Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Divorce

In this edition of Real Florida Divorce Cases, we examine the appellate case Raton v. Wallace,  207 So.3d 978 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016). From this case, we learn about attorney’s fee awards and the standard for contempt proceedings. 

On appeal, the former husband challenged two issues; (1) that the trial court erred in awarding the former wife attorney’s fees related to his motion for contempt and (2) that the trial court should have found the former wife in contempt because she changed the children’s therapist. 

As to the attorney’s fee issue, the appellate court dismissed this portion of the former husband’s appeal because the amount of fees had not yet been determined by the trial court. According to Florida law, an order awarding attorney’s fees in an amount to be later determined is not an appealable order.  

With respect to the second issue raised by the former husband, the appellate court reviewed the language of the parties’ marital settlement agreement which stated the children were to attend counseling with a named doctor. When the former wife relocated, attending therapy with that specific doctor became impractical so she made arrangements for them to see another therapist closer to her new location.  

In holding that the trial court made no error in denying the former husband’s motion for contempt, the appellate court cited the fact that the parties’ agreement did not state the original doctor was the only acceptable therapist, nor did it specify how long the children were to see that specific doctor. Therefore, the former wife was in compliance with the spirit of the agreement. 

This case illustrates how important it is to have the right wording in your agreement to convey your intent. Having a Miami divorce lawyer draft your settlement agreement may help ensure that you have enforceable terms.