When you think about alimony, you probably think about a court order that obliges one ex-spouse to pay the other ex-spouse a sum of money every month for a certain period of time (or permanently). The law also, however, allows the courts to hand out lump-sum awards of alimony. As with other alimony awards, the law has specific rules regarding when that type of alimony is appropriate. In one recent Second District Court of Appeal case, a lump-sum alimony award was overturned because the trial judge didn’t make the findings necessary to show that the award complied with the law.
In any divorce case involving minor children, there are many issues that must be considered. One of these is the matter of making decisions regarding the children’s welfare. Ideally, the parents will work cooperatively after they’ve divorced to do what is necessary to advance the best interests of the children. In the real world, things can often be more complicated. Nevertheless, the law demands that divorcing parents strive to work together and share parental decision-making responsibilities in most cases. In a recent case decided by the Second District Court of Appeal, a trial judge’s order giving the mother “ultimate” authority was thrown out because the case didn’t meet the standard for awarding something other than true shared responsibility.
Sometimes, the intervention of a divorce can create some serious wrinkles in the estate plans two spouses created while they were married. Other times, the couple’s estate plans can sometimes create wrinkles in an equitable distribution plan. In the case of one southwest Florida couple, that is exactly what happened. When they divorced, one of the pieces of property that the Collier County trial court distributed was a home in California. The Second District Court of Appeal threw out that distribution because, prior to the divorce, the couple had transferred the home into an irrevocable trust, so it was outside the reach of their divorce’s equitable distribution.
When you are dealing with a child custody or timesharing case that crosses state lines, the case can become complicated. You must deal with all of the requirements of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. That law says that custody and timesharing cases generally must be heard by a court in the child’s “home state.” However, if you live in Florida, and your child’s home state is somewhere else, there are certain situations in which you may still be able to bring your case here. In a recent Fifth District Court of Appeal case, the appeals court upheld a Florida trial court’s decision to modify timesharing, based upon the presence of “emergency” circumstances.
When you are going through a divorce, especially one without a minor child of the marriage, one of the most important issues to resolve may be equitable distribution. While equitable distribution may be fairly straightforward in cases in which every asset is clearly marital or non-marital, many divorces and equitable distributions are more complex. In one recent case decided by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, the court was called upon to address a case in which the couple’s home was the wife’s non-marital property, but the property had appreciated in part due to improvements made using marital funds. In this case, the trial court’s decision to credit 50% of the marital portion of the appreciation to the husband was improper when the court also gave the home 100% to the wife.
When you enter into divorce litigation, there are certain things you know at the outset. One of these is that the law presumes that your spouse and you should split all marital assets 50-50. This presumption is not ironclad, however, since fairness and the law dictate that a 50-50 split is not the proper outcome in all cases. In order to receive an uneven distribution in your case, the law requires your trial judge to make certain findings. In one recent case from the Tampa Bay area, the trial court’s failure to make the obligatory findings led the Second District Court of Appeal to throw out a distribution awarding the wife more than 50% of certain assets.
If you are seeking an injunction for protection from domestic violence, or if you are defending against such an injunction, it is important to understand that these injunctions can have very real and significant impacts and that these cases should be taken very seriously. Regardless of whether you are the alleged victim or the alleged perpetrator, it is important to ensure that you have what you need to persuade the court that your situation does (or does not) present a valid case for an injunction. In a recent case from Polk County, the Second District Court of Appeal threw out an injunction because the woman’s evidence amounted to one incident from a long time ago that only indicated a “relationship gone awry,” rather than an imminent threat of violence.
In any civil court case, including family law cases, paperwork is an important part of achieving a successful outcome. The difference between a successful resolution and an unsuccessful one can be your ability to provide the correct documentation to the court to meet all of the procedural rules and to establish that you are entitled to the relief you’re requesting. In a recent case from Broward County, the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a trial court’s decision finding a due process violation, which the court declared was a result of a lack of written proof that a father received proper notice that his former mother-in-law was requesting a change in custody of the man’s child.
A recent case originating in Tallahassee provides a useful lesson in how a parent must go about presenting a case for a timesharing modification based upon parental alienation. The First District Court of Appeal upheld a trial judge’s refusal to modify a timesharing agreement because the father’s case was insufficient to demonstrate the sort of extreme, substantial, and unanticipated action required by the law to re-open the issue of timesharing. The court explained that this type of request sets up a very high hurdle for the parent seeking modification, and although the father’s allegations were “troubling” and demonstrated a contentious relationship between the parents, they weren’t enough.
A South Florida doctor’s wife succeeded in obtaining a reversal recently of a trial court order that awarded her only durational rather than permanent alimony. Since the couple was married for 18 years, the wife should have received permanent alimony unless the trial judge made a finding that permanent alimony was inappropriate. The Fourth District Court of Appeal‘s decision in this couple’s case was also interesting in reaffirming that simply because the state legislature created durational alimony a few years ago did not mean that its creation wiped out the legal presumption in favor of permanent alimony in cases involving long-term marriages.