Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

It is well-established that in order for a court to award alimony in Florida, it must be shown that there is a need for it and an ability to pay it. This standard applies even to awards of temporary spousal support as we see in the case Erskine v. Erskine, 1D18-1785 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018).

In this case, the husband appealed several issues in his underlying dissolution of marriage case. First, the husband argued the trial court erred when it refused him a hearing on his exceptions to the general magistrate’s report on his hearing on temporary relief. He also took issue with the fact that the court awarded alimony that exceeded the wife’s need, awarded undifferentiated child support and alimony, and required him to invade non-marital assets to pay support. Last, the trial court apparently also entered an order which contradicted the oral ruling made in court.

As to the failure to provide a hearing to the husband on his exceptions, the appellate court ruled it was error to deny him this after he timely filed a motion for exceptions. Next, the appellate court reversed the temporary support award, holding, “While temporary support awards are within the broad discretion of trial courts, the record must contain competent substantial evidence that demonstrates one party's need and the other party's ability to pay. Awards, whether temporary or final, should not be in excess of a recipient spouse's needs and an order awarding as much should be reversed. Further, in awarding attorney's fees, lower courts must make specific findings as to the hourly rate and number of hours expended. When determining the amount of an award, trial courts must look to all financial resources of the parties, including cases in which "the parties' standard of living required invading the principal of non-marital assets." Stacpoole v. Stacpoole, 856 So. 2d 1131, 1132 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003). Here, the record is unclear as to whether Appellant's non-marital accounts were invaded during the marriage to maintain a standard of living. Additionally, a trial court's determination of child support must begin with a calculation of the parties' income. Thus, further factual findings regarding these accounts and a calculation of the parties' incomes are necessary.” (internal citations omitted).

If you are in the middle of a contested divorce in Miami, contact a Florida family law attorney to help you navigate the court process. Having a lawyer by your side may help you avoid paying money you may not be required to pay.