Family Law Case Updates – September 2020

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Trachtman v. Trachtman, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2089 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020). Award of alimony that failed to meet wife’s need and left husband with surplus without an explanation reversed. Judge Karen A. Foxman, reversed.

Attorney’s Fees:

Gonzalez v. Reyes, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2050 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Trial court erred in determining “ability” by deducting alimony twice, as well as child support, from husband’s income.  Judge Scott H. Cupp, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Root v. Feinstain, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2022 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Trial court erred denying former wife’s attorney’s fees for misconduct (accessing former husband’s private emails) without quantifying the amount of fees due to purported misconduct.  Judge Fabienne Fahnestock, reversed.


Webb v. Webb, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2051 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Equitable distribution payment is generally subject to 95.11(1)’s twenty (20) year statute of limitation. An agreement that is not merged into the final judgment, but incorporated by reference, may still be enforced as a judgment. When an agreement is merged into a final judgment, the agreement loses the legal effect and is superseded by order. Scott H. Cupp, affirmed


Walker v. Anderson, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2116 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Injunction based solely on text messages that were not authenticated was reversed. Long discussion of authentication of text messages. Judge Michael G. Kaplan, reversed.

Pawley v. Marie, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2040 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). Respondent could not seek to set aside an injunction based on fraud (Petitioner already alleged they lived together when they did not). Respondent waived right to contest facts when he agreed to the injunction and the motion is not filed within one (1) year of injunction. Replaces opinion of 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1521a. Judge Bonnie J. Helms, affirmed.


Murphy v. Collins, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2111 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). Trial court erred rendering order that changed substantial findings after being disqualified. After hearing testimony and evidence and rendered an oral pronouncement, court retains authority to perform ministerial acts of reducing that ruling to written orders, but if order deviates from oral pronouncement, court commits error. Judge Bonnie J. Helms, reversed.

Murphy v. Hutchens, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2085 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020). If a party does not seek exceptions to a report, the appellate review is limited to errors on face of judgment. Judge Elizabeth A. Blackburn, affirmed.

Frank v. Frank, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2041 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). Trial court erred not giving foreign judgment full force and effect and for modifying the amount of equitable reasons not even plead. Judge Bernard S. Shapiro, reversed.

Varchetti v. Varchetti, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2021 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Florida family law rules do not contain any deadline or time limit for raising the issue of inconvenient forum under the UCCJEA. Rule 1.061(g) does not apply to family law proceedings. Judge Cynthia L. Cox, reversed.

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.

Gina Szapucki is an associate at Ward Damon and concentrates her practice exclusively in the areas of marital & family law. Gina quickly realized she had a passion for helping families while clerking for a family law firm. Prior to joining Ward Damon, she practiced marital & family law at a boutique law firm. Her drive to assist and guide families during challenging times continues to grow. Gina represents clients from all walks of life while zealously advocating for individual’s rights under Florida law. Gina is originally from New Jersey but has called Florida home for the last 15 years. She is a proud Chi Omega Alumni and in her spare time enjoys traveling, cycling, exploring new restaurants and cuisines.

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