Friday, April 27, 2012

Fifth District Reverses Over Telephone Testimony

The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed today in Cole v. Cole, a relocation case in which the minor child’s stepmother was permitted to testify via telephone over the objection of the Former Wife.  Given the very damaging nature of the testimony, the Fifth District was unable to consider the error harmless, and was forced to reverse the ruling in its entirety.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fourth District Court finds Latent Ambiguity in MSA

The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled today in two consolidated appeals in Riera v. Riera, a case in which the Former Husband was held in contempt below and ordered incarcerated unless a purge was paid for non-payment of college tuition.  The District Court found that, because the Former Husband claimed it was his understanding that the child would attend a Florida public university, there was a latent ambiguity in the parties’ Marital Settlement Agreement.  In other words, while the words of the agreement were clear, they failed to address the obligations of the parties in certain situations.  The Court also found error in the lower court’s issuing a contempt order for a contractual obligation to pay college expenses, and for failing to make a finding of an affirmative ability to pay the purge amount.  Senior Judge Schwartz concurred in the Court’s determination that contempt is not an available sanction for non-payment of contractual college expenses, but not with the Court’s finding of a latent ambiguity.  Senior Judge Schwartz found the contract unambiguous and felt it covered all circumstances.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fourth District Reverses Alimony Award

The Fourth District Court reversed yesterday in Galstyan v. Galstyan, in so doing finding error with the lower tribunal’s award of alimony without findings regarding the Husband’s income, as well as the adoption of a repayment plan without findings as to the Husband’s income, the award of life insurance and a bond both to secure the alimony awarded, and the failure of the Court to make specific findings as to the impact of providing life insurance on the Husband’s finances and the appropriate tailoring of the life insurance requirement.

Monday, April 9, 2012

First DCA Reverses Administrative Support Order

As was the case twice last week in D.O.R. ex rel Gray v. Hunt and D.O.R. ex rel Whittaker v. Veach, as well as the month before in D.O.R. ex rel Mash v. Ingram, and as seems to be becoming a regular occurrence, the First District Court again reversed an administrative support order today for permitting deviation for an informal timesharing agreement rather than an approved parenting plan.  This time the reversal came in D.O.R. ex rel Mayweather v. Mayweather. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Contempt Order Reversed by Fourth District

The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed today in Ramirez v. Ramirez, on the grounds that the contempt and incarceration order entered below lacked the required findings that the appellant had the present ability to pay the support, that he willfully failed to comply with the support order, and a separate affirmative finding that the contemnor could pay the purge, along with factual findings supporting each such finding.  On remand, the Fourth District also ordered that a new evidentiary hearing be held on the ground that the appellant was prevented from presenting rebuttal evidence prior to the entry of the contempt order.

Fourth District Court Reverses Contract Modification

The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed today in Hartman v. Hartman that it was error for the lower court to require the former husband to pay only half of an agreed upon amount for college tuition, on the grounds that there was no motion for modification pending, and the court as such lacked jurisdiction to modify the final judgment.

Lord Mansfield Returns to the Fourth District

The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed today in J.T.J. v. N.H. and E.R., a case in which the lower tribunal had dismissed a petition to establish paternity on the grounds that the minor child was born while the mother was married to another man, thus raising a presumption of legitimacy.  The Appellant, the putative father of the minor child, argued that he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing prior to dismissal for such a reason.  The Fourth District Court agreed, holding as they did in the recent D.O.R. ex rel Iglesias case that an evidentiary hearing was required as to the best interests of the minor child prior to any such dismissal.

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