Joyce v. Joyce

Decision Date10 July 1990
Docket NumberNo. 89-2888,89-2888
Citation563 So.2d 1126
Parties15 Fla. L. Weekly D1829 Edwin A. JOYCE, Jr., Appellant, v. Dinah F. JOYCE, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Warren J. Bird and Paula L. Walborsky of Conner and Walborsky, Tallahassee, for appellant.

Kristin Adamson of Novey & Mendelson, Tallahassee, for appellee.


The former husband appeals the trial court's denial of his petition for modification of the marital settlement agreement between himself and his former wife. Finding that the trial court erred in concluding that the alimony and undergraduate education provisions were parts of a nonmodifiable property settlement agreement, we reverse.

Nearly twenty years ago, the parties entered into a settlement agreement attendant to their dissolution of marriage. The agreement provided that the husband would pay child support of $25 per week for each of the two children, then one and one-half and three years of age, and $20 per week permanent periodic alimony. The agreement further provided that the husband would be solely responsible for the undergraduate educational expenses for the two children. The wife was to receive exclusive use and possession of the marital home for "so long as she desire[d]" and was held responsible for the expenses associated with the home during that time. The agreement provided, however, that should the wife voluntarily relinquish possession, the husband would have exclusive right of possession and be responsible for the expenses thereto. If the parties decided to sell the residence, the husband was to bear the cost of sale but also receive all net proceeds. The agreement also divided the personal property and intangible assets of the parties.

Paragraph ten of the agreement stated that the financial provisions were predicated upon the wife's needs during the time she maintained residence in the home but, in the event of her voluntary relinquishment of possession, the parties could reevaluate her needs. The agreement provided that should the parties be unable to agree to modification, a court of competent jurisdiction could resolve the dispute.

In June, 1988, the wife, joined by the older son, filed a petition requesting the court to enforce the provisions of the agreement requiring the husband to pay college expenses. The husband responded with a counterpetition for modification of the support provisions of the agreement requesting termination of his obligation to pay alimony, child support and college expenses. As grounds for such modification, the husband presented evidence that he had been fired from his $70,000 a year paying job and could no longer afford such financial obligations.

After a hearing, the court entered an order terminating the husband's responsibility for child support, finding the children had become emancipated and self-supporting. The court also found that the husband did not have the ability to pay alimony and that the wife no longer needed such support. Nonetheless, the court determined that the husband's obligation to pay alimony and college expenses for the children were parts of an integrated property settlement agreement governed by civil contract law and, therefore, the court was without jurisdiction to grant the husband's petition for modification. We disagree.

The general rule holds that pure property settlement agreements are nonmodifiable absent consent of the parties. Petty v. Petty, 548 So.2d 793 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989). As for the alimony provision, "[t]he test for determining when periodic payments...

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7 cases
  • Pipitone v. Pipitone
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 28 Agosto 2009
    ...line. Such separate treatment indicates that the former is support and the latter is equitable distribution. See Joyce v. Joyce, 563 So.2d 1126, 1127 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990) (holding alimony provision was intended as support rather than property distribution where it was in a separate section a......
  • Pullo v. Pullo
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 13 Abril 2006
    ...$782.79 of the Former Husband's retirement benefits payable each month became the Former Wife's property. See, e.g., Joyce v. Joyce, 563 So.2d 1126, 1127 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990) (stating that "pure property settlement agreements are nonmodifiable absent consent of the In this case, each party's......
  • Pratt v. Pratt, 94-745
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 26 Octubre 1994
    ...a proper showing of a change of circumstances, and the trial court's contrary determination must be set aside. See Joyce v. Joyce, 563 So.2d 1126, 1127 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990); Petty v. Petty, 548 So.2d 793, 795 (Fla. 1st DCA 2. The trial court further determined, as an alternative basis for it......
  • Robinson v. Robinson
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 7 Junio 1994
    ...for determining whether periodic payments are support or a methodology for division of property. 1 See, e.g., Joyce v. Joyce, 563 So.2d 1126 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990). That test is whether the payor spouse's payments were given in exchange for a reciprocal exchange of property interests from the ......
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