[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Dale C. Cohen, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Shield and Roger Levine of Shield & Levine, P.A., Boca Raton,
Belleh of The Belleh Law Group, P.L.L.C., Fort Lauderdale,
former husband appeals an order terminating alimony,
re-calculating child support, and modifying time-sharing. He
argues the trial court erred in: (1) terminating alimony
because the evidence did not support that decision and the
court did not make the statutorily-required findings; (2)
applying the gross-up method to calculate child support; and
(3) modifying time-sharing. We agree in part and reverse in
part. We remand the case to the trial court for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
former husband and wife entered into a marital settlement
agreement ("MSA"). The MSA divided the former
couples major assets and created a schedule for the former
wifes alimony payments to the former husband. The MSA
provided for each parent to spend equal amounts of time with
the children; the former wife agreed to pay nearly all
the former husband refused to follow a provision regarding
the division of assets, the former wife moved to have him
held in contempt. The former husband responded by moving to
have the former wife held in contempt for failing to pay
alimony, child support, and follow the MSA regarding assets.
The former wife then moved to modify alimony, child support,
and the timesharing agreement.
support of the modification, the former wife testified that a
decline in her title business resulted in decreased income,
causing her to downsize from seven employees to one. The
title company relied on short sales. The former wife claimed
rising property values caused a decrease in the number of
short sales and a 75% reduction in earnings from each sale.
She testified that her major client, responsible for about
85% of the title companys business, opened its own title
division and stopped using her companys services. She
claimed her efforts to maintain the business were also
hindered by marketing regulations implemented shortly before
the MSA, and trade regulations implemented shortly after. Her
marketing efforts were limited to hosting luncheons and
teaching a class.
impact of the title business decline and the collapse of
another business was
substantiated by the former wifes tax returns and income
estimates. She testified her title business annual income
declined almost 60%. This caused a significant decline in her
annual income. The former wife admitted this decline did not
include personal expenses she ran through her title business.
Although the MSA provided for equal timesharing, that never
occurred. The former wife testified the former husbands work
schedule caused the children to spend almost 90% of their
time with her. The former husband further disrupted the
time-sharing arrangement when he had an altercation with his
son, resulting in the former wife filing an ex parte motion
for full custody of the children.
couple later amended the timesharing agreement to allow the
daughter to spend time with her father. Even that time became
limited due to the fathers work schedule and the daughters
MSA assigned the former wife full financial responsibility
for the childrens expenses, except for medical, camp, and
extracurricular expenses the couple would split. She
collected and sent the former husband receipts for
extracurricular activities and made him aware of medical
costs, but he failed to pay his share of those costs. The
former wife admitted she did not get the former husbands
permission before committing to extracurricular activities,
but claimed that he failed to review the suggested activities
and did not object to them.
trial court found the 75% decline in the former wifes
business resulted from the loss of her biggest client, the
decline in market value of short sales, and the change in
business regulations. These factors created a substantial,
material, permanent, and involuntary change in circumstances
meriting termination of the former wifes alimony obligation.
trial court modified timesharing to reflect the couples
actual practice, which consisted of the daughter spending 30%
of her time with the former husband. It ordered reunification
therapy between the former husband and the son. It imposed a
child-support obligation on the former husband to make up for
changes in the former wifes income and the modified
timesharing. The trial court denied the former husbands
motions to hold the former wife in contempt.
former husband now appeals.
The Alimony Issue
have a mixed standard of review of the order modifying
alimony. Bauchman v. Bauchman, 253 So.3d 1143, 1146
(Fla. 4th DCA 2018). "The trial courts legal
conclusions are reviewed de novo." Id.
"The trial courts factual findings are reviewed for
abuse of discretion and should be affirmed if supported by
competent, substantial evidence." Id.
former husband argues the trial court erred in terminating
the former wifes alimony obligation because: (1) the courts
finding of a substantial, material, unanticipated,
involuntary, and permanent change in circumstances is not
supported by competent, substantial evidence; (2) the court
failed to make the findings required by section 61.08(2),