Flynn v. McCraney & McCraney (First DCA, September 19, 2016)

The appellant brought a paternity suit against the appellees alleging that he was the father of the child born during their marriage.  The District Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the suit, holding that there is no cause of action that permits a potential biological father to establish paternity over a child born to an intact marriage.

Browne v. Blanton-Browne (First DCA, September 19, 2016)

The former husband was held in contempt for failing to pay support after the trial court held a hearing that the former husband failed to attend.  The First District Court reserved because the trial court violated the former husband’s due process rights.

First, the trial court’s order setting the contempt hearing failed to include mandatory language warning the former husband that he could be incarcerated if he failed to attend the hearing.  Thus, the trial court erred when it issued a writ of bodily attachment after the former husband failed to appear.

Second, the trial court erred by conducting the full hearing in former husband’s absence and by finding him in contempt and ordering him to pay approximately $20,000 as a purge.  The District Court explained that the proper procedure when the alleged contemnor does not appear is to hold a hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case of contempt.  If a prima facie case is presented, the trial court should enter a writ of bodily attachment for the purpose of bringing the responding party before the court to answer to the motion.  Only after the court hears from both parties can it enter an order granting or denying the motion for contempt.  Accordingly, the trial court erred by ruling on the motion and finding the former husband in contempt before he had an opportunity to be heard.

Koscher v. Koscher (Fourth DCA, September 21, 2016)

This divorce case primarily involved the question of whether the husband should be imputed with income.  The trial court ruled that he should not; the District Court reversed.

At trial, it was shows that the husband previously earned an average of around $850,000 per year before losing his job, through no fault of his own, about two years prior to trial.  The husband admitted that he had not diligently sought employment thereafter, suggesting that he was waiting to see how the divorce case turned out.  Nevertheless, the trial court determined that it could not impute income to the husband because there was no evidence as to what level of income he could presently earn.  The trial court awarded the wife permanent alimony, but at a nominal amount.

The District Court held that it was an abuse of discretion to refuse to impute income in this situation.  Although the Court acknowledged that the husband had not voluntarily left his prior employment, the Court explained that the husband’s failure to diligently seek new work meant that he was voluntarily unemployed and that income should have been imputed.

The District Court remanded this issue to the trial court to determine what the husband’s imputed level of income should be.  In doing so, the Court did not instruct the trial court to impute an historic level of income to the husband.  Instead, the Court told the trial court that it could take additional evidence as to the husband’s present employment potential to determine an appropriate imputed income amount.