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Kallett v. Kastriner

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

August 30, 2017

LEE KALLETT, Appellant,
v.
SHERYL KASTRINER, Appellee.

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

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Nick Nazaretian, Judge.

          Allison M. Perry of Florida Appeals & Mediations, P.A., Tampa, for Appellant.

          Raymond T. Elligett, Jr., and Amy S. Farrior, of Buell & Elligett, P.A., Tampa, for Appellee.

          BADALAMENTI, Judge.

         Lee Kallett, the Former Husband, appeals from the trial court's order denying his postdissolution petition for downward modification of his alimony obligation. The trial court concluded that the Former Husband, in a 2008 settlement agreement, forever waived his right to seek a downward modification unless he became involuntarily unemployed. Because our review of the settlement agreement does not reveal a clear and unambiguous intent to waive the Former Husband's statutory right to seek modification, we reverse and remand for further proceedings pursuant to section 61.14, Florida Statutes (2014).

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Former Husband and the Former Wife, Sheryl Kastriner, dissolved their marriage in 2006. The trial court ordered the Former Husband to pay the Former Wife permanent periodic alimony in the amount of $4000 per month. In 2008, the parties entered into a stipulated settlement agreement where they agreed to reduce the Former Husband's alimony obligation by $500 per month on account of a reduction in his income. The trial court later ratified this stipulation.

         Six years later, in 2014, the Former Husband filed a petition seeking an additional reduction of his alimony obligation. In response to this petition for modification, the Former Wife filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the 2008 stipulation prohibits the Former Husband from seeking further reduction of his alimony obligation unless he is involuntarily unemployed. In making this argument, the Former Wife relied on paragraph seven of the 2008 stipulation, which reads as follows:

The Former Husband shall seek no further reduction of his alimony obligation before December 31, 2010, and the Former Husband shall not be entitled to any further reduction of his alimony obligation prior to December 31, 2010. The Former Husband may seek downward modification of his alimony obligation only if he is involuntarily unemployed.

         The Former Wife argued that paragraph seven should be interpreted as accomplishing two things. First, paragraph seven prohibits the Former Husband from seeking modification of alimony for any reason prior to December 31, 2010. Second, paragraph seven prohibits the Former Husband from seeking alimony modification after December 31, 2010, unless he is involuntarily unemployed. She thus asserted that because it was undisputed that the Former Husband was not involuntarily unemployed at the time of filing his 2014 petition for a reduction in alimony, she should be granted summary judgment.

         The trial court agreed with the Former Wife that paragraph seven permanently barred the Former Husband from seeking modification of his alimony obligation unless he is involuntarily unemployed. The court noted that it was applying "a strict construction" of paragraph seven. Concluding that the Former Husband was not involuntarily unemployed, the court granted the Former Wife's motion for summary judgment, denied the Former Husband's 2014 petition for alimony reduction, and entered final judgment in favor of the Former Wife.

         DISCUSSION

         On appeal, the Former Husband argues that paragraph seven of the parties' 2008 stipulation did not represent an unambiguous permanent waiver of his right to seek ...


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