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Fort Lauderdale Divorce Law Blog

Consider the future when dividing property in a divorce

Ending a marriage is often fraught with emotion and is never easy. In light of this, Florida residents need to make a concerted effort to put aside their emotions when it comes to dividing property in a divorce. Otherwise, going into settlement negotiations with emotions running high could end up costing a party in the end.

Ultimately, the goal of dividing the marital property and debts is to be in the best financial position possible when the divorce is over. Many Florida couples approach settlement negotiations as ending the marriage. However, a more accurate description of what the divorce process is about is preparing for a future as a single person.

Dealing with the holidays during a Florida divorce with children

The custody of the children is often the most important consideration to a Florida couple that is ending their marriage. Being in the middle of a divorce during the holidays can be especially challenging for both parents and children. How parents deal with making the holidays special for their children is an important part of any child custody agreement.

Outside of normal visitation schedules, the holidays need to be given special attention since they are often filled with traditions and anticipation for children. In some cases, parents decide to continue to spend the holidays together despite the divorce. For example, this is what singer Mariah Carey and her husband Nick Cannon have chosen to do, even though they are embroiled in a custody battle for their twin boys.

Settling child custody issues involves several factors

When a Florida couple has a child together, they are forever bound as parents. They may go their separate ways and not remain a couple, but their mutual connection to their child will require them to interact on a regular basis. This means settling child custody issues in a way that allows both parents the opportunity to be a part of the child's life.

Numerous factors are considered by the Florida courts when considering issues such as visitation, time sharing or the desire of one parent to relocate with the child. The standard used by state courts is what is in the best interest of the child. In attempting to attain this standard for the child, the court may look at the home lives of each parent, which parent may provide more stability for the child, and the relationship that each parent has with the child. Older children may be given the opportunity to express their opinion on the subject as well.

Deviating from the Florida child support guidelines

In any case involving the calculation of child support, most parents are led to believe that the courts simply apply the formula outlined in the statutes. However, judges are allowed to deviate from the Florida child support guidelines up to 5 percent in either direction under certain circumstances. Therefore, it is far from an exercise in futility to present a reasonable case for adjusting payments either up or down.

The Florida statutes outline what factors a judge may consider in departing from the guidelines. Judges will look at the age, needs and standard of living of the children, along with the ability of the parents to pay. A simple order deviating from the guidelines is not enough, however. The judge must include a written finding, indicating why he or she felt that the amount calculated in accordance with the statute would be unfair or not appropriate in a particular case.

Collaborative law is a kinder method of asset division in divorce

The traditional method of engaging in an expensive court battle with a soon-to-be ex-spouse often gives a false sense of control to the parties. In actuality, the parties are relinquishing control over their futures to a Florida judge. There is a better method of asset division that fosters cooperation between the parties, can reduce expenses and allows the parties to maintain control of their individual futures -- collaborative law.

The first step in a collaborative divorce is to engage counsel that has received training in this method of divorce. Each issue needing resolution is negotiated among the parties and their counsel. An issue common to nearly every divorce is the division of your marital property, but other issues such as child custody, alimony/spousal support and child support are also considered.

Prenups for pets are on the rise

In recent years, prenuptial agreements have gained popularity among Florida couples as people realize that they are not only for the wealthy. People are also marrying later in life and have already accumulated their own assets and liabilities, so these agreements present a viable way to protect individual assets in the event of a subsequent divorce. Now that prenups are more commonplace, people are beginning to consider another use for them -- avoiding a battle over the family pet.

Even though most court battles are over dogs, any family pet could end up being the subject of contention in a divorce. Even when the proceedings are amicable, the emotional attachment to a pet can cause a breakdown in settlement negotiations. For instance, when Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith announced their divorce, they said it would be a friendly one. However, a battle over their pets could change that.

Mother wins back child custody from the state of Florida

A parent's values and beliefs have a great influence on how he or she raises a child. So long as the child is thriving and safe, a parent should have the freedom to follow those values and beliefs and pass them on to his or her child. This point was illustrated in the case of a mother who was forced into a child custody battle with the state of Florida that essentially came down to the fact that she is a vegan.

The woman took her infant son to the doctor for a checkup. During the visit, the doctor determined that the baby's weight had dropped approximately 10 percent since birth. He recommended that the mother take the baby to the hospital. However, the mother decided to try giving him a vegan soy formula in addition to breast milk to raise his weight before resorting to taking him to the hospital.

Divorce in mid-life makes asset division critical to the process

Estimates indicate that nearly 25 percent of all divorces involve couples including those in which at least one partner is 50 years of age or older. Sources believe at least part of the reason is due to the fact that people are expected to live longer than in years past, and many people here in Florida and around the country do not wish to spend the rest of their lives with their current spouse. Getting a divorce in mid-life makes asset division critical since the parties are closer to retirement.

Divorce nearly always has a financial impact on the parties. Going from one household to support to two can have a devastating effect if the parties fail to keep an eye toward the future. It can be tempting to spend a lot of time and money battling in court, but that may only diminish the marital assets. On the other hand, attempting to keep things friendly by giving in to the other spouse's demands may also be a detriment.

Keeping a high asset divorce out of the public eye

Once a divorce begins, any documents filed with the court become public record. At least some -- if not all -- of the information regarding a high asset divorce could be available for the public if requested. Further, if the parties end up in court, members of the public may sit in the courtroom and listen as a Florida couple's issues are aired to the judge.

It is possible, however, to keep as many of the details of any settlement reached between the parties private. Some celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes signed a confidentiality agreement to keep the details of their settlement private. However, a couple does not have to live in the public eye to want their divorce kept confidential. Such an agreement could be useful in order to keep as much financial and other personal information out of the public record with the Florida court system.

How a Florida high asset divorce affects taxes and retirement

Property division and custody issues tend to dominate divorce proceedings. Even if a couple is not going through a high asset divorce, every Florida couple that is divorcing will likely need to address these issues. In the midst of dealing with these issues, it can be easy to forget the effects that divorce has on taxes and retirement.

Filing income tax returns will change after a divorce. Each party will need to file as single rather than married. Therefore, both parties need to plan for their tax structure to change in some way. Unless both parties earned roughly the same amount of money each year, one or both individuals may discover that they have moved into a higher tax bracket. For this reason, who claims the children as dependents each year becomes an important consideration.

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