Rice v. Rice
Case No. 4D10-2523
We represented a former wife whose trial counsel succeeded in getting her former husband’s petition for modification of alimony dismissed, as well as attorney’s fees as a sanction. The parties had divorced in 2005 and entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement whereby the former husband paid the former wife alimony. In 2009, the former husband filed a Petition for Downward Modification of Alimony. The former husband originally alleged three separate grounds as changed circumstances for his petition, but later withdrew two of them and proceeded only upon his contention that the former Wife’s receipt of social security payments constituted a sufficient change in circumstances. However, the former husband was aware that former wife’s overall financial condition had declined, even with the receipt of social security, due to a decrease in her income from her business and investments. The trial court agreed with our client’s trial counsel that the former husband failed to make a sufficient prima facie (initial) showing of a basis for modification.
The former husband appealed, arguing that he had made a prima facie case for modification, and that the trial court’s finding that the former husband’s claims were “frivolous and non-meritorious” was also in error. We responded that the trial court had not in fact granted an involuntary dismissal and that the result should be affirmed regardless. The Fourth District Court of Appeal issued a per curiam affirmance of the trial court decision. This ruling by the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the Petition for Downward Modification, thereby maintaining the beneficial result for our client.