Smith Family Law Update: Week of May 1, 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.

Posted by Roy Smith on May 05th 2017