Family Law Case Updates – February 2022

Appeals:

Baltodano v. Baltodano, 331 So.3d 1291 (Fla. 1st DCA 2022). Appeal of order denying rehearing that was untimely did not toll time for appeal. Dismissed.

Ortiz v. Ortiz, 335 So.3d 739 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Second appeal of alimony and equitable distribution because trial court complied with mandate and made the necessary findings. Amended judgment affirmed. Judge David Young, affirmed.

Attorney’s Fees:

Alvarez v. Salazar, 338 So.3d 267 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court erred awarding fees for vexatious litigation without consideration of finances or findings that would support an award under the inequitable conduct doctrine. Judge Michael Rothschild, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Equitable Distribution:

Silvas v. Silvas, 334 So.3d 630 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court affirmed for imposing the constructive trust when there is (1) a promise express or implied; (2) transfer of the property and reliance thereon; (3) a confidential relationship; and (4) unjust enrichment. Matter reversed to give party credit for premarital contribution. Judge Laurie E. Buchanan, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Chatten v. Chatten, 334 So.3d 633 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Fact wife provided down payment for home did not overcome presumption of gift which would support unequal distribution. Judge Cynthia L. Cox, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Injunctions:

Stallings v. Bernard, 334 So.2d 365 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). One harassing message and a car chase ending with a window broken by a baseball bat was insufficient for stalking injunction. Judge Amy M. Williams, reversed.

Dickson v. Curtis, 338 So.3d 1001(Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Court did not delegate authority by signing one party’s proposed final judgment, when both sides were invited to submit proposed judgments. In this case, filing an injunction eleven (11) months after incident was not too remote, when child failed to tell parent of the incident because he was scared. Judges Samantha Ruiz Cohen and Christina Marie DiRaimondo, affirmed.

Santos v. Bartoletta, 332 So.3d 1134 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court erred granting an injunction against dating violence when no evidence of reasonable cause to believe petitioner is in imminent danger of being a victim of an act of violence in the future. When considering whether a petitioner has such reasonable cause, the trial court must consider the current allegations, the parties’ behavior within the relationship, and the history of the relationship as a whole. Judge Lisa Allen, reversed.

Parenting:

Lofton v. Arthur, 332 So.3d 592 (Fla. 1st DCA 2022). It is not an abuse of discretion for trial court to refuse a path of reunification with child. Judge Robert K. Groeb, affirmed.

Procedure:

Belanger v. Belanger, 334 So.3d 361 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court affirmed for denying continuance, after attorney withdrew with client’s consent. Judge Cynthia L. Cox, affirmed.

Hodge v. Babcock, 340 So.3d 521 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Trial court erred changing temporary custody when matter was not noticed for hearing. Judge Marcia Del Rey’s order, quashed.

Tampa Park Apartments, Inc. v. Berry-Andrews, 334 So.3d 668 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Writ of certiorari granted quashing discovery order allowing production of non-parties’ financials, without an evidentiary hearing to determine relevance. Judge Robin F. Fuson’s order quashed.

Rai v. Rai, 334 So.2d 359 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022). Party has 20 years from date of judgment to enforce. Judge Diana M. Tennis, affirmed.

Schneiderman v. Baer, 334 So.3d 326 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court erred granting motion to dismiss, relying on information outside the four corners of the pleading when considering the motion to dismiss. A non-party to the dissolution, who is not an intended third-party beneficiary, is without authority to set aside or modify final judgment of dissolution. Judge Charles E. Burton, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Aquino de Oliveira v. Sim, 338 So.2d 1020 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Court erred denying motion to quash service when no summons was issued or served. Judge Victoria del Pino, reversed.

Toledano v. Garcia, 338 So.3d 1009 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Any issue a magistrate rules on that was not properly referred to the magistrate is a nullity. Judge Bernard S. Shapiro, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Graham v. Graham, 333 So.2d 794 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022). Trial court erred entering orders on case that had already been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Judge Diana M. Tennis, reversed.

In Re: Amendments to Fla. Fam. Law of Procedure 12.510, 335 So.3d 90 (Fla. 2022). Summary judgment rule modified to include detailed instructions for pro se litigants, and prevents summary judgment motions from being filed while mandatory discovery pending.

Payne v. Koch, 332 So.3d 1132 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022). Trial court erred excluding body cam video footage at injunction hearing when there was no discussion of whether respondent would be prejudiced. Judge Susan Stacy, dismissal of injunction, reversed.

Saario v. Tiller, 333 So.3d 315 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022). Court adopting parties’ one-page equitable distribution sheet, after both parties had ability to submit and comment, was not a Berg-Perlow violation. Judge Michael J. Rudisill, affirmed.

Support:

Lifaite v. Charles, 338 So.3d 271 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court erred failing to use correct income and to include daycare costs in support calculation. Trial court also erred in failing to award retroactive support, when there was a demonstrated need. Judge Karen Miller, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Boulos v. Rubio, 338 So.3d 1014 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) provided if parties couldn’t agree on private school and costs, these issues would be presented to the court for determination. Trial court affirmed for deciding issue in accordance with “Brennan” elements: (1) parent has the ability to pay; (2) expense in accordance with families established standard of living; and (3) attendance is in child’s best interest. Judge Victoria del Pino, affirmed.


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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