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Gudur v. Gudur

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

June 28, 2019

RAMESH GUDUR, Appellant,
v.
KAVITHA GUDUR, Appellee.

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

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Collier County; Mary C. Evans, Judge.

          Allison M. Perry of Florida Appeals, P.A., Tampa; and Cary A. Cliff of Cary Alan Cliff, P.A., Naples, for Appellant.

          Cynthia L. Greene of Cynthia L. Greene, P.A., of counsel, Young, Berman, Karpf & Gonzalez, P.A., Miami; and Jeffrey C. Quinn, Naples, for Appellee.

          SILBERMAN, JUDGE.

         Ramesh Gudur (the Former Husband) appeals an amended final judgment of dissolution of marriage (the Judgment). He challenges the equitable distribution, the alimony that Kavitha Gudur (the Former Wife) was ordered to pay, and the denial of his request for an award of attorney's fees, raising five issues. We affirm to the extent that the Judgment dissolves the parties' marriage. We also affirm regarding the Former Husband's debt to Deloitte and Touche because the Former Husband has shown no entitlement to relief. However, we reverse the equitable distribution and remand for the trial court to reconsider the distribution of the Former Wife's interest in a medical building and the Former Husband's student loans incurred during the marriage. After the trial court reconsiders the equitable distribution, it must also reconsider the alimony award to the Former Husband and his request for attorney's fees.

         The parties were married in January 1998. They have one daughter who was a minor at the time of trial but who has since reached the age of majority. The Former Wife filed the petition for dissolution of marriage on October 10, 2012. Their marriage of over fourteen years is of moderate duration. See § 61.08(4), Fla. Stat. (2012). At the time of trial, the Former Wife was forty-six years old, and the Former Husband was sixty years old.

         The Former Wife was a medical student and moved to the United States from India after the parties married. They lived in Houston, Texas, where the Former Husband was working and attending law school. In 2000, after the Former Husband was fired from his job, the parties moved to Brooklyn, New York, for the Former Wife to complete her internal medicine residency. During the period of 2000-2003, the Former Husband did not work continuously and was unemployed for about eighteen months. After the Former Wife completed her residency, the parties moved to Florida.

         The Former Wife practiced as an internist with the Naples Medical Center. She has a 6.4% ownership interest in Naples Medical & Professional Center, Inc., which owns the building that formerly housed the Naples Medical Center. By the time of trial, the Former Wife was working for herself at Wellness Dimensions, LLC, and at a chemical dependency rehabilitation facility. Based on the evidence presented, including her expert's testimony, the trial court determined that her gross monthly income was $31, 600 per month. Her net monthly income, as shown on the child support guidelines worksheet, was $17, 322.22.

         The Former Husband had an MBA degree when the parties married, and he completed law school in July 1999. When the parties moved to Florida, he first worked as an attorney for the Florida Department of Health. Later, he obtained employment as an assistant public defender in Naples. He worked there for seven and a half years until he resigned in September 2011. The Former Husband had taught college classes as an adjunct in the past, and he entered a Ph.D. program so that he could work as a professor. He was terminated from the Ph.D. program in 2013. The Former Husband remained unemployed at the time the trial concluded in November 2015.

         The Former Husband was making close to $50, 000 per year when he left his employment as an assistant public defender. At trial, the Former Wife presented a vocational rehabilitation and career counselor who evaluated the Former Husband and testified regarding the Former Husband's job search and earning potential.

         The trial court ordered an equitable distribution that awarded each party $361, 194. The court did not find the Former Husband's testimony regarding his job search credible and imputed income of $3000 per month to the Former Husband. The court awarded to the Former Husband durational alimony for seven years of $5000 per month and denied the Former Husband's request for attorney's fees.

         I. EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION

         The trial court made an equitable distribution that awarded $361, 194 to each party. Thus, in accordance with the premise of section 61.075(1), the trial court sought to equally distribute the marital assets and liabilities. We conduct a de novo review of the "trial court's characterization of an asset as marital or nonmarital" but review for competent substantial evidence the "factual findings necessary to make this legal conclusion." Dravis v. Dravis, 170 So.3d 849, 852 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015). We also review the trial court's valuation of marital assets for competent substantial evidence to support the valuation. Id. at 853. The trial court's distribution of the marital assets and liabilities is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Cooley v. Cooley, 253 So.3d 1223, 1226 ...


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