Thursday, February 13, 2014
An ex-spouse may garnish distributions from a discretionary trust to pay alimony arrearages. An ex-wife sought writs of garnishment to be served on the trustee of discretionary trusts of which ex-husband was beneficiary so that she could obtain payment of past-due alimony. The trial court granted the writs and husband appealed. The Florida intermediate appellate court affirmed, holding that while state law prevents an ex-spouse from compelling a trustee to make a distribution from a discretionary trust to satisfy amounts owed by the beneficiary, it does not prohibit the ex-spouse from obtaining a writ of garnishment requiring the trustee to pay the ex-spouse before distributing to the beneficiary. Berlinger v. Casselberry, No. 2D12-6470, 2013 WL 6212023 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Nov. 27, 2013).
Special thanks to William LaPiana (Professor of Law, New York Law School) for bringing this case to my attention.