final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Leon County. Dawn
Jennifer L. Sweeting and Jerry L. Rumph, Jr., of Sweeting
& Rumph, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Shannon L. Novey, Christin F. Gonzalez, and Jerome M. Novey
of Novey᪉垳, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Plexico Bradner challenges an order granting summary judgment
in favor of her former husband, Bryan Jacob Bradner,
terminating his alimony obligation based on a finding that
she had entered a supportive relationship. Because the trial
court's conclusion is based on disputed facts, we reverse
and remand for further proceedings.
the terms of the final judgment dissolving the parties'
marriage, Mr. Bradner had to pay Ms. Bradner $1, 500 a month
in alimony for thirty-five months beginning April 1, 2017.
The final judgment called for the termination of alimony upon
Ms. Bradner's "entry into a supportive relationship
as defined by statute."
Bradner subsequently moved to terminate alimony alleging that
Ms. Bradner had entered a supportive relationship- as defined
by section 61.14(1)(b), Florida Statutes-with Rob Smith, the
owner of Concept Construction Group, a company where Ms.
Bradner works. Mr. Bradner alleged that Ms. Bradner and Mr.
Smith were holding themselves out as husband and wife,
cohabitating, commingling their finances, and supporting each
other's children. In support of his motion for summary
judgment, Mr. Bradner relied upon deposition testimony of Ms.
Bradner and Mr. Smith, as well as a residential "Lease
with Purchase Option" between Mr. Smith as landlord and
Ms. Bradner as tenant. The lease set a three-year term,
starting in May 2017, during which time Ms. Bradner had to
pay rental payments of $1, 116.50 per month. The lease also
gave Ms. Bradner the exclusive option to buy the property and
included a provision allowing her to improve or upgrade the
property, upon written consent, and receive a credit in the
form of a deposit towards the agreed upon sales price for the
amount of the approved alterations.
summary judgment evidence showed that Ms. Bradner and Mr.
Smith lived together in the residence, along with their
respective children when they each had visitation. The
children each had their own room, while Ms. Bradner and Mr.
Smith shared a bedroom. Ms. Bradner and Mr. Smith took trips
together and ate together. Ms. Bradner, Mr. Smith, and their
respective children shared responsibility for the household
chores. Ms. Bradner worked for Mr. Smith's company as a
project manager and was paid a salary. The company paid for
her health insurance, but she reimbursed the company for the
policy. Ms. Bradner and Mr. Smith did not have any joint
financial accounts and they did not have access to each
other's personal accounts. Ms. Bradner contributed $75,
000 to $80, 000 for renovations of the residence to
accommodate room for her children without receiving written
consent in the hope that the money would be credited towards
her eventual down payment.
the reason for the lease agreement, Ms. Bradner testified
that she tried to buy the house outright from Mr. Smith but
could not get financing. She said she entered the lease so at
the end of its term she could obtain financing to purchase
the house. Mr. Smith testified that he bought the residence
with the intent to fix it up and sell it. When asked what the
business purpose of the lease was, he said: "to
facilitate a lease-purchase." Mr. Smith stated his
company had entered similar leases in the past. He testified
that he did not know what accounts Ms. Bradner's payments
went into, how much credit she had accrued towards the
purchase price, or whether he claimed the rental payments as
income on his tax returns, but he explained that his
accountant took care of such matters.
trial court entered an Amended Order Granting Motion for
Summary Judgment, finding that the undisputed facts showed
there was a supportive relationship between Ms. Bradner and
Mr. Smith. The trial court relied in part on the lease,
This Court cannot in good conscience find that this Lease is
an arm's length transaction and further finds no purpose
for the Lease other than an attempt to avoid a Supplemental
Petition by Former Husband to terminate alimony. Rob Smith
repeatedly stated in his deposition that he had no idea how
much money was invested in this property, what the profit
margin might be, or even if the rent was being claimed for
tax purposes. Meanwhile, Former Wife contributed $75,
000-$80, 000 of her money towards renovations on the property
to accommodate room for her children with no guarantee of
recovery of the funds and without following the terms of the
Lease requiring written consent for alterations.
court also noted that evidence concerning Ms. Bradner's
"work for and relationship with Rob Smith's company,
Concept Construction, is also indicative of a supportive
relationship." The court ultimately concluded that Ms.
Bradner and Mr. Smith "have exhibited financial
interdependence; support each other emotionally; support each
other financially, in whole or in part; live together; work