Family Law Case Updates – September 2019

Edited by Caryn Stevens, Esquire.  Thanks to John Albert, Esquire for additional assistance!


Johnston v. Johnston, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2203 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019). Judgment that awards entitlement, but not amount of attorney’s fees, is not ripe for appeal.

Attorney Fees:

Quigley v. Culbertson, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2341 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019). Default fee provision in MSA did not prevent husband from obtaining fees per F.S. §61.16 in post judgment proceedings

Fleming v. Fleming, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2216 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019). Trial court erred reducing attorneys’ fees request from $360k to 200k based on expert’s conclusory testimony that this matter should not cost more than 200k. A trial court may reduce fee request if it determines it is excessive, so long as court makes requisite findings to make that determination.

Equitable Distribution:

Erdman v. Erdman, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2299 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019). Trial court reversed for classifying $80k deposit on jointly-titled marital residence as non-marital. All real property held by the parties as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired prior to or during marriage, shall be presumed to be a marital asset.

Hardy v. Hardy, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2256 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019). Trial court acted within its discretion, to protect wife’s rights to meaningful relief, by rejecting magistrates report and awarding all marital assets to wife when alcoholic husband hasn’t supported family in a year and burned down marital residence.


Mikhail v. Mikhail, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2387 (Fla. 2D DCA 2019). Trial court erred by not deducting certain business expenses in determining wife’s income.


Stone v. Germann, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2192 (Fla. 3D DCA 2019). If Respondent is properly served and fails to appear at initial domestic violence hearing, any subsequent motions may be served by mail. F.S.741.30(8)(a)(3).

Curl v. Roberts, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2235 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019). Trial court abused discretion entering injunction protecting children from maternal grandmother, based on allegations grandmother beat children’s mother when children’s mother was a child. Not legally sufficient to demonstrate imminent fear of being a victim of domestic violence.


Thomas v. Joseph, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2335 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019). Order modifying timesharing over child because Mother was not actually the biological mother, was error. Original final judgment gave the Mother parenting responsibility, regardless of whether she was biological mother or not. Res judicata applies to judgment. To modify, party must still show substantial change of circumstances.


Cappola v. Cappola, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2201 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019). Trial court discretion by enforcing private agreement concerning parenting without considering child’s best interest. The court’s comment that it was “her job to uphold contracts and uphold the law” failed to uphold law because court is required to independently determine if agreements made between the parties are in their child’s best interests.


Becker v. Becker, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2347 (Fla. 3D DCA 2019). The fact that a party’s  attorney previously represented the judge was legally sufficient to support disqualification.


Bock v. Vilma, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2277 (Fla. 3D DCA 2019). Former Wife moving to Baltimore with minor child did not cause Florida, which issued final judgment, to lose jurisdiction. The UCCJEA does not operate to divest a court of continuing jurisdiction unless virtually all contacts have been lost with forum state.

Awad v. Noufal, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2310 (Fla. 2D DCA 2019). Trial correct was correct determining Florida was child’s home state but erred by not contacting Massachusetts court upon learning a temporary parenting order had been entered in accordance with FS.61.514.

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