67 So.3d 271 (Fla.App. 2 Dist. 2011), 2D09-3059, Orloff v. Orloff

Docket Nº:2D09-3059.
Citation:67 So.3d 271, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D 3643
Opinion Judge:CASANUEVA, Chief Judge.
Party Name:Louis Stanley ORLOFF, Appellant, v. Joyce Lynn ORLOFF, Appellee.
Attorney:Timothy W. Weber and Joseph P. Kenny of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & Wein, P.A., St. Petersburg, for Appellant. Michael J. Park of Park, Ossian, Barnaky & Park, P.A., Clearwater, for Appellee.
Judge Panel:DAVIS and WALLACE, JJ., Concur.
Case Date:March 30, 2011
Court:Florida Court of Appeals, Second District
 
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Page 271

67 So.3d 271 (Fla.App. 2 Dist. 2011)

36 Fla. L. Weekly D 3643

Louis Stanley ORLOFF, Appellant,

v.

Joyce Lynn ORLOFF, Appellee.

No. 2D09-3059.

Florida Court of Appeal, Second District.

March 30, 2011

Page 272

Timothy W. Weber and Joseph P. Kenny of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & Wein, P.A., St. Petersburg, for Appellant.

Michael J. Park of Park, Ossian, Barnaky & Park, P.A., Clearwater, for Appellee.

CASANUEVA, Chief Judge.

Louis Stanley Orloff raises three issues in his appeal from the final judgment dissolving his marriage to Joyce Lynn Orloff. Mr. Orloff first contends that the trial court failed to exercise independent judicial decision making in authoring the final judgment; next, that the trial court erred in crafting the equitable distribution package; and, finally, that the award of permanent alimony was improper as lacking sufficient findings of fact. We find no merit in his first claim but agree with his contentions regarding the equitable distribution and reverse on that basis. Our reversal of the equitable distribution portion of the final judgment renders the third issue moot because it results in the need to reconsider the alimony award on remand as well as the issue of attorney's fees and costs.

The main point of contention between the parties was the status and value of the Matrix Group Ltd., Inc. (Matrix). Mr. Orloff formed Matrix, a mail order business of sporting goods and accessories, in the late 1980s as a sole proprietorship. In 1991, before the parties were married, Mr.

Page 273

Orloff incorporated Matrix under the laws of Massachusetts and became the sole stockholder. Following the parties' subsequent marriage and relocation to Florida, Mr. Orloff reincorporated Matrix under the laws of Florida and, as before, retained complete ownership of the corporation's stock, serving as its president and chief executive officer. Mrs. Orloff was a valued employee of the company. In the final judgment of dissolution, the trial court found that the parties' most significant marital asset was Matrix. This was error because Matrix, under the circumstances of this case, is a nonmarital asset.

Nonmarital assets are defined as " [a]ssets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party prior to the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities." § 61.075(6)(b)(1), Fla. Stat. (2009). This court in Pinder v. Pinder, 750 So.2d 651 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999), considered a case with a similar issue of whether an asset was nonmarital or marital. In that case, the property settlement and conveyances concerning certain Philadelphia real estate owned during Mrs. Pinder's first marriage were not completed until well into her second marriage when she received sole title to the Philadelphia property. In the...

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