Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer Blog
Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer Blog
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The Florida Department of Health released information recently indicating that, while the marriage rate in Florida is rising, the divorce rate fell to the lowest it has been in decades. Per every 100 marriages, there were 54 divorces finalized in Florida last year. This is the lowest divorce rate since 1960. In contrast, the number of marriages per year increased in 2014 for the first time after declining each year for the past ten years.

Divorce Rate in Florida Higher Than the National Rate

Even though the percentage of marriages that ended in divorce last year hit a long-time low, the divorce rate for the state of Florida is still higher than the rate for the entire United States. People are still filing for divorce on a regular basis and still face all of the legal issues that can be related to a divorce case. Only some of the legal issues in a divorce include as follows:

  • Division of property — Florida law requires that all marital property must be divided in an equitable manner between the spouses. Identifying all marital property and deciding on a fair way to divide it can be complicated.
  • Custody and parenting agreements — Courts are expected to seek out a custody and parenting arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. An agreement must be signed that sets out many details of parenting, including time spent with each parent, who will make certain decisions, and more.
  • Child support — In most cases, one parent will have to provide child support to the other based on a specific formula set out by law. The formula takes into consideration the respective income and expenses of the parents as well as the necessary expenses for each of their children.
  • Spousal support — In some instances, one spouse may have to provide alimony to the other depending on the length of the marriage, their respective contributions to the marriage, and their respective ability to support themselves immediately following the divorce.
  • Enforceability of a premarital agreement — If the spouses signed an agreement prior to marriage regarding the division of property and alimony in the event of divorce, one spouse may claim that the agreement is not enforceable for a variety of reasons and the other spouse will have to defend the enforceability of the agreement.

Some divorces can be more complicated and have unique issues based on the circumstances of the marriage. It is important to have an attorney on your side who can identify and handle any issues that may arise in your divorce case.

A Skilled Family Law Attorney in Boca Raton Can Help You

If you are facing a divorce, child custody issues, child support disputes, or any other family law-related legal matter, you should not wait to consult with qualified family lawyer Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton today. Mr. Burton has extensive experience handling a wide array of divorce and family-related cases and will always stand up for your best interests throughout your case. Your family is important, so call today at 954-229-1660 for assistance.

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Celebrity divorces can be difficult, not only because of extensive media coverage but also because one or both of the spouses may have a significant amount of wealth. In one recent divorce, a wife is attempting to obtain a large portion of her husband’s $85 million fortune as well as a large amount of additional ongoing support.

The wife of songwriter, singer, and successful music producer Timbaland filed for divorce at the end of June. She previously filed in 2013 though that case was dismissed as they attempted to reconcile. Apparently that attempt at reconciliation was not successful, as now she has not only filed again but requested many different types of financial support, including the following:

  • Child support for both their biological daughter and her son from a prior relationship
  • Support for private schools, summer camps, and vacations
  • Life insurance
  • Lump sum financial award
  • Spousal support while the divorce is pending
  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Permanent alimony
  • Attorney’s fees

Because of the amount of money that she is seeking, it is likely that the couple did not sign any type of premarital agreement limiting the support she would receive in the event of divorce.

The amount of support she may be granted will depend on many different factors. For example, reports indicate that she does not have assets of her own, so she has no way to immediately support herself and her family. It will also depend on the amount of money Timbaland actually earned during the marriage and how much will be considered separate property if it was amassed prior to their wedding in 2008. The division of property will also depend upon state laws because, unlike Florida’s equitable division law, California is a community property state and has different methods of property distribution in divorce.

In regard to child support, Timbaland will likely be required to provide a substantial amount for their biological daughter. His wife claims that, even though he is not the biological father of her older child, Timbaland claimed the child “as his own” both privately and publicly. It remains to be seen whether or not the family court will find enough evidence to require Timbaland to provide support for a child that is not legally his own.

Overall, it seems that the divorce will involve complex issues and may require extensive negotiation and court intervention to settle them.

Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Today

Any divorce can have legal issues arise. However, divorces involving parties with significant assets, children, and no premarital agreement can become particularly complicated and costly. If you have a substantial financial fortune, it is imperative that you seek help from a divorce lawyer who knows how to handle this type of case. Boca Raton family law attorney Alan R. Burton has extensive experience handling all types of divorce cases, including those with a lot of money at stake. Mr. Burton will protect your best interests, so call today at 954-229-1660 for help.

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During a marriage, a couple can amass a wide variety of assets and accounts. Additionally, they can take on a significant number of debts such as mortgages, loans, or credit accounts. Before a divorce can be finalized, a court must decide how these assets and debts are going to be divided between the spouses in accordance with Florida property division law. In order to do so, a court must be aware of all of the applicable financial accounts and properties that may exist. Therefore, spouses are required by law to submit Mandatory Disclosures regarding their finances within 45 days of the filing of the initial divorce pleading.

The following are financial documents that must be exchanged in mandatory disclosures:

  • Financial affidavits — A spouse can use a shorter form if their income is under $50,000 per year, though must use the long form if it is more than $50,000. Exchanging affidavits is mandatory in every case and cannot be waived.
  • All federal, state, personal property, and gift tax returns filed in the last three years. If a tax return has not been filed, 1099, K-1, and w-2 forms are required for that year.
  • Pay statements or other proof of income for the past three months before the filing, including statements of the source of the income.
  • All loan and credit applications prepared in the last 12 months.
  • All current leases, deeds (for three years), or promissory notes (for 12 months), whether they are individual or jointly owned.
  • Statements for brokerage accounts currently owned or owned in the last 12 months, either individual or joint.
  • Statements for retirement accounts, pension plans, profit sharing plans, or deferred compensation plans.
  • Statements and certificates for all life insurance policies.
  • Cards for any medical or dental insurance plans covering the spouse or their children.
  • Tax returns for any corporations, trusts, or partnerships for the prior three years if the spouse is at least 30 percent owner of the entity.
  • Statements for all credit card account or other debts for the last three months.
  • Any premarital agreements signed or agreements entered into by the spouses during their marriage, including any modifications.
  • Any court orders requiring a spouse to receive or pay child support or spousal support.

In addition to this long list of financial documents, if you are claiming that certain property is non-marital and should not be divided, you must provide evidence and documents in support of your claims. This can include proof of how and when the asset was acquired or why it should be considered individual property.

A Qualified Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Help You

Meeting the requirements of mandatory disclosures in Florida can be a daunting task in a short amount of time and it is easy to forget something. It is important to have an experienced divorce lawyer guiding you through the process to ensure you receive the best results possible. If you are facing a divorce, your first call should be to family law attorney Alan R. Burton at 954-229-1660 for a free consultation.

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Situations change and individuals can go through unexpected periods of financial downturn. Losing your job, having a medical emergency in your household, and many other similar events can make it difficult to cover your bills. In such times, you may also struggle to make your court-ordered child support payments.

The court orders a certain amount of child support based on your situation at the time of the ruling, and the courts do not attempt to anticipate your future financial circumstances. Therefore, if you lose income or your other expenses increase, it is understandable that paying child support may become challenging or even impossible in the future. Unfortunately, failing to pay child support can have serious consequences in Florida, but you have legal options to try to make your child support more manageable to avoid these consequences.

Possible Actions Against You

The Florida Department of Revenue has a Child Support Enforcement team that can take various actions if you are not making your payments on time. This department can take the following actions against you:

  • Wage or bank account garnishments
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • Suspension of a professional or business license
  • Interception of your tax refund
  • Interception of any lottery winnings over $600
  • Withholding of a certain amount from worker’s compensation or unemployment benefits
  • Liens on your personal property
  • Reporting the late payments to your credit bureau
  • Disallowing you from receiving a passport
  • Requesting that the civil court enforces the order and hold you in contempt if you do not comply
  • Seeking assistance from the Office of the Inspector General to impose fines and/or jail time

Child Support Modifications

Fortunately, you have other options when you cannot pay your child support than simply facing the above consequences. If you have had a substantial change in circumstances, Florida law allows you to petition to court to modify the amount of support ordered in light of the change. This will require you and the other parent to go back into court, however, and the other parent will have the opportunity to argue that the support should not be lowered. Additionally, you should note that, if you have quit your job or are underemployed by your own choice, the court will likely not approve a modification. However, if your new circumstances are beyond your control, you will likely be eligible for a modification so that you can resume making payments.

Call an Experienced Boca Raton Child Support Attorney to Discuss Your Situation

If you realize that you cannot afford to pay your full child support payments, you should never simply stop paying and ignore the situation, as that can result in serious, often irreversible consequences. Instead, your first call should be to a qualified family lawyer who can help you explore your options for making your payments more manageable. Attorney Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton understands Florida laws and how to best apply them to your situation to protect your best interests. Please call our office for assistance at 954-229-1660 to learn how we can assist you.

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Child custody is often a complex and hotly contested issue in family law cases. In many situations, parents involved in a custody case are getting divorced or ending a dating relationship and, too often, one parent may want to limit the custody of the other. One parent may allege that the other engages in misconduct or is otherwise unfit to parent the child. Though Florida law presumes that joint custody and relationships with both parents is preferable, the courts will look into such allegations to ensure that the custody determination is truly in the best interests of the child. In these situations, the court may order a custody evaluation.

Custody evaluations involve the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to protect the rights and best interests of the child. A forensic psychologist may also be appointed to help evaluate the situation. These professionals are expected to remain impartial regarding the two parents and focus solely on what type of custody arrangement may be best for the child.

An evaluation may include the following depending on the particular situation:

  • Interviews with the child
  • Interviews with each parent
  • Observing the way the child interacts with each parent
  • Interviewing doctors, teachers, or others who may help shed light on the parent-child relationships
  • Psychological testing
  • Alcohol and drug evaluations

When the evaluators feel they have gathered enough information to issue a recommendation, they turn a report in to the court.

Custody evaluators can take many different factors into consideration when making their recommendations, including each parent’s background, approach to parenting, opinions of the other parent, position, mental health status, as well as any incidences or accusations of domestic abuse or alienation of affection. They can also recommend that one or both parents attend parenting courses or therapy sessions as part of the arrangement.

Consult With an Attorney Before Your Evaluation

It is only natural that you will be nervous and stressed going into any evaluation interviews. However, there are certain things you should remember in order to receive the most favorable custody determination possible. An experienced family law attorney who understands how the Florida family courts handle custody evaluations can help prepare you for your interviews or meetings. A lawyer can advise you of common questions so that you are not surprised in the interview and inadvertently make a comment that can hurt your case.

Contact a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for Assistance as Soon as Possible

Custody determinations are extremely important as they often directly affect your ability to develop and maintain a lasting relationship with your child. For this reason, you never want to go into a custody evaluation unprepared. Experienced family lawyer Alan R. Burton has helped numerous parents obtain positive custody arrangements that work for them and their children. Mr. Burton can also handle all other aspects of your divorce or family law case. If you are facing a divorce or custody case, you should not delay in calling our Boca Raton office at 954-229-1660 for help today.

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German media recently reported a story regarding an angry husband who decided to take the division of property into his own hands following a split with his wife of 12 years. The man posted a video on Youtube that showed him taking a chainsaw to many of his and his wife’s possessions and literally cutting them in half. The video shows the resulting half of a bicycle, a couch, a bed, a laptop, an iPhone, a teddy bear, and even their car. The husband claims he sent one set of halves to his wife and posted his own set on eBay.

While this husband’s video entertained millions of viewers and his actions garnered international attention, pulling such a stunt is not advisable in the face of divorce from a financial and legal standpoint. In fact, in a Florida divorce case, that husband would likely face financial consequences for destroying marital property in such a manner.

Property Division in Accordance with Florida Law

Florida law mandates that division of all marital property must be equitable. Equitable does not mean equal (and especially does not mean cutting everything directly in half), but instead means that the division should be fair. What is fair will depend on many factors including the nature of the property, the length of the marriage, contributions to the household, and much more.

Many angry spouses may have the desire to destroy some of their marital property simply to keep their spouses from having it. This can include spending lavish amounts of money or physically destroying personal property. However, courts will take such behavior into consideration when making other determinations regarding the divorce case. For example, if you waste money or property, a court may award your spouse more of the remaining property to make up for it. Courts may also award your spouse additional alimony due to your wrongdoing. Furthermore, vengefully destroying property can also affect how a court views your character when making custody determinations. The court can also take into account whether you seem to be uncooperative in the divorce process when deciding what is fair and equitable.

In short, while sawing your property in half may make for an entertaining viral video, it will likely cause difficulty in your divorce case. It is always important to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before taking any action regarding your property, especially before doing anything dramatic or impulsive that may affect your case.

An Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Help You

One of the main functions of a qualified divorce attorney is to advise you on what to do and what not to do throughout the course of your divorce case. A Boca Raton divorce lawyer will be able to provide an objective point of view with Florida’s divorce laws in mind to ensure you receive the most favorable outcome possible. If you are facing divorce or want to discuss any matter involving family law, call the law office of Alan R. Burton at 954-229-1660 for assistance today.

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On June 11, 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed the bill that will remove the language banning gay couples from adopting children from Florida law. Though a judge for the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and state officials stopped actively enforcing the ban in 2010, the language remained codified in Florida law. Florida was the only state in the U.S. to have such a ban and, though removing the language is largely a formality, gay rights advocacy groups celebrated the fact that the “lingering insult” of the decades-old law will be gone.

Another Threat to Gay Adoption Failed in 2015

Earlier this year, there was another bill on the table in Florida regarding same-sex couples adopting, though that proposed law would have threatened gay adoption rights, not preserved them. HB 7111 would have allowed private adoption companies to deny adoption for gay couples by citing “religious or moral convictions or policies” without risking losing their adoption agency license from the state. Though the bill was presented as a protection of religious freedom, opponents maintained that it was no more than a thinly veiled attack on the equal rights of same-sex couples.

HB 7111 passed overwhelmingly in the Florida House of Representatives though it could not get passed in the Senate to be sent to Gov. Scott’s desk. Gov. Scott, however, has been a vocal supporter of the bill and would most certainly sign it if it passed through the legislature. Gov. Scott has stated that he hopes the bill will be proposed again in upcoming legislative sessions but, for now, private adoption agencies cannot legally deny adoption to couples because they are gay.

Family Law Rights Improve for Same-Sex Couples in Florida

In addition to formally lifting the ban on gay adoption, same-sex couples also received the right to legally marry and get divorced in Florida this year. The extension of numerous family law rights to gay couples also means that more same-sex couples may be headed into the state family courts to resolve any family-related legal disputes. These cases should be handled in the same manner and in accordance with the same family laws as any case involving opposite-sex spouses or parents.

Call an Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney for Assistance Today

Families can face many different types of legal issues, including adoption, paternity, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and more. Boca Raton family law lawyer Alan R. Burton understands that many of these issues can be costly and stressful and he strives to handle every case in the most efficient manner possible. Mr. Burton thoroughly understands the ever-changing Florida family laws and knows how to apply them to your case to achieve the most favorable result for you. If you are facing a family law matter in Florida, call for a free consultation at 954-229-1660 today.

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87-year-old Martin Zelman of Palm Beach has filed for divorce from his wife of 15 years, though now Florida family courts will have to decide whether or not he truly wants one. Last year, another Florida judge declared Zelman mentally incompetent and appointed his son and daughter as his guardians. With this declaration, Zelman lost the right to make most decisions for himself, however, he retained the right to file legal claims, which allowed him to file a divorce petition. His wife, 80-year-old Lois Zelman, is challenging the validity of the divorce filing as she claims Martin does not, in fact, want to get divorced. She asserts that his three children are behind the divorce and that they have purposefully isolated Martin and fabricated stories that she abused him.

If Lois remains married to Martin until his death, she would retain access to their homes in Palm Beach and New York City, their cars, their club memberships and art, and will receive an estimated $10 million. If the judge grants the divorce, Lois will receive none of Martin’s $50 million dollar estate based on a prenuptial agreement they signed prior to marriage and his children will instead inherit all of his wealth. The judge stated that he will have to determine whether or not each side is simply fighting over money or whether they truly have Martin’s best interests in mind. Each side, of course, claims the case is not about the money.

Divorce Involving an Incapacitated Person in Florida

Florida has a law in place intended to protect mentally incapacitated individuals whose spouses try to divorce them while they cannot defend their rights. The statute requires the filing spouse to wait until the incapacitation has lasted for at least three years before a court can grant a divorce. However, the incapacitated person is generally not the one who is seeking the divorce in the first place.

Even though the probate judge last year found that Martin Zelman had the capacity to file legal claims, the family court could decide that Martin is an incompetent witness, which would halt the divorce proceedings. If the court finds that he does not have the adequate capacity to get divorced, the judge could also potentially make them wait at least three years under the law. It is not clear what this waiting period would accomplish in this particular case, however, as Lois does not want to get divorced. We will have to wait and see what the court decides at an upcoming hearing.

An Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Help You With Your Case

Divorce cases can have many unique issues and you always want to have a lawyer handling your case who thoroughly understands Florida divorce laws and how they apply to your unique situation. Family law attorney Alan R. Burton knows how to handle even the most complicated divorce cases and will always zealously defend your rights. If you are facing divorce or any other type of family law matter, please call our Boca Raton office today at 954-229-1660 to discuss how we can assist you.

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After same-sex marriage became legal in Florida on January 6, 2015, it seemed to many to be only natural that same-sex couples would also have the right to dissolve their marriages in Florida, as well. However, the ability to grant a same-sex divorce was still up in the air on the trial court level, stemming from a case that was regularly in the news throughout last year.

In that case, Danielle Brandon-Thomas was trying to get a divorce from a marriage granted in Massachusetts and her wife Krista was trying to block the divorce. Though Krista wanted to stop the divorce for child custody reasons, she used the argument that because Florida law did not recognize gay marriage, it should not dissolve a gay marriage either. Attorney General Pam Bondi stepped in and argued for Krista, and the trial court denied the divorce request.

Now, however, the state appellate court has issued its decision that overturns the trial court decision for several reasons. Some of the reasons are as follows:

  • Married couples in Florida–same-sex or not–deserve equal access to the courts to dissolve their marriages as opposite-sex couples.
  • The spouses had many different complicated issues regarding intertwined financial affairs and custody questions regarding their daughter that needed to be settled for the best interest of the child.
  • The court found that there was no legitimate reason offered for Florida to refuse to give full faith and credit to a marriage validly entered into in another state by Bondi or Krista Brandon-Thomas.

Though Danielle Brandon-Thomas was thrilled with the appellate decision allowing her to get divorced, the couple must now face all of the many issues that any other divorcing couple must face, including custody, visitation, parenting plans, child support, spousal support, division of assets, and more. They will face all of the same legal questions and procedures that any other couple may face when they seek a divorce in Florida.

Though the couple’s divorce is far from settled, the case does represent overcoming the major hurdle to same-sex divorce in the state of Florida for couples married within or outside the state. With the increasing amount of same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses in Florida, it only makes sense that more couples may have to seek divorce in the coming years, so it is a positive step that the issue of same-sex divorce has been somewhat clarified.

Experienced Boca Raton family law attorney Alan R. Burton can help with your case

Whether you are part of a same-sex or opposite sex couple, it is highly important that you have the assistance of a skilled and committed Florida family law attorney if you are considering divorce. Divorce cases have many important issues that need to be settled and you should always have a lawyer who is familiar with the ever-changing laws in Florida guiding you through the process. Please do not hesitate to call the law office of divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton to find out how we can help you today.

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A woman in New York wanted to divorce her husband for years, however, she had repeated difficulty serving him with divorce papers as he had no permanent residence, no known employer, and could not be physically located. She reportedly tried for a long time to somehow serve the divorce papers with no success. To help her finally dissolve her marriage, Ellanora Baidoo and her attorney made an unusual request to the family court–could she serve her husband Victor on Facebook?

Successful service of divorce papers is an essential part of any marriage dissolution case because of the highly significant familial and financial effects that ending a marriage may have on an individual’s life. Though the civil procedure rules generally only specify that service of process can occur in person, by posting, or by mail, there have long been alternate arrangements allowed by the courts when the above methods proved unsuccessful. Over the past decade, email has become an increasingly used alternative option for service of process when other methods prove challenging.

Now, the judge hearing Baidoo’s case agreed that she could use Facebook to try to serve her divorce papers with some conditions:

  • Baidoo had to sufficiently prove that the Facebook profile she found for her husband was, in fact, actually connected to her husband’s account; and
  • She must demonstrate that he checked his Facebook account regularly so that it would be likely that he would see the service of process before the deadline to respond passed.

Baidoo was able to use her regular communications with her husband via his Facebook account as both proof that the account belonged to him and that he logged on regularly.

The judge in the case noted that the court had the right to direct how service of process may be completed and that perhaps social media was the “new frontier” in electronic service options. If Baidoo’s husband still chose not to respond to the divorce summons, she may likely be able to secure a default divorce against him as she seeks no financial compensation but merely the end of her marriage. Though Facebook service should not be expected to be allowed in many different cases, it may be an innovative tool to complete service in particularly challenging situations in which a spouse may not be located.

Find out how an experienced family law attorney can help with your divorce case

Many divorce cases have unique issues–such as service of process challenges–that may require creative solutions like using social media or other resources. An experienced divorce attorney will know how to resolve a wide range of issues that may arise throughout the course of your divorce case and will be able to communicate with the court to ensure your needs are met and your rights are upheld. Family lawyer Alan R. Burton routinely helps clients facing unique family law matters and will always work for the most favorable outcome in your case. Call our office in Boca Raton at 954-229-1660 for a free consultation today.