JEFFREY S. BROWN, Appellant,
JULIA BROWN, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for St. Johns County, John M.
Felecia Leann Walker, of Walker Law, LLC, St. Augustine, for
Appearance for Appellee.
Brown ("the former husband") appeals a final
judgment of dissolution of marriage, challenging the amounts
of child support and durational alimony that he was ordered
to pay Julia Brown ("the former wife"). We are
unable to conduct meaningful appellate review because the
final judgment contains material inconsistencies and fails to
include necessary findings of fact. Accordingly, we reverse
and remand for the trial court to make additional factual
findings, to remedy the material inconsistencies contained in
the final judgment, and then, to the extent required, to
reconsider the child support and durational alimony awards.
parties were married in October 1999. There were three minor
children born of the marriage. The former husband filed a
petition for dissolution of marriage in April 2015, and the
former wife responded a month later with her answer and
counterpetition. The parties resolved the issues of shared
parental responsibility and timesharing of the minor children
prior to trial. Because of a pending bankruptcy, the parties
stipulated that equitable distribution issues would be
resolved at a later date.
two months after trial, the trial court entered an eight and
one-half page final judgment. The final judgment included
findings as to each party's gross income, but failed to
set forth findings as to either party's net income.
See, e.g., Gilliard v. Gilliard, 162 So.3d
1147, 1154 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015) ("A party's ability
to pay alimony should be based on the party's net income;
not gross income."). Additionally, the final judgment
contained inconsistent provisions as to the amount of
durational alimony to be paid by the former husband. In one
paragraph, the former husband was ordered to pay durational
alimony of $1200 per month beginning April 2016 and
terminating on August 1, 2021. In another paragraph, the
former husband's durational alimony was determined to be
$1200 per month until June 2018. At that time, the durational
alimony would be reduced to $800 per month, ceasing on August
1, 2021. Elsewhere, the final judgment recited that the
reduced amount of durational alimony as of June 2018, should
be $850 per month, rather than $800 per month.
appeal, the former husband contends that his durational
alimony obligation is excessive. We are unable to adequately
address this argument because of the lack of findings as to
the parties' respective net incomes, and because of our
uncertainty as to the former husband's actual alimony
obligation for the period of time from June 1, 2018 to August
1, 2021. Accordingly, on remand, the trial court is directed
to make factual findings as to the parties' respective
net incomes and to remedy the aforementioned inconsistencies
in the final judgment. See Mathieu v. Mathieu, 877
So.2d 740, 741 n.1 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004) ("Since the
principal reason for findings of fact in these cases is to
allow for meaningful appellate review in this very important
area of the law, if the court determines on its own that its
review is hampered, we may, at our discretion, send the case
back for findings."); see also Matajek v.
Skowronska, 927 So.2d 981, 987-88 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006)
(holding that notwithstanding appellant's failure to
raise lack of factual findings in motion for rehearing,
remand for additional factual findings on issue of permanent
periodic alimony was appropriate, where appellate court
determined on its own that meaningful appellate review was
hampered by absence of required findings).
final judgment further required the former husband to pay
child support in the amount of $645.86 per month. Again,
meaningful appellate review is precluded by the absence of
necessary factual findings. No child support guidelines
worksheet was attached to the final judgment or made part of
the record, and the trial court made no findings as to the
parties' respective net incomes or the cost of health
insurance for the minor children. See §
61.30(3)-(6), Fla. Stat. (2016) (using "net income"
to determine child support guideline amount).
61.30, Florida Statutes (2016), establishes the method by
which a trial court must determine the presumptive child
support guideline amount. If the child support awarded
deviates from the guideline amount by more than five percent,
the final judgment must explain why the guideline amount is
unjust or inappropriate. § 61.30(1)(a), Fla. Stat.
(2016). Here, the absence of necessary findings precludes us
from determining whether the child support awarded was a
departure from the guidelines and, if so, whether that
departure was justified. See Wilcox v. Munoz, 35
So.3d 136, 139-40 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) (holding that trial
court erred by failing to make required factual findings
regarding parties' net incomes; failure to make findings
precluded determination of whether support ordered departed
from guideline). On remand, the trial court is to make
findings necessary to properly calculate the child support
and REMANDED, with instructions.
C.J. and ...