Florida Appellate Court Rules That Recession Is Not A Basis For New Divorce Trial

If you file for divorce in Broward, your attorney may suggest that you retain a forensic accountant to value the marital business. However, in these uncertain economic times the values of marital assets are volatile and may fluctuate after trial and before the marital and family court in Florida enters the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. In the case of Mistretta v. Mistretta, the Miami Herald is reporting that First District Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court erred in revisiting the equitable distribution due to the economic recession
In the final judgment of dissolution of marriage entered on August 25, 2008, the trial court distributed the marital business to the Husband, assigned a date of valuation of October 31, 2007 and ordered the Husband to make a one time cash equalization payment of $845,000 to the Wife. The Husband requested a new trial and valuation of the business relying upon the economic recession that began in December, 2007 as “newly discovered evidence.” The trial court granted the Husband’s motion.

Rehearing or a new trial based upon newly discovered evidence is permitted when it appears that the evidence will possibly change the result if a new trial is granted, the evidence has been discovered since trial, the evidence could not have been discovered before trial by the exercise of due diligence, the evidence is material to the issue and the evidence is not just cumulative or impeaching. The alleged “newly discovered evidence” cannot simply show some change in circumstance since the trial.

Here, the “newly discovered evidence”, evidence of an economic recession that began in December, 2007 and operating results thereafter, proves a change in circumstances after the date of valuation and relates to events that took place after trial. In reversing the decision of the Florida divorce court, the First District Court of Appeal held that a cloudy crystal ball is no basis for a new trial. The Court reasoned that when the way that the future unfolds is different than business appraisers assume cannot be a basis for a new trial on the value of a business if trials on such issues are ever to yield final adjudications.