This is the next post in my series of articles about divorce appeals in Melbourne, Florida. My previous post discussed challenges to the court’s division of marital property and debts. Florida courts divide jointly owned assets and liabilities using an “equitable” standard. A party that believes the court erroneously applied the law to the facts of their case may appeal these decisions. This article will focus on another commonly appealed decision: the award of spousal support. These issues are often contentious and can involve complicated legal arguments. It is important to engage an attorney experienced in family law to represent your interests. If you need assistance contact my office today to speak to a lawyer.
For obvious reasons, spousal support awards are often hotly contested issues in divorce cases. Under Florida law, there are several different types of alimony ranging from temporary support during the proceeding to permanent support obligations. A party requesting support must demonstrate a need for ongoing maintenance payments and the ability of the other party to pay. This is a highly fact specific analysis. The court will consider evidence such as the length of the marriage, the contribution of each spouse to child rearing, and the salary and employment history of the parties in making its determination. The initial proceeding may even involve expert testimony regarding the earning potential or necessary job training for one or both spouses. If a party disagrees with the court’s award, an appeal may be appropriate. While the appeals court will not review new evidence, it will review a lower court’s application of the law to the facts as they were originally presented.
For example, suppose a couple divorces after twenty years of marriage. Let’s say the wife stopped working fifteen years prior to focus solely on raising the couple’s children. She now works at Target as a cashier for extra spending money, but can’t possibly maintain her current lifestyle on that income alone. Under Florida law, permanent alimony is most likely granted when a marriage lasts for at least seventeen years. After reviewing these facts, the court awards permanent support to the wife. Now suppose the husband presented evidence in the divorce proceeding that the wife had been offered several store management positions at her current at a significant salary increase. She had refused to accept them since they started the divorce proceedings to increase her chance at successfully requesting a high level of support. On appeal, the husband may argue that the court erroneously ignored evidence that his wife was underemployed, which entitles her to receive less support.
Given the long-term impact that spousal support may have on both parties’ finances, it is essential to speak with a Melbourne, Florida appeals lawyer to understand your options. If you are considering appealing your support ruling, contact my office today to talk to an attorney.
My office serves clients in the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.