Articles Posted in Divorce

For many couples, one spouse is the main earner, while the other mostly looks after the home. When such relationships fail, the courts may decide that the spouse with less means should get alimony. In calculating adequate alimony, the courts will consider a number of variables, including the length of the marriage. While lifelong alimony may be suitable in some scenarios, it is rarely appropriate in short-term marriages. This was established in a recent Florida case where an appellate court overturned a trial court judgment providing permanent alimony to a party because the trial court misapplied the applicable criteria. If you or your spouse want to end your marriage, it’s a good idea to talk to a Florida divorce lawyer about how to preserve your finances.

The Case’s Background

Per the opinion, wife one and wife two were married for three years before separating, according to reports. They lived together for twenty-four years before marrying. Wife two had health problems four years before they planned to marry. Wife one told her that she could stop working and that she would financially support both of them. As a result, when the divorce was finalized, wife two requested alimony. In the end, the trial court awarded wife two perpetual alimony. Wife one filed an appeal, claiming that the court erred in considering the length of the couple’s connection previous to marriage when determining the award.

Florida Laws Regarding Alimony

An alimony award will be upheld by an appellate court if it is supported by adequate evidence. Permanent alimony may be awarded only if the court produces written findings that extraordinary circumstances exist following a short-term marriage, defined as one that lasts less than seven years. Furthermore, if a court awards permanent alimony to a party after a short-term marriage, the ruling must state that no other kind of alimony is reasonable and equitable in the circumstances. Continue reading ›

Money disputes are one of the most common reasons for divorce. As a result, it’s not surprising that in many divorce proceedings, the parties have heated arguments about how assets and property should be disbursed. In order to avoid such conflicts, Florida courts use a three-step approach to determine what constitutes an equitable property allocation. As illustrated in a recent Florida judgment, if the court disregards the procedure and divides property without correctly identifying assets and liabilities, it may be grounds for reversing an equitable distribution award. If you want to dissolve your marriage, you should choose a qualified Florida divorce lawyer attorney to represent you and protect your rights.

The Case’s Background

Reportedly, the husband and wife were in the process of obtaining a divorce. Few other factual details were provided in the court’s opinion, though. It is simply stated that the trial court had given a final decision terminating the marriage. The husband then filed an appeal, claiming that the judgment’s alimony and equitable distribution awards should be overturned. The appellate court agreed, and the trial court’s decision was reversed and the case was returned for additional proceedings.

The Equitable Distribution Process in Florida

Equitable distribution is usually a three-step process in Florida. It specifies the identification of nonmarital and marital assets, the valuation of any assets deemed marital, and the statutory division of marital assets. The husband argued that the trial court erred by neglecting to identify all of the parties’ liabilities and assets and categorize them as marital or nonmarital in the case at hand. The court of appeals concurred. Continue reading ›

Many people have retirement savings accounts that they contribute money to throughout their careers. While retirement plans can only be in one person’s name, income placed in a retirement account during a marriage is generally considered marital property and is subject to equitable distribution absent an agreement to the contrary. A party that waives the right to their former spouse’s retirement benefits via a marital settlement agreement is not then entitled to such benefits merely because of an oversight in the plan document, as discussed in a recent Florida opinion. If you or your spouse intend to seek a divorce, it is prudent to retain a seasoned Florida divorce lawyer to help you protect your assets.

Procedural Background

Reportedly, the parties married in 1988. Throughout the marriage, the husband contributed to a 401k that was governed by ERISA. He designated the wife as his primary beneficiary under the plan and his children as secondary beneficiaries. They divorced in 2017 and entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA) that stated, in part, that each party would receive the benefits from any retirement plan in their name and waived the right to any interest or claims in the other party’s benefits.

It is alleged that the MSA was ratified via the final dissolution of marriage. The husband died two years after the divorce, and his daughter from a prior marriage was named as the personal representative of his estate. Prior to his death, however, he neglected to change the primary beneficiary on his 401k plan. The wife and the daughter both made claims for the plan proceeds, but the plan administrator distributed them to the wife. The daughter filed a motion to enforce the MSA. In response, the wife argued that she did not waive her right to death benefits under the MSA. Following a hearing, a magistrate found in favor of the wife. The estate filed an exception. The trial court sustained the exceptions and ordered the wife to turn over the 401k proceeds. The wife appealed. Continue reading ›

In divorce actions, as in other cases, the court can enter a default judgment against a party that fails to respond to a complaint. While a default judgment may be proper in a straightforward divorce action, it is not suitable in a case involving the custody of a child. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion, in which the appellate court discussed the exercise of personal jurisdiction over absent defendants and the appropriateness of a judgment by default in custody matters. If you or our spouse intend to end your marriage, it is important to understand your rights, and it is in your best interest to meet with a knowledgeable Florida divorce attorney to assess your rights.

The Underlying Action

It is reported that the parties were married in October 2015 and had one child together. They separated in March 2017, and in December 2019, the wife filed a petition for the dissolution of marriage with a minor child. At the time, the wife lived in Key West, the husband lived in Illinois, and the child lived with the husband’s family in Florida. The husband was personally served with the divorce papers by a Sheriff’s deputy in Illinois.

Allegedly, the husband did not enter an appearance or make any effort to contest the divorce. The hearing was then held in February 2020, during which a special magistrate recommended granting the wife’s petition, thereby awarding her sole custody of the child. The court subsequently entered a default judgment, dissolving the marriage and granting the wife sole custody of the child. The husband then appealed. Continue reading ›

While it does not occur frequently, in some cases, a party to a divorce action will pass away during the pendency of the case. In such instances, the courts will typically dismiss the case, as a petition for dissolution of a marriage becomes moot if one party is no longer living. However, the court handles the matter of enforcing a divorce decree differently if one of the former spouses passes away, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you wish to end your marriage, it is advisable to speak to a capable Florida divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife obtained a divorce in 2008. Pursuant to their marital settlement agreement, which was incorporated into the final judgment of dissolution, the wife had the right to remain in the former marital home. The right was granted with the understanding that the wife would assume certain financial obligations that came along with the home. Shortly after the parties divorce, the husband passed away.

Allegedly, the husband’s estate then filed two motions: the first, asking to be substituted as a party in the divorce case, and the second, requesting that the court order the wife to leave the residence. The basis for the second motion was the allegation that the wife failed to uphold the financial obligations imposed by the marital settlement agreement, causing the home to fall into foreclosure. The trial court denied the motions, and the estate appealed. Continue reading ›

Typically, one of the biggest points of contention in divorce matters is what constitutes marital property and how such property should be divided. While courts have the discretion to divide assets in a fair and equitable manner, they must engage in certain steps prior to doing so; otherwise, their judgments may be subject to reversal. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, in a divorce case in which the appellate court reversed the trial’s final ruling with regard to equitable distribution due to the court’s failure to make specific findings of fact regarding the assets. If you are in contemplating ending your marriage, it is advisable to consult a skillful Florida divorce attorney to assist you in seeking a fair dissolution.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife decided to end their marriage, and the wife filed for divorce. The couple had substantial assets, and the proceeding regarding the dissolution of the marriage lasted eight days. At the end of the trial, the court dissolved the marriage and developed an equitable distribution scheme, but failed to identify, value, and distribute the bulk of the parties’ liabilities and assets. The husband appealed.

Requirements in Fashioning an Equitable Distribution

Under Florida law, a court developing an equitable resolution of marital assets must make specific factual findings identifying the parties’ assets and liabilities and their classification and value. A final judgment issued absent such findings must be reversed. Thus, the court reversed the trial court judgment with regard to equitable distribution. Continue reading ›

Typically, when people decide to end their marriage, the court will be tasked with resolving issues such as the division of property and whether either party is entitled to alimony or child support. If the court rules incorrectly or relies upon inaccurate evidence, though, either party can appeal the court’s findings. The grounds for seeking and obtaining a reversal of a trial court ruling in a divorce action was the topic of a recent opinion in a Florida matter. If you wish to end your marriage, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Florida divorce attorney to discuss your rights.

The Trial Court’s Ruling

Allegedly, the parties sought to end their marriage via divorce. After the court issued a final judgment dissolving the marriage, the husband appealed, and the wife cross-appealed. Specifically, the husband took issue with the equitable distribution, among other things, and the wife objected to the child support award. Upon review, the court reversed the trial court ruling and remanded the matter for further proceedings.

Reversal of Orders in Divorce Matters

Initially, the husband challenged the equitable distribution issued by the trial court. The appellate court explained that a trial court’s distribution of marital liabilities and assets is assessed under the abuse of discretion standard. Further, the final division of marital assets has to be supported by factual findings that are based on substantial competent evidence.

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Divorce cases are often contentious, with a primary source of disagreement, usually being how assets and liabilities should be divided. While typically, court intervention is required to resolve such matters, couples are free to come to an agreement independently. In many instances, such agreements will be developed during the course of proceedings and will be presented to the court for approval before they have been reduced to writing. Oral agreements may be enforced but only under certain circumstances, as illustrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you are considering filing for divorce, it is in your best interest to speak to a capable Florida divorce attorney to determine what actions you can take to protect your interests.

The Divorce Proceedings

It is reported that the husband and the wife were engaged in divorce proceedings. The wife filed a motion for temporary relief, and during the hearing on the matter, her attorney requested a brief recess, indicating that the parties had been discussing the possibility of entering into a global settlement agreement. Approximately one hour later, the parties returned and indicated a settlement had been reached.

Allegedly, a few of the terms of the agreement were read into the record while other issues were negotiated before the court. The court spoke to each party independently, asking if they agreed to the terms of the settlement as discussed and whether their agreement was voluntary. The wife later filed a motion to enforce the oral settlement agreement, while the husband filed a motion to set it aside. The court granted the wife’s motion and denied the husband’s, after which the husband appealed.

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While many people think of women as being the primary caretakers for children, it is not uncommon for a married couple to agree that the husband should remain at home to care for the couple’s children while the wife earns an income. As such, if a marriage in which the husband doesn’t work ends, the husband may seek alimony from the wife. In a recent Florida divorce case, the court discussed when alimony is appropriate and what factors should be considered in determining whether it should be granted. If you or your spouse intend to file for a divorce, it is prudent to meet with a trusted Florida family law attorney to determine how the dissolution of your marriage may impact you financially.

Factual and Procedural History

It is alleged that the husband and the wife married in 2006, after which they had two children. The couple agreed that the husband would stay at home to care for the children, and he did not work from 2011 to 2017. When he returned to the workforce, he got a job in retail, earning approximately $1,400.00 per month. The wife worked as an auditor, earning about $9,000.00 a month, and received annual payments from a family trust fund.

Reportedly, in 2017, the wife filed a petition for divorce, and the husband filed a counter-petition in which he sought alimony. In the final judgment issued in 2018, the court granted the husband $2,000.00 per month in alimony for sixty months and directed the wife to pay child support to the husband. The wife appealed, arguing that the trial court committed an error in awarding the husband durational alimony.

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It is not uncommon in divorce actions for the parties to develop a marital settlement agreement, which is essentially a contract that sets forth their rights and obligations, or for the court to incorporate the agreement into the final judgment that dissolves the marriage. If a party refuses to comply with the terms of a marital settlement agreement, however, a dispute may arise as to whether an action to enforce the agreement is subject to the statute of limitations that applies to contracts or the one that applies to judgments. Recently, a Florida court addressed this issue in a case in which the wife waited almost twenty years to file a motion to enforce a divorce judgment. If your spouse refuses to comply with the terms of your marital settlement agreement, it is advisable to contact a seasoned Florida family law attorney to assess your rights and your options for seeking enforcement.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the husband and the wife entered into a marital settlement agreement in 1997. The agreement divided their marital property, business assets, and debts, and dictated that the husband was to pay the wife close to half a million dollars, either in a lump sum or in five principal payments, plus interest, which were due each year beginning in 2001. The agreement was incorporated into the final judgment dissolving the marriage, which was issued in April 1997.

It is reported that the husband failed to make any payments as required under the agreement, however. Then, in 2017, one day shy of the twentieth anniversary of the entry of the divorce judgment, the wife filed a motion to enforce the judgment. The court granted the motion and ordered the husband to pay close to one million dollars to the wife based on the amount of principal payments plus accrued interest. The husband appealed, arguing that the wife’s motion was barred by the statute of limitations.

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