Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce
In Zubricky v. Zubricky, 4D18-2196 (Fla. 4th DCA May 15, 2019), a discussion about a former wife’s appeal of a trial court’s decisions on alimony and on equitable distribution highlights the factors an appellate court will consider with regard to both issues.
The parties entered a marital settlement agreement prior to filing their petition for divorce which left some issues for the trial court to decide. The settlement agreement provided that the former husband would pay a portion of his military Thrift Savings Plan to the former wife and that he would make monthly payments to her for her vehicle payments.
The former wife sought alimony at trial, and evidence was presented that she was residing with a paramour who was financially supporting her. In part based on this, the trial court denied alimony, reasoning the former wife did not need alimony and the former husband did not have the ability to pay it since his income by way of the TSP was being distributed equally.
It is also notable that the former wife argued the marital settlement agreement could not be modified. The appellate court rejected this argument, holding “Even if the court had not found that the Former Wife is not entitled to alimony, we question her argument that the court erred in applying section 61.14. The Former Wife argues section 61.14 applies only to amend a judgment. As a result, she argues, section 61.14 could not be applied to amend the marital settlement agreement that had not yet been incorporated into a final judgment. But, years ago, the Florida Supreme Court rejected a similar argument. See Frizzell v. Bartley, 372 So. 2d 1371, 1372 (Fla. 1979) (Section 61.14 "allows modification of the settlement agreement even though it was not made part of the final decree.").”
As to equitable distribution, the former wife took issue with the trial court’s order that she reimburse the former husband for half of the value of a vehicle which was purchased for her from funds withdrawn from a joint bank account. The appellate court agreed with her on this issue, holding, “The court found that the vehicle was purchased with joint funds. As a result, the court required the Former Wife to reimburse the Former Husband for half the price paid for the vehicle. We do not find the fact that marital assets were used to purchase the vehicle to be dispositive. The marital settlement agreement required the Former Husband to make a monthly payment for the Former Wife's vehicle. Instead, the parties purchased a vehicle. It is inconsistent with the marital settlement agreement, and the testimony of the parties, to require the Former Wife to repay funds to the Former Husband relating to the vehicle. As a result, we reverse that portion of the final judgment.”
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