Stephens’ Squibs – May 2015

Alimony:

Gilliard v. Gilliard, 162 So.3d 1147 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015).   Alimony amount remanded when court based award on husband’s gross income, as opposed to net, based upon the husband’s future retirement benefits when those benefits were also treated as marital liability and court failed to impute minimum wage when Wife was able to work full time.

Attorneys’ Fees:

Beckstrom v. Beckstrom, — So.3d –, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D1014 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015).  Award of attorneys’ fees remanded when no findings of fact about husband’s ability to pay or comply with court ordered payment plan.

Sisca v. Sisca, 165 So.3d 689 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015).  Trial court erred awarding former husband $120,000 in fees and costs.  Even though former wife had more net worth than former husband, $1.2 million liquid assets, former husband had three times the former wife’s income.  The former wife lived off her assets so to force her to deplete it would have an effect on her future income.

Discovery: 

Gilroy v. Gilroy, 163 So.3d 674 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015).   Trial court erred in denying continuance when party filed financial affidavit twenty-four hours before hearing which significantly lowered her income.

Enforcement:

Brooks v. Brooks, 164 So.3d 162 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015).   Trial court not required to hold party in contempt for violating order.

Strochak v. Strochak, 166 So.3d 142 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015). Error for court not to order alimony arrears in motion for content when all alimony not paid.

Equitable Distribution:

Williams v. Williams, 163 So.3d 1256 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015).  Trial court did not provide explanation to allow meaningful review of the equalizing payment.

Platt v. Platt, 164 So.3d 138 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015).  Error to charge party with sale of value of guns and jewelry sold during pendency of divorce without a finding of intentional misconduct.

Injunctions:

Plummer v. Forget, 164 So.3d 109 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015).  Injunction for protection against stalking reversed because when examined through “reasonable person” standard, allegations would not cause reasonable person substantial emotional distress.

Robertson v. Robertson, 164 So.3d 87 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015).  Coming to petitioner’s house three nights in a row and shining flashlight inside of house is sufficient to constitute stalking.

Paternity:

Corona v. Harris, 164 So.3d 159 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015).   Trial court failed to use “Richardson” standard in deciding custody dispute between natural parent and third party.

Procedure:

Wyckoff v. Cavanaugh, 164 So.3d 165 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015).   Trial court should be disqualified when he prevents party from cross examining witness.

Gilliard v. Gilliard, 162 So.3d 1147 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015).   Trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter amended judgment on its own initiative more than ten days after the entry of the original final judgment.

Same Sex Marriage:

Brandon-Thomas v. Brandon-Thomas, 163 So.3d 644 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015).  The 2nd DCA reverses the dismissal of same sex divorce.  Neither appellee, nor Attorney General Pam Bondi, suggested any legitimate government interest that would be served by precluding same sex marriage.  If policy is to prevent, eliminate or discourage same sex divorce, then allowing same sex divorce furthers that policy by reducing the number of same sex marriage.  Argument that societal inducement for opposite sex couples to marry, thus decreasing the percentage of children conceived outside a stable long term relationship is not persuasive, as a matter of pure biology, same sex couples cannot accidentally conceive a child.

Relocation:

Brooks v. Brooks, 164 So.3d 162 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015).   Trial court did not err requiring non primary residential parent to file petition for relocation when he moved from Sarasota to Hallandale.

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Eddie Stephens is a partner in Ward Damon located in West Palm Beach, FL. Mr. Stephens was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1997 and is Board Certified in Family and Marital Law.  After starting his career as an attorney for the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office, Stephens has developed a successful family law practice focused on highly disputed divorces. Through hundreds of hearings and dozens of trials, Stephens has honed his practice by making straightforward arguments that bring opposing sides closer together in order to find a successful resolution.

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