Posted on August 11, 2014
When marital assets or debts are mistakenly omitted from your Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage , this oversight can significantly affect your share of equitable distribution and even your child support or alimony awards . Occasionally, despite the court’s best efforts, marital assets and debts (or credits and debits) may be inadvertently omitted from the Final Judgment, resulting in significant financial loss to you. What should you do if you believe this has happened in your case? Contact an attorney immediately. Through the filing of a motion or an appeal , such issues can often be quickly and efficiently corrected.
Florida courts have ruled that in such cases, even a small oversight in the equitable distribution scheme can significantly affect the entire property distribution, alimony or child support awards . In the case of Sharon v. Sharon, 862 So.2d 789 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2003), the trial court had permitted the wife to withdraw certain funds from the parties’ joint money market account during the pendency of the dissolution, including $12,500.00 to replace the roof on the marital home. The parties were permitted to defer the determination of this expense until the final hearing. However, at trial, the court awarded one-half (½) of the benefit of the roof to the husband but failed to include the wife’s credit in her share of the equitable distribution. On appeal, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled that on remand, the trial court must revise the equitable distribution award where the court had failed to credit the wife or to make any findings justifying an unequal distribution of assets. See also, Berry v. Berry, 992 So.2d 898 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2008)(reversal of trial court’s ruling that home was marital property significantly altered equitable distribution plan and therefore remand was required for reconsideration of equitable distribution alimony award); Gaetani-Slade v. Slade, 852 So.2d 343 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003) (where errors in final judgment affected entire distribution plan, remand was necessary for reconsideration of entire property distribution scheme); Ard v. Ard, 765 So.2d 106 9 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000)(remand for correction of mathematical error in trial court’s scheme of equitable distribution of parties’ assets was necessary, where trial court erroneously required husband to pay wife equalization payment of $6,537.50, and correct amount was $6,412.50); Royall v. Royall, 830 So.2d 256 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002)(where due to scrivener’s error, parties agreed that trial court used incorrect figure of $135,000 instead of correct figure of $133,855 as non-marital value of business, trial court should correct error on remand and accordingly revise equitable distribution numbers).
If you believe that marital assets or debts were omitted from your Final Judgment of Dissolution , please contact us immediately. We, at The Roberts Family Law Firm, have many years experience and we will carefully review your judgment, including the equitable distribution scheme, and any child support or alimony awards, to determine whether significant items are absent or were overlooked in your case and how best to address such issues. As deadlines may be an important factor in these matters, please contact your Orlando family law attorney as soon as you suspect a problem; we are here to help.