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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.