Family Law Case Updates – July 2022

Appeals:

Cummings v. Cummings, 342 So.3d 298 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022). Appellate court lacks jurisdiction to review judgment that awards entitlement to fees, but not amount. Judge R. Gregg Jerald, affirmed in part and dismissed in part.

Birnbaum v. Mortman, 341 So.3d 352 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Appellate court cannot determine if trial court erred in temporary relief order without a transcript. Judge Scott R. Kerner, affirmed.

Goulding v. Goulding, 341 So.3d 476 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Order that awards an entitlement to fees, but not amount, is a non-final order not yet ripe for appeal. Judge Linda Alley, affirmed in part and dismissed in part.

Equitable Distribution:

Malek v. Malek, 346 So.3d 179 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Issue of ownership of corporation between husband and wife should not be arbitrated per shareholder’s agreement. Judge Jason E. Dimitris, reversed and remanded.

Travis v. Travis, 346 So.2d 165 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022). Trial court affirmed for distributing husband’s Lockheed Retirement Program although it is not listed in final judgment, because the final judgment provided that retirement benefits and pensions were being distributed and the language was broad enough to suffice. However, the three (3) QDRO’s entered during the pendency of appeal are vacated because the court lacked jurisdiction to enter the orders at that time. Judge Jessica J. Recksiedler, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Arzillo v. Arzillo, 343 So.3d 137 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court erred assigning retirement account that had been depleted to pay attorney’s fees without any findings of waste. Judge Heather Beato, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Income:

Arzillo v. Arzillo, 343 So.3d 137 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court erred imputing full time teacher’s salary without any findings that those jobs were available in local job market. Judge Heather Beato, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Injunctions:

Baruti v. Vingle, 343 So.2d 150 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022). Petitioner was paramour of Respondent’s husband. Petitioner made 2 allegations – Respondent came into her work and stared at her, and Respondent ran her off the road and collided with her vehicle. While the second incident qualifies for entry of an injunction, the first incident does not. Judge James H. Earp, reversed.

Modification:

Roberts v. Diaz, 343 So.3d 156 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Trial court did not err in ordering and ratifying the wife’s proposed parenting plan in response to husband’s petition for modification. Judge Christina Marie DiRaimondo, affirmed.

Parenting:

E.M. v. E.G., 343 So.3d 631 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Trial court’s final judgment of modification imposing supervised visitation reversed and remanded, when judgment provides no findings as to why supervised visitation is warranted. Judge Kevin Bruning, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Hassenplug v. Hassenplug, 346 So.3d 149 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Judge reversed for removing child from homeschooling to prevent further discord between parents, without any findings of fact as to the best interests of the child. Judge Joshua Riba, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Hernandez v. Mendoza, 346 So.3d 60 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022). Trial court reversed, even without a transcript, for not including language that either party may consent to mental health treatment in the parenting plan. Remanded back to Judge Karen Miller.

Procedure:

Becker v. Becker, 343 So.3d 153 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Service was valid when process server posted service in conspicuous place and yelled ‘you are served’ when party was attempting to evade service. Judge Christina Marie DiRaimondo, affirmed.

Murphy v. Murphy, 342 So.3d 799 (Fla. 1st DCA 2022). Trial court erred failing to dismiss a domestication request that failed to properly allege personal jurisdiction. Former husband filed a motion to dismiss with unrebutted statements that he was not subject to Florida’s jurisdiction. Judge Lance M. Day’s order denying dismissal vacated and remanded for the court to dismiss domestication petition.

In Re: Amendments to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.340 and Forms 12.930(b) and 12.930(c), 346 So.3d 1100 (Fla. 2022). Expert interrogatories are not included in the ten (10) additional interrogatories permitted.

In Re: Amendments to Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, Florida Family Rules of Procedure and Florida Approved Family Forms, 47 Fla.L.Weekly S188 (Fla. 2022). Supreme Court rejects proposed Rule 12.026 (Communication Technology) so remote proceedings still governed by Rule 2.530.

Tallo v. Illes, 342 So.3d 735 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022). Order compelling third-party spouse of a judgment debtor to produce financial discovery. When a judgment creditor seeks to discover the personal financial information of a non-party, he or she bears the burden of proving that the information sought is relevant. The determination of relevancy should generally be made after an evidentiary hearing, due to the strong public policy underlying the constitutional protection of private financial information. Judge Barbara Areces, Order quashed.

Support:

Tinoco v. Lugo, 342 So.3d 845 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022). Courts have disapproved child support offsets that imperil ongoing financial support for child. Even though father had significant support arrearages, the court could not make an offset that would deprive child of support for years without specifying compelling and equitable criteria to justify set off. The court should cap the amount to be deducted to ensure child’s needs are met while simultaneously amortizing the amount of child support owed. Judge Michael E. Raiden, affirmed in part, reversed in part.


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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