Monday, January 5, 2009

15th Circuit Final Judgment Reversed for Lack of Findings

Among the reasons for reversal of the Final Judgment in Lift v. Lift today by the Fourth District Court were the award of alimony without findings as to income or statutory factors, the failure to make statutory findings regarding values and reasons for equitable distribution, and the disregard of various stipulations of the parties regarding equitable distribution, again found to be binding on the Court as well as the parties. Of particular interest was the Fourth District's rejection of the Court's award of half-shares of the marital veterinary business to each party despite a stipulation that the Wife would retain it at an agreed value. The Fourth District ruled that:

"Second, the parties correctly agree that the trial court erred in awarding each a half interest in the wife's veterinary business, thereby forcing them to be business partners. As we have previously held, compelling former spouses to remain in business together "creates [an] intolerable situation." Novak v. Novak, 429 So. 2d 414, 414-15 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983); see also Manolakos v. Manolakos, 871 So. 2d 258, 260 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004) ("[d]issolution of marriage being what it is, it is clearly an abuse of discretion for the trial court to order two parties who have stated that they do not want to continue to work together after their divorce to do just that")."

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