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Fort Lauderdale Divorce Law Blog

Standing together for the children in a Florida divorce

Fortunately, more Florida couples are deciding to end their marriages through mediation or collaborative divorce instead of battling in a courtroom. This is especially important for parents who want to give their children the best possible start to a new life. Of course, parents must get over the first hurdle, which is telling their children about the divorce.

How parents present this information can also set the tone for how they will negotiate their child custody agreement. Parents need to devise a plan before discussing the divorce with their children. More than likely, the kids will have a lot of questions. If their parents have already talked about the answers to those questions, they are already on their way toward an agreement.

Child support is often a point of contention for Florida parents

Most Florida parents have no problem supporting their children financially. Oddly enough, what they often have an issue with is paying child support. This issue is one of the most problematic between parents who are either divorced or separated.

The determination of child support is governed by statutory guidelines. Judges can deviate from those guidelines to a certain extent, but a non-custodial parent will be always be responsible for some amount of financial support for the children. Any agreement between the parties is not valid unless approved by the court. This is for the protection of both parents.

Doing some research could help one to avoid a complex divorce

Florida couples who are contemplating divorce have more options than just going through the traditional adversarial system. When the decision to divorce is made, it may be beneficial to do some research into alternative methods for ending a marriage. Avoiding a complex divorce could ensure that the parties come to an agreement with which both can be satisfied.

Mediation is one alternative method of dispute resolution that is gaining popularity with divorcing couples. When the fact that most divorces never go to trial is taken into consideration, it may be better to start with mediation and save the time and money of preparing for litigation. However, choosing to mediate does not mean that the parties should not do their research and prepare for negotiations.

Designing a parenting plan that keeps the focus on the children

It can be a challenge for Florida parents who are going through a divorce to separate their relationship as a couple from their relationship as parents. Overcoming this challenge in order to negotiate a parenting plan can be done by focusing on the children instead of each other. Regardless of how the couple's relationship ended, acknowledging that each party loves the children and wants what is best for them is a good place to start.

If communicating in person is strained, the parties may benefit from doing the bulk of their communicating via email. This also affords each parent the opportunity to update the other about the children. Emailing also provides a written record between the parties so that one parent cannot say that the other failed to inform him or her about something important. Such an agreement can be put into the parenting plan so that both parents are held accountable to follow through.

How Florida law affects estate planning and asset division

One of the issues that many people fail to consider after a divorce is estate planning. Ordinarily, during a marriage, the parties provide for each other in their wills, trusts and through pay-on-death accounts such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Prior to 2012, a failure to change an estate plan after a divorce would mean that an ex-spouse could still inherit from the estate. In 2012 however, the state of Florida amended the law, and the parties need to take this into consideration during asset division.

Any provisions in wills and trusts are automatically voided after a divorce. If the parties agree to keep those provisions alive, it must be specifically stated in the divorce decree. In addition, the law now nullifies beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance policies if the ex-spouse is the named beneficiary. A court order is required to keep an ex-spouse as the primary beneficiary.

Permanent orders for protection can deter abusers

Too many Florida residents become victims of abuse at the hands of people they loved and trusted. Victims are often scared and look to the legal system to help protect them. Orders for protection can be obtained that require the abuser to stay away from the victim.

Those orders often bar the abuser from contacting the victim and other specified family members, such as children, by phone, email or in person. The perpetrator of the abuse is also not allowed to go to the home, work or school of the victim. If the abuser violates the protection order, he or she may be arrested and charged.

Matters of dementia create complex divorce case in Florida

A Florida man who was married in 2000 has since decided that he no longer wants to be married to his wife. However, extenuating circumstances have made it a complex divorce issue. Some claim that the man in question suffers from dementia and, therefore, is not of sound mind in order to make such a decision. The situation has created a battle between various parties of interest in the case.

The husband in this case has been noted as not always knowing what day it is or how to answer simple questions, such as who the current president of the United States might be. The situation is further complicated by the discord that has arisen between the man's wife and his biological children from a previous marriage. The step-mother is reportedly slated to inherit more than $10 million as per a prenuptial agreement signed before the wedding. The grown children, on the other hand, have been accused of trying to push for the divorce because they will get the money if their father divorces her before he dies.

Child custody battle to begin over frozen embryos

Florida fans of the television show "Modern Family" may not be aware that during the time that Sophia Vergara, who is one of the show's stars, and her fiance, Nick Loeb, were together they decided to freeze two embryos for use in the future. When they broke off their engagement and went their separate ways, Loeb filed a lawsuit that he claims was intended to keep Vergara from destroying the embryos. Now, a judge ruled that he could amend his lawsuit in an attempt to obtain custody of the embryos. At the center of this unusual child custody battle is a contract signed by the parties relating to the embryos.

The contract specifies that both parties must consent to bringing the embryos to term. It was silent, however, on what would happen to them if the pair was no longer together. According to Loeb, the contract should be voided by the court.

Some parents fail to pay child support while living the good life

The vast majority of Florida parents are willing and able to meet their financial obligations to their children during marriage and after a divorce. At some point, many non-custodial parents have a difficult time making their child support payments, but work to make them up. Some parents, however, fail to make their court-ordered payments while taking trips, buying new cars and flashing wads of cash.

One father was recently in court because he stopped making his $1,000 a week child support payments. He had claimed to be financially destitute. His soon-to-be ex-wife, however, produced evidence that shows that this may not be the case.

A prenuptial agreement cannot include certain items

Prenuptial agreements are often characterized as agreements that can include anything from how long a woman's hair can be to how retirement plans will be divided in the event of a divorce. However, it is important to understand that certain things cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement. Florida couples need to be aware of what these items are in order to maintain the validity of their agreement if it is ever needed in the future.

Not surprisingly, any provision that is considered illegal can result in all or part of the agreement being declared invalid. Other provisions may not be illegal, but they are contrary to public policy and jeopardize the agreement. Child support, custody and visitation are subjects that fit into this category.

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