Florida Court Reverses Equitable Distribution and Child Support Order

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.

In the subject case, the husband argued that the division of assets inaccurately included a car the wife no longer owned. The wife agreed that the trial court erred, and therefore the appellate court reversed the trial court’s equitable distribution order and remanded the matter for recalculation. Further, the husband argued that the trial court failed to consider the debt associated with his car by declining to grant weight to an affidavit submitted by the husband.

The appellate court found this was improper, as a party’s financial affidavit can constitute accurate evidence of its value if the party owns the asset. The husband objected to the trial court’s valuation of his bank accounts and the requirement that he maintain life insurance as well, and the appellate court agreed with him, remanding the matters to the trial court.

The appellate court then addressed the wife’s challenges regarding the award of child support that was based on equal timesharing, which the wife argued was unsupported by the evidence. The appellate court agreed, finding that an award of support must be based on substantial and competent evidence. The appellate court further explained that the use of an inaccurate overnight figure affects the support obligation, as it is based on the percentage of overnights each parent has with the child. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s order regarding child support as well.

Meet with a Seasoned Florida Attorney

Courts have broad discretion in divorce matters, but if they rule improperly, their rulings can be appealed. If you wish to seek a divorce, it is advisable to meet with an attorney regarding your rights. The seasoned Florida attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are mindful of the sensitive nature of divorce matters, and we will work to help you seek a fair and efficient resolution. You can reach us at 800-283-7442 or through the online form.

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