Schmidt v. Schmidt (First District Court of Appeal- October 29, 2014)
Level of Interest:
1. Whether Former Husband is entitled to a new final hearing because of the delay between the trial court’s oral pronouncements and final judgment;
2. Whether the amount of permanent periodic alimony is supported by the evidence;
3. Whether the attorney’s fees Former Husband was ordered to pay is supported by the evidence;
4. Whether the court abused its discretion when it ordered the Former Husband to procure and maintain a $500,000 life insurance policy to secure his alimony and child support obligations.
1. Discrepancies in a court’s oral pronouncements and a written final judgment may require reversal;
2. Requiring a party to purchase life insurance to insure payment of obligations which exceeds the amount of insurance available to a party is error.
First, the trial court made oral pronouncements at the final hearing which differed from its written findings in the final judgment. The trial court gave no basis for the specific amount of permanent periodic alimony other than finding the parties had acquired debts. Additionally, the trial court found the Former Husband responsible for mortgage, taxes, and insurance payments on the marital home; these expenses were included in the amount of need the court awarded. It is also unclear from the record whether the trial court considered its award of 33% of the Former Husband’s monthly military pension to the Former Wife in making an alimony award. The trial court’s order requiring the husband to obtain life insurance beyond the amount available to him was also error.
The trial court’s award of alimony is reversed and remanded to assess the discrepancies between the oral pronouncements and written judgment, including the debt allocation, mortgage responsibility, and disposition of the marital home. The trial court’s order regarding life insurance is also reversed and remanded consistent with the court’s order.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
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