October 5, 2011

Reversal Where Trial Court Did Not Properly Enforce Previous Fourth District Court of Appeal Mandate

Shinitzky v. Shinitzky
Case No. 4D10-137

We represented a former husband whose marriage was dissolved by a final judgment in 2007. The final judgment ordered the former wife to pay our client half “of the value” of certain investment accounts held by the parties. The former wife appealed. The trial court denied the former wife’s motion for stay pending appeal and granted our client’s motion to enforce the final judgment to distribute the funds. The former wife obtained a temporary stay in the appellate court that was eventually extended until the appeal became final, but that did not require the former wife to post a bond. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (“Fourth DCA”) affirmed the final judgment in its totality prior to our involvement in the case. Our client again brought a motion to enforce. A successor judge granted our client’s motion but ruled that he was entitled to a division of the accounts in kind, rather than half of the value of the accounts as of the date previously specified in the final judgment. This interpretation of the final judgment by the trial court was significant because the accounts had significantly decreased in value.

On appeal, the Fourth DCA agreed with our argument that the trial court had misinterpreted the final judgment. The Fourth DCA noted that it was improper for the successor trial judge to have taken new evidence at the hearing, including expert testimony, that eventually led to the successor judge significantly altering the final judgment and enforcement order.

The Fourth DCA reversed and remanded for the effectuation of the final order, including (1) payment to our client of one half of the value of the investment accounts as of the date specified in the final judgment, and (2) payment of a $193,479.50 equalizing payment by the former wife to our client with interest from its original 2007 due date.