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Fort Lauderdale Divorce Law Blog

Service issues can create a complex divorce problem

When it comes time legally end a Florida marriage, the filing spouse will be required to ensure that the other party receives the documents filed with the court. This process is called "service," and ordinarily takes place in person. However, when it is nearly impossible to locate a viable address for the other party, service issues can create a complex divorce problem.

In the past, some parties have been forced to resort to placing a notice in a local newspaper in the area where the other party last lived. This is often an unreliable way to effect service, and the approval of the court is needed in order to do it. A new alternative method of service is gaining popularity after a landmark case decided in 2015 -- the use of Facebook to serve divorce papers on the other spouse.

Dividing property in a divorce requires careful consideration

People are living longer than ever before due, at least in part, to modern medicine. Along with the average age of Americans here in Florida and elsewhere, the age at which couples are divorcing has increased. When older couples are dividing property in a divorce, that often means retirement plans, business interests and alimony are their primary concerns.

Rebuilding retirement after a divorce can be enough of a challenge for younger couples, but when the couple is older, it can be even more difficult. The couple's resources, which used to sustain one household, will have to account for two households in the future. This often means that the issues of retirement and alimony end up intertwined.

Marrying for the 2nd time? Consider a prenuptial agreement

Settling financial matters should be on the to-do list of every Florida couple marrying for the second time -- especially if they are older. A prenuptial agreement is not only for the prospect of divorce, but is also a valuable estate-planning tool. Many older couples who are remarrying have grown children, and even grandchildren, from a prior relationship whom they want to provide for after death.

Most states, including Florida, provide that a surviving spouse is entitled to a share of the decedent's estate regardless of what a will provides. If a couple decides that they want to ensure that their separate children receive as much of the estate as possible, each spouse can waive his or her right to this share in a prenuptial agreement. Furthermore, keeping assets separate will also keep them available for heirs.

Property division consideration for couples divorcing after 50

The rate of couples who are divorcing after the age of 50 has increased dramatically in recent years. Even though they might have some of the same property division issues as younger divorcing couples, older individuals have additional considerations due to the fact that they will have less time to recover financially prior to retirement. With a significant percentage of men and women here in Florida and elsewhere who find themselves below the poverty line after divorce, making sound decisions during the divorce is crucial.

The marital home is often the one of the most valuable assets that a couple owns during the marriage. During the divorce, one spouse might decide that he or she wants to keep the home. However, that might not be the best move financially. Each party needs to take a hard look at what it will mean to keep the home before trading it for another, more liquid asset such as a retirement account.

Depp-Heard high asset divorce heats up

By now, most Florida residents have heard that Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are calling it quits. Their high asset divorce has made headlines since Heard accused Depp of domestic abuse. Now, the case is beginning to heat up as Heard prepares to be deposed by Depp's lawyers.

Depp contends that Heard is falsely accusing him of spousal abuse in an attempt to gain a financial advantage in the divorce. Sources indicate that Depp's camp says any resolution to the couple's financial issues is premature at this point, and Heard's allegations should not speed up that process. Heard's deposition will occur around the same time as the hearing on the restraining order that was issued against Depp.

Have women been wrongly accused of causing a complex divorce?

For decades now, many Florida women have enjoyed successful careers and financial independence. Some sources concluded that this shift from women remaining at home to going out into the workforce is to blame for the rise in divorce. However, a recent study suggests that women have been wrongly accused of bringing about the end of their marriages -- regardless of whether the divorce was amicable or complex. 

The data gathered during the study indicates that if a man is not the primary bread winner, his risk of divorce increases. This appears to be especially true if he is out of work involuntarily. In today's society, it seems odd that this traditional gender role still prevails.

What will a prenuptial agreement do for Florida couples?

In recent years, newly engaged couples across the country and here in Florida have been told that the chance of their marriages lasting is only somewhere around 50 percent. At the same time, the way people divorce has changed, and couples are no longer bound to the traditional adversarial system. In fact, many can decide several of the property issues that come up in a divorce ahead of time with a prenuptial agreement.

The goal of a prenup is to protect the financial interests of each party in the event of a divorce. The parties can identify and quantify any separate property they are bringing into the marriage -- or could acquire during it -- such as inheritances, business interests and other assets. If an asset is owned at the time of the marriage, having a value for it on the marriage date can help to ensure that at least that portion of it will not be considered part of the marital estate in the event of a divorce. Each party can relinquish any rights to certain assets that might be acquired after the marriage as well.

Taking the first step toward being free from domestic violence

Many people who are in an abusive marriage do not believe that there is a way out. Taking the first step toward freedom from domestic violence is not always an easy one. Therefore, Florida law provides for restraining orders and orders for protection, which are often one of the first legal steps you can take to protect yourself, and possibly your children, from your abuser.

Most Florida residents know that a domestic violence restraining order requires the other party to stay away from and stop hurting you and/or your children. What many people might not realize is that they can provide for other relief as well. For example, the other party could be required to vacate the family home and pay temporary child and/or spousal support. The order could also give the victim temporary custody of the children.

Keeping the children out of child support matters

Florida parents who are ending their marriages have many issues to resolve before they can go their separate ways and settle into their separate lives. During the marriage, they were both responsible for the physical, emotional and financial needs of the children, and those obligations continue after the divorce. Most parents would never think of involving their children in the financial affairs of the family, and the same should be said for child support.

Just because the parties are no longer married does mean that one parent is now more responsible for the financial needs of the children than the other. Many people argue over child support in front of the children and even have them deliver messages regarding its payment back and forth. The children should not be involved in these discussions because they are not the ones who are getting divorced, and all they really need to focus on is the fact that both of their parents still love them.

Minimizing the effects of divorce on the children

It can be challenging at times to remember that even though a Florida couple's marriage is over, the children still love both of their parents and want to continue to have a relationship with each of them. Making this happen often requires both parents to put their feelings for each other aside and focus on how to create a supporting and loving atmosphere for the children despite the divorce. When parents work together, they can minimize the effects that the divorce will have on children.

Many aspects of life are going to change, and this can make children feel insecure. Combating this does not have to include suspending their routines or discipline. In fact, those are the very things that make most children feel secure and loved. Extra hugs and time with each parent might be in order to let them know that even though the parties will no longer be married, they are still a family and loving parents.