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Kurtanovic v. Kurtanovic

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

May 25, 2018

Esad Kurtanovic, Husband, Appellant,
v.
Zineta Kurtanovic, Wife, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Steven M. Fahlgren, Judge.

          Michael M. Giel of Giel Family Law, P.A., Jacksonville, for Appellant.

          No appearance for Appellee.

          Roberts, J.

         In this appeal from a final judgment of dissolution of marriage, the former husband raises multiple issues on appeal: (I) the trial court erred when it calculated the equitable distribution award; (II) the trial court erred when it required the former husband to make a lump-sum payment; (III) the trial court erred by imputing income to the former husband when it calculated the alimony payments; (IV) the trial court erred by awarding the former wife retroactive alimony; (V) the trial court erred when it required the former husband to secure the former wife's alimony award with life insurance; (VI) the trial court erred by ordering the former husband's alimony payments to continue past his death; and (VII) the trial court erred in granting the former wife attorney's fees and costs. We find the trial court's equitable distribution scheme contained a mathematical error and remand for correction of the error and otherwise affirm the equitable distribution scheme. We find the trial court erred when it required the former husband to make a lump-sum payment to the former wife as there is no indication in the record that the former husband had the ability to pay such an award. We find no error in the trial court's imputation of income to the former husband and award of alimony and retroactive alimony to the former wife and affirm. We find the trial court erred when it required the former husband to obtain life insurance to secure the former wife's alimony award and when it required the alimony award to extend beyond the former husband's death. Because the parties appear to be on equal financial footing after equitable distribution and the award of alimony, we reverse the trial court's award of attorney's fees and costs to the former wife.

         Equitable Distribution

         An appellate court reviews a trial court's equitable distribution scheme for abuse of discretion. Stough v. Stough, 18 So.3d 601, 604 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009). The trial court provided a thorough equitable distribution scheme that contains a mathematical error in the initial equalization amount. After distributing the parties' assets and debts, the trial court found that the former husband received $3, 739.61 more than the former wife. The record clearly shows that there was only a difference of $1, 739.61. Based on the correct difference, the former wife was only entitled to an initial equalizing payment of $869.80 rather than $1, 869.80. Therefore, we reverse on this point and remand for the trial court to correct the mathematical error and to reduce the former wife's total equitable distribution equalizing payment by $1, 000.00. We otherwise affirm the equitable distribution award. See Ard v. Ard, 765 So.2d 106, 107 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (reversing the equitable distribution scheme solely to correct a mathematical error and otherwise affirming the equitable distribution scheme).

         Lump-Sum Payment

"[A] lump sum equalizing payment to accomplish equitable distribution 'is properly awarded only when the evidence reflects a justification for such an award and the ability of the paying spouse to make the payment without substantially endangering his or her economic status.' "

Abramovic v. Abramovic, 188 So.3d 61, 64 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016) (quoting Fortune v. Fortune, 61 So.3d 441, 446 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011) (emphasis added) (quoting Bishop v. Bishop, 47 So.3d 326, 331 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010)). See also Neal v. Meek, 591 So.2d 1044, 1046 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991) (any required lump-sum payment must be supported by findings of fact demonstrating the payor spouse's ability to make the payment within the contemplated timeframe).

         The trial court made no findings with regards to the former husband's ability to pay a lump-sum equalizing payment. Because there is no indication in the record that the former husband had the ability to make a lump-sum payment within the time frame set by the trial court, we reverse.

         Alimony

         An appellate court reviews an award of alimony for abuse of discretion. Abbott v. Abbott, 187 So.3d 326, 327 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016). The appellate court reviews the application of the law to the facts of the case de novo and will not reverse an ...


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