Demayo v. Chames, 2005 WL 3180187, 30 Fla. L. Weekly D2692 (Fla. 3d DCA Nov 30, 2005)
In December 2002 Henry DeMayo retained Deborah Chames and her law firm, Heller and Chames, P.A., to represent him in a post-dissolution proceeding to modify his child support and alimony obligations. The retainer agreement included the following clause:
It is specifically agreed that Heller & Chames, P.A. shall have and is hereby granted all general, possessory and retaining liens and all equitable, special and attorney's charging liens upon the client's interests in any and all real and personal property within the jurisdiction of the court for any balance due, owing and unpaid as well as a lien in any recovery whether by settlement or trial; and such lien or liens shall be superior to any other lien subsequent to the date hereof and that the client hereby knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waives his rights to assert his homestead exemption in the event a charging lien is obtained to secure the balance of attorney's fees and costs. (Emphasis added.)
In October 2003 Miami-Dade Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. granted Heller and Chames' request to withdraw from representing Mr. DeMayo and shortly thereafter entered a final judgment in the sum of $33,207.76 in favor of the law firm. The trial court expressly enforced the waiver provision of the retainer agreement.
On appeal, the Third DCA upheld the trial court's ruling on the following grounds:
[W]e see no reason why an owner of homestead property should not be able to waive [his constitutional right under Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution against divestment of homestead property via a forced sale] if he so desires. As the Florida Supreme Court stated in Caggiano, 605 So.2d at 59,"the homestead exemption *** was intended simply to guarantee that the homestead would be preserved against any involuntary divestiture by the courts****" See also Havoco, 790 So.2d at 1022 ("The homestead guarantee uses broad language protecting the homestead from involuntary divestiture****"). Absent a plain and unambiguous statement in the Florida Constitution to the contrary, we decline to imply a prohibition against a voluntary divestiture of one's constitutional right to homestead protection.
Warning: see this post: on is own motion Third DCA reconsidered this case en banc and then completely reversed itself!