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Palm Beach Florida Divorce & Family Law Blog

Alimony in Jupiter, Florida

In a recently decided alimony case, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that permanent alimony is intended to allow the recipient spouse to maintain the standard of living established by the parties during the course of their marriage. In this case, the parties were married for 39 years and had adult children. The parties agreed upon the distribution of their assets, but were unable to agree upon the amount of the wife's alimony award. The parties agreed that the Wife was to receive ½ of the Husband's military retirement benefits. The parties both took on debt. During the course of the marriage, the wife worked and raised the parties' children while the Husband served in the military. The wife was a bartender in the marriage's early years and was then a realtor. The wife was then in a motorcycle accident and was not working at the time of the trial. The wife was in the process of attempting to obtain disability benefits at the time that the trial took place. At the time of trial, the Husband was retired and was working on a contract basis. The husband also received a disability check.

Alimony in Wellington and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

In a recently decided alimony case captioned Jimenez v. Jimenez, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that in reaching a decision concerning alimony, a trial court is required to consider every one of the factors set forth in the Florida Statutes. In deciding whether or not to award alimony, a trial court is required to decide whether one of the parties has the ability to pay alimony and whether the other party has the need for alimony. If a court determines that one party has the ability to pay alimony and that the other party has the need for alimony, the court is required to consider all of the following ten factors. First, the standard of living established by the parties during the marriage. Second, the length of the marriage. Third, the physical and emotional condition of each of the parties and the age of the parties. Fourth, each parties assets and liabilities. Fifth, the parties' earning capacities and the need for additional training and education. Sixth, each of the parties' contribution to the marriage. Seventh, the need to stay home with any minor children. Eighth, the tax consequences of an award of alimony. Ninth, each parties' sources of income from employment or investments. Tenth, any other factor that the court considers is necessary to reach a fair and just resolution of the matter.

Alimony in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

In a recently decided alimony case captioned Jimenez v. Jimenez, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that in reaching a decision concerning alimony, a trial court is required to consider every one of the factors set forth in the Florida Statutes. In deciding whether or not to award alimony, a trial court is required to decide whether one of the parties has the ability to pay alimony and whether the other party has the need for alimony. If a court determines that one party has the ability to pay alimony and that the other party has the need for alimony, the court is required to consider all of the following ten factors. First, the standard of living established by the parties during the marriage. Second, the length of the marriage. Third, the physical and emotional condition of each of the parties and the age of the parties. Fourth, each parties assets and liabilities. Fifth, the parties' earning capacities and the need for additional training and education. Sixth, each of the parties' contribution to the marriage. Seventh, the need to stay home with any minor children. Eighth, the tax consequences of an award of alimony. Ninth, each parties' sources of income from employment or investments. Tenth, any other factor that the court considers is necessary to reach a fair and just resolution of the matter.

Division of Property and Assets in Florida

In a recent division of property and assets case, captioned Gotro v. Gotro the Florida Court of Appeal held that a trial court should not include expended assets in an equitable distribution scheme unless these assets were dissipated as a result of one of the parties' misconduct. In this case, the parties had a 39 year marriage and had 4 adult children. The husband was the primary breadwinner. The husband had a number of bank accounts which were marital assets. The significant bank accounts, for purposes of this appeal, were two accounts at BBVA Compass Bank. By the time that the final hearing took place, the balances in these two bank accounts was significantly lower than they had been at the time of the filing of the divorce. The husband testified that he had used the money in these accounts for his living expenses. The husband requested that the trial court distribute these accounts based upon their value at the time of the final hearing and not as of the date of the filing of the dissolution of marriage. In fashioning its final judgment, the trial court used the values in the accounts as of the date of the filing of the divorce.

Alimony - Palimony, Same-Sex Divorce & Support Agreements

A same-sex divorce case involving alimony, palimony and an oral cohabitation agreement was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal. The case was captioned Armao v. McKenney. During the course of the parties' relationship, the parties entered into an oral cohabitation agreement. The parties agreed that they would live together, work together, take care of each other emotionally and financially, provide for each other, and be a couple. They characterized their relationship as being: "just like a married couple." They combined their assets, investments, income, and inheritances. They participated in a blessing ceremony. They held themselves out as a couple during their 46 year relationship.

The Defendant earned approximately $500,000.00 during the course of the relationship. He gave all his paychecks to the Plaintiff. The Defendant owned a home before the parties met. When the Defendant sold his home, he gave the proceeds to the Plaintiff. When the Defendant's mother died, he gave his inheritance to the Plaintiff. In the Counterclaim, the Defendant sought half of the balances in all of the accounts held by the Plaintiff, representing one half of the parties' combined assets.

Alimony in Jupiter, Florida

In a recently decided alimony case captioned Hua v. Tsung, the husband filed an action for divorce. The parties were married for 17½ years. The Husband and wife were in their early forties. The Husband was the primary breadwinner and wife was a homemaker and stay-at-home mother. The Husband owned several businesses during the marriage. The Husband owned part of a restaurant. The Husband also allegedly owned shares in a company named DSC Holdings Limited. At the time of the divorce, the husband lived with a new girlfriend and their two minor children in Brazil. The Wife lived in Broward County, Florida, and took care of the parties' minor children. During the marriage, the wife and the husband received generous gifts from the husband's parents. The husband's father bought them a home in California. When the parties moved to Florida, the Husband's parents bought them a home in Broward County. The Broward County home was valued between $650,000 to $700,000. The parties also bought a rental property. The parties' comfortable lifestyle was due in large part to the Husband's father. The wife earned no income.

Division of Property and Assets in Wellington, Florida

The division of property and assets in a Florida divorce begins with the division of the parties' assets into two categories, marital assets and liabilities and nonmarital assets and liabilities. Marital assets are those assets accumulated during the marriage by the parties from their work, earnings and services. In determining whether property is a marital asset, the question is not which party holds title to the asset. The trial court divides the marital assets and liabilities between the parties. In a recently decided case captioned Hooker v. Hooker, the Florida Supreme Court stated that although the trial judge possesses discretion to reach an equitable distribution of the parties' marital assets, there is a presumption that an even division is equitable, unless one of the parties shows otherwise.

Child Custody and Visitation in Wellington, Florida

In a child custody and visitation case, the Florida Court of Appeal recently ruled that a trial court cannot choose one parent's religious beliefs over the others' absent a showing of harm to the children. In Steinman v. Steinman the mother appealed a trial court's order finding her in contempt of court for unilaterally making decisions regarding her children's religion. The parties' marital settlement agreement provided for joint decision-making concerning all major decisions involving the children. The father contended that the mother's unilateral decision concerning the children's religious education constituted contempt of court.

The parties' marital settlement agreement provided for joint decision making for major decisions concerning the children. Religious upbringing was designated as a major decision. In 2014, the father filed a motion to hold the mother in contempt of court for placing the children in aftercare at Chabad. The Chabad aftercare program ended early on Friday as a result of the Sabbath. The father needed to work late on Fridays and wanted the mother to watch the children until 6:00 p.m.

In early 2015, the father filed another motion for contempt of court. The father argued that the mother was now following Orthodox Jewish practices and had enrolled their children in a religious aftercare program. The father complained about the mother making decisions on her own without his input. The father also complained that the aftercare schedule was negatively impacting upon his schedule at work. The father argued that he and the mother were Reform Jews during their marriage. The mother argued that she and the children attended Orthodox and Conservative synagogues during their marriage.

Child Custody and Visitation in Wellington, Florida

In making a child custody and visitation award that provides for ultimate decision-making, a trial court must delineate the specific areas over which a parent can exercise this authority. In a recent case captioned McClure v. Beck, the former wife filed an appeal of a lower court decision which modified the parties' final judgment. The Court of Appeal agreed with the former wife's argument that the lower court decision should be reversed because the trial court erroneously gave the former husband ultimate decision-making authority without describing the specific areas over which he could exercise this authority. The parties' original final judgment of dissolution of marriage gave the parents equal time­sharing with their children. It required the parties to live in Indian River County. The former wife petitioned the Court to relocate to California. The lower court denied the former wife's petition. Notwithstanding the Court's ruling, the former wife remained in California. The former husband then filed a petition to modify the parties' time-sharing schedule and asked the Court to award him ultimate decision-making authority if the parties were unable to agree. The magistrate gave the former husband ultimate decision-making authority when the parties disagreed on major decisions concerning the welfare of the children. The trial court affirmed the magistrate's decision. The Court of Appeal reversed the magistrate's and the trial court's rulings.

Adultery in Alimony Cases in Florida

In making an alimony award, adultery and infidelity can only be considered by the trial judge when the adulterous conduct involves the dissipation of marital assets. In a case captioned Keyser v. Keyser, the parties were married for twenty-years. This is considered a long term marriage. When there is a long term marriage, there is an initial presumption that an award of permanent alimony is appropriate. It was also alleged in Keyser v. Keyser that one of the spouses engaged in marital infidelity. 

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