Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Third DCA Bars Spousal Recovery Based on Homestead Protection

In an unusual case, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled today in Kerzner v. Kerzner & Kerzner, and affirmed the lower tribunal’s ruling that a former spouse who had intervened in the divorce of her former spouse and his current wife could not recover on judgments for unpaid child support from the proceeds of a voluntarily sold home, on the basis that the Former Husband was entitled to homestead protection.

Second District Reverses Denial of Petition for Disestablishment of Paternity

The Second District Court of Appeal ruled today in P.G. v. E.W., in so doing reversing the lower tribunal’s denial of the Former Husband’s Petition to Disestablish Paternity.  In reversing, the Second District found first that a primary residential parent or a parent ordered to share in uncovered medical expenses qualifies as a “male ordered to pay child support” within the meaning of Florida Statute 742.18.  Next, the Court found that even a parent who perhaps should have suspected paternity was in question could raise DNA testing results as newly discovered evidence in support of a petition to disestablish.  And, in addition, the Court found that such a parent was not disqualified for any behavior suggested to violate F.S. 742.18(3) prior to receipt of the DNA results.  The Second District acknowledged the clear conflict as to this ruling between this case and Hooks v. Quaintance, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D2214 (Fla. 1st DCA October 6, 2011).  Finally, the Court rejected the idea that the primary residential parent continuing to exert parental authority was barred from seeking to disestablish that paternity.  The Second District expressly finds in closing that the 2006 statutory provisions permit a parent to seek this relief where it would have been barred in the past.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fifth District Reverses for Failure to Honor Stipulation and Make Findings as to Rental Value

The Fifth District Court reversed today in Tuomey v. Tuomey, in so doing finding merit in two arguments raised by the former husband in his appeal of the final judgment of dissolution of marriage.  First, the Court neglected to include the parties’ stipulation as to contact between a relative and the minor children, and the Fifth DCA found this to be error, citing Johnson v. Johnson, 663 So.2d 663, 665 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995).  Next, the trial court was found to be in error for offsetting the Former Husband’s payment of expenses related to the former marital home pending its sale against its fair rental value without making any finding as to the amount of that rental value.  However, the Former Husband’s claim of error to the effect that the lower court distributed unvested stock options as a marital asset was rejected, as the record reflected on careful review that only vested options were distributed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Third DCA Reverses Emergency Relocation Order

The Third District Court of Appeal reversed yesterday in Mata v. Mata, a case in which the lower tribunal had granted the appellee’s emergency motion to permit relocation of the parties’ minor child to North Carolina.  The lower court did not take evidence or testimony, but found based on argument and the pleadings that a temporary relocation would be permitted.  The District Court reversed on the basis that the lower court did not consider the factors in F.S. 61.13002(6)(b)(2) before granting the Mother’s motion for a temporary relocation.  The Court made no finding of a likelihood that the eventual relocation would be granted, and its failure to take testimony or evidence supporting the ruling was found unreasonable as well.

Support Order Reversed for Improper Deviation

The First District Court of Appeal reversed yesterday in D.O.R., ex rel Sherman v. Daly, finding that the lower court improperly deviated from the guideline support amount by using the “gross up” method for calculating support in a case where not the parenting plan, but rather the parties’ informal agreement, provided for substantially shared time-sharing between the parents.

Fourth District Reverses for Failure to Find Net Income

The Fourth District Court reversed the lower tribunal’s judgment granting a modification of child support in Capo v. Capo yesterday, finding that the lower court’s failure to make findings as to the net income of each party as a starting point for calculating child support was sufficient to require remand.

Retroactive Modification of Support Reversed

The Fourth District Court of Appeal issued an opinion yesterday in Escobar v. Escobar, in so doing reversing the lower court’s determination that a retroactive modification of child support back to the date of a 2004 Final Judgment was required.  The ruling below was based on conflicting statements in the Final Judgment as to whether the support was to be paid bi-weekly or semi-monthly.  The Fourth District found error in the lower tribunal’s essential overruling of a final, prior ruling that found no ambiguity in the Final Judgment’s determination of support, which was not appealed.  Error was also found in the Court’s review of issues not properly plead.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fourth District Reverses Contempt Order

The Fourth District Court today reversed in Hernandez v. Frontiero, a case in which the father was found to be over eighteen thousand dollars in arrears in child support, and failed to appear for hearing, but was permitted to pay that arrearage at a rate of twenty dollars a month, which would satisfy it after the child turned 29.  The Fourth DCA reversed on that ground, as well as for the lower court’s failure to award interest on the support.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Second District Explains New Relocation Statute

The Second District Court released a ruling today in A.F. v. R.P.B., offering in so doing a detailed explanation of the application, and in this case the lack of application, of Florida Statute 61.13001 to a case where a parent in another state is not relocating, but seeking to move the child to their primary, out of state residence.  The Second District Court pointed out that the newer version of that statute does not apply in that, without a change in the parent’s residence, its terms are not triggered.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Florida Supreme Court Amends Rules of Procedure

The Florida Supreme Court today released its opinion implementing the recommendations of the Committee on Privacy and Court Records, the full text of which are available here.  The substantial changes made are all directed at removing private matters from public records for the sake of security.

Florida Supreme Court Approves Amendments

The Florida Supreme Court today released new Amendments to the Florida Family Law Rules, which are available for complete review on that Court’s website.  As proposed in February, the Court adopted the amendments to Forms 12.913(a), 12.913(b), and 12.913(c), all of which deal with diligent search and noticing actions for dissolution, as well as releasing a new form, 12.913(a)(2), a Notice of Action for cases with minor children.  Due to the issues raised at oral argument, however, the Court declined to adopt the amendments to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.070.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First District Court Reverses Sanctions Not Found in Child’s Best Interest

The First District Court issued a corrected opinion yesterday in Cheek v. Hesik, a case in which the former wife was imprisoned for criminal contempt for alienating the parties’ minor child and interfering with timesharing.  The Court found no error in that finding of contempt, or the bulk of the rulings below.  However, the lower tribunal’s failure to find that the 150 day make-up visitation award, which was to occur in a different state during the school year, failed for its lack of a finding that the award was in the best interests of the minor child.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

UIFSA Appeal Dismissed by First

The First District Court of Appeal dismissed yesterday in Brautcheck v. Pulkkinen, on the basis that the orders appealed did not dispose of the Petition, and were as such not appealable final orders.  The Appellant sought review of two orders she felt “tacitly” accepted the Appellee’s argument below that the lower tribunal lacked jurisdiction to modify a Michigan decree, but in fact the two orders respectively domesticated that decree, and granted protection from a discovery request until jurisdiction to modify was established.

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