Brannock Berman & Seider Overturns Key Rulings in Complex Family-Law Dispute
The Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled for Brannock Berman & Seider’s client on the two major issues presented by several consolidated appeals and cross-appeals arising out of a Volusia County divorce.
The case presented a complicated set of facts related to the former wife’s efforts to enforce the parties’ marital settlement agreement, pursue possible contempt against the former husband, and recover her attorney’s fees. At first, based on an order entered in a related bankruptcy case, the trial court had ordered the former husband to transfer a marina property as the former wife requested. But as Brannock Berman & Seider pointed out, the former wife had previously agreed, in the marital settlement agreement, that the marina would not be transferred. Brannock Berman & Seider thus argued on the former husband’s behalf that the former wife was barred by res judicata from relitigating the issue post-dissolution. The Fifth District agreed, reversing the trial court’s ruling.
The Fifth District also reversed the trial court’s ruling that the former wife was the prevailing party for purposes of an attorney’s fees award. The appellate court concluded that both parties had won significant issues and that the litigation was essentially a tie. This decision shifted the fees back to each of the individual litigants, meaning the former husband was no longer responsible for paying the former wife’s legal bills.