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Fort Lauderdale Divorce Law Blog

Odd child custody battle to begin in Sherri Shepherd divorce

Florida fans of "The View" may already know that Sherri Shepherd and her husband have filed for divorce. At the center of the court proceedings is an odd child custody battle. The baby they are battling over has not yet been born.

In fact, Shepherd is not even pregnant. She and her husband tried to get pregnant and even attempted in-vitro fertilization to no avail. When nothing worked, the couple hired a surrogate.

In the end, a complex divorce may boil down to money

One of the most prevalent arguments of nearly every couple here in Florida and around the country is over money. Money issues have led to the end of numerous marriages over the decades. When the issues of a complex divorce are stripped down to their foundation, money is often at the heart of it.

In fact, once the papers are signed and the parties have walked out of the courtroom, money could continue to be a point of contention between the parties -- especially if the couple has children. It is partly for this reason that the parties need to put aside their emotional issues during the divorce process in order to negotiate an equitable settlement. The more money issues that are worked out civilly, if not amicably, the greater the possibility that both parties will be willing to fulfill their obligations to each other after the divorce is final.

Do all prenups survive the scrutiny of Florida judges?

Prenuptial agreements are often viewed as unbreakable contracts between married couples. However, under certain circumstances, Florida judges have been known to throw out prenups in divorce proceedings. Judges look at two important factors when evaluating whether an agreement should be upheld.

If the agreement appears to be unfair to one party, it could be invalidated. It is not unusual for one party to give up something in a prenup such as alimony or certain property. However, in making the determination as to whether an agreement should be upheld, a Florida judge may look at the difference between what he or she would award versus what the prenuptial agreement provides. When a considerable difference exists between what one spouse receives compared to the other spouse, it could raise a red flag with the court.

A prenuptial agreement can be a road map for marital finances

Many Florida couples are getting married or remarried later in life. By this time, each party will often have accumulated his or her own assets and liabilities. This alone is a good enough reason to consider a prenuptial agreement, but there are other benefits as well.

In addition to determining what assets will be treated as separate property and setting other guidelines in the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement can provide the couple with a road map for their finances during marriage. First, it opens up the lines of communication regarding financial matters. Money is one of the top reasons that married people argue, and it can even end a marriage in some cases.

Basic explanation of child custody for divorcing Florida parents

Arguably, one of the saddest parts of any Florida divorce is the fact that each parent will not have 100 percent access to their children, 24 hours a day. Child custody matters can cause a fair amount of tension between even amicable parties. A basic understanding of how the courts handle these matters could put parents' minds at ease.

The courts follow the tenet that it is the best interests of the child that guides them when ruling on child custody matters. Many judges try to limit the amount of change the children will have to go through because of the divorce. For instance, if one parent remains in the family home with the children -- which would keep the children in the same schools, near their friends, etc. -- the court may ultimately award primary physical custody of the children to that parent. The other parent would be granted visitation.

Property division gets complicated when it comes to family pets

Many Florida couples have pets that they consider part of the family. This can easily become an issue when a couple decides to end their marriage and both parties want to keep the family pet. The way the laws are currently structured, pets are considered property and, therefore, subject to the rules of property division and not custody.

This means that, under the law, any Florida judge is bound to view who gets the family pet in the same way he or she would furniture or the marital home. Consequently, if one party wants the pet, he or she may have to give up something else of equal value in return. In some cases, this causes one party to use the pet as a bargaining chip for another asset.

Child custody issues behind "Fatherless Day" movement

Fathers in Florida and around the country are fighting for equal rights -- that is, for equal custody rights. The fathers that are part of the "Fatherless Day" movement are no longer satisfied with seeing their children every other weekend, which used to be ordered in a large number of child custody cases. They want to spend more time with their children.

In 2013, the governor of Florida vetoed a bill that would have required both parents to be given equal time with the children. Under that bill, judges could have ruled that extenuating circumstances make equal custody inappropriate. However, the starting point in court would have been equal custody.

A Florida couple's divorce does not have to scar the children

When a Florida couple with children decides to get a divorce, one of their first concerns is how it will affect the kids. There is no way to keep the divorce from affecting the children, but it is possible to control the way it does. How the parents handle the divorce process and child custody issues may determine what kind of impact the end of the couple's marriage will have.

These days, many Florida couples are doing whatever is necessary to keep the focus of the divorce on reinventing the family structure for the sake of the children. Children need security, consistency and to know that their parents will always love them despite the fact they are no longer married. Allowing the children to ask questions and express their concerns could go a long way toward helping them through.

Do couples need a prenuptial agreement re social media?

At some point in time, nearly everyone in Florida has suffered embarrassment because of something posted about him or her on a social media site. A picture in a bathing suit or just coming out of the shower may not seem like a big deal to the person posting it, but it may cause problems for the spouse in the photo. With circumstances like those in mind, many couples are adding a clause to their prenuptial agreement that outlines what is acceptable -- and what is not acceptable -- to post about each other on social media.

Typically, such a clause prohibits the posting of photos wherein a spouse is nude, could be embarrassed or could even affect the partner's professional life. The consequences for violating a social media clause are ordinarily financial. The parties agree on a certain amount of money that will be paid to the other for a violation.

A Florida couple's money issues can cause a high asset divorce

Over the decades, one cause for marital friction among couples nationwide and here in Florida has stood the test of time. Money matters can lead to a high asset divorce just as easily as in other divorce proceedings. How two people handle money as a couple can greatly influence their marriage.

One study indicates that an inverse relationship exists between the amount of debt couples have and their satisfaction with the marriage. Nearly 81 percent of couples in one study kept their money together. Of the couples in the study, 45 percent make decisions regarding their finances jointly.

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