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Wamsley v. Wamsley

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

August 25, 2017

MICHAEL BRYAN WAMSLEY, Appellant,
v.
ANNMARIE WAMSLEY, n/k/a ANNMARIE HANECKI, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Wesley D. Tibbals, Judge.

          Simone Lennon of Simone Lennon, P.A., Clearwater, for Appellant.

          Brett R. Rahall of Brett Rahall, P.A., Tampa, for Appellee.

          LaROSE, Chief Judge.

         We review an order entered in postdissolution proceedings between Michael Bryan Wamsley and Annmarie Hanecki. Mr. Wamsley wants us to reverse the trial court's March 31, 2016, "Order vacating January 7, 2016, order confirming January 6, 2016 Report of General Magistrate." Because he seeks review of a nonfinal, nonappealable order, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

         Background

         Between October 2005 and January 2006, the trial court entered separate orders dissolving the parties' marriage, arranging timesharing and parental responsibilities, and establishing Mr. Wamsley's alimony and child support obligations. Since then, Mr. Wamsley repeatedly has sought modification of his financial obligations. Indeed, he has filed no less than five modification petitions. Yet, Mr. Wamsley has not pursued relief diligently. Seemingly, his modus operandi is to file a modification petition and then abandon it.

         The trial court's March 31, 2016, order recounts the procedural history below. A few relevant facts merit mention. Mr. Wamsley filed a modification petition in August 2010, but never scheduled a hearing. Consequently, the petition languished. Several years later, the Florida Department of Revenue sued to collect Mr. Wamsley's child support arrears. In September 2014, the trial court established his arrearage at over $105, 000.

         Spurred to action by the imposition of this significant financial obligation, Mr. Wamsley filed a new modification petition in September 2014. This time, however, he was tenacious. Mr. Wamsley sought a downward modification of his child support obligation due to an alleged material and substantial change in circumstances. In pursuing relief under his September 2014 petition, he argued that the operative pleading was the long-dormant August 2010 petition. The trial court, after conducting a hearing and receiving argument from the parties, disagreed. In the March 31, 2016, order, the trial court reasoned that Mr. Wamsley abandoned the August 2010 petition when he filed the September 2014 petition. Consistent with this rationale, the order succinctly stated that the September 2014 petition "is the only remaining operative pleading . . . ." To date, the trial court has rendered no decision on the merits of any modification petition filed by Mr. Wamsley.

         Analysis

         The crux of Mr. Wamsley's appeal is this: which modification petition is operative? He urges us to adopt the August 2010 petition. Ms. Hanecki, in contrast, argues in support of the trial court's March 31, 2016, order.

         We need not enter the fray. The March 31, 2016, order is nonfinal and nonappealable. That order did not reach the merits of Mr. Wamsley's efforts to modify his support obligations. It merely determined the operative petition upon which Mr. Wamsley could proceed.

         Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130 lists the grounds upon which a litigant may appeal a nonfinal order. As to family law matters, the rule allows for appeals of nonfinal orders that determine "the right to immediate monetary relief"; "the rights or obligations of a party regarding child custody or timesharing under a parenting plan"; or "that a marital settlement ...


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