Florida Court Explains Grounds for Reopening Evidence in Divorce Actions

In divorce actions, the parties will typically go through the process of discovery, during which they will seek any evidence that they can use to help them obtain a favorable outcome. Once discovery is complete, and the court issues its final judgment, however, parties will rarely be granted the chance to offer additional evidence. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, in which the court explained that reopening evidence in a divorce action would be unfairly prejudicial to the wife. If you are interested in seeking a divorce and want to learn more about your rights, it is smart to confer with a knowledgeable Miami divorce attorney.

History of the Case

It is alleged that in 2014, the parties divorced pursuant to a consent judgment that, among other things, fixed the equitable distribution of the estate. In 2020 the wife filed a motion asking the court to clarify her right to the husband’s pension. The court conducted a hearing during which the husband, the wife, and the benefits manager for the husband’s pension fund testified. The court ultimately entered an order defining the husband’s pension obligations to the wife.

It is reported that a week after the trial, the husband obtained a new attorney, who then moved to reopen the evidence on the grounds that the court granted the wife a greater share of the husband’s pension than she was entitled to receive. The motion asserted that supplemental evidence from the benefits manager was necessary to issue an equitable ruling. The court denied the motion, and the husband appealed.

Grounds for Reopening Evidence in Divorce Actions

The trial court ruling was affirmed on appeal. The court explained that while trial courts have the discretion to reopen evidence in a divorce action, to do so, they must first consider four factors. Namely, whether the request to reopen evidence is timely, the character of the evidence the moving party seeks to introduce, the effect the new evidence will have, and the reasonableness of the grounds supporting the request to reopen the evidence.

Moreover, a court should only grant a request to reopen evidence if it will not prejudice the non-moving party. In the subject case, the court found that the evidence the husband sought to introduce would not have impacted the trial court’s ultimate decision with regard to the pension. Additionally, the court stated that allowing the husband to introduce new evidence at this juncture would grant the husband a second bite of the apple, which was unduly prejudicial to the wife. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Confer with an Assertive Miami Attorney

Parties generally only have one chance to present their case in divorce actions, and if they fail to set forth any evidence in their favor, it can negatively impact their outcome. If you or your spouse intend to file for a divorce it is important to hire an attorney who will work tirelessly to help you protect your interests. The skilled Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are well-versed in what it takes to achieve good outcomes in divorce actions, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. We have an office in Aventura, and we frequently help people in divorce actions in Miami. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.

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