Family Law Case Updates – January 2021

Editor: Caryn A.Stevens

Associate Editor: Gina Szapucki

Alimony:

Hampson v. Hampson, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D221 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021). Trial court erred basing alimony on imputed gross income instead of net income. On remand, it should be based on husband’s new income, which was less than imputed income. Judge Michael P. McDaniel, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Garcia v. Espinosa, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D95 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021). Trial court erred awarding durational alimony in long term marriage without any discussion of how the presumption of permanent alimony was rebutted. Judge Spencer J. Multack, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Frank v. Frank, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D93 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021). Conclusory statement about need and ability are insufficient findings, it fails to state the type of alimony or how it was arrived. Bernard S. Shapiro, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Appeals:

Avery v. Avery, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D189 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021). An order that determines entitlement to attorney’s fees without a determination of the amount is a non-appealable, non-final order. Judge James A. Yancy, affirmed in part.

Balut v. Balut, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D179 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021). Order on interim partial equitable distribution that allowed parties to withdraw up to $250,000.00 each and if they did not agree, there would be a hearing to determine whether the amount is a non-final order when the parties had not agreed. Appeal dismissed because agreement had not yet been reached by the parties.  Judge Brian Welke.

Jimenez v. Perez, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D130 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021). Failure to provide transcript in appeal denying a relocation is fatal, because in the absence of a transcript, the appellate court is unable to evaluate allegations that error exists in the trial court’s findings, but instead must presume such findings to be correct. Judge R. Gregg Jerald, affirmed.

Sejas v. Paredes, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D100 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021). Order determining entitlement to attorney’s fees, but not the amount of attorney’s fees, is a non-final order and not appealable. Judge Maria Elena Verde, affirmed in part.

Cataldo v. Cataldo, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D10 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Appeal challenging entitlement to attorney’s fees dismissed. Judge John Radabaugh, affirmed in part.

Attorney’s Fees:

Street v. Street, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D10 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Trial court erred not awarding prejudgment interest from the date the court found a party was entitled to their fees. Judge John O. McGowan, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Enforcement:

The Children’s Home Society of Florida v. K.W., 46 Fla.L.Weekly D159 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021) A non-party to a dependency action cannot be held in contempt without finding non-party can comply with a purge. Judge Laura Anne Stuzin’s Order quashed.

Equitable Distribution:

Frank v. Frank, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D93 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021). Equitable distribution devoid of findings will be reversed. Bernard S. Shapiro, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Corrales v. Corrales, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D11 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020). Trial court did not err finding husband’s premarital house had no premarital value when the husband failed to establish the value of the premarital interest. The court’s finding of waste is also affirmed. Judge Ivonne Cuesta, affirmed.

Jurisdiction:

Stone v. Stone, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D7 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2020). Under the Hague Convention, the Court in the “abducted to” nation has jurisdiction to decide merits of abduction cases. However, in this case, the husband’s petition should not have been dismissed. The father should have the opportunity to prove the foreign nation declined to exercise jurisdiction. At a minimum, the court should have stayed proceeding and communicate with the foreign nation to determine if the proceedings in foreign country had been terminated. Judge Kelly P. Butz, reversed.

Name Change:

Medina v. State of Florida, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D208 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021). Ordinarily, a facially sufficient petition for name change should be granted in the absence of a wrongful or fraudulent purpose. Trial court abused discretion denying petition for name change just because the party had a criminal history and unpaid judgments. Judge Michael L. Rothschild, reversed.

Parenting:

Glevis v. Glevis, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D183 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021). Trial court erred in finding shared parental responsibility was in child’s best interest, then ordering ultimate decision-making to the Father. The court also erred not addressing a holiday timesharing schedule. Judge John O. McGowan, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Procedure:

Greenshields v. Greenshields, 45 Fla.L.Weekly D222 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021). Opinion discussing compulsory counter-claims and the fact that the court should not have granted directed verdict on tortious interference claim, as it should have gone to a jury. Judge Charles J. Roberts, reversed.

Support:

D.H. v. J.H., 46 Fla.L.Weekly D195 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021). A nine (9) month delay between trial and final judgment was not sufficient for reversal. However, the fact the court failed to include any findings as to how it calculated support was error. Judge Darren D. Farfante, reversed.

DOR v. Carreira, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D190 (Fla. 1st DCA 2021). Trial court reversed for not awarding retroactive support. Judge W. David Watkins, reversed.

UCCJEA:

Lunsford v. Engle, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D210 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021). Interested parties motion to vacate/recall a mandate was granted. In original opinion (at 45 Fla.L.Weekly D163(a) – original case), party failed to mention to circuit and appellate court that the child in question was already legally adopted. Once the legal adoptive parents intervened, appellate court vacated original opinion that had legal effect of dissolving an adoption without notice to the adoptive parents, and finding Oregon court did have original and continuing jurisdiction, and thus adoption was valid. The fact that Florida court erred by not allowing non-adoptive grandparents attorney to participate with communication with foreign court deemed harmless in this situation. Judge Karen Miller, 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s