Family Law Case Updates – March 2017


Van Maerssen v. Gerdts, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D678 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017).  Trial court erred awarding the Wife $6,500 per month in “undifferentiated support” instead of calculating child support and alimony separately.  Failure of court to specify what share is alimony and what share is child support makes it impossible to review on appeal.

Conlin v. Conlin, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D501 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017).  Error for court to base ability on Husband’s gross income as opposed to his net.

Attorneys’ Fees:

Myrick v. Myrick, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D692 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017). Trial court’s award of almost all of Former Husband’s post judgment fees reversed when there were no findings of inequitable conduct and record did not support such an award.

Singer v. Singer, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D508 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017).  Trial court erred pronouncing it will reserve jurisdiction to determine entitlement and then issuing order without reservation.


Bernard v. Bernard, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D672 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017).  Order of civil contempt reversed when Husband spent all the money he was required to withdraw from his 401(k) to satisfy his obligation because at the time of the hearing, he had no ability.

Brown v. Brown, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D484 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017).  Order holding Former Husband in contempt when no finding Former Husband had ability to pay court ordered obligation.

Equitable Distribution:

Harriger v. Rogers, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D687 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017). Trial court erred in failing to categorize six bank accounts as marital or non-marital assets.

Bair v. Bair, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D661 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2017).  Court erred distributing retained earnings when already in business valuation and erred in removing depreciated building from determination of whether Husband’s pre-marital business increased in value.

Pierre v. Jonassaint, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D628 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017).  Court erred by failing to make sufficient findings regarding value and identification of marital assets.


Schafstall v. Schafstall, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D467 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016).  Husband was required to pay mortgage on house until minor child reached 18 and then credited the Husband with the proceeds once the house sold.   Court affirmed for imputing mortgage payment and payment Wife’s mother made to her cell phone as additional imputed income.


McCure v. Beck, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D557 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017).  Trial court erred granting Husband ultimate decision making authority without specifying what areas Husband has authority over.  Giving primary parent unlimited decision making is incompatible with shared parental responsibility.  Giving one parent ultimate authority over specific matters in situations where parties are unable to come to an agreement is allowed.  Final judgment should delineate the specific areas of child’s welfare over which parent shall have ultimate responsibility.


Zarzaur v. Zarzaur, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D698 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017). Detailed discussion of psycho-therapist privilege.

Rebelledo v. Mireya, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D683 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017). Court loses jurisdiction to enter order if both parties dismiss petition and counter petition, and any orders entered after dismissal are void.

Pierre v. Jonassaint, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D628 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017).  Trial Court affirmed for summarily denying motion for relief for fraud.  An evidentiary hearing is not required unless the allegations of fraud are pled with sufficient specificity to raise a colorable claim of entitlement to relief.

Gonzalez v. Hewitt, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D582 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017).  Trial court erred summarily denying motion to set aside final judgment based for excusable neglect without an evidentiary hearing.

Hensen v. Carter-Hensen, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D544 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017).  Trial court erred by not conforming final judgment with oral pronouncements.

Foley v. Foley, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D524 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017). Trial court erred denying modification for support when matter was tried by consent and court erred when it said financial affidavits were not introduced into evidence when they were.

Riddle v. Riddle, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D445 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017).  Order disqualifying attorney because she was a witness in a contempt hearing reversed as too broad.  The attorney can represent the client at other hearings where the attorney is not a witness.

Eddie Stephens, B.C.S.Eddie Stephens is a board certified attorney in Family and Marital Law and a trained Collaborative Law attorney. 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. Stephens is also a popular and engaging motivational speaker and is involved with a number of charitable endeavors. He has been a leader in the Boy Scouts of America for over 10 years, is also involved with Big Dog Ranch Rescue, Palm Beach County’s largest no-kill dog rescue, and most recently graduated from the Leadership Palm Beach County program and served on its Board of Governors. Stephens earned his J.D. at Stetson University College of Law.

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