Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. Palm Beach County Divorce Lawyer | Family Law & Custody 2021-05-28T18:12:41Z https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/feed/atom/ WordPress /wp-content/uploads/sites/1201283/2021/03/cropped-favicon-32x32.jpg by BHMK <![CDATA[Are Assets Acquired After a Divorce is Filed Marital Assets?]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=48781 2021-05-28T18:06:06Z 2021-05-28T16:34:14Z division of property and assets case captioned Ritacco v. Ritacco was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal.  This case involved a twenty-two year marriage. During the course of the marriage, the parties had two children.  Both are now adults.  The Husband drew a salary, received a pension, and owned a DROP account.  The Wife moved out of the marital home on the day that she filed her Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Wife also borrowed $65,761.00 from the parties’ HELOC on that date.  The Wife deposited these funds into her bank account.  She testified at the final hearing that she used these funds to support her daughter and herself.  She stated that she used these funds to purchase gas, clothing, food, and to pay for medical visits for her daughter.  At the hearing, the Husband asserted that the Wife’s withdrawal from the HELOC was a non-marital debt. The Florida Court of Appeal stated that under Florida statutes, there are three dates that a Court may utilize to classify marital assets and liabilities.  The first date is the date on which the parties executed a valid separation agreement.  The second date is a date agreed to by the parties in a valid separation agreement.  In the event that neither of these dates apply, the date that Florida Courts utilize to classify marital assets and liabilities is the date that a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed. In Ritacco v. Ritacco, the parties did not execute a valid separation agreement.  Therefore, the date that the Florida Court of Appeal utilized to classify the parties’ assets and liabilities was the date that the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed.  The Court stated that all assets acquired and all liabilities incurred after the date that the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed are considered to be non-marital assets and non-marital liabilities. The appellate court ruled that the trial court erred when it included the $65,761.00 that the Wife borrowed from the parties’ HELOC on the day that she filed her Petition for Dissolution as a marital debt.  Since the Wife incurred this debt on the day that she filed for divorce, the appellate court considered it to be a non-marital debt that was directed to attribute the Wife. To discuss issues about your dissolution of marriage with a Florida divorce attorney, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 328-1111.]]> by BHMK <![CDATA[Psychological Evaluations in Child Custody Cases in Florida]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=48550 2021-05-18T12:21:32Z 2021-04-22T20:26:55Z child custody and visitation case involving a request by a parent to have her spouse psychologically evaluated was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal.  In a case captioned Ludwigsen v. Ludwigsen, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that in order for a psychological evaluation to be required by a Court, the party submitting the request must demonstrate that: (i) the condition for which the examination is being sought is in controversy, and (ii) that good cause exists to order the examination.  In order for a condition to be “in controversy”, a parent’s mental condition must be directly involved in the determination of the issue that is currently before the Court.  “Good cause” is shown where a parent has been unable to meet the needs of the parties’ children. The requesting party must provide the trial court with verified allegations that the other parent has a mental condition that substantially affects his or her ability to raise their children, or that a parent has been unable to meet their children’s needs. This can be accomplished by demonstrating that the other parent’s mental illness places the children at risk of abuse, abandonment or neglect.  The fact that parties are contesting time-sharing (custody and  visitation), does not, in and of itself, warrant a psychological evaluation.  The issue is not whether a parent has demonstrated good or bad parenting.  The Court is looking for an indicator of significant mental illness that affect the wellbeing of the children.  The requesting party is also required to demonstrate to the Court that expert testimony is required to resolve the child-related issue that is before the Court. The Order requiring a parent to submit to a psychological examination must clearly set forth the parameters of the evaluation, including its scope, length, manner and type of testing.  The Order must also identity the person or persons who are permitted to conduct the evaluation. To speak with a child custody and visitation attorney in Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"].]]> by matthewlane <![CDATA[How to Receive an Unequal Division of Marital Assets]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=48538 2021-05-13T10:56:09Z 2021-03-25T19:32:01Z division of property and assets case was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Ortiz v. Ortiz.  In this case, the Florida Court of Appeal pointed out that in making a division of property and assets, a trial court is required to begin with the assumption that there will be an equal division of marital assets and liabilities, unless there is a reason for an unequal division based upon the following factors: (a) each spouse’s contribution to their marriage; (b) the parties’ economic circumstances; (c) the length of the marriage; (d) whether there was an interruption of either party’s careers or educational opportunities; (e) whether one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s career or educational opportunities; (f) the desirability of one party retaining particular assets, such as corporations, businesses, and professional practices; (g) each spouse’s contribution to the production of income, the improvement of assets, or the accumulation of debt; (h) the need to retain the marital home as a place in which the children or the other spouse can to live (based upon a determination by the Court that it is fair to do so, is in children’s best interest, and is fiscally feasible; or based upon a finding that it would be fair to provide the other spouse with exclusive use and possession of the home); (i) the intentional dissipation or destruction of marital assets; and (j) any other factor that is necessary to bring about a just result. In the case at bar, the trial court failed to make the foregoing factual findings, and therefore the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the trial court and remanded the case back to the lower court with instructions to make these findings. To learn how courts divide property and assets in Florida, contact a divorce attorney at Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"].]]> by matthewlane <![CDATA[Imputing Income for Purposes of Alimony in Florida]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=48531 2021-05-18T12:18:06Z 2021-03-24T14:05:28Z alimony case involving imputation of income was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Waldera v. Waldera.  In this case, the husband and wife were married in 1999. At the time of their marriage, the wife held a bachelor's degree in accounting.  She worked as a fulltime bookkeeper at the husband's law firm.  When their only child was born, the husband and wife agreed that the wife would work part-time and would home school their child.  The wife continued to work part time at her husband’s law firm until 2011. After 2011, the wife worked part-time as a bookkeeper for some private clients.  In 2015, divorce proceedings were instituted. In this appeal, the wife argued that the trial judge erred in its imputation of income to her.  The Florida Court of Appeal agreed.  In reaching its determination, the Court of Appeal pointed out that in order to impute income to a party, the trial judge must find that the party has the ability to earn more income than he or she is currently earning, and that he or she has deliberately refused to be employed at this higher earning capacity.  A court must make a finding that a party failed to make his or her best efforts to earn more money.  Income cannot be imputed based upon records that are over five years old.  Additionally, courts may not impute income to a party that is greater than that party has historically earned, absent special circumstances.  The party seeking to impute income must establish the range of salaries that are currently being paid for available employment opportunities in the area, based upon the employee’s qualifications, including their work history, education, and physical restrictions.  Finally, a trial court is required to award significant deference to the parties’ decision that a spouse is to stay home in order to care for their children.  This is especially so when the parties have established a course of conduct over a period of time. To speak with an alimony attorney, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"].]]> by BHMK <![CDATA[Florida Permanent Alimony]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=48454 2021-05-18T12:18:50Z 2021-03-08T14:53:45Z alimony case captioned Ritacco v. Ritacco, the Husband and Wife were married for more than twenty-two years.  The Husband was the sole income provider during the marriage. The Wife raised the parties’ daughters, and did not work outside of the home.  The Husband receives a salary, a pension, and owns a DROP account.  The Florida Court of Appeal decided four alimony issues. First, the appellate court pointed out that there is a rebuttable presumption that the trial court should award permanent alimony when there is a long term marriage.  A long-term marriage is a marriage that exceeds seventeen years. Second, the Court of Appeal recognized that a trial court should impute income that can reasonably be received from a party’s liquid assets.  Where a party receives an award of equitable distribution that will result in immediate income, this income will be included in making an alimony calculation.  However, in the case at bar, the amount of income was so small that the court declined to impute it as income. Third, the Florida Court of Appeal ruled that the Husband’s employee benefits, including his vision and health insurance, should not be considered to be income for purposes of calculating alimony.  The Court ruled that these benefits were not in-kind payments or liquid assets. Finally, the appellate court pointed out that in calculating an alimony award, alimony is assessed based upon the net incomes of the parties, and not based upon their gross incomes. To speak with an alimony attorney, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"].]]> by matthewlane <![CDATA[How Florida Courts Calculate the Amount of Alimony]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=48395 2021-05-13T11:00:06Z 2021-02-19T19:03:41Z alimony case captioned Waldera v. Waldera, the trial court was presented with evidence concerning the Husband’s income during the previous ten years. However, the trial court only considered the Husband’s income during the one year period that preceded the entry of the Final Judgment. The Florida Court of Appeal ruled that this was error. Calculating alimony was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Waldera v. Waldera.  In Waldera v. Waldera the case,  the Wife appealed the amount of the alimony that was awarded to her by the trial court in the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.    She argued that the trial judge reached an erroneous alimony determination, by improperly calculating her Husband’s income.  In reaching its calculation, the trial court relied solely on the Husband’s income for one year.  The Florida Court of Appeal agreed with the Wife that this was an error. The appellate court pointed out that in making an alimony determination, a trial court is required look at all sources of income that are available to both parties.  For purposes of determining alimony, income is considered to be any type of payment, regardless of the source.  Income includes salary, bonuses,  commissions, and earnings as an independent contractor.  In awarding alimony, courts are required to consider all economic factors, including income, past earnings, net worth, and the parties’ assets.  In this case, although the trial court was presented with evidence concerning the Husband’s income between 2009 and 2016, the trial court only considered the income that Husband earned during the year preceding the entry of the Final Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.  The appellate court pointed out that there is a presumption that a payor will continue to earn the same amount that he or she has historically earned, unless there is evidence to the contrary. Additionally, in awarding alimony, a trial court may average a payor’s previous earnings when it would realistically represent a payor’s annual income.  However, a trial court may only average a party’s past income when it demonstrates a party’s current ability to pay.  In this case, the Husband’s historical income gave rise to a presumption that the Husband could continue to earn a higher salary than was determined by the trial court, and there was no evidence presented that would rebut this inference.  Accordingly, the case was reversed and remanded to the trial court for redetermination. To speak with an alimony attorney, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"].  ]]> by matthewlane <![CDATA[Child Custody and Visitation During Holidays in Florida]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=48155 2021-05-18T12:21:20Z 2021-02-02T20:38:14Z custody and visitation was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Glevis v. Glevis.   In this case, the Husband and Wife met in a foreign country.  After they dated for a few years, the Husband brought the Wife to the United States.  The parties got married in the United States.  The Wife became pregnant, and the couple's relationship deteriorated.  The Husband moved out of their home.  Eventually, the parties got back together.  The Husband found a job in Tampa, Florida, but the Wife refused to move to Tampa.  The Husband then found a home for the family in Bonita Springs.  After an argument, the Husband moved out of the marital home.  A dissolution of marriage proceeding was held.  The trial court awarded the Husband exclusive time-sharing with the baby.  Subsequently, the Wife was awarded supervised time-sharing. When the trial court created a parenting plan for the parties, it did not include holiday custody and visitation with the child.  The Florida Court of Appeal ruled that when a court awards time-sharing to both parties, rotating holiday time-sharing is required unless there is a factual basis that justifies the denial of holiday time-sharing.  Since the trial court in Glevis v. Glevis denied the Wife holiday time-sharing without making the required factual findings, the trial court’s decision was reversed. Additionally, in Glevis v. Glevis, the Magistrate recommended that the parties have shared parental responsibility, and awarded the Husband ultimate decision making authority.  Florida statutes require that in making determinations regarding parental responsibility, the best interests of the children govern.  In Florida, trial courts are directed to order shared parental responsibility unless there is a showing that it would be detrimental to the best interests of the parties’ children.  With shared parental responsibility, major decisions involving the children’s welfare are made after both parents have the opportunity to confer and reach an agreement. When courts determine that it would be detrimental for the children to have shared parental responsibility, courts may award sole parental responsibility. When courts order shared parental responsibility, they may award one of the parents ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of their children’s lives based on the best interests of the children. Areas of responsibility may include health care, education, and any other responsibilities that are unique to the particular family. To speak with a child custody and visitation attorney, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"].]]> On Behalf of Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. <![CDATA[How to Win a Modification of Child Custody and Visitation Case in Florida]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=48146 2021-01-19T16:41:08Z 2021-01-15T16:38:13Z Modification of Child Custody and Visitation case was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Romeo v. Romeo. In this case, the former husband and former wife were divorced in 2007. The Final Judgment dissolving their marriage contained an agreed upon time-sharing schedule for their minor children. The former husband filed a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Time-sharing. After a hearing, the trial court granted the former husband's request for a modification of the parties' time-sharing schedule for their minor children. The trial court awarded additional time-sharing to the former husband, and altered the parties' holiday time-sharing schedule. The lower court also lowered the amount of the Husband's child support. In the case captioned Romeo v. Romeo, the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's ruling. The Appellate Court ruled that in order to award a modification of child custody and visitation, a trial court must find that there has been a material, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances. In the Modification of Child Custody and Visitation case at bar, the trial court failed to include this finding in its Supplemental Final Judgment. Additionally, the former husband argued that the former wife agreed to a change in the parties' time-sharing arrangement by allowing the former husband to spend time-sharing with their children on alternate Sundays. The Florida Court of Appeal stated that consent by a parent to permit the other parent to spend extra time-sharing with their children does not create a basis for a modification of time-sharing. As a result of the aforementioned case findings, the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court, and remanded the case to the lower court for proceedings that were consistent with this ruling. To speak with an attorney about a modification of child custody and visitation case in Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"].]]> by BHMK <![CDATA[Calculating Alimony in Florida]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=46617 2021-05-18T12:11:28Z 2020-12-29T06:00:00Z In a recently decided alimony case captioned Harkness v. Harkness, the wife appealed the final judgment dissolving her marriage and awarding her durational alimony. The husband and wife were married for more than nineteen years. During the marriage, the husband worked full time, and the wife was a stay at home mother raising the parties' children. After the wife petitioned for dissolution of marriage, she found a job earning substantially less than her husband. In the Final Judgment dissolving the marriage, the trial court ruled that there was no basis for awarding permanent alimony to the wife because she has the capacity to financially sustain herself. Therefore, the trial court awarded her durational alimony for five years. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed this decision. In reaching its determination, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that in deciding whether or not to award alimony, the trial court is required to first make a determination as to whether one of the parties has a need for alimony, and the other party has the ability to pay. After making this determination, the trial court is to decide which type of alimony is most appropriate. There is a rebuttable presumption that a marriage of seventeen (17) years or longer is a long-term marriage. There is also a rebuttable presumption that a trial court should award permanent alimony for a long-term marriage. The purpose of permanent alimony is to provide for the necessities and needs of the recipient as they were established during the course of the marriage. It is not intended to divide the parties' future income in order to create financial equality.  Permanent alimony is inappropriate when there is not a permanent inability on the part of the recipient to become self-sustaining. Alimony is intended to avoid, when possible, having a former spouse pass from always having more than enough, to having only enough to pay for the essentials of shelter, clothing, and food. In the case at bar, the lower court failed to address the wife's needs as they were established by the parties during the course of their marriage. Therefore, the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the lower court's decision and remanded the case back to the trial court. To speak with a divorce attorney in Boca Raton, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"]. ]]> On Behalf of Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. <![CDATA[Alimony in Boca Raton, Florida]]> https://www.matthewlaneandassociates.com/?p=46620 2021-01-06T20:48:41Z 2020-12-16T06:00:00Z An alimony case was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Baron v. Baron.  In Barron v. Barron, the Wife appealed a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage that denied her request for permanent periodic alimony. The parties were married for twenty years. Rather than awarding the former wife permanent support, the trial court awarded her durational alimony for twelve months.

In reaching its decision, the Florida Court of Appeal pointed out that a long-term marriage is a marriage that lasts 17 or more years. Where there is a long-term marriage, there is a rebuttable presumption in favor of awarding permanent support. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a payee with support for a specific period of time, when there is a long term marriage and there is no need for ongoing support on a permanent basis.

In the alimony case at bar, the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage failed to provide an explanation as to why permanent support was inappropriate. The Florida Court of Appeal ruled that it is an abuse of the trial court's discretion not to award permanent alimony for this long-term marriage, absent a finding that the presumption favoring permanent periodic alimony was overcome by substantial competent evidence.

The trial court's ruling did not rebut the presumption that the wife was entitled to receive permanent support. Because this presumption was not rebutted, the trial court erred in awarding durational alimony instead of permanent alimony. Therefore, the trial court's ruling was reversed and remanded to the trial court to determine the appropriate amount of permanent periodic alimony.

To speak with an alimony attorney in Boca Raton, Florida, contact [nap_names id="FIRM-NAME-2"] & Associates, P.A. at [nap_phone id="LOCAL-REGULAR-NUMBER-1"].

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