Family Law Case Updates – February 2016


Dennis v. Dennis, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D357 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).  Judgment modifying alimony remanded for explanation for determination of Wife’s needs.  It is not readily apparent and trial court offered no explanation or findings of fact.


Salituri v. Salituri, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D405 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).  So many errors, judgment reversed and parties must start from scratch.  Trial court awarded sole parental responsibility over extracurricular, education and health decisions, when only extracurriculars were requested in pleadings.   Court ordered partition when not requested.  Court abrogated fact finding to counsel.  So many other errors….

Brennan v, Brennan, 41 Fla.L.Weekly (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).  A trial court lacks discretionary authority to go beyond the scope of relief granted by appellate court, and is not authorized to deviate from the terms of an appellate court’s instruction.  A reversal and remand with general directions for further proceedings vests the trial court with broad discretion in directing the course of the cause.  Where remand instruction is specific, it is improper to exceed the bounds of that instruction.


Bryan v. Jemal, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D343 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016).  Trial court erred requiring payment of prospective alimony as condition of a purge.  A contempt order that operates prospectively, by ordering the automatic issuance of a committal order in the event of future non-compliance without requiring an additional hearing, violates due process and is improper.

Equitable Distribution:

Witt-Bahls v. Bahls, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D307 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).  Enhanced value of premarital stock from a company for which owning spouse works can be considered a marital asset subject to equitable distribution.  It can also be a non marital asset if marital effort or assets are not used in enhancing its value.  In this case, husband was not in a position of significant authority within the company.  Although he had some supervisory responsibility, the most reasonable description would be middle manager.  Finding of no marital enhancement affirmed.  Contrast to Robbie v. Robbie, 654 So.2d 616 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995).

Exclusive Use and Possession:

Jones v. Jones, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D284 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).  Judgment awarding Wife exclusive use and possession and requiring residence to be sold if wife cannot refinance reversed as it failed to address each party’s financial responsibility of house pending sale/refinance and what would happen if Wife unable to refinance.


Manfre v. Manfre, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D360 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).  Trial court erred in failing to impute income to Wife because she no longer wish to work 12 hour shifts in hospital as a nurse.  Wife had no conditions preventing her from work.  Similar to Green v. Green, 126 So.3d 1112 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).


Leaphart v. James, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D377 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016).  Fact petitioner’s tires were flattened, house got “shot up”, car got vandalized, car was set on fire, after petitioner ended romantic relationship with respondent at the same time as these incidents with no direct proof Respondent was involved was insufficient to support entry of injunction against domestic violence.  Fact respondent split petitioner’s lip 18 months ago was insufficient.  Respondent’s due process violated with it denied counsel’s request for continuance due to a conflict and required respondent to proceed without an attorney.


Loebs v. Loebs, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D446 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016).  Provision providing “if a child does not desire to attend an extracurricular activity, he shall not be required to do so” stricken as it violates shared parental responsibility and improperly delegates decision making authority to child.

Witt-Bahls v. Bahls, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D307 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).  The failure to set forth any specific requirements or standards for the elimination of timesharing restrictions is error.  This applies to both prevention of visitation and restrictions.  The court must give the parent a key to reconnecting with his or her children.  An order that does not set forth the specific steps a parent must take to re-establish timesharing, thus depriving the parent of the key, is deficient.

Tzynder v. Edelsburg, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D277 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2016).  Judgments that restrict timesharing to supervised must identify steps for parent to reestablish timesharing.


Wortman v. Wortman, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D456 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).  Trial court erred not granting reconsideration when attorney wen to wrong courthouse, missed hearing but promptly notified Judges chambers.  Mistakes happen.


Eddie Stephens is a partner at Ward Damon who is Board Certified in Family and Marital Law and has developed a successful family law practice focused on highly disputed divorces. Most importantly to Stephens is litigating in a manner that minimizes the impact of divorce on children.  If you need help with marital or family matters, you may reach Eddie at



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