Our firm recently helped a client obtain affirmance of a trial court order finding unenforceable a Post-Judgment Settlement Agreement that prohibited our client from having contact with various family and friends.
The parties entered into the Post-Judgment Settlement Agreement (“PJSA”) shortly after the Final Judgment dissolving their marriage. The PJSA contained a provision that our client could not have contact with anyone on a list that was attached to the PJSA, and provided stiff monetary penalties for any violation. The list included various friends and family members, including our client’s grandchildren. The individuals on the list never agreed to entry of a no-contact order as to our client, and they stated in affidavits that they objected to it.
The Former Wife later filed a motion for contempt based on the no-contact provision of the PJSA, and our client moved to dismiss the motion. The trial court ruled in favor of our client, dismissing the Former Wife’s contempt motion. The Former Wife appealed to the District Court of Appeal (“DCA”).
The Former Wife argued on appeal that the trial court could not dismiss her contempt motion where the PJSA had already been ratified by a trial court order. The Former Wife also argued that the trial court had improperly considered facts and evidence outside the four corners of her motion.
We argued that the trial court’s ruling was correct because the PJSA’s no-contact provision was an unenforceable penalty provision with no rational basis. We further contended that the no-contact provision was unenforceable because it violated public policy. Finally, we asserted that the monetary penalties in the PJSA were unenforceable through contempt because enforcement of non-support debts through a motion for contempt violates the Florida Constitution’s provision prohibiting imprisonment for debt.
The DCA affirmed the dismissal order. The appellate court also granted our client’s request for entitlement to appellate attorney’s fees pursuant to the PJSA, and remanded for the trial court to determine the amount. This favorable result prevents the Former Wife from pursuing her motion for contempt and allows our client to seek an order from the trial court setting the amount of his appellate attorney’s fees to be paid by the Former Wife.