Family Law Case Updates – December 2022

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December 2022 Squibs

Alimony:

Lee v. Lee, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2455 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Wife obtained divorce in Finland which did not address alimony.  Trial court erred finding alimony had been waived and refusing to consider husband’s claim for alimony.  Judges James Shenko and John S. Carlin, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Mikler v. Mikler, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2556 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred basing alimony amount on Wife’s speculative testimony about her speculative future expenses.  Judge Sharon M. Franklin, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Shobola v. Shobola, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2583 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred awarding 3 years of alimony instead of two as was provided in valid prenuptial agreement, and trial court’s award of retroactive award made no sense without any findings.  Judge Carl C. Hinson reversed in part, affirmed in part.

Storandt v. Bryan, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2433 (Fla. 1st DCA 2022).  Trial court erred granting a prospective increase in alimony once marital house sold.   A trial court is usually prohibited from considering a future, unanticipated event when setting a current alimony award.  Judge Maureen Horkan, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Appeals:

Bois v. Bois, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2596 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022).  Appellant’s appeal of entitlement to 57.105 fees premature when amount has not yet been determined.  Other issues affirmed.  Judge Dina A. Keever-Agrama affirmed in part.

Diasolwa v. Burneikis, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2492 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022).  Appellant’s claim of never receiving appeal does not toll time for appeal.  Party should have filed 12.540 motion of the order.  Appeal dismissed as untimely.

Equitable Distribution:

Cardarelli v. Cardarelli, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2420 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022).  Former wife’s right to COLA (cost of living adjustment) in FRS is a vested statutory right accrued during marriage, and thus properly included in a QDRO.  Judge Renatha Francis, affirmed.

Ford v. Ford, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2520 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022).  Trial court’s order awarding credits reversed, as there are no findings of fact in order and it is impossible to determine how Court calculated credits.  Judge Christopher A. France, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Hearn v. Hearn, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2474 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred finding marital waste concerning litigation and a settlement between the husband and his former employer that occurred before the marriage was irretrievably broken.  Misconduct is not shown by mismanagement or simple squandering or marital assets in a manner in which the other spouse disapproves, rather there must be a finding of intentional misconduct based on evidence showing marital funds were used for one party’s own benefit, for a purpose not related to the marriage, at a time when the marriage was under-going irreconcilable breakdown.  Judge Jared E. Smith, affirmed in part, reversed in part.  

Lee v. Lee, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2455 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred failing to address parties’ request for equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities.  Judges James Shenko and John S. Carlin, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Rogers v. Rogers, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2466 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred finding boat was non-marital gift from party’s parent.  However, money for gift was deposited into a joint checking account, thus commingling the funds.  Because of commingling, boat had been transmutated to a marital asset.  Judge Kyle S. Cohen, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Injunctions:

Fay v. Carter, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2519 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022).  Error to dismiss injunction against domestic violence because alleged violence happened in another state.  Per Florida Statute 741.30(1)(j), petition can be filed in county where petitioner or respondent lives, or where alleged violence happened.  Judge Nancy Alley, reversed.

Jurisdiction:

Beehler v. Beehler, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2561 (Fla 1st DCA 2022).  Trial court affirmed for declining to transfer case to another state (Idaho) via forum non convenience, when Florida had exclusive continuing jurisdiction and Father still had ties to Florida.  Judge Daniel F. Wilensky, affirmed.

Modification:

Alence v. Matheson, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2580 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred dismissing former wife’s petition for modification.   When 2015 modification was entered it was known that the former husband was a pedophile.  Now the former wife alleged since 2015 modification, the former husband had engaged in risky behaviors and a course of conduct with respect to the children’s education and healthcare, which was sufficient to state a cause of action for modification.  Judge Helene Daniel, reversed.

Branham v. Branham, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2521 (Fla. 5th DCA 2022).  Trial court erred in finding that Former Husband can continue to pay alimony from proceeds of sold real estate, but error was harmless as Former Husband left his job voluntarily and is therefore not entitled to a reduction in alimony anyway.  Judge Alicia R. Washington, affirmed.

Girard v. Girard, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2485 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022).  Trial court erred imputing income to the Former Wife at modification trial, when no income was imputed to Wife as part of divorce final judgment, and there was no substantial change of circumstances.  Judge Cynthia L. Cox, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Parenting:

Allyn v. Allyn, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2460 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred delegating authority to fashion timesharing to non-party therapist. Judge Lisa Porter, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Procedure:

Higgins v. Higgins, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2527 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred denying wife’s motion for continuance of zoom trial when wife had a bad internet connection.  Denial of continuance deprived wife of due process right to be heard.  Judge Amy R. Hawthorne affirmed in part, reversed in part.

King v. Escobar, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2631 (Fla. 4th DCA 2022).  Trial court’s order compelling compulsory psychological examination failed to specify length, subject matter of evaluation, or type of testing to be conducted.  This type of open-ended order departs from the essential requirements of law, and results in a miscarriage of justice because it grants doctor ‘carte blanche’ to perform any type of psychological inquiry, testing and/or analysis.  Judge Natasha DePrimo’s order quashed.

Lee v. Lee, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2455 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2022).  Trial court erred by failing to consolidate a partition action with a divorce action, even when the partition matter was close to trial. When the two actions involved same questions of law and fact in question, the administration of justice is best served by an order that averts the piecemeal handling of claims between parties.  Judges James Shenko and John S. Carlin, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

Levy v. Levy, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2495 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2022).  Motion to disqualify counsel properly denied, when motion was unprofessional and unfair, and there was a complete and total failure of proof of any allegations set forth.  Judge Jason E. Dimitris, 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 Martindale-Hubbell, 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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