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Fort Lauderdale Divorce Law Blog

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.

Anticipating property division in a Florida divorce

Many Florida couples are turning to prenuptial agreements to protect certain property from being divided in the event of a divorce. Unfortunately, not everyone who wants a prenup will have an agreeable future spouse. No one wants to believe that their marriage will end, but with divorce rates being what they are in the United States, it may be prudent to take certain steps in anticipation of property division in divorce.

When dividing property in a divorce, one of the issues is what is considered separate property vs. marital property. Before even getting married, it is possible to take certain steps to create a paper trail, proving that an asset is separate property. It is important to note, however, that not all of a party's premarital assets can remain separate.

Petition for paternity may be needed under certain circumstances

Many Florida couples make the decision not to get married, and when they have a child, establishing paternity is essential -- especially if the relationship ends. Before an unwed man can legally exercise any parental rights to his child, a petition for paternity may be needed. Until paternity is established, the father does not have any legal rights regarding custody or visitation, and the mother cannot request child support. Legal recognition of the biological father is also needed for the child to have the right to inherit from the father's estate.

All of these rights and responsibilities are important for a child's upbringing. Moreover, most Florida men want to be there for their children and be a part of their lives. They also understand that they bear some of the responsibility for financially supporting their children.

College football player will not face domestic violence charges

Lately, the news around the country and here in Florida has been full of stories regarding football players -- both college and professional -- who have been accused of domestic abuse. One of the latest stories was about a college cornerback who was arrested on Wednesday, April 29. By Friday, May 1, the domestic violence charges against him were dropped.

The incident that led to his arrest was between him and a 22-year-old woman. Reports indicate that he grabbed her cell phone from her and destroyed it. When police arrived on the scene, they felt that enough probable cause existed to take him into custody even though no physical contact took place between the two during the altercation. He was booked on charges of harassment and criminal mischief (domestic violence).

Child custody issues can turn a friendly divorce into a battle

Florida fans of Hilary Duff are most likely already aware that she and her former hockey player husband, Michael Comrie, have been separated for approximately one year. Up until recently, they appeared to be the model couple for an amicable separation. However, the filing of divorce papers earlier this year has set the stage for a contentious child custody battle.

The other aspects of the couple's divorce such as property division and spousal support are governed by a prenuptial agreement, and neither party is contesting that fact. When it comes to the legal and physical custody of their 3-year-old son, however, each parent has a different viewpoint on the subject. Duff requested that the court award her primary legal and physical custody, and that Comrie should only be granted visitation rights. When Comrie filed responsive pleadings recently, he asked for joint custody.

Issues to consider when going into property division negotiations

When a divorce is pared down to its basic elements, it is an undeniable fact that financial issues often take center stage. The only issue that garners more attention than property division is the fate of any children involved, and even then, finances are an important consideration. Both parties will benefit by entering into settlement negotiations with at least a basic understanding of the financial implications of a divorce. 

In Florida, marital assets are to be equitably divided between the parties, which typically means that each spouse will leave the marriage with close to 50 percent of the marital property. Moreover, nearly every asset acquired by the couple during the marriage could be subject to property division in a divorce. This includes property such as individual retirement plans, bank accounts and investment accounts that a person may believe are separate property. Under certain circumstances, some assets may be considered separate property, but that may only apply to that portion of the asset that was acquired prior to the marriage.

Common provisions in Florida orders for protection

In situations where domestic violence is alleged, the party claiming to be the victim may desire to obtain some form of legal protection against further contact with the person accused of perpetrating the abuse. Here in Florida, orders for protection may be issued to bar that person from having contact with a victim. Such an order can contain numerous provisions.

Nearly all protective orders include a no-contact provision, which means that the person identified as the abuser may not contact the victim by phone or other electronic means, physically assault the victim or otherwise disturb him or her. In some cases, a Florida judge will even order an abuser from being within a certain distance of the victim and/or certain places frequented by the victim, such as work, school and home. Another provision could require that person to leave the residence shared with the victim prior to the incident.

Could Facebook be a service alternative in a high asset divorce?

When a Florida resident makes the decision to end a marriage, certain legal requirements must be met in order for the marriage to be dissolved. For instance, one of the first tasks to be completed after a divorce petition has been filed is to "serve" the papers on the other party, which means that he or she was personally given legal notice of the divorce. Sometimes, fulfilling this requirement can be problematic -- including in a high asset divorce -- and an alternative method of service may be required.

Ordinarily, a process server -- or some other legally authorized person -- is enlisted to personally give the papers to the other party. When the filing spouse is unable to locate the other party, or that person is actively avoiding being served, Florida law allows for the service requirement to be made through an alternative method. However, it is necessary to obtain court approval first.

Studies suggest issues that can cause complex divorce

Currents statistics show a high divorce rate in the United States, which would obviously include some couples who reside in Florida. A recent article draws attention to a list of issues that some studies suggest cause a propensity toward divorce. A marriage counselor and psychologist helped compile a list of bullet points that couples wishing to avoid complex divorce might take into consideration.

In a 2011 study, it was noted that men who are without paid employment are at higher risk for leaving their spouses. The reverse as suggested was also true, that wives of unemployed men are likely to leave a marriage. Some say that the stress of financial crisis, lack of job security and instability of lifestyle leads to marital discord.

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