FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Pasco County; Kemba Lewis, Judge.
Theodore J. Rechel of Rechel & Associates, P.A., Tampa,
Lucinda L. Soria, pro se.
Soria (the former husband) challenges the final judgment
dissolving his marriage to Lucinda Soria (the former wife).
He contends that the court made several errors with regard to
the valuation of his company for purposes of equitable
distribution and made several errors with regard to the
awards of permanent periodic alimony and retroactive alimony.
For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the
dissolution of marriage but reverse those portions of the
final judgment related to equitable distribution and alimony
and remand for further proceedings.
parties were married in April 1988. The former husband filed a
petition for dissolution of marriage in June 2014, and the
former wife filed a counter-petition several months later.
The trial was held on November 28, 2016, December 19, 2016,
and January 23, 2017. The former husband testified that he
founded Advanced Biomedical Concepts, LLC (ABC), in 2012 for
the purpose of consulting with doctors to assist them in
bringing their ideas to market. The former husband created
ABC by purchasing the wound care product division of Medical
GMBH, which had previously employed the former husband. As a
result of that purchase-which included technology and
equipment-ABC remained indebted to Medical GMBH in an amount
in excess of $400, 000. The balance of the purchase price was
to be paid in three installments between July 2013 and July
2015, but ABC had been unable to fulfill this obligation due
to money shortages and other issues that had arisen.
ABC's profit and loss statements and balance sheets from
2013 to 2016 were admitted into evidence; the 2016 financial
statements were up to date through September 2016 with
projections through the end of December 2016. ABC's
assets varied between $147, 000 and $190, 000, and
liabilities varied between $9000 and $76, 000. The former
husband testified that ABC was in "start-up mode"
and that, based on his knowledge of the business, it had no
actual value. The former husband further explained that he is
a crucial part of any value that the business may have and
that the business could not function without him.
time the petition for dissolution was filed, the former
husband owned approximately 64 percent of ABC, equating to
674, 000 shares. The remaining 36 percent of the company was
owned by investors, and the former husband explained that
each investor's ownership interest in ABC was based upon
the amount of his or her investment, with $1 equating to one
share. After the petition for dissolution was filed and in
contravention of the trial court's order prohibiting
either party from disposing of or dissipating the value of
any asset, the former husband transferred 30, 000 of his
shares of ABC stock to his girlfriend, who is an engineer, as
compensation for the "time and energy" she invested
"to keep the company alive."
closing argument, the former wife asserted that the value of
ABC should be determined by the manner in which the former
husband sought capitalization-one unit or share of ownership
for each dollar invested. The trial court seemingly agreed.
In the final judgment, the trial court found that the former
husband owns 674, 000 shares of ABC stock, including the 30,
000 shares he "improperly transferred" to his
girlfriend. The court found that those shares have a total
value of $674, 000 "based on the [former]
[h]usband's testimony of how each share was acquired
through the investment process." The court concluded
that the former wife is entitled to 50 percent of the value
of the former husband's ownership interest in ABC, or
$337, 000. The former husband does not dispute that his
ownership interest in ABC is a marital asset subject to
equitable distribution but contends that the court erred by
using the "par value" of the stock as a means of
assessing the value of this asset. See Par Value,
Black's Law Dictionary 1298 (10th ed. 2014)
(defining "par value" as "[t]he value of an
instrument or security as shown on its face; esp., the
arbitrary dollar amount assigned to a stock share by the
review the trial court's equitable distribution decisions
for abuse of discretion and examine its valuation of marital
assets to determine whether it is supported by competent,
substantial evidence." Dravis v. Dravis, 170
So.3d 849, 853 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015) (citing Tradler v.
Tradler, 100 So.3d 735, 738 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012)); see
also § 61.075(3), Fla. Stat. (2016) ("[A]ny
distribution of marital assets or marital liabilities shall
be supported by factual findings in the judgment or order
based on competent substantial evidence . . . .").
"Proper valuations of assets are critical to the
propriety of an equitable distribution scheme."
Hough v. Hough, 793 So.2d 57, 59 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001)
(citing Cornette v. Cornette, 704 So.2d 667, 668-69
(Fla. 2d DCA 1997)). "The valuation of a business is
calculated by determining the fair market value of the
business, which is the amount [for which] a willing buyer and
a willing seller would exchange assets[, ] absent
duress." Christians v. Christians, 732 So.2d
47, 47 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999). "Typically, fair market
value measures the value of the assets of the business plus
the value of goodwill." Id. at 47-48.
Enterprise goodwill, defined as the value of a business
"which exceeds its tangible assets" and represents
"the tendency of clients/patients to return to and
recommend the practice irrespective of the reputation of the
individual practitioner, " is a marital asset subject to
equitable distribution. Thompson v. Thompson, 576
So.2d 267, 269 (Fla. 1991). Personal or professional goodwill
attributable to the skill, reputation, and continued
participation of an individual is not a marital
Schmidt v. Schmidt, 120 So.3d 31, 33 (Fla. 4th DCA
2013). Though neither party presented expert witness
testimony as to the value of ABC,  the owner of a business may
testify as to its value. See Capote v. Capote, 117
So.3d 1153, 1155 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) (citing Beaty v.
Gribble, 652 So.2d 1156, 1158 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995)).
the essentially arbitrary par value assigned to ABC's
stock bears no relation to ABC's fair market value. The
court did not specify the date on which it valued the former
husband's ownership interested in ABC.See Schroll
v. Schroll, 227 So.3d 232, 235 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017)
("The date for determining the value of marital assets
and the amount of marital liabilities is the date or dates as
the court determines is 'just and equitable under the
circumstances.' " (quoting § 61.075(7))).
However, no matter which date the court found to be
"just and equitable, " the court was required to
consider both ABC's assets and liabilities when assessing
its value. See Bair v. Bair, 214 So.3d 750, 754
(Fla. 2d DCA 2017). Thus not only did the court err in
valuing ABC based on the capitalization scheme, the court
further erred in failing to include the company's
liabilities. In addition to the liabilities listed on the
balance sheet, the former husband testified that ABC still
owes Medical GMBH over $400, 000. And though the court made
no findings with regard to goodwill, the former husband
testified that he is the business and that the business could