Hudson v. Hudson (First DCA, February 7, 2017)

During the divorce proceedings, the husband and wife entered into a partial settlement agreement giving the wife exclusive use and possession of the marital home.  Despite this, the husband continued to reside with her until trial.  At trial, the wife testified that husband had refused to leave, and she argued that she was entitled to past-due rent for his failure to do so.  The trial court agreed.

The First District reversed, observing that the wife had failed to plead a claim for past-due rent and that the issue had not been tried by consent.  In so doing, the District Court explained that the wife’s addition of this claim to her financial affidavit a week before trial did not substitute for the requirement to amend her petition and plead entitlement.  Likewise, although the fact that the husband remained in the home despite the language of the settlement agreement may have supported a civil claim for trespass damages, the wife had failed to plead for same and therefore was not entitled to such relief.

Garcia-Lawson v. Lawson (Fourth DCA, February 8, 2017)

In the parties’ divorce, the Court: (1) awarded the wife a portion of the husband’s retirement account; and, (2) ordered the wife to make an equalizing payment to the husband.  When the wife failed to make the equalizing payment, the trial court enforced its order by entering a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) ordering that a portion of the retirement account that the wife had received in the divorce be transferred back to the husband.  The wife appealed and the Fourth District reversed.

The District Court emphasized once again that a party seeking enforcement of an equitable distribution award is entitled only to the same remedies that would be available to a normal creditor.  Pursuant to IRS regulations, retirement assets are generally not subject to creditors’ claims.  Accordingly, the trial court erred by effectively awarding the husband a portion of the wife’s retirement assets as a sanction for her failure to comply with the court’s equitable distribution order.

Garcia-Lawson v. Lawson (Fourth DCA, February 8, 2017)

The former wife filed her petition for divorce three years after the minor child turned 18.  Among other things, she requested retroactive child support.  The trial court denied her claim on summary judgment, holding that she lacked standing to seek retroactive support because the child was beyond the age of 18 and there was no showing that the child was otherwise legally dependent under Florida law.  The Fourth District affirmed.