Divorce Forms Aren’t for Everyone
Camilla and Jerry were married for 13 years and had 3 children. They decided to divorce and used preprinted court forms to work out their own settlement. The Florida State Court forms that they used had provisions for the payment of alimony. The form left two blanks to describe the amount, duration and limitations on the alimony payments. They agreed to the payment of $10,000 a month until 2020 on one line. On the other line they put until the earlier of the 18th birthday of the middle daughter or until Carmella remarried. This was a five year difference and $600,000 hung in the balance.
The parties all moved to Alaska. They domesticated their order in Alaska and then had a dispute about whether the $10,000 a month stopped in 2015 or 2020.
The courts explored both the Florida and Alaska rules for resolving internal conflicts in the drafting of documents, Rules of interpretation, Conflicts of law and other rules. The trial court reached one result. If the ruling was based on the evidence, the ruling could stand. If the ruling was based on the applicable rule of law it could be reversed. The Alaska Supreme Court applied the rules differently and reversed. Read the decision to learn who won.