Florida Court Explains Certiorari Review in Family Law Cases

In Florida family law actions, as in other proceedings, parties have the right to appeal orders they believe were issued improperly. Such right is not absolute, however, as there are certain prerequisites to filing an appeal, including the requirement that the relief sought must be attainable. This was illustrated in a recent Florida divorce action in which the court found that the husband’s petition for certiorari review was inappropriate. If you are contemplating ending your marriage, it is smart to talk to a Miami divorce attorney about your rights.

Procedural and Factual Setting

It is reported that the husband and the wife were divorcing. During the pendency of the divorce, the court issued a temporary relief order granting exclusive use of the rental property to the wife, establishing her right to possess it. The husband did not seek an appeal at that time, however. The court subsequently issued an order finding the husband in contempt for not vacating the property.

Allegedly, the order did not adjudicate him as being in criminal contempt but was focused on securing compliance with the prior temporary possession order, threatening the husband with 179 days in jail. The husband then sought certiorari review of the contempt order. The order in question did not grant immediate appeal, being neither an enumerated non-final order nor a final order.

Certiorari Review in Family Law Cases

On appeal, the court dismissed the husband’s certiorari petition, emphasizing that the contempt order was not a final order. The court noted that while the order in question held the husband in willful contempt, it was civil contempt, not criminal. In other words, it did not impose a term of imprisonment on the husband but was focused on him leaving the property as directed in the underlying order. Since the husband left the property after the contempt order, the court notes that the order achieved its purpose and has no lingering effect on the husband’s legal status or rights. The court pointed out that certiorari is not appropriate when there is no ongoing effect or controversy.

Furthermore, it highlighted that the only relief the husband could receive, quashing the contempt order, would be legally ineffective since the order had already been fulfilled. The court further noted that under the principle of mootness, an appeal should be dismissed when no practical result can be attained and the issues have ceased to exist. As such, the court deemed certiorari unsuitable and dismissed the husband’s petition.

Speak to a Seasoned Miami Attorney

Courts will often issue temporary orders in divorce actions, and if parties fail to comply with them, they may be held in contempt. If you have questions about your options with regard to divorce, it is smart to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Miami family law lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can assess the facts of your case and aid you in seeking the best outcome available. You can contact us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to arrange a meeting.

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