Articles Tagged with Divorce

Custody of the family dog was recently considered by the Florida Court of Appeal in a Florida divorce case captioned Harby v. Harby.  In this case, the Former Husband and the Former Wife were married in December 2001.  In November 2017, the Former Wife filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  The Former Husband and Former Wife own two dogs.  Their names are Liberty and Nico. At the trial, the Former Wife testified that Liberty was an emotional support dog. The Former Wife also testified that she took care of Liberty and Nico from 2013 to 2017.  Between 2017 and the date of the trial, the Former Husband took care of both dogs.

The trial court awarded custody of the family dogs to the Former Husband.  The Former Wife appealed this decision.  She argued that Liberty was her emotional support dog.  The Former Husband testified that he and his Former Wife agreed that the dogs should not be separated from each other.

The Florida Court of Appeal pointed out that in some states, family pets are recognized as having a special status that may be considered by trial courts in awarding custody and visitation of the family pet.  For example, Alaska allows trial courts to determine a pet’s well-being in awarding custody and visitation in an Alaskan divorce proceeding.  The State of Florida does not consider the family pet to have a special status.  In the State of Florida, pets are considered to be personal property.  As such, Florida trial courts cannot award custody or visitation of pets.

A divorce case involving the imputation of income to a stay-at-home parent was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal.  In a case captioned Wilkins v. Wilkins, the Former Wife appealed the lower court’s order granting temporary relief to the Former Husband.  During the course of their relationship, the Former Husband and the Former Wife agreed that the Former Wife would live with her family and take care of the parties’ minor child and a child from the Former Wife’s previous relationship while she was completing her nursing degree.

The trial court found that the Former Wife took only one nursing course during the time that she lived with her family, and imputed income to the Former Wife for purposes of calculating child support.  The trial court ordered the Former Wife to pay child support to her Former Husband, who was on active military duty.

The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the trial court.  The appellate court ruled that although a trial court is ordinarily required to impute income to a parent who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, a trial court should give great deference to the parties’ joint decision that one of the parents should stay home to raise their children.

In a divorce case captioned, Armand v. Amisy, the Husband and Wife were married in Haiti in 2008.  In 2014 they moved to Massachusetts with their three children.  In 2016, they moved to Florida.  Husband filed for divorce in Florida in September of 2017.  Wife filed an Answer and a Counter-Petition in Florida.  Husband then filed a Voluntary Dismissal in Florida and a Motion to Dismiss Wife’s Counter-Petition.  Husband alleged that Florida lacked subject matter jurisdiction.  Husband argued that he was a Haitian citizen and resided in Somalia, and that his Wife had returned to Massachusetts with their children prior to filing her Counter-Petition in Florida.

Prior to the hearing on Husband’s Motion to Dismiss, Husband filed a divorce decree from Haiti.  Husband stated that he initiated a dissolution proceeding in Haiti in 2014, and that a Final Judgment granting his divorce was entered in May of 2017.  In May of 2018, Husband filed a Second Motion to Dismiss for want of subject matter jurisdiction based on the fact that the parties were already divorced in Haiti.

In a case captioned, Armand v. Amisy, the Florida Court of Appeal pointed out that Florida trial courts only have jurisdiction as a result of the Florida Constitution or a Florida statute.  Parties cannot agree to jurisdiction and objections to subject matter jurisdiction cannot we waived.  A court’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time.

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