Weekly Law Update on Florida Divorce & Child Custody Cases

Weekly summaries of decisions made by Florida Court of Appeals on actual divorce, child custody, child support and alimony cases.  

Florida Divorce & Family Law Update for Week Ending September 20, 2015

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:              Jackson v. Jackson
Court:            Second District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Kimberly Carlton Bonner.
Attorneys:     Jaime L. Wallace.
Issues:            Attorney’s Fees.

Holding:         An order for summary judgment which includes the words “go hence without day” is final. Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure currently require a notice of appeal of a final summary judgment on a claim for breach of contract to be filed within 30 days of rendition of the order to be reviewed. Florida statute provides for an award of reasonable attorney’s fees when the court finds that the losing party knew, or should have known, that a claim or defense, when initially presented to the court or any time prior to trial:

a.     Was not supported by material facts necessary to establish the claim or defense; or

b. Would not be supported by the application of then-existing law to those material facts.

In making an order for fees, a trial court must make findings on both a party’s entitlement to recover attorney's fees under the relevant statute, based upon substantial, competent evidence and facts to justify the award. A record on appeal will typically contain a transcript of the hearing from the court below. While it is the appellant's burden to provide an adequate record, even when this burden is not met, a fee award without adequate findings to justify the amount is reversible. In this case, the notice of appeal of a final summary judgment was not filed in a timely fashion pursuant to the Rules and was not reviewable. The trial court erred in making its order for fees as it contained no factual findings to support its making and was therefore deficient. The appeals court reversed and remanded.


Case:              Terry v. Terry
Court:            Third District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Amy L. Smith.
Attorneys:     Jeffrey Begens, Benjamin T. Hodas, Michelle North Berg.
Issues:            Equitable Distribution.

Holding:         A trial court shall equitably divide assets properly subject to such an award, after considering any conduct by the parties that will affect the asset value (such as dissipation). So too will consideration be given to agreements between the parties which stipulate assets are not to be so divided.  In this case, the trial court erred in: (1) equitably dividing and awarding the Former Husband’s pension despite the parties having dissipated it during the action’s pendency;  (2) equitably dividing the parties’ furniture despite the parties’ having previously stipulated that such property would not be subject to equitable distribution; and (3) failing to equitably value or divide another pension asset belonging to the former husband when it was open and proper to do so.The appeals court remanded for revision to the equitable distribution.


About DivorceCourtAppeals.com and Bruce Law Firm, P.A.

The Bruce Law Firm, P.A. is limited to the resolution of marital and family la w 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.

Florida Divorce & Family Law Update for Week Ending June 21, 2015

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:              Martinez v. Izquierdo
Trial Judge:   Laura M. Watson.
Attorneys:     Blanca Rosa Sordo.
Issues:            Protection Against Domestic Violence.

Holding:        A trial court may enter an injunction for protection against domestic violence if it properly finds, on consideration of sufficient evidence, that the petitioner has an objectively reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of an act of domestic violence. Under Florida Statute, the party being enjoined shall surrender any firearms of ammunition in his or her care or possession, unless he or she is a law enforcement officer, in which case, the prohibition may apply to them personally but not regarding their employment.

In this case, the trial court did not err given that the evidence was sufficient to establish that the Petitioner had an objectively reasonable cause to believe she was in imminent danger of becoming the victim of an act of domestic violence. However, in issuing the injunction, the court erroneously required the Respondent to surrender his ammunition and firearms notwithstanding that he was a law enforcement officer. The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s entry of the underlying injunction, but reversed and remanded with instructions that the trial court remove the prohibition on ammunition and firearms based on his status as a law enforcement officer, without prejudice for the trial court to provide limitations on any personal firearms or ammunition in his possession.


Case:              Herman v. Herman
Court:             Third District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Mindy S. Glazer.
Attorneys:     Evan L. Abramowitz, Cynthia L. Greene.
Issues:            Parenting, Time-sharing. 

Holding:        Florida Statutes (2015), provide that the trial court shall order the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless it finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. The trial court shall evaluate the evidence to determine if both parents are equally capable of providing for the minor child or children, and are capable of making paramount the child’s or children’s needs.

In this case, the trial court did not err in that it articulated its findings in a Supplemental Judgment, such findings being supported by competent substantial evidence. Nor did the trial court abuse its discretion by ordering shared parental responsibility. The appeals court affirmed the timesharing schedule established by the trial court in the Supplemental Judgment.


About DivorceCourtAppeals.com and Bruce Law Firm, P.A.

The Bruce Law Firm, P.A. is limited to the resolution of marital and family la w 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.

Florida Divorce & Family Law Update for Week Ending March 15, 2015

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.

line.jpg

Case:             Cheek v. Hesik
Court:            First District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   A. C. Soud, Jr..
Attorneys:     William S. Graessle, Jonathan W. Graessle.
Issues:           Process. 

Holding:         If a trial court issues an order adjudicating an issue not presented by the parties, or the pleadings, due process is infringed. The order, therefore, departs from the essential requirements of law. Further, where there has been no pleading requesting modification, then the modification of a judgment constitutes a jurisdictional defect. In this case, the trial court erred when it temporarily suspended the Former Husband’s one-half obligation toward travel costs and ordered that all timesharing less than four days in duration occur in the vicinity of his residence when such issues were neither properly raised by the pleadings nor set for hearing. In doing so, the Former Wife’s due process rights were violated. The appeals court reversed and remanded with instructions to vacate those portions of the order.


Case:               Solache v. Ibarra
Court:             Third District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:    Valerie R. Manno Schurr.
Attorneys:       Harvey D. Rogers, Nory Diaz, Nancy A. Hass.
Issues:             Child Support, Contempt.   

Holding:         Prospective Increase in Alimony: It is improper for a trial court to grant a final judgment which provides for an automatic prospective increase in alimony in the absence of specific factual findings, or the failure to articulate any reason, for same.

The trial court erred, however, with regards to the provision in the final judgment that, upon the child of the marriage reaching the age of majority (and the termination of child support payments), the monthly alimony payments to Former Wife would automatically increase. The final judgment failed to make any specific factual findings, or articulate any reason, for such an automatic prospective increase in alimony. The appeals court concluded it was error to provide for this automatic increase, affirmed the contempt order and reversed that portion of the final judgment providing for an automatic increase in alimony.

Contempt Order

An initial determination of a support obligation by a trial court, which must be supported by competent substantial evidence, creates a presumption of a payor’s ability to pay.  At a contempt hearing, it is open for a trial court to determine whether a payor alleged to have defaulted on such obligations, has overcome this presumption.  The trial court must, on competent substantial evidence, determine that the payor has the present ability to pay and failed or refused to comply with the support order to pay.

In this case, the trial court did not err with regard to the trial court’s contempt order. The final judgment was predicated upon an affirmative finding of the Former Husband’s ability to pay the support amount ordered. This initial determination, which was supported by competent substantial evidence, created a presumption of the Former Husband’s ability to pay. The trial court’s determination, at the contempt hearing, that former husband failed to overcome this presumption, had the present ability to pay, and failed to comply with this order, was also supported by competent substantial evidence. 


Case:              M.P. v. D.C.F.
Court:             Fourth District Court of Appeal.
T
rial Judge:   James Martz.
Attorneys:     Antony P. Ryan, Paulina Forrest, Rosemarie Farrell.
I
ssues:            Process. 

Holding:         Dependency Order

Courts are duty-bound to ensure that their dependency orders reflect only facts proved by competent, substantial evidence presented at the dependency hearing.

In this case, the trial court erred when it included, as a factual basis for the dependency, verbatim from the “prior history” summaries of call-out investigations that were set forth in the dependency petition, being uncorroborated reports not supported by evidence at trial. The appeals court affirmed the overall order but remanded with instructions for the trial court to strike the unsupported findings from its orders.
R
andom Drug Testing

A court may order a parent to submit to a mental or physical examination in circumstances where (1) the parent has requested custody of the child, (2) the parent’s mental or physical condition is in issue, and (3) there is good cause shown for the examination. An mental or physical examination may be ordered any time after a shelter petition or petition for dependency is filed and the mental or physical condition of a parent, caregiver, legal custodian, or other person who has custody or is requesting custody of a child, is in issue. A qualified professional must conduct the examination. Such matters, including a case plan, must be considered by the court having regard to whether the plan is meaningful and designed to address facts and circumstances upon which the court based the finding of dependency.

In this case, the trial court erred in requiring the Father to submit to random drug testing.  While the Father sought custody, and the dependency petition alleged that the father had a criminal history of drug possession, sufficient to place the issue of his substance use in issue, the trial evidence did not show that he abused drugs. There was also no evidence at trial regarding the Father’s alleged arrest for possession of drugs. The trial court relied, erroneously, on allegations of drug use, however this reliance fails to satisfy the good cause standard. Nor was there any showing that a substance abuse evaluation would meaningfully address the facts and circumstances which resulted in the adjudication of dependency as to the Father. The appeals court reversed for the trial court to strike the task of random drug testing from the Father’s case plan.   


Case:              Dugan v. Dugan
Court:             Fifth District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Shawn L. Briese.
Attorneys:     John N. Bogdanoff, Elizabeth Siano Harris.
Issues:            Alimony, Equitable Distribution, Attorney’s Fees. 

Holding:        An error on the face of a final judgment should be corrected. Findings related to alimony awards must have a proper evidentiary basis. A trial court must give its rationale, based on trial evidence, for a finding which forms part of the final judgment. In this case, the trial court erred in finding that all of Former Wife's medical expenses were entirely covered by Medicare, and entering such finding on the face of the judgment without sufficient rationale. Specifically, the trial court based its finding on what it described as the Former Husband's “uncontroverted testimony” notwithstanding that the Former Wife provided authority suggesting that she is responsible for Medicare premiums, deductibles, and noncovered expenses. The appeals court reversed on the issue of Former Wife's medical expenses and remanded.


Case:               McGarvey v. McGarvey
Court:             Fifth District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Hubert L. Grimes.
Attorneys:      Brian J. Lee, William R. Alexander.
Issues:            Time-sharing, Child Support, Attorney’s Fees. 

Holding:         In determining timesharing, a trial court must make an independent assessment of a timesharing arrangement that is in the best interests of the child or children.  Such an assessment must be based on substantial cogent evidence. In this case, the trial court erred in finding that the parties had reached an agreement addressing, among other things, parenting, and ruled on timesharing and child support. The parties later conceded that no such agreement had been reached. The appeals court reversed the ruling on timesharing and, as a result, determined that child support may also need reconsideration.  


Case:              Makaros v. Cichocki
Court:             Fifth District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   James H. Earp.
Attorneys:      Elizabeth Siano Harris.
Issues:            Adoption. 

Holding:          Under Florida statute, jurisdiction of an adoption may be vested in the Florida courts by virtue of the fact that a child, or children, and the petitioner resided within the court's jurisdiction and the natural parent gave the required consent. An adoption proceeding is not barred merely because a competent court of another jurisdiction has validly exercised its authority by awarding custody of the child sought to be adopted when the court before whom adoption is sought otherwise has jurisdiction to proceed.  A relative (ie: aunt, uncle or even grandparent) with visitation rights procured in a different state, is not necessarily entitled to notice of the stepparent adoption proceedings.  The interest that entitles a person to notice of an adoption must be direct, financial, and immediate, and the person must show that he or she will gain or lose by the direct legal operation and effect of the judgment. A showing of an indirect, inconsequential, or contingent interest is inadequate, and a person with this indirect interest lacks standing to set aside a judgment of adoption.   

n this case, the trial court did not err in determining that Florida was the child’s home state when the final judgment was entered. Even though the “Home State” Rule was raised as a ground in the appeals process, under the “Tipsy Coachman” Rule, the appeals court concluded that the resolution of the case did not turn on whether Florida was the “Home State” of the child under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) at the time the court entered the adoption. Rather, regardless of whether Florida was the “Home State” of the child at the time the court entered the adoption, under Florida statute (as cited and relied on in Florida case law), the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction to enter the final judgment of adoption.     

Here, the Father had sole custody of the child at the time the petition for stepparent adoption was filed. Therefore, he was the only person required to consent to the adoption. Insofar as the Father had consented, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion to set aside the final judgment of stepparent adoption.    


Case:              Bristow v. Bristow
Court:             Fifth District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Michelle T. Morley.
Attorneys:     
Issues:            Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. 

Holding:        A petition for the dismissal of an injunction for protection against domestic violence must state a cause of action. It cannot make vague allegations. Rather, it must allege sufficient facts to show that a party has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of being a victim of domestic violence.

In this case the trial court did not err when it declined to set an evidentiary hearing regarding a petition filed by the Appellant on the grounds that the petition was deficient on the facts required to establish jurisdiction of the Florida courts pursuant to statute. The appeals court’s affirmance was without prejudice to the Appellant filing, if able to do so in good faith, a new, legally sufficient petition.


About DivorceCourtAppeals.com and Bruce Law Firm, P.A.

The Bruce Law Firm, P.A. is limited to the resolution of marital and family la w 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.

Florida Divorce & Family Law Update for the Week Ending January 11, 2015

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:              Valdes v. Valdes
Court:             Second District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Paul L. Huey.
Attorneys:      Jose C. Gonzalez, Ingrid Anderson.
Issues:            Child Support.

Holding:  Under Florida statute, the calculation of child support, and retroactive child support awards, requires attention be given to the parenting or time-sharing of children of the marriage.  If a particular parenting plan, a court-ordered timesharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties provides that each child spend a substantial amount of time with each parent, the court shall adjust any award of child support, in consideration of, among other things, the percentage of overnight stays the child spends with each parent and day care and health insurance costs.  The support and retroactive support awards are calculated Using a particular formula under the statute. A trial court can consider the matter of a Former Spouse living rent-free during a certain period in determining sources of parental income or setting a child support amount—including to achieve an equitable result. In this case the trial court erred by incorrectly calculating child support. The matters were remanded for reconsideration and recalculation.


Case:              Jarrard v. Jarrard
Court:             Second District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Nick Nazaretian.
Attorneys:      Kristal L. Knox, Jeffrey S. Sirmons, Eileen H. Griffin.
Issues:            Alimony. 
Holding:         In petitioning the court for a modification of an award of alimony, the movant must establish there has been a sufficient, material, permanent and involuntary substantial change in circumstances that was not contemplated at the time of the final judgment of dissolution of marriage.

While the standard for an appellate court's review of a trial court's decision to modify alimony is often abuse of discretion, the issues arising during the adjudicatory process necessary to address the modification of alimony often involve standards of review other than abuse of discretion. The trial court makes findings of fact based on the evidence of the movant.  The appeals court must review these essential findings of fact, both express and implied, to assure that they are supported by competent, substantial evidence. These are legal conclusions, not factual determinations, and they are reviewed by the appellate court under a type of de novo review that is actually the normal second step in a "mixed" review.  In cases concerning modification or termination of alimony, this "mixed" standard applies to long-term marriages where an assessment of the supportive nature of the parties’ relationship is required. A mixed standard of review is actually performed by an appellate court as a sequence of two or more distinct reviews. Most commonly, the appellate court reviews the findings of fact to assure they are supported by competent, substantial evidence. Occasionally, the appellate court must review, de novo, the decision of the trial court as to applicable law. In so doing, the appellate court provides a modest presumption of correctness to the trial court because the issue usually involves a pure issue of law upon which the trial court has no greater insight than the appellate court. Finally, the appellate court reviews the trial court's legal conclusion, which was reached by the application of the law to the facts. The interrelationship between the findings of fact and the conclusions of law is what makes the standard of review "mixed." Thus, the trial court's legal conclusion is undoubtedly reviewed with a greater deference to the presumption that the trial court has made a correct ruling on the legal issue.

In this case, the trial court erred in finding that the Former Husband failed to meet his burden of proof that there was the required substantial change of circumstances that was permanent in nature regarding his income. In light of the inherent uncertainty in predicting future economic developments and given certain undisputed facts in this case, it was improper for the trial court to require the Former Husband to essentially prove his income would never increase again.  The fact that Former Husband’s income had been reduced for a  period of nearly two years already was sufficient evidence that the change was “permanent”.  The trial court’s decision was reversed and remanded in order for a proper decision as to the nature and extent of the appropriate modification. 


Case:               Chalmers v. Burrough
Court:             Third District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Antonio E. Marin.
Attorneys:      Nancy A. Hass, Roger J. Schindler.
Issues:            Child Support, Parenting.

Holding:          A trial court must make findings of fact, and its assessment as to the parenting responsibilities, in reliance of competent, substantial evidence. In this case, the trial court erred in making its order in the absence of competent substantial evidence to support a finding that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. The appeals court reversed and remanded for the trial court to clarify whether the supplemental final judgment maintained the parents’ shared parental responsibility.


Case:               Wiesenthal v. Wiesenthal
Court:              Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:    Susan Greenhawt.
Attorneys:      Douglas R. Bell, Tracy Belinda Newmark, Natalie Suzanne Kay.
Issues:            Child Support, Alimony, Attorney’s Fees, Contempt.

Holding:      Attorney’s Fees A trial court cannot award attorney’s fees without making findings as to one spouse’s ability to pay fees and the other spouse’s need to have the fees paid. The absence of such findings is generally fatal.  In this case, the trial court erred in making an award of attorney’s fees at the modification proceedings in the absence of consideration of relevant evidence as to claims that the parties’ respective incomes had changed dramatically.

Contempt

Where the court imposes a contempt order and sets the conditions for purge of the contempt, the trial court’s order shall include both, a separate affirmative finding that the contemnor has the present ability to comply with the purge and the factual basis for that finding. Courts have characterized the rule as requiring the trial court to identify the source of payment for the purge amount. Further, a finding that a party divested himself of assets does not substitute for a finding of present ability to pay. Even a person who has wilfully or negligently divested himself or herself of the ability to pay money as ordered cannot be incarcerated for civil contempt when he or she does not then have the ability to effect a purge. In this case, the trial court erred in making the contempt order in the absence of the required sufficient evidence and factual findings that the payor wilfully and neglectfully failed to make the required payments. The appeals court reversed the contempt order and remanded both issues to the trial court, with directions to reconsider the issue after making specific factual findings regarding the parties’ net incomes and financial circumstances.


Case:             Wiesenthal v. Wiesenthal (2)
Court:            Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Susan Greenhawt.
Attorneys:     Douglas R. Bell.
Issues:           Attorney’s Fees, Contempt.
Holding:        A trial court cannot award attorney’s fees without making findings as to one spouse’s ability to pay fees and the other spouse’s need to have the fees paid.  An award of attorney’s fees, if improperly made, can be reversed where the order contains a finding that one party has the ability to pay, but does not make a finding of need on the part of the other party. Further, where an award is improper and requires reversal, a finding of contempt based upon such award must also be reversed.

Here, the prior attorney’s fee award underlying the prior contempt was the subject of the companion appeal in consolidated case numbers 4D11-3501, 4D11-4400 and 4D12-3515.  In the consolidated appeal, the court reversed the fees award as it was not supported by the requisite factual findings regarding the parties’ respective financial circumstances and need and ability to pay. The reversal of the underlying fee award necessitated reversal of the prior contempt order to the extent it was predicated upon the failure to pay such fees.

In this, No. 4D12-2807, being an additional appeal to the consolidated appeal, above, the Former Husband challenged an order holding him in contempt for failing to pay both alimony and attorney’s fees previously awarded to the former wife and requiring him to pay additional attorney’s fees to the Former Wife.  It was determined that the trial court erred in issuing the contempt order to the extent it was it was predicated on an errant finding in the court, below.  The additional fees award to the Former Wife was deficient in that was not supported by the required factual findings. The matter of the additional attorney’s fees was remanded to the trial court, with directions that the trial court reconsider the issue after making specific factual findings regarding the parties’ net incomes and financial circumstances.
 


Case:              D.S-B. v. D.C.F.
Court:             Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Trial Judge:   Moses Baker, Jr..
Attorneys:      Andrew A. Holness, Rosemarie Farrell, Patricia M. Propheter.
Issues:            Dependency, Procedure.

Holding:       In proceedings regarding the termination of parental rights, dependency and related matters, a trial court must make a determination that a parent has waived his or her right to counsel with an “intelligent and understanding choice,” as required by Florida statutory law.  Specifically, where a parental party is self-represented, an order for dependency must be made after the parent provides a valid waiver of counsel. This may require the court, in certain situations, to delve into how the psychological or mental condition of a parent would affect his or her ability to validly waive counsel (ie: that is has been made “knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily,”).  In this case, the trial court erred in failing to make such inquiries when it allowed the Mother to proceed on her own. While the trial court queried her as to whether or not she had ever been adjudged incompetent or insane, the prior proceedings (including numerous legal counsel withdrawing for reasons related to client-counsel relationship), it failed to assess her mental health and other requisite circumstances as to her competence to proceed on her own. The trial court therefore failed to consider all of the factors relevant to whether she had made an intelligent and knowing choice to do so. The appeals court remanded for further proceedings and directed that if the Mother wished to represent herself, a hearing be conducted as to whether her waiver is knowing and intelligent.


About DivorceCourtAppeals.com and Bruce Law Firm, P.A.

The Bruce Law Firm, P.A. is limited to the resolution of marital and family la w 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.