Family Law Case Updates – December 2020

Editor: Caryn A.Stevens

Associate Editor: Gina Szapucki


Goodman v. Goodman, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2725 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Remand remanded back to trial court who apparently “inadvertently” failed to follow remand instructions from prior appeal. Judge John S. Carlin, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Ringenberg v. Ringenberg, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2791 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Trial court erred imposing 179 days of incarceration without a purge and without complying with Fla.R.Crim.Pro. 3.840(a), (b), (d), (f), and (g). A contempt order that does not contain a purge provisions must be characterized as criminal contempt. Where there is no motion to modify timesharing, the court lacks jurisdiction to do so. Trial court abused discretion prohibiting a party from seeking to modify timesharing until they had complied with all orders in effect. Judge Paul S. Bryan, reversed.

Equitable Distribution:

Rennert v. Rennert, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2799 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Borrowing against non-marital property and paying off debt with marital money does not commingle premarital property and convert it to a marital asset.  Judge Keith Meyer affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Karkhoff v. Robilotta, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2737 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Error to order party to refinance property but not provide consequences if not done. Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Black v. Black, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2801 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court erred extending injunction and denying respondent’s motion to dissolve when motion to extend did not allege and new acts of concern and petitioner moving into respondent’s community demonstrates the injunction no longer served a legitimate purpose. Judge Donna Padar Berlin, reversed.

Magloire v. Obrenovic, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2779 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Trial court abused discretion entering domestic violence injunction where there was no evidence of imminent danger. Where fear alone is the reasonable cause alleged to support the injunction, then not only must the danger feared be imminent, but the rationale for the fear must be objectively reasonable as well. Judge Cynthia J. Newton, reversed.

Wolfe v. Newton, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2774 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Trial court erred allowing an evidentiary hearing to take testimony after entering a final injunction of stalking to see if respondent can get his firearms back. The trial court had already lost jurisdiction. Final orders had been entered, no one sought a rehearing and/or appeal, and final judgment did not reserve jurisdiction. Petition for certiorari re: Judge Frances M. Perrone, granted.


Robbins v. Kerns, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2763 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Trial court erred giving Father 60% of timesharing for two years, then ordering a prospective change to 50/50 timesharing when the child enters kindergarten. Courts may not engage in a prospective-based analysis when modifying a time-sharing schedule that attempts to anticipate what the future best interests of a child will be. Judge Kevin J. Carroll, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Fortini v. De Palma, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2847 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020).  Lengthy opinion about marital business in receivership.  Judge Bryan Rendzio affirmed in part, reversed in part,

Aponte v. Wood, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2824 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020).  Trial court cannot enter default as a discovery sanction without finding party demonstrated willful or deliberate disregard.  Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer reversed.

Vincent v. Vincent, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2792 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Lengthy concurring opinion re: psychotherapist-patient privilege. Petition for writ of certiorari denied.

McCloud v. Tackett & Childree, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2762 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Petition for writ of certiorari on court’s granting of a protective order for a third party dismissed, because no irreparable harm was demonstrated. An order that denies discovery normally does not rise to the level of irreparable harm because it can be readily remedied on appeal. For denial of discovery to constitute material, irreparable harm, the denial must effectively eviscerate a party’s claim, defense or counterclaim.

Singer v. Singer & Singer, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2749 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Trial court erred determining it lacked jurisdiction over a third party who signed a marital settlement agreement and jurisdiction to enforce agreement. If a party takes some step in the proceedings which amounts to submission to the court’s jurisdiction, then that party waives the right to challenge personal jurisdiction. Judge Andrea R. Gundersen, reversed.

Karkhoff v. Robilotta, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2737 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). When there is a conflict between an oral pronouncement and written judgment, the oral pronouncement must control. Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Velez v. Lafontaine, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2713 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020). Adverse or unfavorable legal ruling, without more, is not legally sufficient to disqualify a judge. Writ of prohibition regarding Judge Diana M. Tennis, denied.

Delgado v. Miller, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2679 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). Order prohibiting either party from engaging on social media regarding the other party’s conduct is an unconstitutional prior restraint of speech. Writ of prohibition regarding Judge Ivonne Cuesta, granted.

Ludwigsen v. Ludwigsen, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2670 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Order on compulsory psychological exam that failed to specify the certain parameters of exam, pursuant to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.360, was inadequate. Petition for writ of certiorari regarding the order of Judge Scott H. Cupp, denied in part, and granted in part.

Fine v. Fine, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2643 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). Where an error by the court appears for the first time on the face of a final order, a party must alert the court of the error via a motion for rehearing to preserve it for the court. Judge Charles E. Burton, affirmed in part, remanded in part.


Lockwood v. Lockwood, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2802 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020).  Trial court could not modify the retroactive child support figures or the arrearage amount owed by a party prior to filing a petition.  Judge Alicia Polk, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Robbins v. Kerns, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D2763 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). Father was not entitled to a Speed credit/deduction (see 749 So.2d 510) because he was not actually paying support for the two older sons from another relationship that he had custody of, but he was entitled to same credit for paying their expenses. Judge Kevin J. Carroll, 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.

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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