Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

Parties are understandably emotionally invested in the outcome of their divorce case. Sometimes this leads to erratic and unpleasant behavior which can negatively affect both parties. In the case Rawson v. Rawson, No. 1D17-1413 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019), we see how such behavior can affect a judge’s ruling on issues such as alimony and equitable distribution.

The former husband in this case was accused of threatening to kill the former wife if she sought alimony. In addition, he allegedly wrongfully blocked the former wife’s attempt to lease property owned by the couple and an injunction was entered against him for violence committed against the former wife during the divorce proceedings. Based in part on this behavior, the former wife was awarded lump sum alimony in the form of the former husband’s share of the former wife’s pension.

The former husband appealed this ruling, arguing the court did not make findings of special and unusual circumstances for such an award, as required by Florida law. The appellate court disagreed with the former husband, holding, “But, the trial court also found that the former husband's dissipation of the parties' assets and his withholding of the rental income from the former wife—as well as his threat that he would rather kill the former wife than support her—underscored the court's "significant concerns about the enforceability of its alimony award." Those findings were sufficient to show both a "special necessity" and "unusual circumstances" to support awarding the former wife the husband's marital share of her military pension as lump sum alimony. Furthermore, the former wife was left with significant property expenses as a result of the final judgment.”

The former wife also appealed issues relating to child support and attorneys’ fees. She specifically took issue with the fact that the trial court failed to set a monthly child support amount, failed to award retroactive support and summarily denied her request for attorneys’ fees and costs without making findings as to need and ability to pay. On these grounds, the final judgment was reversed with instructions for the trial court to reconsider these issues.

Some divorces can be made complicated by the parties’ behavior. It is important to seek guidance from a Florida family law attorney when you are facing a Miami divorce case. A consultation may put you on the right path to a fair resolution.