Case Law updates

Florida Family Case Law Update: Week of December 18, 2020

Posted by Roy Smith on Dec 18th 2020

Rennert v. Rennert: (Fla. 2d DCA, December 16, 2020):

Nonmarital real property (real estate) does not become a marital asset by virtue of commingling.  Trial court erred as borrowing against a non-marital property to buy a marital property and later paying down the mortgage with marital funds does not convert the non-marital property to a marital property.  However, the spouses are entitled to share any enhanced value in the non-marital property.

Lockwood v. Lockwood: (Fla. 2d DCA, December 16, 2020):

A trial court cannot modify a retroactive child support figure or an arrearages amount owed by a parent, as previously determined in a temporary child support order, to a date preceding the filing date of the initial petition for dissolution of marriage.  In its final judgment, the trial court erroneously modified arrears, which had been awarded from February 2016 through August 2016, to February 2015 (date of separation).  “The modification of the temporary support order may be retroactive to the date of the initial petition for dissolution of marriage, initial petition for support, initial petition determining paternity, or supplemental petition for modification; or to a date prescribed in paragraph (1)(a) or s. 61.30(11)(c) or (17) as applicable.”

Black v. Black: (Fla. 2d DCA, December 16, 2020):

Trial court erred in denying motion to dissolve injunction.  Injunction had been agreed to for a period of two (2) years during a dissolution proceeding.  When a party seeks to extend an injunction against domestic violence (or defend against the dissolution of an injunction which is set to expire), he or she must demonstrate that an additional act of domestic violence has occurred or that there is a reasonable fear of imminent domestic violence.

Aponte v. Wood: (Fla. 4th DCA, December 16, 2020):

Trial court erred in granting default judgment based on Husband’s failure to comply with Fla. Fam. L. 12.285 (mandatory disclosure) as its judgment did not contain an express written finding of willful or deliberate disregard.  Husband was able to appeal, even though an motion for rehearing had not been filed, because “[r]equiring a motion for rehearing is a rule that is too restrictive and imprecise to operate fairly where children and families are the focus.”  Trial court also erred by failing to make written findings identifying and assigning values to the marital assets and liabilities where, as here, the parties have presented evidence on the issue.


Florida Family Case Law Update: Week Of February 14, 2020

Posted by Roy Smith on Feb 14th 2020


Muszynski v. Muszynski: 5th DCA, February 14, 2020:

Order of trial court warned about future actions against former Husband if he continued to be in breach (including incarceration) it was not a final order and therefore not properly appealable.

Concurring opinion.  While it is generally true that a trial court is precluded from enforcing equitable distribution payment obligations via contempt, there is an exception under Fla. Fam. L. R. O. 12.570(c)(2) where a party is required to perform an act (such as signing a note and mortgage to secure equitable distribution obligations and failing to satisfy life insurance obligations).


The Smith Family Law Florida Case Law Update: Week of May 7, 2018

Posted by Roy Smith on May 11th 2018


Kane v. Kane: Fla 3rd DCA, May 9, 2018.

Trial court erred in entering contempt order for failure to pay alimony payments as former husband had not been provided notice of the motion for contempt or letters leading to the hearing on contempt.  Thus, due process had been denied.

Bellows v. Bellows: Fla 4th DCA, May 9, 2018

Trial court erred in entering order for durational alimony without making findings as to all statutory factors under Florida Statutes 61.08(2).  Trial court’s distribution of a valueless account was also improper when the monies had been depleted during the dissolution but there was no finding that the dissipation was due to intentional misconduct.