ANTHONY E. DOGODA, JR., Appellant,
AMY DOGODA, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Sarasota County; Frederick P.
J. Mackey and B. Kyle Stalnaker of Mackey Law Group, P.A.,
Bradenton, for Appellant.
Kenneth M. Poole, Jr. of Syprett, Meshad, Resnick, Lieb,
Dumbaugh, Jones, Krotec & Westheimer, P.A., Sarasota, for
LaROSE, Chief Judge.
E. Dogoda, Jr. appeals an order denying his supplemental
petition to modify alimony. We have jurisdiction.
See Fla. R. App. P. 9.030(b)(1)(A). The trial court
abused its discretion in concluding that the filing date of
the final dissolution judgment was the operative date from
which to assess whether a subsequent substantial change in
circumstances justified an alimony modification.
Consequently, we reverse.
parties married in October 1991. Mr. Dogoda filed for divorce
in March 2013. Eventually, the parties entered into a marital
settlement agreement (MSA) that resolved all outstanding
issues between them. As relevant here, the MSA obligated Mr.
Dogoda to pay monthly durational alimony of $1250.
provided that it "shall become effective and enforceable
when both parties have executed it." The MSA was fully
executed by September 19, 2014. Unfortunately, the trial
court did not enter a final judgment of dissolution until
December 30, 2014. While awaiting entry of the final
judgment, Mr. Dogoda made the required alimony payments
called for by the MSA.
Dogoda was a firefighter. During the time between execution
of the MSA and entry of the final judgment, he engaged in
fire department physical fitness drills. Because of his
"horrible" performance, he considered retirement.
He asked the City of Sarasota Firefighter's Pension Board
about possible 2015 retirement dates. Mr. Dogoda had explored
his retirement options yearly for the previous ten years. In
early December 2014, the Pension Board approved Mr.
Dogoda's retirement, effective January 23, 2015.
months after his retirement, Mr. Dogoda petitioned for a
downward modification of his alimony obligation. He cited to
his reduced retirement income, which was due to the equitable
distribution of his fire department retirement pension,
coupled with the financial hardship caused by his monthly
alimony payment. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial
court entered an order denying Mr. Dogoda's petition.
trial court found that Mr. Dogoda's "retirement was
contemplated prior to the actual [final judgment] being
entered [on] December 30, 2014." More specifically, the
trial court observed that "Mr. Dogoda took a step to
activate or put into place his retirement effective January,
2015[;] . . . he took the step to have the Pension Board
approve his retirement."
the trial court characterized Mr. Dogoda's retirement as
"voluntary in nature" with "nothing about him
retiring or exercising his retirement option to be spiteful
or in any way to thwart Ms. Dogoda from receiving any
benefits to which she is entitled." Rather, the trial
court believed that it was constrained from awarding relief
because Mr. Dogoda decided to retire before entry of the
final judgment. Specifically, the trial court lamented that
if it "could ignore the second prong of ...