ROSE MARIE WELLS, as Personal Representative of the Estate of John Scott Wells, Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
SANDRA WELLS, Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Pinellas County; Keith Meyer,
H. Grossman, St. Petersburg, for Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Gregory T. Elliott of Elliott-Berger, P.A., Largo, for
Marie Wells-as the personal representative (PR) of the estate
of her deceased husband, John Scott Wells-appeals an order on
her amended motion to enforce the final judgment of
dissolution of marriage between her deceased husband and his
former wife. The former wife cross-appeals. We reverse the
order because the trial court erred in its interpretation of
the marital settlement agreement that was incorporated into
the final judgment of dissolution.
Scott Wells, the former husband, and Sandra Wells, the former
wife, divorced in 2001. The final judgment of dissolution
incorporated a marital settlement agreement that contained a
provision giving the former wife sole possession of a piece
of marital property until the parties' daughter finished
four years of college:
REAL PROPERTY: The parties own the home located at 306 22nd
Avenue N.E., St. Petersburg, FL, a marital asset titled in
the Wife's name. There is no mortgage on this property.
The Wife shall have exclusive use and possession of the home
through the daughter's minority and college years (4
years post high school). The Husband shall contribute 50% to
taxes, insurance, and necessary repairs greater than $500.
Upon sale of the home by the Wife, the Husband shall be
entitled to 50% of the net proceeds.
former husband died in 2014. After his death, the PR sought
to enforce the final judgment of dissolution, claiming that
the former wife was required to sell the property and give
the former husband's estate fifty percent of the proceeds
since the former wife and former husband's daughter had
finished college. The former wife responded that the
provision did not require her to sell the home. She also
argued that the agreement was not enforceable because the
former husband had breached the marital settlement agreement
by failing to abide by its terms since 2007 and/or that the
parties had abandoned the agreement.
hearing, the trial court denied the PR's motion in part,
concluding that the agreement did not require the former wife
to sell the property. The trial court stated the following:
Parties are free to contract as they choose. By the
unambiguous and clear terms of the contract[, ] the [former
wife] was granted exclusive use and possession of the marital
home while the child was in college. Thereafter, if the
home was sold by [the former wife], the [former husband]
was entitled to half of the proceeds. To date, the home has
not been sold by the [former wife]. There is no legal basis
for the court to deem the express timing of the [the former
wife's] contract to be illusory. The [c]ontract will be
enforced pursuant to its plain language.
the trial court determined that when the former wife does
sell the property, the former husband's estate has a
The [PR] shall be entitled to seek payment of the Final
Judgment if the subject residence is sold by the [former
wife] at a time when the [PR] still time [sic] to make such a
claim. [The PR] is further granted as to the property that is
the subject of this [m]otion in the amount equal to
"fifty percent of the net proceeds" if [the former
wife] ever sells the property.
appeal, the PR argues that the provision clearly requires the
sale of the property after the daughter has graduated college
and that the trial court's interpretation of the
provision is unreasonable because it ignores the obvious
intent of ...