Smith Family Law Firm Blog

This blog provides brief summaries of the most recent family law appellate cases and statutes that may effect the issues our existing and prospective clients are facing. This is not an exhaustive list and do not automatically assume that if a case seems similar to your facts that the same result will be reached. We encourage individuals to secure counsel. These are very difficult issues to go through alone.

Roy J. Smith IV, Super Lawyers Announcement

Posted by Roy Smith on Jun 08th 2017

Family attorney, Roy J. Smith, IV, has been selected for inclusion on this year’s Super Lawyers 2017. This marks his eighth year in a row to be listed by Super Lawyers.

Family Law in Florida

Family law differs between federal and state levels and regulations can be complex. This area of law includes alimony, divorce, child custody and support, domestic violence, parenting plans, etc. These laws can also vary from state to state. An experienced attorney with extensive knowledge of family law can ensure your family and legal rights are protected.

The rating system for Super Lawyers combines peer nominations, peer evaluations and independent research evaluations broken down by practice area. No more than five percent of the attorneys in Florida are selected for the Super Lawyers list each year.

Family Law Firm in Altamonte Springs, FL

Super Lawyers provides an easy way to attain a local family law attorney. View Roy J. Smith, IV's attorney profile HERE.


Smith Family Law Update: Week of May 1, 2017

Posted by Roy Smith on May 05th 2017

Robinson v. Robinson: Fla 1st DCA, May 5, 2017:
Husband’s argument that trial court should have reduced support more than it did was mooted by the heavier burden resting upon a movant seeking reduction when the parties agreed upon original agreement. However, trial court erred in requiring payments be made through State Disbursement Unit when neither party requested such relief.

Gotro v. Gotro: Fla 1st DCA, May 5, 2017:
In general, it is error to include assets in an equitable distribution scheme that have been diminished or dissipated during the dissolution proceeding unless a party’s misconduct during the proceedings resulted in dissipation. This must be supported by a specific finding of intentional misconduct such as use for a party’s own benefit unrelated to the marriage. In this case, the trial court erred by essentially punishing Husband even though the money utilized was for marital expenses including wife’s temporary alimony, temporary fees and a majority of the marital expenses. As equitable distribution had to be recalculated, alimony had to be recalculated (although court noted that the 39 year marriage created a presumption for permanent alimony). Further, trail court has discretion to order life insurance to secure alimony but needs to list the special circumstances supporting such insurance.

Hua v. Tsung: Fla 4th DCA, May 3, 2017:
Trial court erred by not making an explicit finding as to Husband’s ability to pay alimony and failing to note or address the presumption of permanent alimony in this long term marriage and indicating why it was not awarded. Trial court was directed that if it still ordered conditional alimony the trial court would still need to set forth an alternative alimony option if the condition was not met. Trial court also erred in classifying business shares as non-marital. Husband’s Father converted ownership of his shares in a company to Husband during the marriage. Husband’s Father intended to bequeath the shares to son upon his death, but transferred ownership during life to avoid taxes. Their wish to circumvent foreign tax obligations by placing ownership of the stock in Husband’s name, yet circumvent Florida’s equitable distribution scheme by arguing the assets were actually still Husband’s Father’s was not persuasive. Trial court also erred in ordering that the proceeds from the sale of property would be split after a loan was repaid from the proceeds of the sale. Even though the loan was for the purposes of buying the property, the court could not convert an unsecured creditor to the status of a secured creditor.

Isnord v. Isnord: Fla. 4th DCA, May 3, 2017:
Trial court did not abuse discretion in dismissing paternity action due to petitioner’s failure to serve a petition for paternity within 120 days of filing. While service by publication could be utilized where the whereabouts of the other party are not known, the petitioner did not attempt to do so before the expiration of the 120 day period.


Smith Family Law Update: Week of April 24, 2017

Posted by Roy Smith on Apr 28th 2017

Strawitch v. Strawitch: Fla 1st DCA, April 24, 2017:
Though granting of modification of child support was appropriate, when calculating the amount of father’s resulting overpayment, court erred in accepting father’s counsel’s figure for overpayment without evidence to support it.

Ziruolo v. Ziruolo: Fla 1st DCA, April 28, 2017:
Trial court erred in providing one parent with ultimate decision making authority with regards to health needs, school matters and other activities without providing a basis for this determination. Trial court erred by requiring one party to take on a marital debt due to his higher income. While an inequitable distribution can occur, the court must consider the factors under Florida Statutes 61.075(1)(a)-(j). Trial court also erred by not calculating child support pursuant to child support guidelines. Finally, due to the myriad of errors above, the attorney fee award had to be remanded for additional calculation with guidance that a critical factor for a trial court to consider in awarding fees is the financial situation of the parties after the dissolution proceeding has concluded.

Hanson v. Hanson: Fla 2nd DCA, April 28, 2017:
Trial court erred in basing alimony calculation on Husband’s gross income as opposed to his net income. However, 2nd DCA rejected Husband’s argument that the parties’ lifestyles had been considered inappropriately. Further, trial court did not abuse discretion in including SBP (Survivor Benefit Plan) coverage over and above her coverture amount in calculating her need for alimony. While the court could have determined that this was a voluntary expense incurred by the Wife, it was within the trial court’s discretion to consider the premium as part of Wife’s need. Finally, it was error to order Husband to pay additional attorney’s fees to Wife in addition to that which he already paid temporarily where the parties assets were equally divided and their incomes equalized through the alimony award.

Stephens v. Whittaker: Fla 5th DCA, April 28, 2017:
While it would have been preferred that the trial court explicitly listed the value of the marital home in the final judgment, as opposed to simply dividing the equity in the home, there was no error as calculation was correct. Further, while trial court erred in failing to place a value on the marital liability of the credit cards (and simply stated that the parties would take their respective credit card debt) Wife did not raise said issue on appeal. Finally, trial court did not err in denying alimony and attorney’s fees where the court noted that the parties agreed that there was no need and no ability for ongoing alimony payments or attorney’s fees.