Family Law Case Updates – June 2020



Stephens’ Squibs Monthly CLE Update becomes available August 15th! Annual Subscription of 13 hours of monthly CLE for $500.  Click here for more information on the CLE series which launches August 15, 2020. Each annual registration will come with a physical copy of Stephens’ Squibs 2021 Edition (available January 2021).

Our August 15th CLE will include co-hosts R.T. (Ralph) White and Caryn A. Stevens!  It will also include special guests!!!!!   And not to give too much away, but we will be also be giving monthly “Board Cert Squib Tips” for those interested in becoming Board Certified in Marital & Family Law.

Our first Board Cert Squib Tip will be hosted by Family Law Legends TERRY FOGEL and SCOTT RUBIN.

“This CLE series will be well worth the money and way ahead of any other CLE out there.  You have my word!”-Eddie Stephens

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Please Note: Eddie Stephens nor any of the speakers involved with the presentation receive any compensation whatsoever. They are doing this simply to provide a service to advance the profession. All revenues generated benefit the Center for Child Counseling, Inc. a 501©(3). 

For more information on Center for Child Counseling’s mission to support vulnerable children and families, click here.

June Florida Family Law Case Updates:

Edited by Caryn A. Stevens, Esquire


Burns v. Houk, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1368 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Appeal seeking review of order granting entitlement, but not amount of fees, dismissed as premature. Judge George Paulk affirmed in part.

Equitable Distribution:

Bailor v. Bailor, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1409 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Trial court reversed for distributing proceeds of sale of house before final hearing.  Judge Cynthia L. Cox affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Jackson v. Blazer, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1330 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Court erred classifying vehicles owned before marriage, and those acquired after date of filing.  Judge Marion L. Fleming affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Gerville-Reache v. Gerville-Reache, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1425 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Trial Court affirmed for imputing income to Husband who abandoned former career in logistics to build a real estate career.  The decision to pursue his own interests constituted voluntary underemployment. Judge W. Gregg McCaulie affirmed.


Price v. Taylor, 45 Fla.L.Weekly 1412 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Generally, a movant cannot obtain modification or dissolution of a domestic violence injunction based on a challenge to its initial procurement.  This is based on the reasoning that such challenges should have been made at the contested hearing before the injunction was entered, or in a direct appeal of the order granting the injunction.  This reasoning does not apply when the initial injunction was entered ex-parte.  Judge Fabienne Fahnestock reversed.

Brungart v. Pullen, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1328 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Injunction against domestic violence reversed when it was based on one violent incident when parties were dating, and now that parties are not dating, there is no imminent risk.  Judge Diana Moreland reversed.

Alobaid v. Khan, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1278 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Domestic violence injunction affirmed.  Respondent’s argument that Court lacked personal jurisdiction when respondent was personally served in Florida and F.S. 48.193(1)(a)(2) provides non-residents subject themselves to personal jurisdiction by committing a tortious act in Florida.  Judge Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts affirmed.

Craft v. Fuller, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1272 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Cyberstalking injunction reversed because: 1) threat was not directed at a specific person; 2) no evidence of substantial emotional distress; and 3) respondent had legitimate purpose for tweet.  Judge Christopher LaBruzzo reversed.

Mills v. Riley, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1229 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Stalking injunction reversed when record contained no evidence of substantial emotional distress.  Judge Eric C. Roberson reversed.


Frye v. Cuomo, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1358 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Due to Former Husband’s demonstrated history of alcohol abuse and relapse, it as within Court’s discretion to require Former Husband to abstain from alcohol and submit to BAC testing.  But because former husband’s timesharing was contingent on test results, it was error to make Former Husband fully financially responsible for cost of testing.  Judge Arthur M. Birken affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Seiwert v. Seiwert, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1483 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Challenging the ruling made by a magistrate, and suggestion those rulings show a bias is legally insufficient to disqualify.  Judge Charles J. Roberts affirmed.

Ricketts v. Ricketts, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1479 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Requesting custody, timesharing or parental responsibility does not place a party’s  mental health at issue.  The mere allegations of mental or emotional instability are insufficient to place the custodial parent’s mental health at issue so as to overcome privilege.  Judge Sharon M. Franklin’s discovery order quashed.

Marwan v. Sahmoud, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1461 (Fla 3rd DCA 2020).  Petition for writ of prohibition for denying motion to disqualify trial judge granted.  Record supports argument the Former Husband has a reasonable fear he would not receive a fair trial based on the nature and extensive questioning of the Former Husband by the court, after both sides rested.  The fact that a judge asks a disproportionally higher amount of questions of a witness on an issue than  the parties do could suggest biased and active participation by the court.

Johnson v. Johnson, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1441 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). In First DCA, party waives issue on appeal if they fail to bring fact Court did not make a required finding of fact by rehearing. In First DCA, sufficiency of findings can be raised for the first time on appeal. Judge Lance M. Day reversed.

Pares v. Soriano, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1396 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Trial court abused discretion by denying request for continuance and disregarding allegations made in good faith, coupled with unrebutted testimony.   Florida courts have held that it is reversible error to refuse to grant continuance where party or attorney are unavailable for physical or mental reasons which prevent fair and adequate presentation of the party’s case.  Judge George A. Sarduy reversed.

Singer v. Singer, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1342 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred not allowing Wife to reopen evidence when she was imputed $20,000 in gift income from her Father and boyfriend, who both died right after the final hearing. Judge Amy M. Williams affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Same Sex Marriages:

McGovern v. Clark, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1434 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Trial court has subject matter jurisdiction over children of same sex marriage born before the parties’ marriage. F.S. 742.091 provides “If the mother of any child born out of wedlock and the reputed Father shall at any time after its birth intermarry, the child shall in all respects be held to be the child of the Husband and Wife, as though born in wedlock.” Remanded for Trial court to decide whether biology aside, Ms. McGovern met the requirements of F.S. 742.091. Judge Alan S. Apte reversed and remanded.

Eddie Stephensauthor of Stephens’ Squibs – Florida Family Law Updates, 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, editor of Stephens’ Squibs – Florida Family Law Updates, 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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