Hoffman v. Hoffman, 4D00-2649.

Decision Date22 August 2001
Docket NumberNo. 4D00-2649.,4D00-2649.
Citation793 So.2d 128
PartiesJeffrey J. HOFFMAN, Appellant, v. Elizabeth C. HOFFMAN, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Russell S. Bohn of Caruso, Burlington, Bohn & Compiani, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

Jane Kreusler-Walsh and Rebecca J. Mercier of Jane Kreusler-Walsh, P.A., and W. Jay Hunston, Jr., of Boose Casey Ciklin Lubitz Martens McBane & O'Connell, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

POLEN, C.J.

Jeffrey J. Hoffman (the "Former Husband") appeals from an Amended Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. We affirm based on a consideration of all six points on appeal and write only to clarify our reasoning in this dissolution action which is before this court for the third time.

On May 7, 1996, Elizabeth Hoffman (the "Former Wife") filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Thereafter, the Former Husband filed an Answer and Counterpetition. As a result of numerous discovery violations by the Former Husband, the trial court imposed a $500.00 per day fine, but this court quashed the order imposing the fine because there was no finding that he was in contempt. See Hoffman v. Hoffman, 764 So.2d 3 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998). While the certiorari proceeding was pending in this court, the trial court entered an order striking the Former Husband's pleadings because of his continued violation of discovery orders specifically stating, "[b]ecause multiple deadlines were ignored and court orders disregarded by the Husband, a deliberate and contumacious disregard of the court's authority took place." In Hoffman v. Hoffman, 718 So.2d 371 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998), this court affirmed the trial court's order striking the pleadings. Subsequently, a final hearing was held and the trial court entered an Amended Final Judgment on July 5, 2000.

As a basis for his first point on appeal, Former Husband argued the trial court erred by denying his motion to reinstate his pleadings which was filed along with supplemental discovery a little over a month before the trial was set to begin, as well as failing to hear evidence on the motion. We have no doubt that the trial court acted correctly when it denied this motion. The Former Husband's argument that the trial court should have granted his motion is totally illogical and without any legal support, in that his theory would require trial courts to lift sanctions for discovery violations upon compliance, no matter how belated. If parties know sanctions will be lifted, they will have little incentive to comply with discovery requests in a timely manner and instead will not comply until the eve of trial. This Court will not condone a procedure which amounts to an absolute license to disregard discovery orders and which would nullify the very rules of civil procedure designed to protect a party's discovery rights and eliminate any possibility of unfair surprise at trial. Moreover, in spite of the Former Husband's protestations to the contrary, he is simply rearguing the merits of the trial court's original order striking his pleadings, an order which this court previously affirmed in Hoffman v. Hoffman, 718 So.2d 371 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998). Our prior affirmance of the trial court's order has become the law of the case and the subsequent trial court was correct to deny the Motion to Reinstate the Pleadings on this basis. See Brunner Enters., Inc. v. Dep't of Revenue, 452 So.2d 550, 552 (Fla.1984)(questions of law which have been decided by the highest appellate court become the law of the case which except in extraordinary circumstances, must be followed in subsequent proceedings, both in the lower and appellate courts).

As a basis for his second point on appeal, the Former Husband argued the trial court erred by reducing his visitation from that provided in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit's standard visitation order which the parties had operated under during the pendency of the proceedings, and instead adopting the Former Wife's suggested alternatives. The essence of the Former Husband's complaints were that in accordance with the standard visitation schedule he had six consecutive weeks of summer vacation and now he only has four. Additionally, the Former Husband contended that the court erred by adopting the Former Wife's suggestion for alternate spring breaks, when the standard visitation schedule provides that the non-custodial parent shall have visitation every spring break. Although we clearly laud the Former Husband's efforts to maintain a relationship with his sons in spite of the physical distance between them, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in fashioning the visitation schedule, since there are facts in the record that support the award fashioned by the judge. See Keitel v. Keitel, 724 So.2d 1255, 1257 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999) (the creation of a visitation schedule is within the sound discretion of the trial court).

Specifically, the following facts support the trial court's decision to award the Former Husband four weeks of summer visitation with his sons, rather than six weeks. First, both parties testified that they wished to eliminate the Former Wife's visitation on the fourth weekend of the summer...

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11 cases
  • Welch v. Welch
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 2009
    ...preserve this specific issue in a timely motion for rehearing. See Anaya v. Anaya, 987 So.2d 806 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008); Hoffman v. Hoffman, 793 So.2d 128 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001); Broadfoot v. Broadfoot, 791 So.2d 584 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001); Reis v. Reis, 739 So.2d 704, 705-06 (Fla. 3d DCA Counsel for......
  • Welch v. Welch, Case No. 1D08-5670 (Fla. App. 7/24/2009)
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • July 24, 2009
    ...There is no general rule that the lack of statutorily required findings constitutes fundamental error."); Hoffman v. Hoffman, 793 So. 2d 128, 131 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (concluding that trial court's failure to deduct the monthly amount attributable to health insurance coverage for the minor c......
  • Mitchell v. Mitchell, No. 2D01-2499
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • March 14, 2003
    ...coverage by adding it to the basic obligation determined pursuant to section 61.30(6). § 61.13(1)(b); .30(8). See Hoffman v. Hoffman, 793 So.2d 128 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001). In its final judgment, the court directed Mr. Mitchell to maintain a $100,000 policy of life insurance as security for his......
  • Mendes v. Mendes
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 24, 2006
    ...court's jurisdiction under Reno, the former husband did not invoke that remedy. As such, rehearing is denied. See Hoffman v. Hoffman, 793 So.2d 128 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001); see also Walls v. Sebastian, 914 So.2d 1110 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005); Utterback v. Utterback, 861 So.2d 465 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003).......
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