Family Law Appellate Update for week ending 12/02/16


Harris v. Harris (Fifth DCA, December 2, 2016)

The husband appealed a final judgment of divorce as to alimony and equitable distribution.  The Fifth DCA reversed.

First, in calculating the wife’s need for alimony, the trial court included monies that the wife voluntarily gave to her adult daughter and grandchild.  The District Court reversed with instructions that the trial court recalculate alimony after determining the wife’s individual need for support.

Second, the trial court erred in its treatment of the appreciation on the wife’s non-marital home.  Although the home was non-marital, the parties had made repairs with marital efforts and funds that actively increased the value of the home.  The home had then passively increased in value such that the portion of the increase in value attributable to the active appreciation was approximately $10,000.  The trial court properly considered this amount a marital asset, but it failed to divide this asset in equitable distribution after it awarded the wife her home.  The District Court reversed with instructions that the trial court either order the wife to pay half of this amount to the husband, of for the trial court to include this entire amount in the wife’s column for equitable distribution and to compensate the husband accordingly.