In many divorce actions, the financial means of the parties are disputed, leading to contentious and protracted litigation. The Florida courts generally aim to issue fair and impartial rulings regarding child support and alimony in accordance with the statutory guidelines, however, which requires, in part, that they conduct a thorough assessment of the need of the party seeking support and the ability of the opposing party to pay. If a court fails to conduct an adequate evaluation prior to awarding support, it may constitute grounds for reversal. This was demonstrated recently in an opinion issued by a Florida court in a divorce matter. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is smart to speak to a trusted Florida divorce lawyer to discuss how a divorce may impact you financially.
The History of the Case
It is reported that the husband and wife lived together for eight years prior to marrying and were married for fourteen years. They had two children during their marriage. The wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage, which set off eight years of litigation. The parties signed a prenuptial agreement shortly before their marriage that was later deemed invalid by the trial court.
Allegedly, the husband served in the United States Armed Forces, and after he retired, worked as a sheriff’s deputy. He also performed jobs when he was off duty. His income fluctuated throughout the course of the divorce proceedings, and at times his net monthly income was slightly less than $6,000. The wife was medically unable to work, and therefore the trial court declined to impute income to her. The trial court ordered the husband to pay $7,500 each month for child support and alimony. The husband appealed.
Alimony and Support Determinations Under Florida Law
Upon review, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in determining both the husband’s ability to pay and the wife’s need, and therefore, reversed the trial court ruling. The appellate court explained that it is well established that Florida courts must evaluate and balance the need and the ability to pay. This requires the courts to make a specific factual determination regarding each issue and to consider each party’s relative financial resources. In the subject case, the trial court abused its discretion in imposing a support obligation on the husband that exceeded his ability to pay. Further, the trial court failed to take into consideration substantial assets that belong to the wife. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s order and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Meet with a Skillful Miami Attorney
While alimony may be appropriate in some cases, a court must provide a basis for its determination, and if it does not, the party subject to the alimony obligation may be able to argue that it is unjust. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss whether you or your spouse may be entitled to alimony or child support. The skillful Miami family law attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., are dedicated to helping people contending with the end of their marriages fight to protect their interests, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. We have an office in Aventura, and we frequently represent people in divorce matters in Miami. You can reach us via our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.