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The Florida courts regard allegations of domestic violence seriously and will impose any legal measures necessary to keep victims of domestic violence safe. Merely because a person accuses someone of engaging in acts of domestic violence does not mean that the courts will issue injunctions for protection against their alleged attacker, however. Instead, as illustrated in a recent ruling issued by a Florida court, the acts in question must, at a minimum, inspire an objectively reasonable fear of imminent harm. If you are the victim of domestic violence or have been accused of domestic violence by a former romantic partner, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney about your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and wife lived in Missouri; they divorced in October 2021, and the wife moved to Florida, where she filed for an injunction for protection against domestic violence against the husband. In her petition, she claimed that he had committed or threatened to commit domestic violence against her.

It is reported that the wife asserted that her daughter overheard the husband saying he had purchased a gun silencer in October 2020, and she feared that he would kill her. The wife also testified that in March 2021, the husband told her that he did not need a silencer to kill her. The wife admitted, however,  that she had never seen the husband in Florida and that he had never attempted to contact her directly. The trial court granted the injunction, and the husband appealed. Continue reading ›

Co-parents frequently disagree as to how parental rights and obligations should be divided. Thus, the courts will typically issue orders delineating each parent’s duties. If a party fails to uphold the terms of a child custody or support order, they may be found in contempt. As discussed in a recent Florida child support case, however, the courts generally will not hold a party in contempt unless they find they willfully disregarded a court order. If you are involved in a dispute over child support, it is smart to talk to a Miami child support lawyer about your options.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that in 2017, a magistrate entered a report and recommendations to establish paternity and parental responsibility for a minor child, including a parenting plan and child support obligations. Among other things, the plan required the father to pay 70% of the child’s educational expenses and 50% of the cost of the child’s extracurricular activities. In 2018, the mother filed a motion for contempt and enforcement, alleging that the father failed to pay extracurricular expenses and private school tuition. The parties returned to court in 2019, and the magistrate determined that the father was not obligated to pay for private school tuition as an “educational” expense and that the father was not in contempt for extracurricular activity expenses. The mother dismissed her objections to the magistrate’s report and recommendations.

Allegedly, in 2020, the mother filed an amended motion for contempt, alleging that the father failed to pay child support and various expenses owed under the original final judgment and a subsequent stipulated order. Specifically, the mother alleged that the father was in contempt for failing to pay 70% of the tutoring expenses. The trial court conducted a hearing where it was established that the tutoring was provided by a privately-owned tutoring company that offered after-school educational programs. The court found the father in contempt for failing to pay his share of tutoring expenses, which the court concluded were educational expenses. The court also ordered the father to pay for the mother’s attorney’s fees and costs. The father appealed. Continue reading ›

Income is one of the numerous factors the Florida courts consider when determining obligations and rights with regard to child support. Unfortunately, parties will sometimes attempt to inappropriately alter support obligations by refusing to obtain gainful employment. In such instances, pursuant to the Florida child support guidelines, the courts can impute income to them. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida child support case in which the court found that the trial court erred in failing to consider the wife’s earning potential based on her recent employment. If you have questions about child support, it is prudent to meet with a Miami child support lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the parties married in Michigan and had two minor children. They each filed petitions for dissolution in 2019; the husband in Michigan and the wife in Florida. They were divorced in Florida, and the court merged and incorporated their confidential settlement agreement into the final judgment of the divorce. While the agreement contained provisions regarding child support, the court crossed out those sections, and they were not part of the final judgment.

Reportedly, the parties then determined that Florida was the proper jurisdiction for child support and child custody issues between the parties. The wife then filed a motion to establish temporary child support. The husband moved to dismiss the motion in light of the settlement agreement. The court issued an order directing the husband to pay almost $3,000 per month in support. It also imputed income to the wife at the level of minimum wage. The husband appealed on numerous grounds. Continue reading ›

In many Florida divorces, the parties will draft a marital settlement agreement that sets forth the terms of the dissolution of their marriage. Such agreements are contracts and, like any other contract, are enforceable by the courts. The courts will typically look at the terms of the agreement to determine each party’s rights and obligations; when the terms of a marital settlement agreement are ambiguous, though, the court may need to consider outside evidence, as discussed in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action. If you or your spouse intend to seek a divorce, it is wise to speak to a Miami divorce lawyer about what measures you can take to protect your rights.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that the parties were married and had two minor children during their marriage. They subsequently divorced, and the trial court entered a final dissolution judgment in 2001. The court orally entered the parties’ marital settlement agreement into the record and incorporated it as part of the final judgment. The judgment contained a provision related to child support that stated each party would pay half of each child’s college expenses.

Allegedly, the wife moved for enforcement of the judgment, arguing that the husband refused to pay half of the children’s college expenses. The husband sought discovery, but the wife objected to all of his requests. The husband filed a response in opposition to the wife’s motion, arguing that the phrase “college expenses” was latently ambiguous and, therefore, the court should consider parol evidence to determine the intent of the agreement. The trial court did not permit such evidence and entered a judgment against the husband. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

In a Florida child custody case, the court’s driving concern is what is in the best interest of the child that is the subject of the suit. The court will look at numerous factors to determine what custody arrangement will best benefit the child’s welfare and well-being. The courts generally are not permitted to analyze factors on a prospective basis, but there are some exceptions, as discussed by a recent Florida opinion issued in a custody matter in which the father appealed the trial court ruling. If you need assistance protecting your parental rights, it is advisable to confer with a Miami child custody lawyer regarding your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father were parties to a custody action to determine parental rights with regard to their minor child. The trial court issued a judgment determining timesharing and parental rights. The judgment also permitted the mother to relocate to another city in Florida with the minor child when the child began attending school and allowed for a modification of time-sharing rights due to the relocation.

Allegedly, the father appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in issuing a judgment that allowed for an automatic modification of timesharing rights in the future, as it relied on a prospective-based analysis, which Florida law prohibits. Continue reading ›

The Florida courts protect people in family law matters from suffering adverse consequences due to one party’s “unclean hands.” In other words, the courts will often deny a party relief if they caused the issue in question in bad faith. The courts cannot sua sponte apply the unclean hands doctrine, however, as explained in a recent Florida child support case in which the father sought a modification. Instead, the issue must be brought before the court by a party. If you are subject to a child support obligation and you or a co-parent intend to ask the court to alter the support order, it is in your best interest to talk to a Miami child support attorney about your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the mother filed a paternity action, which ultimately determined the parentage of the father. The court then entered a child support order, in which it imposed a support obligation on the father. The father later petitioned the court to modify the support obligation. The court denied the father’s petition, mostly due to a finding of unclean hands. The father appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion in denying his petition.

The Unclean Hands Doctrine in Florida Family Law Cases

On appeal, the court found in favor of the father and reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that the trial court adopted the report and recommendation of a magistrate, advising the court to deny the father’s petition due to a finding of unclean hands. The court explained, however, that the record revealed that the matter of unclean hands was not properly before the magistrate. Continue reading ›

In many marriages, one spouse will earn a far greater income than the other. If a couple with disparate incomes subsequently divorces, the lesser-earning party will often request spousal support. In determining whether to grant such support, the courts will assess not only the requesting party’s need but also the responding party’s ability to pay. Once a court issues an order directing a party to pay alimony, it generally is not subject to modification absent evidence of a material and enduring change in circumstances. The change must be involuntary as well, as discussed in a recent Florida case in which the court denied the husband’s request for modification of a permanent spousal support obligation. If you or your spouse intend to end your marriage and you want to learn more about the economic impact of the decision, it is in your best interest to speak with a Miami divorce attorney.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and the wife were married for twenty-eight years before divorcing in 2014. During the divorce action, the parties agreed that the husband would pay the wife permanent spousal support in the amount of $1,000 each month. When they made the agreement, the husband worked as a mechanical millwright.

Reportedly, six years after the divorce, the husband left his job. He then filed a petition to modify or terminate his spousal support obligation on the grounds that he developed a disability and could not perform his job requirements, causing a significant decrease in pay. The court held a hearing after which it determined that the husband failed to prove he had a disability and that his decision not to work was voluntary and would not support a request for a modification. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

The Florida courts typically take great care when developing parenting plans to ensure that any division of custody or timesharing rights is in the best interest of the subject children. As such, if a party wants to alter a parenting plan ordered by a court, they generally must demonstrate that a substantial and continuing change in circumstances has occurred. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant a modification in a custody case. If you share custody of your child, and you or your co-parent want to alter the parenting plan, it is wise to consult a Miami child custody attorney to determine your options.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the parties married in 1995. They had two children before the wife filed a petition for dissolution in 2011. The court first conducted a trial on timesharing and parenting issues and then conducted a trial on remaining matters. During the first trial, the wife offered evidence that the husband was diagnosed as a pedophile. Accordingly, she sought sole parental responsibility and asked that the husband have supervised timesharing.

Reportedly, the husband admitted he was attracted to underage boys but opposed the motion’s parenting plan. Based on the admission and other evidence presented in the case, the court found that it was in the children’s best interest to create a timesharing plan that increased the father’s rights upon completion of certain tasks. The court also created other measures for the safety of the children, including the requirement that the father attend therapy. Continue reading ›

Many people take the practical measure of entering into prenuptial agreements prior to marrying. If their marriage ends in divorce, a party that consented to the terms of a prenuptial agreement cannot then attempt to evade them by arguing that they are vague or that the court lacks a basis for enforcing the provisions of the agreement. Rather, as shown in an opinion recently issued by a Florida court, if a court grants a party spousal support, in part due to the terms of a prenuptial agreement, it can be challenging to show that its decision constitutes an abuse of discretion. If you intend to marry and question whether you should execute a prenuptial agreement, it is smart to talk to a Miami family law attorney as soon as possible.

The Agreement in Question

It is alleged that the parties married in 2009. Shortly before marrying, they entered into a prenuptial agreement. They then separated in 2016, and in 2018 the wife filed a petition for dissolution and asked the court to enforce the prenuptial agreement. The court granted the wife temporary spousal support and post-dissolution spousal support. The husband appealed, arguing in part that the court abused its discretion in ordering him to pay temporary spousal support.

Demonstrating a Court Abused its Discretion in Granting Spousal Support

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling. The court noted that the prenuptial agreement provided that in the event the parties separated and filed a petition for dissolution, the husband was to pay the wife temporary support in the amount of $3,000 per month until the court issued a final judgment of dissolution. Continue reading ›

Generally, when Florida residents are engaged in disagreements over parental rights, they will file a custody action in the county in which they or their co-parent resides. If a Florida court can validly exercise jurisdiction in a custody case and issues an initial custody determination, the court’s jurisdiction will typically continue until the parties move out of the state or the court determines that the parties no longer have a connection to the state. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion issued in a custody matter, the argument that a forum is inconvenient is not a sufficient basis for relinquishing jurisdiction to another state. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is wise to confer with a Miami divorce attorney regarding your rights as soon as possible.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the mother’s and father’s marriage was dissolved via a final judgment issued by a Florida court. The judgment also determined their rights with regard to custody and timesharing of their minor children. The father is a member of the military and is a Florida resident, but he is stationed outside of Florida.

It is reported that after obtaining the court’s permission, the mother moved to Idaho with the children while the dissolution was pending. The final dissolution order confirmed her relocation. The mother then filed a motion in an Idaho court to amend the custody agreement. She also filed a motion with the Florida court that issued the final judgment in the dissolution proceeding to transfer jurisdiction of the custody case to the Idaho court, in which she filed her motion on the grounds that Florida had become an inconvenient forum. The Florida court denied her motion, and she appealed. Continue reading ›