Below are summaries of recent decisions from Florida's appellate courts on Florida divorce and family law issues. Clicking on the case name allows you to view the appellate opinion described in the analysis below. These summaries are courtesy of Bruce Law Firm, P.A., a law firm limited to representation of clients in the mediation, litigation and appeals of Florida marital and family law matters. The firm also created and maintains the family law focused appellate resources website DivorceCourtAppeals.com.
Case: Winnier v. Winnier
Court: Second District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge: Amy M. Williams.
Attorneys: Paul H. Bowen, David S. Ristoff, Jane H. Grossman.
Holding: A trial court must impute income reasonably projected for earnings on liquid assets awarded in property division. In this case, the trial court erred in failing to impute income to the Former Wife for earnings that could reasonably be projected based on her liquid assets, then, and without explanation, the trial court imputed such income to the Former Husband. The appeals court reversed and remanded for recalculation of the alimony amount.
Case: Haywald v. Fougere
Court: First District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge: David Rimmer.
Attorneys: Michael T. Webster.
Issues: Attorney’s Fees.
Holding: It is an abuse of discretion to grant fees where both parties are equally able to pay their own. Equalizing income through an alimony award and then awarding fees is an abuse of discretion. The court’s job is to determine whether one party has a need and the other has the ability to pay. In this case, the trial court erred in ordering the Former Husband to pay significant sums of both alimony and child support then failing to deduct such sums in assessing his ability to pay the Former Wife’s attorney’s fees. The Former Husband no longer has these funds available within his resources. Properly considered, the parties’ relative abilities to pay attorneys’ fees were, in this circumstance, essentially equal and an award of fees was an abuse of discretion. The appeals court reversed.
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Matthew S. Nugent, Adam M. Zborowski & Christopher R. Bruce limit their practice to resolution of marital and family law matters in Florida's trial and appellate courts. The firm handles divorce litigation in South Florida and accepts referrals for appellate representation in all of Florida’s appellate courts. The firm pays referral fees in accordance with Florida Bar Rules for appellate matters, which are handled primarily on a fixed fee basis with a limited money back promise if the brief is not filed within 45 days of the firm receiving the transcript and record on appeal.