Spielberger v. Spielberger, 97-0289

Decision Date08 July 1998
Docket NumberNo. 97-0289,97-0289
Citation712 So.2d 835
Parties23 Fla. L. Weekly D1617 Gerald SPIELBERGER, Appellant, v. Annette Magalnick SPIELBERGER, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Elaine Johnson James of Nason, Yeager, Gerson, White & Lioce, P.A., West Palm Beach, for appellant.

Robert Feldman of Law Offices of Robert Feldman, P.A., Boca Raton, for appellee.

STONE, Chief Judge.

We reverse a final judgment of dissolution as the trial court distributed 98% of the marital assets to Wife without justification.

The parties were married for three years. Husband is 73 and in poor health; Wife is age 64. Wife entered the marriage with few assets and Husband had saved over $100,000 as well as accumulating a pension. The parties purchased an $81,000 home, with a $40,000 down payment, apparently from Husband's pre-marital funds. After the marriage, Wife received $31,000 from a personal injury settlement. She gave about half of this money to her children, and deposited the remaining $16,300 in the parties' joint checking account. Most of this money was used to purchase furniture. Shortly after the marriage, Husband suffered a nervous breakdown. He was hospitalized for four-and-a-half months. His illness continued and they separated.

The court had ordered Husband to pay temporary support of $1,600 a month. Wife received $29,692 in temporary support, and Husband is in arrears for an additional $21,503. The final judgment granted the marital home, which had $58,000 in equity, to Wife, entered judgment for her for $10,684 for funds improperly removed from a joint bank account, ordered Husband to pay $1,600 rehabilitative alimony for 24 months, and awarded all furnishings and other marital assets to Wife.

Distribution of marital assets must be equal unless there is justification in the record supporting the court's disparate treatment. E.g., Longo v. Longo, 533 So.2d 791 (Fla. 4th DCA 1988); § 61.075(1), Fla. Stat. (1997). We find no record justification for the inequitable award in the instant case. Wife is in good health, and is still able to work, whereas Husband is 73 and quite ill. Most of the assets, including $40,000 of the $54,191 worth of equity in the house, came from Husband. The disparity in the parties' financial situation is accounted for by the court's $1,600 a month award of rehabilitative alimony, and temporary alimony for which Husband must still pay $22,319 in arrearages. We recognize that the trial court might have intended the disparate award as a set-off for the balance of the husband's temporary alimony debt to the wife, but the judgment does not provide for satisfaction of this obligation.

In Longo, we concluded that the wife's lesser capacity for self-support did not justify distribution of assets in which the wife received almost twice as much as the husband even though the wife's contributions to the marriage may have justified some disparity in the distribution of assets. In Carr v. Carr, 569 So.2d 903 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990), we reversed an award of 84% of marital assets to the wife absent sufficient justification for inequitable distribution, and in Ziemba v. Ziemba, 519 So.2d 752 (Fla. 4th DCA 1988), we concluded that distribution of marital assets with 80% going to the wife and 20% to the husband unfairly penalized the husband.

We also note that the judge's valuation of the parties' furniture appears inconsistent. The court valued all of...

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4 cases
  • Grieco v. Grieco
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • January 13, 2006
    ...1998); Lyons v. Lyons, 687 So.2d 837 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996); Archer v. Archer, 712 So.2d 1198 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998); Spielberger v. Spielberger, 712 So.2d 835 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998)). Here, the marital efforts factor does not apply; any increase in the value of the inherited funds resulted from pass......
  • Ritacco v. Ritacco, s. 4D19-809
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • January 27, 2021
    ...assets must be equal unless there is justification in the record supporting the court's disparate treatment." Spielberger v. Spielberger , 712 So. 2d 835, 836 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998). "Unequal distributions must find their authority in specific facts relating to the statutory factors rather tha......
  • Lakin v. Lakin, 4D04-826.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • March 23, 2005
    ...when he placed funds into a separate account, even though he used funds from this inheritance for marital bills); Spielberger v. Spielberger, 712 So.2d 835 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) (money deposited by husband into account prior to the marriage remained non-marital, even though it was titled in b......
  • Siegel v. Siegel
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • October 10, 2007
    ...intermingled with the parties' other funds." Lakin v. Lakin, 901 So.2d 186, 190 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005); see also Spielberger v. Spielberger, 712 So.2d 835, 837 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) (concluding that no presumption of gift arose as to non-marital funds placed in a joint account following marriage......
3 books & journal articles
  • Equitable distribution and property issues
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Florida Family Law and Practice - Volume 1
    • April 30, 2022
    ...commingling non-marital funds in joint account is viewed as gift of non-marital funds to marriage); but see Speilberger v. Speilberger, 712 So. 2d 835 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) (husband’s premarital account was titled in joint names of parties after marriage, but there was no evidence that wife d......
  • A seven-step analysis of equitable distribution in Florida.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 73 No. 5, May 1999
    • May 1, 1999
    ...joint account which were traceable could properly be classified as nonmarital.[19] This is consistent with Spielberger v. Spielberger, 712 So. 2d 835 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998), in which the court considered an account made up of money deposited by the husband prior to the marriage. Although the a......
  • A seven-step analysis of equitable distribution in Florida.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 73 No. 6, June 1999
    • June 1, 1999
    ...instead of compromising the principles of equitable distribution. The court followed this approach in Spielberger v. Spielberger, 712 So. 2d 835 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998), in which it rejected an unequal distribution premised on the wife's lesser capacity for self-support. The court noted that th......

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