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Fort Lauderdale Divorce Law Blog

Research should be done before filing for a high asset divorce

For many Florida couples, a lot is at stake when dividing marital property. Therefore, before filing for a high asset divorce, doing some research could provide a clear and complete picture of the family's finances, which could help in obtaining a fair and equitable settlement. Further, taking certain steps to protect an individual's financial future could prevent problems later.

Before filing for divorce is a good time to conduct a thorough inventory of both marital assets and any assets that either party claims are separate. The inventory should include everything from accounts to the marital residence and everything in between. Having this information can help ensure that the other party does not attempt to hide anything during the proceedings. This may also be a good time to separate any joint accounts in order to prevent the other spouse from accruing any additional debt for which the other party could become responsible. Opening a separate deposit account may also be advisable.

Prevent Child Abuse Florida and others work to increase awareness

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and several Florida agencies are taking the opportunity to raise awareness regarding this issue. Prevent Child Abuse Florida, the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida are sponsoring an event on April 5 to kick off the month. Pinwheels for Prevention, a national initiative to call attention to child abuse, showcased the silver and blue pinwheel, which is to be the symbol of this month's campaign.

The campaign focuses on not only the prevention of child abuse, but also on nurturing families to give children the best possible start in life. Parents can obtain help providing a positive environment for both parents and children alike. The campaign strives to provide a voice for children that are vulnerable to abuse.

A parenting plan can head off emotional problems for children

It is not difficult to imagine that children experience emotional setbacks when their parents divorce. A myriad of behavior problems such as defiance, depression and other disruptions occur for many children. However, Florida parents can limit these adverse reactions with a parenting plan that makes children feel loved and secure.

Children need to know they are loved, cared for and safe. Most parents want their children to be happy and will do everything possible during this difficult time to focus on the well-being of their children. Creating as stable an environment as possible during the divorce process can set the standard for their lives after the divorce is final.

Dealing with money and property division in a Florida divorce

Once a Florida couple makes the decision to end their marriage, the parties naturally wonder what comes next. Outside of the children, money and property division are the most important issues in a divorce. Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital assets are rarely divided equally. Money and property are normally divided in accordance with certain criteria such as each party's income, who is to be the custodial parent and how long the parties were married.

In order to ensure that each party is receiving his or her fair share, it is necessary for both parties to know what the parties own and how much they were worth as a couple. Without this information, it would not be difficult for one spouse to end up with a disproportionate amount of the couple's assets. Some spouses would take advantage of the other party's lack of knowledge and claim to the court that certain marital property is actually separate property. With no challenge to this claim, the court may have no choice but to agree.

Prenups encourage Florida couples to be open about finances

Money is considered to be at the top of the list of reasons why couples divorce. For many newly engaged Florida couples, it also seems to be one of the most difficult subjects to discuss. Prenups may encourage these couples to be open with each other about finances.

Most people believe that prenups are about who gets to keep what assets in the event of a divorce. It is true that, in its simplest form, a prenuptial agreement serves as a contract between two people regarding how certain financial issues and situations will be handled if a couple subsequently gets divorced. However, for a couple about to be married, it can be much more.

Is a modification of child custody in Mel Gibson's future?

Most Florida parents, married or otherwise, want to make sure that their children are safe, happy and well adjusted. To a certain extent, when the parents are not married -- through either divorce or never having been married -- each of them is placing a significant amount of trust in the other. When that trust is broken, one parent may go back to court to ask for a modification of the parties' child custody arrangements. If the court agrees that a change is warranted, it may be ordered.

Sources indicate that Mel Gibson may ask the court for a modification of his custody agreement with Oksana Grigorieva regarding their daughter, Lucia. Apparently, an incident occurred involving law enforcement officials and her oldest son -- who is not Gibson's son. No details regarding the incident were reported, but it apparently has Grigorieva concerned that Gibson will go to family court to ask for sole custody of Lucia.

Emotions can sabotage successful property division

Undoubtedly, getting a divorce is difficult. It would not be unusual for Florida residents encountering divorce proceedings to feel as if their emotions are running them instead of the other way around. Dealing with those emotions is important, but they need to be kept under control while negotiating issues such as property division or child custody.

Most everyone in Florida has seen a movie or television show about a divorcing couple spending thousands of dollars and several months -- or longer -- fighting over a household object neither of them really wants, solely to aggravate the other party. In movies or television shows, it is entertaining. In real life, it can be expensive and destructive to the process and the entire family. It takes a strong person to walk away from a relationship that is not working, and that same strength can keep an individual's emotions under control during the divorce process.

Talking about money and considering a prenuptial agreement

Once a Florida couple is engaged to be married, a flurry of activity surrounding the wedding begins. It might be easy to skip talking about money or considering a prenuptial agreement, but it should make the list of things to do before the wedding. Anyone who has been married before can vouch for the fact that money is a source of conflict at one time or another in nearly every marriage.

Understanding how each party views the couple's financial future could prevent conflicts over money during the marriage. Now is the time to discuss what assets and debts each party brings to the marriage. Will assets be commingled or will each party retain the assets he or she currently owns? Will the couple pay off individual debts together or not? These questions need to be asked prior to the wedding.

Marital debt needs just as much attention as marital property

When a Florida couple decides to end their marriage, they often begin discussing who will receive what assets in the divorce. However, marital property is not the only concern for divorcing couples. Marital debt needs to be dealt with as well.

For instance, if one party is receiving a vehicle in the divorce, it would make sense to sign over the title to that vehicle. However, doing so could have serious financial ramifications if the party fails to pay off any loan that may be associated with that vehicle. Regardless of who is deemed responsible for that auto loan in the divorce settlement, the lender can still look to the other spouse for payment.

Protecting separate assets with a prenuptial agreement

The last thing any Florida couple about to marry wants to think about is divorce. Unfortunately, studies show that the odds of staying together are 50-50. When that statistic is coupled with the fact that many people are marrying later in life, and therefore, have accumulated significant separate property, a prenuptial agreement might be something to look into.

Once a couple is married, the lines of which property belongs to who tend to blur over time. If the parties divorce, it could be an uphill battle to prove what assets were separate properties and what assets are truly marital properties. This is where a prenuptial agreement can prove its worth.

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