In Florida Family Law Cases, Timely Action Is Your Friend

There are certain things that are generally true across a wide variety of legal issues, even if those cases have little in common factually. One of those nearly universal truths is that long periods of time during which you could have taken action but did not do so rarely have a positive impact on your case. Long delays are rarely your friend. If you think you have a claim or a legal argument to make, your best move is to consult knowledgeable Florida family law counsel right away.

An example of this was a recent divorce case from Broward County. Afnaan was married three times. A court in the country of Jordan issued a decree in 2000 ending her marriage to her first husband. That order stated a “divorce date” of 1998, likely due to the fact that Afnaan had married her second husband between the 1998 date and the decree date. She and Husband #2 divorced, and she married Saad in 2011. Afnaan’s third marriage ended as the first two had, with a Florida court issuing an order of dissolution in 2014.

Saad appealed that order. His argument was a novel one:  he contended that the 2000 Jordanian decree ending the wife’s first marriage was not valid under Florida law, which allegedly would mean that the Florida courts didn’t have jurisdiction to dissolve his marriage.

The husband lost his appeal. Saad’s argument, that his marriage to Afnaan was invalid from the start, was a difficult one to win, since it was an argument that rarely succeeds. That is because the law in Florida says that marriages are generally presumed to be legal and valid. You need a strong proof and a very persuasive argument to overcome that presumption.

Another fact that worked strongly against Saad was his long delay in making his argument about the Jordanian divorce. Florida law says that you may be prevented from attacking the validity of an out-of-state divorce if it would be unfair to do so. In Saad’s situation, he knew about the Jordanian divorce the whole time. He did not contest the divorce when he married Afnaan, or when he cohabited with her for more than a year. He did not seek an annulment or assert a defense of bigamy when he went to court to end the marriage in 2012. Only after the Broward County judge entered the judgment of divorce in 2014 did he raise the argument that the Jordanian divorce was invalid. The trial court was validly within its discretion to rule that allowing the husband to raise the issue of the Jordanian divorce for the first time, 15 years after that foreign court ruled, was inequitable and not allowed.

Timing is a very important aspect of many legal cases. To make sure that your rights are protected properly, reach out to skilled legal counsel promptly. The experienced South Florida divorce attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. have been helping families navigate the Florida legal system for many years. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

When You Can (and Can’t) Get Your Florida Divorce Settlement Thrown Out Due to Coercion or Duress, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Jan. 18, 2018

Using Marital Assets to Pay for Obligations on Non-Marital Assets in Florida, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Oct. 16, 2017


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