Husband’s Use of Trusts to Hold Assets Fails to Prevent Wife From Collecting Alimony

High-end divorce Archives: Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog

Published by Sandy T. Fox, P.A.


One variety of estate planning technique used to shield assets from creditors is the use of discretionary trusts, such as so-called “spendthrift trusts.” In a recent ruling by the 2d District Court of Appeal, however, the trusts a former husband created failed to block his ex-wife from collecting the alimony he owed her. The court decided that, although Florida has a public policy favoring the recognition of spendthrift provisions in trusts, it has a stronger policy favoring the protection of spouses through the enforcement of spousal support orders.

When Bruce Berlinger and Roberta Casselberry divorced in 2007, after 30 years of marriage, they reached a marital settlement agreement resolving, among other items, alimony. The agreement, which the court ratified, required Berlinger to pay Casselberry $16,000 per month. Despite receiving a sizable regular income from a series of discretionary trusts, Berlinger fell behind on his alimony.

Casselberry filed motions seeking enforcement of the alimony order, including asking the court to order the garnishment of any distributions from the trusts to Berlinger. The trustee objected, claiming that the law protected trust assets from all creditors, including Casselberry. The trial court agreed with the wife and issued the order.

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