RANDY J. FISCHER, HUSBAND, Appellant,
KATHLEEN THERESE FISCHER, WIFE, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Hugh A.
Michael M. Giel of Giel Family Law, P.A., Jacksonville, for
J. Norman, Jacksonville, for Appellee.
former husband seeks review of a "Final Judgment of
Dissolution of Marriage." The judgment appears to be
final in all respects with the exception of the trial
court's reservation of jurisdiction "to determine
the disposition" of the parties' home
should the former wife "be unable to refinance the
mortgage." The emphasized language unquestionably
reserves jurisdiction to consider a forthcoming distribution
of the parties' principal asset-the marital home. It is
expressly made contingent on an eventuality that may or may
not come to pass-the wife's obtaining refinancing of the
marital home. And, most significantly, it fails to define
what the "disposition" of the home would entail.
Accordingly, the reservation of jurisdiction signals to us
that additional judicial labor will be required. See
Caufield v. Caufield, 837 So.2d 371, 375 (Fla. 2002)
("A final judgment is one which ends the litigation
between the parties and disposes of all issues involved such
that no further action by the court will be
necessary."); Demont v. Demont, 24 So.3d 699,
699 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009) (dismissing appeal where
"final" judgment expressly reserved jurisdiction
"to consider the division of the parties' marital
personal property, " citing Caufield, 837 So.2d
at 375); Wilson v. Wilson, 906 So.2d 356, 357 (Fla.
1st DCA 2005) (holding that "an order which purports to
become final upon the happening of an event specified in the
order is not a final order and the happening of the event
does not operate to render the order final"); Thomas
v. Thomas, 902 So.2d 881 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005) (Mem.)
(determining that the order "captioned as a 'Final
Order of Dissolution of Marriage, '" but in which
the lower tribunal reserved jurisdiction "to consider
the issue of a possible reduction in the value of any IRA or
pension plan" by the former husband, "indicate[d]
that the lower tribunal's judicial labor [was] incomplete
and render[ed] the order nonfinal"); Newman v.
Newman, 858 So.2d 1273 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003) (Mem.)
(dismissing appeal where "final" order of
dissolution contained conditional reservation of jurisdiction
to determine issues regarding bank and investment accounts).
former husband argues that the reservation of jurisdiction
did not in any way alter the finality of the judgment with
respect to the dissolution of the marriage, the award of
alimony, or the equitable distribution of the parties'
other property. We rejected a similar assertion in
Demont, where we held that "although
substantively the order on appeal may have the effect of
terminating the marriage and finally adjudicating certain
issues, procedurally it does not bring an end to the judicial
labor required in the cause such that the order is appealable
as a final order." Demont, 24 So.3d at 700.
Even though the jurisdiction in the instant judgment was not
reserved specifically to determine the equitable distribution
of all of the parties' assets and liabilities,
by its terms it reserved jurisdiction with the express intent
to make an alternative disposition of the home. That decision
would potentially bear on the current equitable distribution
of the parties' assets and liabilities and, in turn, the
amount of alimony awarded.
we persuaded that this case can be compared favorably to the
circumstances in Johnson v. Johnson, 902 So.2d 241
(Fla. 1st DCA 2005), because, here, the parties discussed the
possibility of selling the home should the wife fail to gain
refinancing. In Johnson, we held that the amended
judgment of dissolution of marriage was not rendered nonfinal
simply because it did not appear to determine the
parties' interest in several marital properties. We
concluded the judgment was appealable because the
parties' interests in the marital property were
determined by section 689.15, Florida Statutes (2004), which
provided that tenants by the entireties, upon the dissolution
of their marriage, would automatically become tenants in
common. Id. at 243. We further reasoned that because
section 61.075(1), Florida Statutes (2004), directed the
trial court to begin distributing marital property under the
premise that it would be an equal distribution, "the
statutory default of tenancy in common would apply" and
"the order identifying, but not expressly dividing, five
marital properties is appealable." Id.
distinction between Johnson and the case at bar is
that in Johnson, the order's lack of definition
was supplied "by operation of the law."
Id. at 244. Here, however, we are only left to guess
as to what the trial court might decide to do with the home
should the plan to refinance fall through.[*]
these reasons, we hold that the appeal is one from a nonfinal
order. Consequently we dismiss it "without prejudice to
either party's right to file a timely notice of appeal
after a final order has been rendered by the trial
court." Demont, 24 So.3d at 700-01.
and MAKAR, JJ., CONCUR.