Family Law Case Updates – December 2021

Alimony:

Pflanz v. Pflanz, 332 So.3d 1042 (Fla. 1st DCA 2021).  Error to award durational alimony on projected estimated expenses versus actual present expenses.   Judge Anthony B. Miller affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Appeals:

Flowers v. Flowers, 328 So.3d 1160 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021).  Trial court affirmed for adjudicating child support and timesharing when it was not requested in the pleadings. With no trial transcript, appellate court cannot discern if these matters were tried by consent.  Judge Alicia Latimore affirmed.

Alzirghani v. Algabah, 328 So.3d 398 (Fla. 1st DCA 2021).  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 or some other appropriate motion to preserve the error. Judge Suzanne Bass affirmed.

Attorneys’ Fees:

Middleton v. Middleton, 332 So.3d 54 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022).  Order on fees in high-conflict case failed to include necessary findings of need and ability.  The parties’ financial resources are generally the primary factor to consider the parties’ respective need and ability to pay.  Because trial court failed to make proper findings of facts, it prevents meaningful appellate review.  Judge John M. Alexander affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Equitable Distribution: 

Pflanz v. Pflanz, 332 So.3d 1042 (Fla. 1st DCA 2021).  Trial court erred assigning value of depleted account to party without evidence of misconduct.  It is neither intentional misconduct nor a purpose unrelated to the marriage to pay household bills and support the family during pending case.  Judge Anthony B. Miller affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Injunctions:

Wall v. Kyramarios-Wall, 332 So.3d 72 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021). Order requiring parent to have no contact with child reversed when relief was not requested in motion.  Judge Nancy Mahoney reversed.

McQuire v. Boscan, 337 So.3d 124 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021).  Alleged incidents that predate filing of injunction by more than a year are too remote in time to support entry of injunction in absence of more recent evidence of domestic violence or evidence petitioner has a reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger.  Judge Elisabeth M. Espinosa reversed.

Dean v. Beavis, 341 So.3d 355 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021).  Trial court affirmed for prohibiting the possession of firearms by the respondent of a stalking injunction. Strong dissent that unless it’s domestic violence or Court finds a credible threat, it violates Constitutional right to bear arms.  Judge Lisa S. Porter affirmed.

Jurisdiction:

Alvarez v. Jimenez, 337 So.3d 117 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021).  Trial Court affirmed for vacating final judgment on finding Florida was not home state, and therefore lacked subject matter jurisdiction.  Court reversed for awarding prevailing party fees under F.S. 61.535, because this was not enforcement of foreign decree, rather an action to set aside final judgment.  Judge Victoria del Pino affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Modification:

Cisneros v. Guinand, 332 So.3d 1041 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2020).  Trial Court had jurisdiction to act on a motion for rehearing filed 8 months after the final judgment because it met the requirement of petition for modification.  Writ of Mandamus granted.

Parenting:

De La Fe v, De La Fe, 332 So.3d 60 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021).  Award of ultimate decision-making reversed when no specific finding that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.  Judge John S. Carlin affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Velasquez v. Mendieta, 331 So.3d 248 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021).  Trial court has authority to appoint guardian ad litem sua sponte.  Judge Christina Marie DiRaimondo affirmed.

Procedure:

Contreras v. Contreras, 337 So.3d 772 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021).  Property rights cannot be adjudicated in divorce proceedings with constructive service, unless property specifically described in petition and constructive service.  Judge Christina Maria DiRaimondo reversed.

Pearson v. Pearson, 332 So.3d 53 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021).  Portion of order appointing Guardian Ad Litem requiring parties to submit to psychological evaluations quashed, as mental health of parties was not in controversy nor was there a showing of good cause.  Judge David Young’s order quashed, in part.

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules for Qualified and Court Appointed Parenting Coordinators, 345 So.3d 714 (Fla. 2021).  Adds qualification, disqualification and renewal requirements for parenting coordinators.

In Re: Amendments to Florida Family Rule of Procedure 12.410, 334 So.3d 537 (Fla. 2021).  Eliminates necessity to file notice of subpoenas to parties.


Eddie Stephens (Author), a sixth generation Floridian, is a partner in Stephens & Stevens, PLLC. Eddie is a Board Certified Family Law Attorney who specializes in high-conflict matrimonial law. He has earned the AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating by MartindaleHubbell, a professional rating indicating the highest ethical standards and professional ability.

With 25 years of litigation experience, Eddie specializes in high-conflict, high-asset divorce cases. Eddie focuses on helping clients with domestic legal issues such as property division, business valuation, child support and spousal support, child custody and visitation, post-judgment modifications, child relocation, same sex marriages, and both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

As a divorced father of two children, Eddie knows first hand what’s at stake when counseling his clients. Eddie currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Child Counseling, Inc. and Board of Governors of Leadership Palm Beach County.

Eddie is a past recipient of the Family Law Section Alberto Romero Making a Difference Award (2017), the Leadership Palm Beach County Leadership Excellence Award (2018) and most recently, the Families First of Palm Beach 2019 Harriet Goldstein Awardee (2019).

In addition to practicing family law, Eddie is an author, lecturer, and community leader who supports a number of local civic and charitable organizations. His hobbies include Jiu Jitsu, cooking, yoga, and spending time with his family. Eddie is happily married to Jacquie and has two children, Christopher and Matthew, and they all call Palm Beach, Florida home.

Caryn A. Stevens (Editor) is a Partner at the law firm of Stephens & Stevens, PLLC 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 had the unique opportunity to assist thousands of children, families and couples through difficult life circumstances, which allows her to bring a unique and compassionate perspective to the clients she represents. Caryn is a passionate advocate for her clients, and a skilled litigator in the courtroom.

In 2021, Caryn was honored with the prestigious Alberto Romero Making a Difference Award from the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, recognizing her outstanding pro bono services and significant volunteer community activities that improve the lives of Florida’s children and families. Caryn is currently the President of the Susan Greenberg Family Law Inn of Court of the Palm Beaches, is a graduate of the Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2019, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Herizon (formerly The Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Greater Palm Beaches). Caryn has also served as mentor with the Women of Tomorrow Program for the past four years, mentoring at-risk high school women to live up to their full potential.

Caryn is a native South Floridian, and currently lives in Palm Beach County with her Husband, David, and their adorable Mini Aussie, Emma. She is a passionate fan of the Florida State Seminoles, and in her spare time loves going to the theater and traveling the world.

Gina Szapucki (Associate Editor) 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. Her passionate drive to assist and guide families, both efficiently and effectively, 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, and spending time with family.

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