Family Law Case Updates – January 2020

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Case Law Update

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January Squibs

Edited by Caryn A. Stevens


Thompson v. Melange, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D150 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Order of contempt that does not change custody or restrict timesharing is not an interim order subject to appeal except by certiorari.  In this case, the Court granted relief not requested, so certiorari review was appropriate.

Serna v. Botero, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D95 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Appeal that challenged finding husband had ability to pay was premature when Court reserved on amount.

Attorneys’ Fees:

Office v. Office, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D82 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Order awarding attorneys’ fees based on Rosen, but no findings of need, remanded to determine if there is need or inequitable conduct.

Law Offices of Jennifer S. Carroll, P.A. v. Brennan, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D71 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Trial Court’s denying charging lien affirmed when attorney/appellant failed to challenge any of the substantive reasons for denial in her appellate brief.


Neighbors v. Neighbors, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D199 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Trial Court erred compelling party to pay out-of-network medical expenses for child when agreement required former husband’s approval.

Equitable Distribution:

Sumlin v. Sumlin, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D94 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Equitable distribution reversed when Court failed to consider taxable consequences of Husband’s retirement.


Quinones-Dones v. Mascola, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D201 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Fact that Father sent Mother 38 text messages did not constitute stalking, when Mother blocked Father from minor child’s cell phone.

Hart v. Griffis, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D112 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Fact that former wife contacted state attorney to investigate former husband was not sufficient basis to support stalking injunction.

Stover v. Stover, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D62 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court violated Respondent’s due process by awarding exclusive timesharing to Petitioner when relief was not requested in petition.

Santiago v. Leon, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D48 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Petitioner was a minor, and Respondent (a) got a tattoo of the petitioner’s name tattooed on his body, (b) posted pictures of petitioner on his social media representing petitioner was his son, (c) mailed packages to petitioner, (d) emailed petitioner’s father expressing his love for petitioner, (e) contacted surrogate of petitioner’s parent to obtain information about the petitioner, (f) appeared at petitioner’s house, and (g) appeared at a restaurant Petitioner frequents—all were legally insufficient to support entering an injunction.  Social media posts do not constitute cyberstalking, as they are not directed at a specific person.


Light v. Kirkland, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D150 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  An acrimonious relationship between the parents, or lack of communication alone is not a proper basis to find a substantial change of circumstances to justify a modification of a parenting plan.

Hutchinson v. Hutchinson, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D28 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019).  Trial court reversed for granting modification to parenting plan.  Former Wife allowing additional time, and then asking to go back to original visitation does not constitute the denial of visitation nor a substantial change in circumstances.


Shmidt v. Nipper, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D153 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Motion for relief filed by alleged biological father of a child born into intact marriage was properly denied, even though a guardian ad litem was not appointed in original dissolution.  This would have made judgment voidable not void, and would have to be challenged by rehearing or appeal, not on a motion to set aside.  Alleged biological father’s due process rights were not violated because he participated in original proceedings as a party.


Bigelow v. Ritsema, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D202 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Trial Court loses jurisdiction to amend judgment after rehearing period.

Lunsford v. Engle, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D163 (Fla 4th DCA 2020).  Florida trial Court erred relinquishing jurisdiction of minor child to Oregon, when Florida was home state and grandmother who had temporary custody was not allowed to participate in conference call between Florida and Oregon courts.

Clafin v. Clafin, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D147 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Trial Court affirmed on finding parties were in a valid marriage, even though the Phillipines court found the marriage to be a nullity.  As to comity, under the circumstances, enforcing judgment from the Philippines  would offend public policy.

Bradner v. Bradner, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D24 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019).  Trial Court erred granting summary judgment, concluding party was in a supportive relationship based upon disputed facts.  If the summary judgment evidence raises any issue of material fact,  is conflicting or it permits different reasonable inferences, summary judgment should be denied and issue should proceed as a question for resolution at trial.

Johnson v. Johnson, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D22 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2019).  Trial Court affirmed for transferring domestic violence injunction to county where divorce and other matters were currently being litigated.

Temporary Relief:

Cura v. Cura, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D46 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Temporary relief order awarding retroactive support reversed when no finding of need or actual ability during retroactive period.

One thought on “Family Law Case Updates – January 2020

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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Steven R. Brenners 9600 West Sample Road Suite 406 Coral Springs, FL 33065 954.755.0126 ________________________________

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