Firm Obtains Reversal of Temporary Attorney’s Fees Award in Modification of Alimony Proceedings

Law Offices of Robin Bresky Obtains Reversal of Temporary Attorney’s Fees Award in Modification of Alimony Proceedings

Giorlando v. Giorlando, 4D12-1220

The Law Offices of Robin Bresky recently won reversal of a trial court’s award of temporary attorney’s fees and costs in a petition for modification of alimony. The parties’ marriage was previously dissolved and a marital settlement agreement (“MSA”) was incorporated in the Final Judgment of Dissolution. The MSA imputed $40,000 of yearly income to the former wife for purposes of determining alimony and child support.

The former wife filed a petition for modification of alimony and child support six years after the dissolution of marriage, alleging that substantial changes had occurred in both parties’ financial situations that warranted an increase in the alimony and child support she received. The trial court held a hearing at which both parties testified. The trial court later awarded the former wife $79,333.71 in total professional fees and costs without imputing the $40,000 in yearly income to the former wife pursuant to the MSA.

On appeal, we argued that the trial court should have imputed $40,000 in yearly income to the former wife as provided in the Final Judgment of Dissolution and MSA. The Fourth DCA agreed, and held that the $40,000 must be taken into account in the trial court’s determination of whether to award temporary fees. The Fourth DCA noted that the former husband had testified on the record to the decline in his construction business due to the economy, and that there had been no explanation for why the former wife’s need had increased. The Fourth DCA stated that the former wife should have the burden of explaining why the imputed income should not be considered.