May 3, 2012
-- Miami-based Legal Scholar, Larry R. Fleurantin has published an article in the Florida Bar Journal, urging the Florida district courts of appeal to speak in one voice when it comes to reviewing family law cases with inadequate findings.
In 2001, the Third District in Broadfoot v. Broadfoot laid down the rule that in family law cases, a litigant may not complain about a trial court’s failure to make factual findings unless the matter was brought to the trial court’s attention in a motion for rehearing to provide the trial court with an opportunity to correct its own errors. In 2003, the Fifth District followed the lead of the Third District by applying the rule in Mathieu v. Mathieu but with one caveat: “f the court determines on its own that its review is hampered, we may, at our discretion, send the case back for findings.”
The Fourth District in Dorsett v. Dorsett has stated it disagrees with the approaches by the Third and Fifth Districts. That the Broadfoot rule and Mathieu exception have not been embraced by the Fourth District reveals some level of disagreement among the district courts with the approaches in Broadfoot and Mathieu. But the principles laid down in Broadfoot and Mathieu are reasonable and flexible. Therefore, the author urges the district courts to speak in one voice by following the Broadfoot approach and embracing the Mathieu exception to promote uniformity of law in Florida.
The article is titled: The Debate Continues on Whether to Remand Family Law Cases with Inadequate Findings, published by the Florida Bar Journal, Vol 86, No. 5, May 2012