In this case, the Former Husband filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in which he sought property division, child support, time-sharing and exclusive use and possession of the marital home. The Former Husbandâ€™s divorce petition did not seek an award of alimony. The Former Wife timely filed an Answer but she did not file a counter-petition seeking reciprocal relief or an award of alimony for herself.
As the case progress through the litigation process, the Former Wife filed a motion to file an Amended Answer in order to bring a counter-petition seeking an award of alimony. Had it been ruled upon by the Court, this motion almost certainly would have been granted. However, for whatever reason the motion was not brought before the Judge and therefore no counter-petition was ever before the Court. More importantly, no request for alimony by the Former Wife (or the Former Husband for that matter) was ever placed at issue in the litigation.
Following a trial, the Court indicated that he intended to award the Former Wife $ 1,000 per month in permanent, periodic alimony. The Former Husband objected on the grounds that the Former Wife had not sought alimony in any pleadings before the Court. The Court denied this objection and entered its Final Judgment which, amongst other things, contained the alimony award.
The Third District Court of Appeal reversed this decision on the basis that alimony had never been asked for in any pleading before the Court. Therefore, the moral of the story is that if you want an award of alimony, you need to ask for it up front.
The best way to ensure against the result in McClain is to ensure that you have an experienced divorce lawyer who can be trusted to navigate the various obstacles to a successful outcome. The Ferraro Law Group has been representing divorce clients in Stuart for the past thirty (30) years. We consider ourselves not just litigators, but trusted advisors who have the experience and the good judgment to successfully represent our clients as they proceed through the divorce process.