an existing award of alimony should be reduced or terminated because of an alleged supportive relationship between an obligee and a person who is not related by consanguinity or affinity and with whom the obligee resides, the court shall elicit the nature and extent of the relationship in question. The court shall give consideration, without limitation, to circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following, in determining the relationship of an obligee to another person: the extent to which the obligee and the other person have held themselves out as a married couple by engaging in conduct such as using the same last name, using a common mailing address, referring to each other in terms such as “my husband” or “my wife,” or otherwise conducting themselves in a manner that evidences a permanent supportive relationship; the period of time that the obligee has resided with the other person in a permanent place of abode; the extent to which the obligee and the other person have pooled their assets or income or otherwise exhibited financial interdependence; the extent to which the obligee or the other person has supported the other, in whole or in part; the extent to which the obligee or the other person has performed valuable services for the other; the extent to which the obligee or the other person has performed valuable services for the other’s company or employer; whether the obligee and the other person have worked together to create or enhance anything of value; whether the obligee and the other person have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property; evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the other person have an express agreement regarding property sharing or support; evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the other person have an implied agreement regarding property sharing or support and whether the obligee and the other person have provided support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal duty to do so.

In Baumann v Baumann, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed the decision of a Florida divorce court that reduced the former husband’s alimony obligation to the Former Wife. The former husband was required to pay the former wife $1800 per month in permanent periodic alimony. In 2007, the former husband petitioned the Florida marital and family law court to reduce or terminate his alimony obligation since the Former Wife was involved in a supportive relationship.

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