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Palm Beach Florida Divorce & Family Law Blog

Division of Property and Assets Involving of Companies in Florida

A division of property and assets case involving the valuation of a start-up limited liability company was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal. In a case captioned Soria v. Soria, the husband and wife were married in 1988. The parties were married in April 1988. The husband was the founder of a start-up limited liability company. At the time of trial, the company was carrying approximately $400,000 of debt. The company's liabilities varied from $9000 to $76,000 and the company's assets varied from $147,000 to $190,000. The husband testified that he was essential to the operation of the business and that the business could not operate without him. The husband owned approximately 64% of the business and investors owned the remaining 36% of the business. After the divorce was filed, the husband transferred 30,000 of his shares in the company to his girlfriend in order to compensate her for her work for the company.

Reduction of Alimony by Live-In Relationships in Florida

In alimony cases, living with someone may reduce or eliminate the need for alimony when the live-in relationship is found to be substantially equivalent to a remarriage. In a recently decided case captioned Bruce v. Bruce, the wife appealed the trial court's refusal to award her alimony. The parties were married for twenty years. They had three children. The wife worked part time and took care of the children during the day. The wife had serious medical issues, including being hearing impaired and having permanent arthritis, and was a cancer survivor. The wife moved out of the marital home and into an apartment with her boyfriend. The wife denied that she was in a supportive relationship with her boyfriend. The wife contended that she owes her boyfriend back rent, which she intends to repay in the future. The wife contended that she pays for her own phone, electric and water bills and pays for her own groceries. The wife and her boyfriend have no joint financial accounts, they have no joint investments and they do not jointly own personal or real property.

Alimony Attorney in Boca Raton, Florida

In awarding alimony, income will not be imputed to a spouse who decides to defer taking Social Security benefits when that party would receive larger benefits by deferring the benefits.

In a case captioned Huertas Del Pino v. Huertas Del Pino the trial court imputed income to the Wife based on the Wife's failure to apply for Social Security benefits. A court may impute income to an unemployed or underemployed party in determining that party's need or ability to pay alimony. The party seeking to impute income has the burden of proof. In this case, the Wife was a stay at home mother with little employment experience. After the divorce was filed, the Wife unsuccessfully attempted to find employment. The trial court held that the Wife could find forty hours per week of employment and that she was capable of earning ten dollars per hour. Additionally, at the time of the final hearing, the Wife was eligible to immediately receive $640 per month in Social Security benefits. However, if the Wife elected to defer receipt of these Social Security benefits until after her sixty-fifth birthday, she would receive $900 per month in Social Security benefits. The lower court ruled that the Wife had an obligation to immediately apply for her Social Security benefits and imputed $640 per month to the Wife in reaching its alimony determination.

Unmarried Parent's Rights in Palm Beach County, Florida

Unmarried father's rights were discussed in a recently decided case captioned State of Florida Department of Revenue v. Augustin. The Florida statutes provide for a mechanism under which men may disestablish paternity and terminate their child support obligation. In order to do this a man must prove seven things. First, that since the initial establishment of the father's paternity, he became aware of newly discovered evidence that proves that he is not the father of the child. Second, a paternity test was properly conducted which demonstrates that he is not the father of the child. Third, that the petitioner is current on his child support payments or that there is a justification for his failure to do so. Fourth, that the petitioner has not adopted the child. Fifth, that the child was not the produce of in vitro fertilization. Sixth, that the petitioner did not take any action to deprive the actual father from asserting his righ ts. Seventh, that the child was less than eighteen years of age when the petition was filed.

Modification of Alimony Based Upon a Party's Retirement

A modification of alimony based upon a party's retirement may be granted when the trial court finds that the party's retirement is reasonable. In determining whether a party's retirement is reasonable, a Court will look at the parties' age, health, and motivation for retiring. In determining whether a reduction in alimony based upon a party's retirement will be permitted, the trial court will also examine the type of work that the paying party performs and the age at which others in that line of work customarily retire.

In a recently decided case captioned Dogoda v. Dogoda, the husband appealed an order denying his petition to modify his alimony obligation. The parties married in 1991. The husband filed for divorce in 2013. The parties entered into a marital settlement agreement that resolved all of their issues. The agreement was executed in September of 2014, and was not incorporated into a Final Judgment of Dissolution until December of 2014. Due to his poor performance in physical fitness drills that took place after September of 2014, the Husband decided to retire in January of 2015. The Husband then petitioned for a modification of his alimony obligation. The lower court held that the Husband's retirement was contemplated prior to the final judgment being entered. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's decision.

Division of Property and Assets in West Palm Beach, Florida

A Division of Property and Assets case was recently decided by the Florida court of Appeal. In a case captioned Ramos v. Ramos, the Court ruled that, under Florida law, the appreciation in the value of a nonmarital asset that results from the expenditure of marital funds or from marital labor is a marital asset. For example, if a $500,000 home is owned by one of the parties prior to the marriage and the value of that home is increased to $1,000,000 as a result of marital efforts, the increase in the value of the home is considered to be a marital asset subject to division by the Court.

In the Ramos case, the parties married in 2000, and the Husband filed for divorce in 2014. The Husband maintained that his vending machine business was a nonmarital asset because the business was started ten years prior to the date of the marriage. The Husband contended that because the business was a nonmarital asset, it was not subject to equitable distribution by the Court. The Wife contended that the business was a marital asset. The evidence at trial showed that the Husband's business lost value during the course of the marriage. The trial court agreed with the Wife and found that the business was a marital asset. The Husband appealed the trial court's ruling. The Florida Court of Appeal agreed with the Husband and reversed the trial court.

Alimony in Palm Beach Gardens Florida

In a recent decided alimony case captioned Shimer v. Corey, the Florida Court of Appeal held that the lower court made a mistake when it required the Husband to purchase a life insurance policy as part of the alimony award in this case. The Florida statutes permit a court to require a party to maintain a life insurance policy to secure alimony payments. In making a decision as to whether a payor should be required to purchase insurance to secure an alimony award the trial court should consider the following factors. 

Unmarried Fathers and Unmarried Mothers and Contempt of Court in Florida

This paternity case involved an unmarried mother and an unmarried father in Hillsborough County, Florida. This litigation started when the child was 16 months old. The parties were initially able to settle matters involving their personal property. However, disputes about the child continued for many years. After an August 2008 hearing, the trial court entered a temporary order awarding majority time-sharing to the father. The remaining issues were referred to a general magistrate. The general magistrate did not conduct a hearing on these issues for two years. One of the parents objected, and the reviewing court did not issue an order for three more years. The mother objected to this ruling and the court did not rule on the mother's objections for another two years.

The father was then found in contempt of court for violating the temporary timesharing order. In the contempt order, the father lost his majority timesharing with the child. The court granted a custody modification and awarded the mother equal timesharing. The father was also admonished not to exercise sole parental responsibility and was ordered not to engage in conduct that hindered effective co-parenting.

Paternity Tests in Florida

In a recent paternity case captioned L.G. v. Department of Children and Families, the legal father of a child appealed an order denying his Petition to Disestablish Paternity of a child. The legal father was not married to the child's mother. However, the legal father acknowledged his paternity on the child's birth certificate. The legal father filed a Petition to Disestablish Paternity based on newly discovered evidence. The newly discovered evidence was that a recent DNA test showed that he was not the actual father of the child. The trial judge denied the father's Petition based upon the fact that another father was unwilling to step in and serve as the father of this child.

Modification of Alimony in Boynton Beach, Florida

A modification of alimony is permitted by the Florida Statutes. In a recently decided case captioned Kallett v. Kastriner, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that the right to apply for a modification of alimony may only be waived in an agreement if the language in the contract contains a waiver that is clear and unambiguous, or if the agreement is written in a manner that can lead to no other conclusion but that the parties intended there to be a waiver of this right.

In this case, the Husband and Wife were divorced in 2006. The lower court ordered the Husband to pay permanent alimony to his wife. In 2008, the husband and wife entered into an agreement in which they agreed to reduce the Husband's alimony by $500.00 per month due to the diminution of his income. The lower court approved this agreement. In 2014, the Husband sought another reduction in his alimony. The Wife opposed this reduction unless the Husband was involuntarily unemployed. The Wife argued that the 2008 agreement contained a provision that said that the Husband could only reduce his alimony obligation if he was involuntarily unemployed. The Wife argued that since the Husband was not involuntarily unemployed, he was not entitled to seek a modification. The trial court agreed with the Wife's construction of this provision and granted the Wife's Motion for Summary Judgment against the Husband.

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