The Third District Court of Appeal recently held that a Wife cannot receive alimony if she does not properly plead for it. In McClain v. McClain, the Husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage seeking equitable distribution, exclusive possession of the marital home, shared parental responsibility and child support. The Wife filed an answer to the petition but did not ask for alimony or spousal support. At one point during the proceedings, the Wife’s lawyer filed a motion to amend her pleadings, but did not receive an order granting leave to amend the pleadings. Further, the wife’s lawyer filed a pretrial statement which listed the issues to be heard as child support, child time-sharing, and division of marital property – not alimony.
Despite not pleading for it, at the end of the trial, the trial court awarded the Wife $1,000 a month in permanent alimony. The Third District Court of Appeals overturned the trial court's order and found that “a court is not at liberty to award alimony where the benefitting spouse has failed to seek such relief in the pleadings”. Further, it found that unless and until it is granted, the mere filing of a motion to amend the pleadings does not constitute an actual amendment to the pleadings. It is imperative that you work with your expert family law attorney in drafting pleadings together that request the specific relief that you are asking from the Court. Contact Givens Givens Sparks if you have questions about the pleadings in your case.