Supreme Court At-a-Glance Contributor Jennifer Codding, Practices Florida real estate law with the law firm of Massey Law Group, P.A. in St. Petersburg, FL.

No. 2020-0009

April 20, 2021

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, remanded.

 

  • Issue: Whether the trial court erred in including assets of a spendthrift trust in the marital estate; whether the trial court erred in excluding wife’s mother’s condominium, owned by wife and her mother jointly, from the marital estate; whether the trial court erred when it incorporated parts of the temporary order in the final decree.

 

Husband appealed divorce decree arguing the trial court erred when it (1) included assets of a spendthrift trust in the marital estate; (2) excluded mother-in-law’s condominium, which was owned jointly with wife, from the marital estate assets; and (3) incorporated parts of the temporary order into the final decree.

Husband’s salary was $190,000 per year, which he earned through ownership in his family’s business. Particularly, his ownership consisted in part of ownership in his individual capacity and in part of ownership in his capacity as a beneficiary of a trust. Wife and her mother jointly owned the condominium in which mother lived.

At trial, the court included husband’s beneficial interest the trust as part of the marital estate, but excluded wife’s interest in her mother’s condominium from the marital estate.

On appeal, husband argued that the trial court erred in including his interest in the family’s business as beneficiary of a trust as a part of the marital estate because the trust contained a spendthrift provision. He further argued that the trial court erred when it failed to include wife’s joint interest in her mother’s condominium as part of the marital estate.

Upon review of the language of the trust, the Supreme Court agreed that the spendthrift provision in the trust did prevent the trust assets from being marital property. Further, the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that the condominium was not part of the marital estate because wife was unaware that her name was on the deed, took no part in the purchase, did not live in or take possession of the property, and did not spend marital funds to purchase the property.

Finally, because the trial court erred in including the trust assets in the marital estate, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s property and alimony awards.

 

John A. Macoul, of Salem, by brief, for the petitioner. MacMillan Law Offices, of Bradford, Massachusetts (Thomas K. MacMillan on the brief), for the respondent.