Stephens’ Squibs – July 2020

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July Florida Family Law Case Summaries

Edited by Caryn A. Stevens, Esquire

Alimony:

Pricher v. Pricher, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1707 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Error to award Wife permanent alimony in 10-year marriage.  In this case, an award of permanent alimony was improper where evidence does not reflect permanent inability for spouse to become self-sufficient.  Judge George B. Turner affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Baron v. Baron, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1705 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Error, even without transcript, to award Wife 12-month durational alimony in long-term marriage, as judgment contained no findings to rebut presumption of permanent alimony.  Judge Darren K. Jackson reversed.

Giles v. Giles, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1658 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court affirmed for finding 16-year, 11-month marriage to be moderate term, but reversed for awarding rehabilitative and durational alimony without competent and substantial evidence.  Attorney’s remarks do not constitute evidence.  Judge Chet A. Tharpe affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Agreements:

Stephanos v. Stephanos, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1515 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Trial court erred when it concluded the executory provisions of a postnuptial agreement were rendered void due to reconciliation of the parties and the agreement did not contain a “reconciliation clause.”  That would only apply to agreements contemplating divorce, not postnuptial agreements where divorce is not contemplated.  Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer reversed.

Appeals:

Albra v. Szendy, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1741 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Appellate Court cannot determine if Court erred granting domestic violence injunction when no transcript provided.  Judge Michael G. Kaplan affirmed.

Stivelman v. Stivelman, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1624 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Writ of certiorari filed on orders granting third party’s motion for protection dismissed when Petitioner could not prove irreparable harm. Judge Ivonne Cuesta.

Pawley v. Marie, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1521 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Appellate court cannot conduct meaningful review of hearing on motion to dissolve injunction without transcript.  Judge Bonnie J. Helms affirmed.

Attorneys’ Fees:

Levy v. Levy, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1681 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred not awarding former wife fees when she successfully defended former husband’s motion, and their marital settlement agreement contained a prevailing party clause.  Judge George A Sarduy affirmed in part, reversed in part.

J.A.L. v. R.M.A., 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1633 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Order on fees allowing husband 12 years to pay is unreasonable.  Judge Susan St. John affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Tutt v. Hudson, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1498 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred not awarding all of Husband’s fees when he had need and wife had ability, based on finding Husband was “contentious” in the litigation  If a court is going to sanction a party for bad faith litigation, appropriate findings are needed.  Judge Ralph C. Stoddard affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Enforcement:

Sosa v. Portilla, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1765 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred denying party’s motion to return passports when they were being held by contempt order without a purge provision.  Civil contempt is coercive and must give party opportunity to cure contempt.  Judge Migna Sanchez-Llorens reversed.

Foreman v. James, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1681 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Writ of certiorari granted and order of contempt and fees quashed when underlying order on which contempt was based was reversed.  Judge Scott M. Bernstein’s orders quashed.

Ziegler v. Ziegler, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1644 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Trial court affirmed for denying claim of head of household on garnishment, but erred awarding fees per 57.115 which does not apply to garnishment actions.  Judge Diana Michelle Tennis affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Equitable Distribution:

Giles v. Giles, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1658 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred valuing marital residence by averaging parties’ values.  Judge Chet A. Tharpe affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Evidence:

Jackson v. Household Finance Corporation, III, 45 Fla.L.Weekly S205 (Fla. 2020).  Foreclosure case where Supreme Court provides detailed analysis of predicate for business records exception to hearsay rule.

Income:

Jorgensen v. Tagarelli, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1599 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Trial court erred imputing income relying on former wife’s past earnings.  Court also erred allowing Husband’s equalizing payment to be treated as a business expense which reduced his income.  Judge Don Barbee, Jr. affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Tutt v. Hudson, 45 Fla.L.Weekly 1498 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred imputing $125,000 to Husband based on Husband’s testimony he thought he could make $500 a day driving a limo.  Former Husband never earned more than $60,000/year and Wife failed to establish any circumstances that would allow Court to impute more.  Judge Ralph C. Stoddard affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Injunctions:

D.S. v. A.L.H., 45 Fla.L.Weekle D1644 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Trial court erred not affording respondent full evidentiary hearing on domestic violence petition.  Judge Charles J. Roberts reversed.

Washington v. Brown, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1627 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Respondent communicating with ex-wife’s boyfriend about his children when ex-wife blocked him, was not sufficient for stalking injunction as the communication served a legitimate purpose. Judge Richard A. Weis reversed.

Cook v. McMillan, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1611 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Injunction against dating violence reversed when no evidence of  possibility of future harm presented.  Judge Stefanie C. Moon reversed.

J.G.G. v. M.S., 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1601 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Trial court erred allowing petitioner to testify about acts of violence not included in original petition which denied Respondent due process.  Judge Alice Blackwell reversed.

Barber v. Ghenassia, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1544 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Trial court erred denying a motion to extend injunction for lack of jurisdiction when motion was filed before injunction expired.  Judge Alicia L. Latimore reversed.

Holton v. Holton, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1543 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Domestic violence injunction entered based on cyberstalking because Wife made derogatory social media posts, such injunction prohibited Wife from making further derogatory posts or videos of the Husband for one year was reversed, as it was overbroad.  An injunction should never be broader than is necessary to secure injured party relief warranted by circumstances.  Judge Eric C. Robertson reversed.

Logue v. Book, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1500 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Substitutes original opinion at 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2083b.  Stalking injunction protecting state senator against the co-founder of an organization for the anti-registry for sexual offenders.  The Respondent 1) appeared at a protest with Petitioner present, 2) appeared at a movie screening and got into a heated exchange with Petitioner in a Q&A, and 3) made social medial posts about Respondent, were insufficient to support entry of injunction.  Judge Michael G. Kaplan reversed.

Life Insurance:

Pricher v. Pricher, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1707 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020). Error to award security for alimony without evidence of special circumstances or availability and cost.  Judge George B. Turner affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Modification:

Chevalier v. Emmerson, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1687 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Trial court erred granting one parent 100% timesharing with child as a result of a contempt hearing, absent an emergency, while modification was pending..  Judge Jessica Ticktin reversed.

Coriat v. Coriat, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1620 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred modifying child support retroactively to date before petition was filed, when party exercised all visitation.  Judge Samantha Ruiz Cohen affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Procedure:

Murphy v. Collins, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1775 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Fact that Judge said she is tired of an attorney and instructed staff not to accommodate attorney’s scheduling requests, was legally sufficient to disqualify judge.  Judge Bonnie Helms disqualified by writ of prohibition.

Rudnick v. Harman, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1748 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Trial court erred finding former husband waived mediation requirement by his conduct simply based on attorney’s representations at a UMC hearing.  Order quashed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing.  Judge Renatha S. Francis’ order quashed.

Romero v. Brabham, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1746 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Error to summarily deny colorable motion to vacate without a hearing.  Judge Sarah Willis reversed.

Albra v. Szendy, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1741 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Adverse ruling alone is not legally sufficient reason to disqualify a Judge.  Judge Michael G. Kaplan affirmed.

Valsaint v. Alphonse, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1683 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Trial court affirmed for denying motion to continue hearing, and granting motion to dismiss disestablishment of paternity action, for failing to effectuate service.  Judge Arthur L. Rothenberg affirmed.

Mezel v. Tzynder, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1683 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred ruling on Father’s modification which was not noticed for hearing.  Mother’s due process violated.  Judge Maria Elena Verde reversed.

Bouchard v. Bouchard, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1642 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Writ of certiorari appropriate when Court disqualified Guardian ad Litem due to fee dispute with one of the parties.  Judge Lauralee G. Westine’s order quashed.

Wiendl v. Wiendl, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1643 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred summarily denying motion to vacate Magistrate’s support order without a hearing.  Judge Lawrence Lefler reversed.

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms, Forms 12.948(a)-(e), 45 Fla.L.Weekly S215 (Fla. 2020).  Florida Supreme Court refuses to add “Space Force” to the list of uniformed services, and to expand definition of deployment.

Support:

Skelly v. Skelly, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D1650 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Trial court affirmed for finding wife had standing to seek to extended child support for child who is “dependent,” filed before child’s 18th birthday.  Court erred by failing to base support on net incomes and crediting husband with payments made.  Judge Michael J. Rudisill affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Williams v. Bossicot, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1612 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Court erred by not applying substantial parenting adjustment to child support calculation, when party has more than 20% overnights.  Judge Scott I. Suskauer affirmed in part, reversed in part.


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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