What happens when a written order is different from what the Judge said in court or doesn't have any specific findings?

Recently, the First District Court of Appeal had to decide a case involving a written order that was different from the oral order the judge made at the end of the trial. In the case of Schmidt v. Schmidt, a judge made an oral ruling after a divorce hearing, and then ten months later, finally entered a written order that was substantially different from the oral order made at trial. The written order was different to the detriment of the Husband in this case, so he appealed some of the issues. The issues that differed between the two orders were what happened to the marital home, who was responsible for the marital debts, and how certain personal property was being split. What eventually happened was that the court had to change its written order to match its oral order.

Another issue raised in this case was the amount of the alimony award. This case involved a 21-year marriage, which is a long-term marriage, so permanent alimony was awarded. The Husband was required to pay the Wife $3,750.00 per month as permanent alimony. While the Husband did not disagree that he should have to pay permanent alimony, he disagreed with the amount he was ordered to pay. The Husband won this issue during his appeal for a few reasons, but mainly because the trial court did not provide any basis for the amount of the alimony. Section 61.08(1) of the Florida Statutes mandates the findings that a court must make when ordering an amount of alimony. The court in this case did not follow this statute, and therefore was ordered to recalculate the amount by making the required findings. Some of the things the court was ordered to consider were the amount the Wife was going to receive as her portion of the Husband’s military pension, the amount of debts the Husband and Wife were each going to be responsible for, and who was remaining responsible for the mortgage payments until the marital home was sold.

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