Family Law Case Updates – November 2020

Editor: Caryn A.Stevens

Associate Editor: Gina Szapucki

Attorney’s Fees:

Rotunda v. Rotunda, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2498 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020). Trial court erred not awarding attorney’s fees for the fourth day of trial. Judge George G. Angeliadis, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Coriat v. Coriat, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2427 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). Award of attorney’s fees that includes amounts attributable to clerical and secretarial work reversed. Judge Samantha Ruiz Cohen, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Child Support:

Buck v. Buck, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2612 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Child support order that is unclear as to how deductions were determined remanded for recalculation. Judge Darren A. Farfante, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

O’Neill v. O’Neill, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2432 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Trial court erred basing child support on parties’ 50/50 timesharing arrangements, when Husband admitted he could not exercise 50/50 timesharing. Judge Catherine Brunson, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Martin v. Eldemire-Martin, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2520 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Purge of $621,075.00 reversed, as it was not reasonably based on the individual circumstances of that party. Judge Dale C. Cohen, reversed.

Lynne v. Landsman, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2493 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Trial court erred holding former wife in contempt for not allowing daily telephonic phone calls. Provision that children have “reasonable” contact with the other parent “any time” does not define what those terms mean, and therefore was not clear and definite so as to make the party aware of its command and direction. Judge Gloria R. Walker, reversed.

Equitable Distribution:

O’Neill v. O’Neill, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2432 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Trial court erred by failing to include negative equity on a vehicle in the equitable distribution scheme. Judge Catherine Brunson, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Helweg v. Bugby, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2495 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Court granting an indefinite injunction between a Father and children did not violate Father’s right of due process by indefinitely eliminating his timesharing or terminating his parental rights. Father can always seek to modify injunction. Injunction protecting the Mother reversed, as Mother did not allege she was in danger. Judge Ross M. Goodman, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Mack v. Mack, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2492 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Injunction that protected children reversed when there was no evidence in the record concerning danger for children. Judge David P. Kreider, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Cash v. Gagnon, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2467 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Stalking injunction involving ‘condo commando’ reversed because alleged conflicts are merely uncomfortable neighborly disputes that do not rise to the level of stalking. Judge Stefanie Moon, reversed.


De Carvalho v. De Carvalho Pereira, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2556 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Trial court affirmed returning children to Brazil under Hague Convention, where court found Brazil was the habitual residence of children even though one child was born in the United States and has never been to Brazil, and even though the children were in Florida more than a year.  Court affirmed the finding that the children were not settled to such a degree that return to Brazil would be detrimental. Judge John I. Goy, affirmed. 


Lyles v. Burton, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2618 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Trial court granting modification of timesharing based on father’s return to Florida. This was reversed based on no record evidence to support court’s finding that father’s return to Florida was not reasonably contemplated. Judge John L. Miller, reversed.

Romeo v. Romeo, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2612 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Judgment granting modification of parenting plan, which fails to include a finding of substantial change of circumstances, will typically require reversal. Judge John McGowan, reversed.

Sjogren v. Sjogren, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2439 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Trial court affirmed for denying modification because the change was not permanent.  However, a court will grant a temporary reduction or suspension in alimony when an obligor suffered a reduction in income without deliberately seeking to avoid paying alimony, and is acting in good faith to return income to previous level. Judge N. Hunter Davis 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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