Stephens’ Squibs – October 2016

Alimony:

Berger v. Berger, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2326 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).  Denial of permanent alimony in 18 year marriage reversed.  There is a presumption of permanent alimony in long term marriage and court failed to provide any findings to rebut presumption.

Clemens v. Clemens, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2240 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).  Trial court erred denying alimony based on wife’s current needs where she was renting a room from a friend.  Permanent alimony is used to provide for the needs and necessities of life for a former spouse as they were established during the marriage.

Appeals:

Wilkinson v. Wilkinson, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2338 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).  Former Wife’s cross appeal dismissed as it was not filed within 10 days of notice of appeal being filed, 30 days of final judgment, nor was a motion for additional time filed.

Attorneys’ Fees:

Guerra v. Guerra, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D229 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016).  Trial court erred in characterizing attorneys’ fees and costs as an expense that is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.  While this may be the case, prospective determination purporting to decide whether support obligations will be dischargeable in bankruptcy are improper.

Equitable Distribution:

Ter Keurst v. Ter Keurst, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2346 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016).  Trial court erred granting special equity in marital home because Wife paid down payment with her non marital assets as concept of “special equity” has been abolished by statute.

Wilkinson v. Wilkinson, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2338 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).  Equitable distribution reversed to correct mathematical errors and inconsistences with oral pronouncements.

Imputation of Income:

Saucier v. Nowak, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2339 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).  Trial court erred imputing minimal wage income to Wife which conflicted with Court’s oral pronouncements he would impute more and evidence that Wife could work as full time phlebotomist.

Modification:

Bloom v. Panchyshyn, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2261 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).  Trial court had jurisdiction to modify support on action filed after child’s 18th birthday but before high school graduation when there was a reasonable expectation child would graduate by age 19.

Korkmaz v. Korkmaz, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2250 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).  Parents acrimonious relationship and lack of effective communication do not meet extraordinary burden required to warrant modification.

Parenting:

Koch v. Koch, 40 Fla.L.Weekly D2197 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).  Trial court affirmed for prohibiting Father from “discussing ANY religious matters with children” because there was a clear, affirmative showing that the religious activities at issue were harmful to children.  Normally, restrictions against parent’s right to expose children to their religious beliefs unless there is a clear affirmative showing that religious activity at issue is harmful to child.

Paternity:

Sheridan c. Rennhack, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2246 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).  Summary judgment should not have been granted in paternity disestablishment case when there was a disputed fact concerning newly discovered evidence.

Procedure:

Clafin v. Clafin v. MSP Recovery Services, LLC, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2239 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2016).  Intervening party did not have right to pursue case after underlying case voluntarily dismissed because the rights of an intervenor are conditional in that they exist only so long as litigation continues between the parties.

Support:

Lupola v. Lupola, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2249 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).  Trial court erred dividing uncovered medical 50/50 which contradicted parties relative financial responsibility for child.  Medical expenses should be same percent as child support allocation unless there is some logically established rationale in the final judgment to the contrary.

UCCJEA:

Baker v Tunney, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D2383 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).  Trial court erred finding Florida was not home state for child that was two weeks old and  born in Florida, then removed to NY by mother.  Both parties filed the following day, Father in Florida, Mother in New York.  See 61.514(1)(a).

 

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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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