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Sanchez v. Sanchez

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

November 13, 2019

Magda Sanchez, k/n/a Magda Rodriguez, Appellant,
v.
Neymee Sanchez, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, George A. Sarduy, Judge. Lower Tribunal Nos. 15-12276 & 15-24777

          Marro Law, P.A., and Meaghan K. Marro (Plantation), for appellant.

          Nancy A. Hass, P.A., and Nancy A. Hass (Fort Lauderdale), for appellee.

          Before FERNANDEZ, SCALES and LOBREE, JJ.

          SCALES, J.

         Appellant Magda Sanchez, known now as Magda Rodriguez, appeals an August 16, 2018 trial court order that denied her Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540(b)(4) motion[1] filed on June 10, 2018. Appellant's rule 1.540(b)(4) motion asserted that the trial court lost subject matter jurisdiction of the case upon the entry of a June 18, 2015 final order of dissolution of marriage and a February 18, 2016 final order of adoption, and therefore, that all the orders regarding the divorced parties' adopted children entered by the trial court after entry of those judgments were void. Appellant asserts that the trial court erred by denying, as untimely, her motion to vacate these allegedly void orders. While we disagree with the trial court's characterization of the species of jurisdiction it both lost and retained, for the reasons stated herein, we nevertheless affirm the trial court's order denying appellant's rule 1.540(b)(4) motion.

         I. Relevant Background

         Appellant and appellee Neymee Sanchez were married in December 2014, but, shortly thereafter, their marriage ended, and a final dissolution judgment was entered by the lower court on June 18, 2015 (lower court case number FC15-012276). Despite the dissolution of their marriage, the couple, pursuant to chapter 63 of the Florida Statutes, pursued the process of adopting two minor children (lower court case number FC15-24777). The June 2015 divorce decree did not reserve jurisdiction to adjudicate any matters regarding children.

         On February 18, 2016, approximately eight months after the divorce decree was entered, the lower court entered the final judgment of adoption. This final judgment of adoption did not retain jurisdiction as to matters related to the parties and/or their newly adopted children. Despite the final adoption order not retaining jurisdiction for timesharing, contemporaneously with entry of the February 2016 final adoption judgment, the family court entered several orders referring the parties to mediation and to Family Court Services.[2]

         The parties abided by the terms of these post-adoption judgment orders and actively participated in the Family Court Services program. Indeed, on June 22, 2016, Family Court Services filed a status report reflecting that the parties, as ordered by the trial court, had apparently resolved some timesharing issues. And, on July 12, 2016, during a court-ordered status conference, the trial court entered an order approving the parties' summer timesharing.

         In the late spring of 2017, the parties had a disagreement regarding timesharing for the upcoming summer. Consequently, on June 5, 2017, appellee filed a motion with the family law court[3] to enforce, for summer 2017, the terms of the July 12, 2016 summer timesharing order. The record further reflects that, in March 2018, appellee filed a petition seeking to modify the decision-making for the children. In May 2018, appellant filed a response in opposition to this motion.

         Then, on June 10, 2018 - over two years after both the entry of the final judgment of adoption and the entry of the challenged post-judgment orders - appellant filed her rule 1.540(b)(4) motion. Appellant's rule 1.540(b)(4) motion alleged, and appellant argues on appeal, that upon entry of the February 18, 2016 final judgment of adoption, the trial court lost subject matter jurisdiction over the case, and that all orders entered after that date were void. On July 24, 2018, the trial court held a hearing on appellant's rule 1.540(b)(4) motion, and, on August 28, 2018 entered the order on appeal denying, as untimely, appellant's rule 1.540(b)(4) motion. Regarding jurisdiction, the trial court's order contains the following conclusions:

The family court, in the adoption proceeding, may not have had subject matter jurisdiction following the Final Judgment of Adoption but because the Court continued to have personal jurisdiction over both parties and both parties were afforded due process, the Orders entered were not void but may have been voidable. . . . [T]he Court acknowledges that there was no subject matter jurisdiction in the dissolution of marriage proceedings and there may not have been a specific reservation in the adoption proceedings; however, the Court had personal jurisdiction over the parties, there was no timely challenge to any of the ...

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