Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, WEST PALM BEACH, WELLINGTON, BOCA RATON561-328-1111

Palm Beach Florida Divorce & Family Law Blog

Child Custody and Visitation in Wellington, Florida

Child Custody and Visitation in Florida was recently addressed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Beck v. Lewis. In this case the father appealed the temporary order of the court which created a temporary timesharing schedule for the parents. The trial court granted temporary primary custody of the child to the mother. The Court of Appeal affirmed this temporary order. The temporary order terminated a prior court order that awarded temporary timesharing to the child's grandmother.

The trial court order terminated the grandmother's timesharing, establishing the mother as the primary custodian of the child, and awarding transportation expenses. The order provided for the father to have timesharing with the child one weekend per month, during the summer and during holidays. The father works on weekends as a DJ. The father challenged the trial court's order based upon the fact that the timesharing schedule impairs his ability to earn a living on weekends.

Alimony in Boca Raton, Florida

An alimony issue was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Cooper v. Cooper. In this case the husband appealed a divorce judgment obtained by his wife. The trial court awarded the wife permanent alimony. The Husband contended that the amount of the alimony award was improper. The Florida Court of Appeal agreed. In calculating alimony, the trial court included the husband's total income which consisted of the husband's salary and bonuses. The Florida Court of Appeal ruled that the ability to pay alimony is based on net income, not total income. Therefore, the appellate court reversed the alimony award and remanded the case back to the trial court with directions that the trial curt should issue an award based upon the husband's net income. Additionally, the appellate court directed the trial court to calculate the tax consequences of the support award on the husband's net income. Finally, the Florida Court of Appeal instructed the trial court to determine whether life insurance was required to secure the payment of the alimony award based on the cost of the insurance, its availability and the need for this insurance.

Alimony in Boca Raton, Florida

In awarding alimony, the trial court is required to take into account the payor's living expenses. In a recently decided case before the Florida Court of Appeal captioned Will v. Will, the husband appealed the lower court's award of alimony. The husband challenged the alimony award, because the trial court erred in determining his ability to pay without taking into account his living expenses. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the lower court's alimony award. The Florida Court of Appeal stated that when a trial court calculates alimony, it is required to take into account the payor's living expenses when determining the payor's ability to pay. In determining a payor's ability to pay, a court must consider the payor's necessary and reasonable living expenses. An award of support must take into account the payor's living expenses. An award of alimony shouldn't substantially endanger a payor's economic status. Since the lower court failed to take into account the husband's living expenses, the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the award and ordered the court to consider the husband's living expenses and his current income in calculating the appropriate alimony award.

Child Custody and Visitation for Same-Sex Couples in Florida

Child Custody and Visitation for Same-Sex Couples in Florida was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Springer v. Springer. In Springer v. Springer a child was born to a biological mother while she was in a same-sex relationship. Her partner asked the Court to recognize a parenting plan that both parties entered into. The parties started their relationship in the State of Ohio. The Biological Mother became pregnant by a donor's sperm. The Former Partner had no biological connection to the child. The parties entered into a timesharing agreement which contained a provision that the parties were to share timesharing and parental responsibility. The parties separated after they moved to Florida. The parties did not marry and the child was not adopted by the Former Partner. The Former Partner sought time-sharing and parental responsibility of the child.

Keeping the Family Home in a Divorce in Palm Beach Gardens, FL

In a recently decided divorce case, the Florida Court of Appeal decided who gets to keep the family home when there is a divorce. In a case captioned Walker v. Walker, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that as a general rule, absent special circumstances, the trial court should award to the primary residential parent exclusive use and possession of the marital home until the youngest child reaches the age of majority or is emancipated, or the primary residential parent remarries. Special circumstances include where the parties' combined incomes are insufficient to meet their normal living expenses, obligations, debts and the cost of maintaining the marital home. Exclusive use and occupancy will not be awarded where the former husband and former wife do not have a sufficient combined income to maintain the marital home and meet their obligations. Florida statutes require courts to assess the desirability of maintaining the marital home as a place for the children to live when it is equitable to do so, it is financially feasible, and it is in the children's best interest. In reaching this decision, divorce courts are to first decide whether it is in the best interest of the children to stay in the marital home, and, if not, whether other equities are served by giving the other spouse exclusive use and possession of the parties' marital home.

Divorce in Florida - Division of a Business

Divorce proceedings in Florida often involve the division of a business that is jointly owned and operated by a husband and wife. In a recently decided case captioned Bowen v. Volz, the lower court divided a business owned by a husband and wife. The trial court awarded each party a fifty percent interest in their business. The Florida Court of Appeal reviewed this decision and began by commenting on the lack of evidence that was presented to the trial court concerning the valuation of the business. The Florida Court of Appeal then reversed the trial court. The Court stated that it is inappropriate to make a husband and wife remain the joint owners of a business after they are divorced. Awarding a former husband and a former wife a shared interest in a business is in effect requiring them to operate their business as partners. This is an intolerable arrangement. The appropriate remedy is for the parties to present a full and complete valuation of the business to the trial court and for the court to then award the asset to one of the parties and create a distribution plan which causes the least disruption to the business and is beneficial and practical for the parties.

Alimony in Palm Beach Gardens

Calculation of alimony was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Reyes v. Fernandez. The court stated that permanent alimony is intended to provide for the needs and the necessities of life of the former spouse, as they were established during the course of their marriage. The two primary factors are the needs of the recipient spouse and the ability of the payor to provide the required funds.

Where a payor is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, a Court may impute income to the payor based upon his or her earning capacity. First, the court must determine that the unemployment or underemployment was voluntary. Second, the court must determine that the party's unemployment or underemployment resulted from the payor's pursuit of his or her own interests or as a result of less than diligent efforts to obtain employment at an income level that is equal to or higher than the income that was formerly received.

Alimony in Boca Raton, Florida - Imputation of Income

Imputation of alimony was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Frerking v. Stacy. In this case, the former wife appealed a trial court's decision that denied her request for permanent alimony and imputed income to her. The parties were married for nineteen years. The Florida Court of appeal pointed out that permanent alimony is intended to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the course of the marriage. Permanent alimony is presumed to be appropriate after a long-term marriage. A marriage that lasts seventeen years or more is considered to be a long-term marriage. A trial court errs when it fails to award permanent alimony where there has been a long-term marriage, unless the presumption favoring this award is overcome by competent substantial evidence.

Modification of Alimony in Palm Beach County, Florida

Modification of Alimony was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Inman v. Inman. In this case the former husband sought appellate review of a trial court order denying his supplemental petition for modification of alimony. The former husband sought to terminate his alimony obligation based upon the remarriage of his former wife. He also sought modification based on the parties change in financial circumstances. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court based on its inappropriate application of the standard to modify alimony awards.

The parties divorce decree provided that the former husband was to make payments to the former wife for the remainder of her life. The former husband sought termination of his alimony obligation based upon Florida Statute Section 61.08(8), which provides that an award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The Florida Court of Appeal ruled that if the parties enter into a marital settlement agreement that provides that alimony shall continue despite the remarriage of the recipient spouse, then this agreement is valid and binding and supersedes the provisions contained in Florida Statute Section 61.08(8).

Modification of Alimony in Boca Raton, Florida

Modification of Alimony should be granted retroactively to the date the petition was filed if the reasons justifying modification existed at that time. In a case captioned Nuttle v. Nuttle the former husband appealed a final judgment modifying his alimony obligation. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's decision and remanded the case back to the trial court to correctly modify the former husband's alimony. In 2015, the parties entered into a marital settlement agreement under which the former husband agreed to pay his former wife durational alimony. Before the trial court signed the final judgment, the former husband filed a supplemental petition for modification of alimony based on the fact that the former husband was notified by his employer that he was going to be terminated from his employment. Eleven months after the parties entered into the marital settlement agreement, the trial court entered a final judgment that incorporated the terms of the marital settlement agreement and reserved jurisdiction to hear the former husband's modification of alimony. The former husband then filed an amended supplemental petition for modification of alimony.

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