Family Law Case Updates – January 2022


Pringle v. Pringle, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D251 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Trial court erred awarding durational alimony for term that exceeded length of marriage. Judge Jason E. Dimitris, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Fiala v. Fiala, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D181 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court erred using date of separation instead of date of filing for alimony and equitable distribution determinations, but error was harmless when date did not impact decision. Judge Dale C. Cohen, affirmed.

Tolston v. Tolston, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D12 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021). Appellant could not appeal order on a charging lien or requiring a psychological evaluation without a transcript of the proceedings. Judge Maria Elena Verde, affirmed.

Attorney’s Fees:

Haskell v. Haskell, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D267 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Court erred by significantly cutting hours of attorney’s fees without explanation. Judge Doneene D. Loar, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Schreiber v. Schreiber, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D84 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021). Trial court erred awarding fees where only evidence was expert witness testimony. There was no properly-authenticated fee affidavit nor testimony of any lawyers that did work on the case, nor any timesheets or billing records presented. Judge Mark S. Blechman, reversed.


Kovic v. Kovic, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D130 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court erred by holding party in contempt for something the final judgment did not expressly provide for. Judge Karen Miller, reversed in part, affirmed in part.

Equitable Distribution:

Goff v. Goff, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D92 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court erred distributing home to husband without any requirement to refinance home within a reasonable time, and include a hold harmless provision in the event property could not be refinanced. Judge G. Keith Cary, reversed.

Bathke v. Costley, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D86 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021). Trial court erred not considering tax consequences on valuation of business simply because sale of business was not imminent. Judge Tanya Davis Wilson, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Chatten v. Chatten, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D28 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021). Trial court erred awarding unequal distribution of jointly owned property. The fact that one party contributed down payment from inherited funds is not sufficient to overcome presumption that property titled in both parties’ names is a gift. Judge Cynthia L. Cox, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Gillespie v. Holdsworth, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D228 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court erred imputing income without evidence of prevailing earnings level in the community. Even if a parent leaves a job unwisely, ill-advisedly or motivated by frustration or spite, the voluntary nature of her continued unemployment must be shown with proof that she is not making diligent bona fide efforts to obtain employment. Judge Elizabeth V. Krier, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Sunderwirth v. Sunderwirth, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D90 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court erred imputing stay-at-home mother’s entire deficit as in-kind reimbursement from her fiancé, without any evidence of what fiancé was paying for. Judge Peter Ramsberger, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Bak v. Bak, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D237 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court erred not dissolving 22-year old domestic violence injunction based on change of circumstances, when respondent previously sought to dissolve, but was denied because children still lived with petitioner at that time. Children moving out of petitioner’s home is a change of circumstances that should have been a sufficient basis to dissolve injunction against respondent. Judge Fabienne Fahnestock, reversed.

Ahern v. Leon, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D236 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Respondent cautioning petitioner’s new girlfriend about petitioner was insufficient to support a stalking injunction. Judge Stefanie C. Moon, reversed.

Hasan v. Rivera, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D185 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Final judgment of stalking injunction reversed when injunction was based on threats of litigation. Unpleasant, uncivil and distasteful communications do not rise to the level required to support a permanent injunction against stalking. Judge Michael G. Kaplan, reversed.

Bell v. Battaglia, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D161 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Final judgment for injunction against dating violence based on text message sent from paramour to husband’s wife reversed. Text was sent to third-party, not petitioner, and a message alone is not sufficient to establish basis for an injunction. Appeal not moot even though injunction expired because of “collateral consequences.” Long opinion with dissent. Judge Scott Cupp, reversed.

Strober v. Harris, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D96 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court erred for dismissing a cyberstalking injunction against a Georgia resident for lack of personal jurisdiction. Tortious conduct committed out-of-state is considered to have occurred “within the state” for the purposes of applying the long-arm statute where it involves posting material online about a Florida resident, that is, in fact accessed in the state of Florida. Judge Doneene D. Loar, reversed.

Sutton v. Fowler, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D35 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021). Trial court erred considering events that were not pled for in the petition, when granting final judgment of stalking petition. Judge James W. McCann, reversed.


Poveromo v. Poveromo, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D269 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022). Trial court erred failing to impute $40,000 income to teacher on erroneous belief that the court could not impute more income than that person ever earned. Judge Luis Fernando Calderon, reversed.


Harrell v. Cook, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D208 (Fla. 1st DCA 2022). Trial court erred by engaging in a prohibited prospective-based analysis, when it ordered a timesharing plan. Court cannot address timesharing on future events. Judge Thomas V. Dannheisser, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Castillo v. Rodriguez, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D4 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021). Matter reversed when mother has no basis to seek disestablishment of paternity for child. Judge Marcia Del Rey, reversed.


Rich v. Rich, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D216 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court erred granting summary judgment declaring certain assets non-marital when there was a dispute of fact. Trial court erred in disregarding the “dumpster documents,” which were documents obtained from dumpster behind the husband’s forensic accountant’s office, when the authenticity was not challenged. Judge Susan St. John, affirmed in part, reversed in part.  

Merli v. Merli, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D144 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court affirmed for granting wife intestate rights and naming her personal representative when divorce was pending, and marital settlement agreement (MSA) had been signed, and this MSA did not address waiver of death rights.  Judge Mily Rodriguez Powell, affirmed.

Meruelo v. Meruelo, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D106 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Petition for Certiorari review on third-party motion to stay proceeding until motion to disqualify forensic accountant heard. The court did not depart from essential requirements, as there is no law requiring a stay under these circumstances. Judge Ivonne Cuesta, reversed.

In Re: Amendments to Florida Family Laws Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(c), 47 Fla.L.Weekly 55 (Fla. 2022). Tweaks to child support procedure form. 

Kalke v. Kalke, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D66 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021). Trial court affirmed for denying motion for continuance after party’s third attorney withdrew, with order granting withdrawal stated trial will proceed as set. Judge Cynthia Newtown, affirmed.

Smith v. Short, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D64 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2021). Injunction issued as a result of former husband violating a non-disparagement clause concerning former wife’s business was overbroad when it precluded former husband from posting anything on social media, no matter what it concerns, and removing all previous social media posts, no matter what they concern. Injunction must be narrowly-tailored to balance the desire to protect the person seeking the injunction, with the need to safeguard the first amendment rights of the person whose activities are being restricted. Judge John S. Carlin, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Damas v. Rappleye, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D54 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021). Trial court erred failing to grant continuance when trial was set less than thirty (30) days from service of trial notice, in contradiction to Rule 1.440(c). Judge Ivonne Cuesta, reversed.


Mignott v. Mignott, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D13 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2021). Trial court erred granting relocation based on fact father had plane tickets to travel the following morning with child. Trial court failed to consider all statutory factors required in Fla. Stat. §61.13001(7). Judge Bernard S. Shapiro, reversed.

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