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As in the case of Farid v. Rabbath, the parties involved don’t always stick to their agreements. The lawsuit involved an equitable distribution arrangement between the couple that ended in an appeal for an “impermissible modification.”


Deciding Factors

Through the divorce settlement in 2007 and supplement motion in 2010, the court awarded the former husband, Claude Rabbath, personal property shipped from Kuwait valued at $100,000. The trial court also ordered him to pay his former wife, Hala Farid, $111,357.80 over four years at a rate of $2,319.95 monthly.  

Following the final judgment, Hala didn’t send Claude the personal property and Mr. Rabbath failed to make the payments.  

By 2016, the former wife asked the court to hold her ex-husband in contempt for not making his monthly payments. Claude countered that Hala should also be held in contempt for not delivering the personal property. 

The court found that the ex-spouses violated the terms of the final judgment, and changed their equitable distribution terms. The judge granted the former wife the property from Kuwait, gave the ex-husband a $100,000 credit for the property and left him to pay the balance from their agreement,  $11,357.80 plus interest. This was minus alimony and child support over payment.

As a result, Ms. Farid filed an “impermissible modification” appeal to redistribute the property because of a violation in the equitable distribution terms of the final judgment. 


Florida Court of Appeals Finding

According to the appellate court, the couples’ interest in the property was set when the final judgment was entered, therefore, the original ruling was against the law. “Thus, unless there was a reservation of jurisdiction over the distribution of property by the final judgment of dissolution, the final judgment establishing property rights could not be modified.” 

The judge further noted that “because the reservation of rights here is nothing more than a blanket reservation of jurisdiction, it fails to provide the lower court the jurisdiction needed to modify the final judgment. Therefore, the trial court erred when it ‘shuffled’ the property interests previously determined in the final judgment when neither party had properly plead for modification, and we reverse this portion of the order on appeal.”

“The trial court’s finding that the former wife violated the final judgment is supported by competent, substantial evidence; thus, we affirm this issue. The remaining issues raised by the former wife are rendered moot by this opinion.

Accordingly, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.” 

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