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

Divorce Archives

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.

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.

Divorce in Jupiter, Florida

In a divorce case, captioned Brooks v. Brooks, the Father appealed the lower court's ruling denying his motion for contempt and ordered him to file a petition to relocate. The Florida Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's ruling and explained why. A time-sharing plan was entered by the Court when the parties were divorced in 2011. Under the time-sharing plan, the Mother and Father had shared parental responsibility over the children. The children lived with the Mother during the week and with the Father every other weekend. The time-sharing plan required that if either party traveled out of state with the children, that party must so inform the other party 30 days in advance and provide a travel itinerary. After the divorce, the Father moved from Sarasota to Hallandale Beach. The Mother took two out-of-state trips with the children and did not provide the Father with notice of one of the trips or a detailed itinerary. The Father moved to hold the Mother in contempt of court, and the Mother moved to hold the Father in contempt for moving to Hallandale Beach without filing a petition to relocate. After a hearing on both motions, the lower court denied both motions for contempt and ordered the Father to file a petition to relocate. The Father argued to the Florida Court of Appeal that it was improper for the trial court to deny his motion for contempt after he clearly established that the Mother violated the time-sharing plan.

Divorce In North Palm Beach, Florida

In a divorce action, in determining venue, the trial court is to look to the single county where the intact marriage was last evidenced by a continuing union of partners who intended to stay and to remain married indefinitely if not permanently. In McGee v. McGee the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "Venue transfer orders are reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Mgmt. Computer Controls, Inc. v. Charles Perry Constr., Inc., 743 So. 2d627 (Fla. lst DCA 1999). We begin by noting that venue is proper where the defendant is domiciled, where the cause of action accrued, or where the property in litigation is located. § 47.011, Fla. Stat. (2013). "In a dissolution of marriage action, the trial court is to look to the single county where 'the intact marriage was last evidenced by a continuing union of partners who intended to remain and to remain married, indefinitely if not permanently.' " Crawford v. Crawford, 415 So. 2d 870,870 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982) (citing Carroll v. Carroll, 341 So. 2d 771,722 (Fla. 1977)). But a court may transfer any civil action "to any other court of record in which it might have been brought" for the convenience of the parties or witnesses or the interest of justice. § 47.122, Fla. Stat. (emphasis added). See also § 61.13(2)(d), Fla. Stat. (providing that in modification proceedings "[t]he court may change the venue in accordance with s. 47.122.")...

Divorce in North Palm Beach, Florida

In a divorce proceeding, due process requires that the parties be given sufficient time to call witnesses and to be heard. In Julia v. Julia, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "Due process requires that a party be given the opportunity to be heard and to testify and call witnesses on the party's behalf... and the denial of this right is fundamental error." Minakan v. Husted, 27 So. 3d 695,698 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) (quoting Pettry v. Pettry, 706 So. 2d 107,108 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998)). The opportunity to be heard must be "full and fair, not merely colorable or illusive." Pelle v. Diners Club, 287 So. 2d 737,738 (Fla. 3d DCA 1974) Additionally, this Court has recognized that justice cannot be "administered arbitrarily with a stopwatch," yet that is what happened in the instant case. See Woodham v. Roy, 471 So. 2d 132, 134 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985). Throughout the hearing, the trial court made it clear that it intended to complete the trial in one day without going much beyond 5:00p.m. Although this goal is not inherently violative of due process, summarily shortening proceedings can give rise to a due process violation when they fail to afford a party a full, fair, and meaningful opportunity to be heard, such as in this case where the Wife was severely restricted in time to examine witnesses, to call any of her own witnesses, or to make any argument as to the evidence presented... 

Divorce in Boynton Beach, Florida

In a divorce proceeding in which one of the parties seeks to set aside a marital settlement agreement, the trial court should either permit the contesting party to present argument and evidence concerning the adoption of the marital settlement agreement during the final hearing, or alternatively, the court should defer entering a final judgment until a hearing on the contesting party's motion to set aside the marital settlement agreement has been held. In Giddins v. Giddins, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "Appellant, the former wife, challenges the trial court's final order of dissolution of marriage in which the court adopted and incorporated the parties' marital settlement agreement. Appellant argues the court erred in entering the final order over her objection and pending motion to set aside the marital settlement agreement, without first giving her the opportunity to be heard and present evidence. We agree. 

Divorce In North Palm Beach, FL; Child Support

In a divorce proceeding involving the nonpayment of child support, the initial judicial determination creates a rebuttable presumption that there is an ability to pay. In Fuller v. Fuller, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "Jeffrey Fuller, the former husband, appeals an amended order on Nancy Dubay, the former wife's motion for civil contempt. We reverse that portion of the trial court's order finding him in contempt, but we affirm the remainder of the order without comment... 

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