Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A.

Palm Beach Florida Divorce & Family Law Blog

Residency Requirements to Obtain a Divorce in Florida

To obtain a divorce in Florida, either the Husband or the Wife must reside in Florida for six (6) months prior to the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. A court does not have jurisdiction to decide a divorce case unless jurisdiction is appropriately allege in the Petition for Dissolution and proved at the Final Hearing.

Alimony in Florida - Paying Spouse to Purchase Life Insurance

In an alimony case, a trial court may require a paying spouse to maintain life insurance under certain circumstances. In order for a court to require a paying spouse to maintain life insurance, the trial court must find that the insurance is available, it must state the cost of the policy, and it must determine the that paying spouse has the ability to pay for the cost of the insurance. The amount of the insurance required must be commensurate with the amount of the support obligation. Finally, in order to require a paying spouse to maintain life insurance to secure an alimony obligation, there must be "special circumstances" that justify this requirement. These special circumstances include situations where the recipient spouse would be left in severe financial condition after the death of the paying spouse due to his or her poor health, age, or lack of employment potential.

Division of Property and Assets - Division of Pensions in a Florida Divorce

A division of property and assets case involving a husband's pension was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal. In this case, the husband and wife were married for thirteen years. When the divorce was filed, the husband had been working for the City of Delray Beach as a firefighter for 16 years. The Husband's pension accrued at a rate of 2.5% per year. Once the husband had served for 25 years, his retirement benefits increased to 3% per year. When the divorce was filed, the husband was eligible for the 2.5% multiplier. The Florida Court of Appeal pointed out that there are two methods to distribute pensions. The first method is the immediate offset method. Under this method, spouses receive the present value of their interest in the other spouse's pension either in cash or as a share of marital distribution. The second method is the deferred distribution method. Under this method, the judge determines the amount of the employee's benefit as of the date of the final hearing (without any early retirement penalty). 

Modification of Child Custody & Visitation in West Palm Beach

Modification of child custody & visitation in Florida was recently discussed in a case captioned Lewis v. Juliano.  In this case, the Mother appealed an order that required her to provide the Father with her physical address as a precondition to exercising timesharing. The trial court modified the parties' timesharing schedule as a result of the Mothers' failure to provide the Father with her physical address.

The Mother and Father were divorced in 2014.  In 2016, the lower court modified the parties' Final Judgment of Dissolution due to the Mother's relocation to another state.  The Court's order required both parents to provide each other with their residential and mailing addresses. The Father filed a Motion for Contempt of Court as a result of the Mother's failure to provide him with her residential and mailing addresses and for failure of the Mother to permit the child to have appropriate communication with the Father.

In July 2016, the lower court found Mother in Contempt of Court as a result of her failure to provide the Father with her address. In May 2017, the Father filed a Motion to determine the status of the child's summer visitation since the Mother had not provided him with her address. The Father argued that the child should not travel to an undisclosed address.

The trial court granted the Father's motion and required the Mother to disclose her address as a precondition to her exercise of summer timesharing with the child.

Child Custody and Visitation in West Palm Beach, Florida

A child custody and visitation issue was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Preudhomme v. Preudhomme. In this case, the Mother challenged the trial court's timesharing determination. The Mother lived in Pensacola and the Father lived in Mobile, Alabama. During the pendency of the divorce proceeding, the parents met midway between the two cities for timesharing. The parents arranged for the child to attend preschools in both cities. The Mother asked the trial court to create a parenting plan in which she had majority timesharing and the Father was given alternating weekends and holidays and weekly rotating custody during the summer. The Father asked the trial court to continue the current timesharing schedule until the child began kindergarten. The child was scheduled to begin kindergarten approximately twenty months later. After the child started kindergarten, the Father requested that he be awarded majority timesharing when the child was in school. The Father proposed that the Mother should have timesharing during alternating holidays and weekends, and for most of the summer. The court adopted the Father's proposed parenting plan.

Permanent Alimony in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

In Florida, permanent alimony is rebuttably presumed to be appropriate in a marriage that exceeds seventeen years. In a case captioned Hedden v. Hedden, the wife appealed a judgment terminating her marriage of thirty-seven years. The parties have two children. The wife was a stay-at-home mother for a majority of the marriage. The wife was last employed twelve years prior to date of the trial. The wife also had a medical condition. The trial court found that the wife had a need for support and that the husband had the ability to pay. The trial court awarded the Wife both permanent and durational alimony. The durational alimony was scheduled to end when the wife reached age 62. At age 62, the wife was eligible to receive Social Security benefits.

Division of Property and Assets in a Boca Raton, Florida

The division of property and assets in a divorce proceeding cannot include property that was previously conveyed to the parties' children. In a recently decided case captioned Perez v. Perez, the parties were married for twenty-three years. The husband and wife owned several pieces of real estate. During the course of the marriage, they conveyed four pieces of real estate to their sons. As part of the final judgment in the divorce proceeding, the trial court awarded some of the real estate that was conveyed to the children to the husband and some of this real estate to the wife.

During the course of this divorce proceeding, the wife sued her sons as third party defendants claiming that her husband and sons had engaged in a scheme to defraud her. The husband contended that the wife agreed to the transfer at the time that it was made. In point of fact, the wife signed the deeds conveying the property to her sons. In making its equitable distribution award, the trial court included the properties that the parties had conveyed to the children.

Division of Property and Assets Involving Companies in Florida

A division of property and assets case involving the valuation of a start-up 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.

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