Family Law Case Updates – October 2020

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Editor: Caryn A.Stevens

Associate Editor: Gina Szapucki


Thomas v. Thomas, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2311 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Trial court erred enforcing settlement agreement. Acceptance to offer must be a mirror image of the offer in all material respects, or else it constitutes a counteroffer that rejects the original offer. Judge Timothy Register, reversed.

Frenkel v. Costa, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2285 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). When accepting an oral pronouncement of settlement on the record, the court must obtain confirmation each party had the opportunity to speak to their attorneys about the agreement, in addition to obtaining clear and equivocal consent on the record as to the terms of the agreement. Judge Michael J. McNicholas, reversed.


Walker v. Bullock, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2385 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Without a transcript, appellate court could not determine if text messages were properly admitted into evidence at an injunction hearing. Judge Michael G. Kaplan, affirmed.

Attorney’s Fees:

Melchione v. Temple, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2302 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020). (Concurring opinion). A party should not be required to secure counsel to seek temporary attorney’s fees. Judge Julie H. O’Kane, affirmed.

Child Support:

Florida DOR v. Taylor, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2236 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). By accepting public assistance from DOR for support of dependent children, DOR acquires authority to proceed with all remedies entitled to the child’s custodian, even in their absence. Judge Arthur L. Rothenberg, reversed.

Collaborative Law:

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Law Rules of Procedure Forms 12.985(a)-(g), 45 Fla.L.Weekly S267 (Fla. 2020). Establishes forms for collaborative law.


Newman v. Porrino, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2406 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Order finding party in contempt reversed and remanded when underlying order vacated. Judge Reinaldo Ojeda, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Equitable Distribution:

Legere v. Legere, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2300 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Trial court failed to provide specific findings for unequal distribution. Judge Susan Miller-Jones, reversed.

Street v. Street, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2242 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Replaces opinion at 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1057b. Trial court erred classifying bank accounts, investment accounts and vehicles as marital assets that were acquired with husband’s premarital assets and not comingled. Trial court affirmed on categorizing one bank account as marital when husband did not produce any statements to rebut the presumption. Judge Joseph G. Foster, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Gerville-Reache v. Gerville-Reache, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2411 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). On a motion for rehearing. Original opinion at 45 Fla.L.Weekly D1425a. Trial court did not err finding husband was voluntarily underemployed but erred in imputing income when there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate husband could earn the amount imputed. Judge W. Gregg McCaulie, reversed.


Lee v. Matsuda, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2271 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). Court must afford evidentiary hearings on motions to dissolve injunctions, and allow movant a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Judge Raul Cuervo, reversed.


Mallick v. Mallick, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2355 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Second DCA recedes from opinion in Grigsby v. Grigsby, 39 So.3d 453 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010), which requires the court to give a parent whose timesharing is restricted milestones and benchmarks to regain visitation. Judge Alicia Polk, affirmed.


Huber v. Huber, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2392 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). Trial court erred transferring divorce to the county wife resided in. Venue is proper in the single county where the marriage last existed as a union. Judge Ivonne Cuesta, reversed.

Duhamel v. Duhamel, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2227 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Trial court abused discretion by denying wife’s motion to reopen the case, when wife’s request was made before the end of evidence and before judgment rendered. Judge Alicia Polk, reversed.

L.E.B. v. D.D.C., 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2225 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). A motion to disqualify attorney should be made with a reasonable promptness after the party discovers the facts that lead to the motion. A litigant, even pro se, can waive the right to seek disqualification of opponent’s attorney by delay in seeking to enforce the right. Judge Amy R. Hawthorne, reversed.

Temporary Relief:

Martinez v. Reyes, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2277 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). In temporary relief hearings where trial judges are required to determine interim timesharing schedules, the limited nature of a temporary hearing and necessity for quick action by a trial judge require appellate courts to defer to trial court’s exercise of discretion. Judge Spencer Multack, affirmed.

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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