Family Law Case Updates – February 2020

Edited by Caryn A. Stevens


Williams v. Jones, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D212 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Trial court affirmed for awarding permanent alimony in marriage that lasted 16 years and 11 months.


Smith v. Cooper, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D411 (Fla. 5th  DCA 2020).  Any meritorious arguments not raised in initial brief are waived/abandoned.

Muszynski v. Muszynski, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D365 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Order on contempt cautioning husband that the court will impose sanctions was not an appealable order because the court did not actually impose sanctions.

Attorney’s Fees:

Schurr v. Silverio & Hall, PA, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D367 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  When requirements of 57.105 are met and no exception, applies the court shall award attorney’s fees.

Stewart v. Stewart, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D255 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Award of appellate attorney’s fees remanded when no findings made of recipient’s need, or relative financial position.


Carter v. Carter, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D366 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Order requiring $6,000 purge based on court’s erroneous belief party had motorcycle with $6,000 equity reversed, when record demonstrated motorcycle was encumbered and had no equity.


Marenco v. Stuczynski, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D301 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred failing to include in party’s gross income, the losses incurred based on ownership of townhouse she purchased before the marriage, and had been renting.

Haupt v. Haupt, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D212 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Trial court erred failing to include husband’s bonus in determination of his income for support.  Even though amount has varied, husband received a bonus for past three years.


Patin v. Davis, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D373 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Injunction for stalking reversed where evidence that was admitted was legally insufficient, as court’s order was based on cell phone videos the court viewed during the hearing, but such videos were not admitted into evidence, nor part of the record.

JAF v. AJR, Jr. , 45 Fla.L.Weekly D367 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Mother’s new boyfriend spanking child with Mother’s permission, and no injury was incurred by child, was insufficient to obtain injunction against repeat violence.

Sinopoli v. Clark, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D296 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Fact that respondent “annihilated” plants on his property, would stare at petitioner from his balcony, and installed a light that illuminated petitioner’s yard, was not sufficient to establish severe emotional distress needed for a stalking injunction.


Kyle v. Carter, Jr., 45 Fla.L.Weekly D375 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Petition for modification that does not allege substantial change of circumstances is legally insufficient on its face.


Ezra v. Ezra, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D262 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Father’s actions that both passively and overtly hindered the mother’s arduous attempts to foster the happiness, mental health, academic prowess and overall stability of children, was legally sufficient to support modification giving Wife sole parental responsibility.


Lane-Hepburn v. Hepburn, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D243 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Where a divorcing couple has a minor child(ren), a court cannot enter a default final judgment without allowing the defaulting parent an opportunity to present evidence on the issue.


Clark v. Meizlik, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D214 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Provision in parenting plan providing “any additional relocation of child outside of Vero Beach or St. Augustine must be sought in compliance with 61.13001” was reversed.  Under 61.13001(1)(e), parent only needs to seek relocation if they plan on moving child 50 miles away from current residence.


Eddie Stephens is a partner at Ward Damon and leads the Family and Marital Law department.  He is a Board Certified Family Law attorney who specializes in high-conflict divorces. Most important to Stephens is litigating in a manner that minimizes the impact of divorce on children.

Caryn A. Stevens is a Partner at the law firm of Ward Damon in West Palm Beach, where she focuses her practice exclusively in the areas of marital and family law. Prior to practicing law,   Caryn spent over 12 years working in the mental health and counseling fields, as a mental health counselor in private practice, as a counselor for the Department of Children & Families, and later as an Elementary School Guidance Counselor. Caryn is a graduate of Florida State University, where she earned her Bachelors degree in Psychology, and her Masters and Specialist Degrees in Counseling & Human Services. Caryn received her Juris Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University, and received pro bono honors for her volunteer legal work. In her prior work as a mental health counselor, Caryn has had the unique opportunity to assist thousands of children, families and couples through difficult life circumstances, which allow her to bring a unique and compassionate perspective to the clients she represents currently. Caryn is a current member of the Florida Bar Family Law Section, where she serves on the Children’s Issues Committee and the Domestic Violence Committee. Caryn also serves as the Treasurer of the Susan Greenberg Family Law Inn of Court of the Palm Beaches, and is a graduate of the Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2019. Caryn is a native South Floridian, and currently lives in Palm Beach County with her Husband, and their adorable Mini Aussie.

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