Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer Blog
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In any Florida divorce that involves any type of financial issues such as property division, debt division, child support, and more, each spouse is required to disclose certain information regarding their finances to the other spouse. This trading of information is referred to as Mandatory Disclosure and is required by the Florida Family Courts Rule of Procedure 12.285.

In accordance with Mandatory Disclosure Rules, both spouses must submit the following:

  •         A financial affidavit using a particular long form for income over $50,000 or another short form for income under $50,000. The information on these forms includes a detailed breakdown of your gross monthly income, monthly deductions, expenses, liabilities/debts, and assets.
  •         Three years’ worth of personal federal, state, and personal property tax returns.
  •         Three years’ worth of corporate or other business tax returns if applicable.
  •         Evidence of income for the past three months, such as pay stubs.
  •         Leases, promissory notes, or deeds in which the spouse has or recently had an ownership interest.
  •         Any loan or credit applications prepared within 12 months.
  •         Three months of statements for any credit cards, loans, leases, or other types of debt.
  •         Certain number of account statements for all checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, brokerage accounts, and more.
  •         All life, health, or dental insurance policies covering you, your spouse, or any dependent children.
  •         Statements for all retirement accounts including pensions, 401(k), IRA, 403(b), and more.
  •         Any court orders for current child or spousal support obligations.

In addition to the above information, if you or your spouse is claiming that certain property is nonmarital and thus not subject to equitable distribution, evidence supporting that claim must be submitted as part of the mandatory disclosures. Also, a spouse must submit any premarital agreements they claim are will come into play in the divorce.

While it may seem daunting to have to compile and disclose all of the above financial information, your spouse must also do the same. These Mandatory Disclosures ensure that your spouse is not lying about his or her financial situation in order to avoid paying certain support or to influence a property division determination. Such disclosures will give both sides a clear view of the whole financial picture of the marriage, which can help ensure that any division or support decisions are fair.

There are certain situations in which Mandatory Disclosures may be waived, including simplified divorces and collaborative divorce proceedings. A financial affidavit may still be required in those situations, though the additional paperwork may not be necessary depending on your situation.

A Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Assist You

You always want to make sure to give an accurate picture of your situation in Mandatory Disclosures to ensure that you receive the property and support that you deserve in your divorce. Additionally, correctly reporting all of your liabilities may help make sure the court does not require you to pay more support than you can afford. Alan R. Burton is an experienced divorce attorney in Boca Raton who can help you through every step of the divorce process and make sure your rights are protected. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

 

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In many divorces between celebrities, business moguls, or other individuals with significant assets, the media reports numerous headlines regarding long, drawn-out court battles for property, spousal support, and more. High worth divorces are often associated with acrimonious couples who each want a large settlement. However, some celebrity couples have been able to divorce in an amicable manner.

Media outlets recently reported that reality television stars Bruce and Kris Jenner have filed for divorce after 23 years of marriage and after living separately for over one year. Together, the couple has substantial wealth and property resulting from various professional endeavors. Additionally, the couple reportedly did not sign a premarital agreement prior to their 1991 wedding. In many cases, the lack of a premarital agreement in a high asset divorce can easily create more complications and drama since there is no clear guideline for the equitable division of assets. However, the media reports that the Jenners have come to an amicable agreement on all aspects of their divorce without heading into court.

The parents have agreed to have joint legal and physical custody of their only minor daughter and neither spouse is requesting any spousal support. Additionally, property division determinations have been reported as follows:

  • Real property—Kris is keeping their home in Hidden Hills, CA; Bruce keeps their home in Malibu
  • Assets—Kris gets $50 million; Bruce gets $20 million.
  • Personal property—Kris is keeping five luxury cars and her own jewelry; Bruce is keeping two luxury cars.
  • Retirement accounts—Each will keep retirement investments worth $10 million apiece.

Sources state that Kris Jenner is receiving more assets because of her greater contributions to their wealth due to her role as manager of their daughters. If the family court approves their settlement agreement, the Jenners may be a seemingly rare example of an amicable celebrity divorce.

Complications in High Asset Divorces

Many divorce cases involving substantial wealth can be complicated for the following reasons:

  • Many different types of property must be divided, including business interests, investments, vacation properties, and much more.
  • Generally one spouse requests significant spousal support.
  • One or both spouses may try to hide assets in offshore accounts or other methods.
  • Spouses in such a situation may not be opposed to spending money on lengthy litigious battles.

Not every high-end divorce needs to be unpleasant and drawn out, however. If you have a skilled attorney handling your case, there are many methods of dispute resolution that can help you reach a settlement outside of court. In short, high asset divorces do not have to be highly unpleasant experiences.

Consult with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Today

The assistance of an experienced attorney can be invaluable in settling high assets divorces without costly litigation. Boca Raton family law attorney Alan R. Burton is highly experienced in all types of divorce cases, including those involving a substantial amount of property and assets. If you are considering divorce, please do not hesitate to call our office at (954) 229-1660 to schedule a free consultation today.

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When most people think of divorce, they may immediately think of long, drawn-out battles in court, with each spouse accusing the other of wrongdoing and fighting for every piece of property and custody of the children. However, the truth is that most divorce cases in Florida are much less dramatic and much more amicable than what you see in movies and on television shows.

In fact, many couples are able to agree on the major issues in their split, and thus are able to proceed with a relatively uneventful uncontested divorce. One photo that recently went viral on the Internet actually shows a Florida couple taking a “selfie” after their divorce was finalized. The former spouses both appear to be happy, getting along, and they stated they were celebrating the time they had together as a married couple.

The Uncontested Divorce Process in Florida

“Uncontested” means that the spouses can agree on all major issues of the divorce. Such issues include:

  •         Parent time-sharing;
  •         All aspects of the parenting plan;
  •         How all marital debts will be divided;
  •         How all marital property will be divided;
  •         The amount of all child support and how long the support will last; and
  •         The amount of all spousal support and how long the support will last.

If you can come to agreements on all of these issues, an attorney can submit your proposed agreement to the Florida family courts. If the court approves the settlement agreement, you may have your divorce finalized without any major court hearings. This means that couples who are able to complete an uncontested divorce often save time, money, and stress associated with numerous court appearances. Uncontested divorce still requires couples to provide full financial disclosure and also requires six months residency of at least one spouse in the state.

Unfortunately, uncontested divorce does not work for every couple. If there are substantial debts or marital assets, it may be more difficult to agree on how such debts and property will be equitable divided. If domestic abuse is an issue, a court may wish to step in on custody determinations to make sure all arrangements are in the best interests of the child. If the spouses have significant power struggles, it also may be hard to reach a settlement. This is often the case when one spouse has a much higher potential for earnings or employment opportunities than the other, or when one spouse is seeking significant financial support.

Deciding What is Right for You

Whether or not you and your spouse believe that you may succeed in an uncontested divorce, an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney can help you explore your options for as simple a case resolution as possible. Options such as simplified divorce, collaborative divorce, mediation, arbitration, and more can help you avoid costly litigation regarding any contested issues and come to your own arrangement with your spouse without extensive time spent in court.

If you are considering divorce, call the Boca Raton office of family lawyer Alan R. Burton for assistance. We offer free consultations, so please call us today at (954) 229-1600 to set up a meeting.

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Many divorces involve heated custody battles regarding time-sharing with the children between the two parents. Florida law presumes that sharing time and fostering a relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the children, unless sufficient evidence is presented to the contrary. However, courts in Florida are significantly less concerned with the well-being of “children” of the furrier variety—namely pets, such as dogs and cats.

Dogs and cats often have very close relationships with their owners, much like a parent-child relationship. Often, couples who do not have children consider themselves parents of their pets. Therefore, if a couple divorces, the question often arises: How is time with the pet shared? While some states have laws regarding time-sharing of pets, Florida does not have any laws specifically addressing this issue.

Florida Courts Not Very Concerned About Pet Time-Sharing Determinations

In the 1990s, one Florida couple became involved in a fierce battle over the custody of their dog in the case of Bennett v. Bennett. The court gave the husband primary custody with visitation rights to the wife, however both parties filed numerous motions for modifications of the custody arrangements and took up a great amount of time in court. Finally, a Florida Court of Appeals decided that it is not a job for the courts to spend time deciding custody disputes over pets. The appellate court stated that courts have a difficult enough time resolving custody matters involving children, and they should not waste resources regarding pets. Instead, the decision stated courts should treat pets like any other type of marital property and divide ownership equitably.

Pets Often Treated as Property

Because Florida courts will generally not make pet custody decisions, pets are treated like marital property in a divorce. Because marital property is equitably divided between the spouses according to state law, the pet usually ends up solely with one spouse or the other. Since both spouses may have equally close relationships with a pet, they may each be willing to fight at length for possession of that pet. For this reason, pet ownership can lead to costly litigation in divorce cases.

If you and your spouse can come to your own agreement regarding sharing time with a pet, you may both get to spend continued time with the pet and the property determination will not be left up to the court. For this reason, it is always best for a divorcing couple to work on a compromise regarding pet time-sharing. If you are unable to come to a compromised agreement on your own, dispute resolution techniques such as mediation or collaborative divorce may assist you.

Pet custody is only one issue in a divorce that many couples do not foresee to be a contested matter. An experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney can help you negotiate to come to a favorable agreement so that you can continue to spend time with your beloved pet without the need for expensive litigation. If you are facing a divorce, call the law office of experienced attorney Alan R. Burton for assistance today.

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Domestic violence is an extremely serious criminal offense in Florida. However, the consequences of domestic violence accusations or charges may reach far beyond the criminal courts. Such allegations may additionally affect any pending family law matters, as well as your personal and professional reputations. You may risk losing custody of your children or even your job. If you have been the victim of domestic violence, the safety of you and your children is at risk. For these reasons, all parties in a domestic violence case should always have an experienced family attorney handling their case.

Domestic Violence in the Sports Spotlight

In recent weeks, star running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens NFL team has made headlines due to allegations that he was physically abusive to his then-fiancée, now-wife Janay Rice. The NFL had originally suspended Rice for two games due to the allegations. This short suspension angered some advocates, however the NFL claimed they had no proof based on which to suspend him for a longer period of time.

However, gossip site TMZ recently released video footage showing Rice knocking out Janay in an elevator and dragging her body into the hallway. Even worse, proof has been offered that the NFL secretly had access to these videos and lied about it to support a shorter suspension. Since the release of the videos, the Ravens team has released Rice and he has been placed on “indefinite suspension” by the league.

Though the Rice case has video footage serving as proof of domestic violence, not all cases have such substantive proof. In fact, some cases may be fabricated to get the upper hand in a divorce case or to inflict pain on a domestic partner. One possible example of this is the recent case involving Boca Raton UFC fighter, Thiago Silva, who has faced accusations of attacking and pointing a gun at his then estranged wife. UFC officials originally swore that Silva would never be allowed to fight for the league again.

After reporting the incident to the police, however, Silva’s now ex-wife began acting erratically. She stopped responding to prosecutors and investigators and eventually moved back to Brazil without informing the authorities she was leaving. Without her testimony or other assistance, prosecutors decided to dismiss all charges against Silva. Silva claims that she falsely accused him because she wanted more money in their divorce agreement. Silva has been re-signed with the UFC for Boca Raton. This is one example of how false accusations may have ruined a person’s reputation and professional opportunities.

Contact an Experienced Boca Raton Family Lawyer for Help with your Domestic Violence Case

Whether you have been the victim of domestic violence charges or whether someone has falsely accused you of domestic violence, you should always have an experienced family law attorney representing you for any ancillary family court matters. Alan R. Burton is a highly experienced Boca Raton family lawyer who can assist you with a wide variety of matters in family court. Please do not hesitate to contact our office for help today.

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For many people, going through a divorce can be an extremely acrimonious process. After all, if you and your spouse were getting along, you would likely not be getting a divorce in the first place. Divorce can affect almost any aspect of a person’s life, including his or her living situation, access to any children of the marriage, finances, and may even require that a person reenter the workforce after a significant hiatus. These are serious issues, and the outcome of any divorce proceedings can have a significant impact on all of them. As a result, it is important that anyone going through a Florida divorce discuss their options with an experienced divorce attorney who is familiar with our state’s often complicated and difficult to understand divorce laws. Here are some of the ways that a divorce lawyer may be able to help you:

Act as an Objective Advocate

When a couple decides to end their marriage and divorce, emotions can run high. In many cases, an argument over “who gets the house” may not be about the house at all, but rather be about years of unresolved conflict clouding each party’s judgment. An attorney, while advocating for his or her client’s interests, is not emotionally involved in the relationship. As a result, communicating through a lawyer to your partner’s lawyer can often result in much more fruitful negotiations than speaking directly to your spouse. Successful negotiations outside of the courtroom can often keep litigation costs down and can also result in an outcome which is more favorable to both parties than one imposed by a judge.

Ensure that your Legal Rights are Protected

Individuals who are ending a marriage have certain legal rights as to marital property, parental rights, and the ability to request alimony. Florida divorce courts have wide discretion in many areas and are authorized by statute to consider “all relevant factors” in many of these determinations. An attorney who understands how judges make these determinations can make sure that your case is presented in the best light possible. In addition, the assistance of a lawyer can make sure that you are not taken advantage of in any settlement that may occur outside of court.

Help You Find Alternatives to Litigation

Litigation can be extremely expensive, often costing thousands of dollars. There are many alternatives to going to court to determine the ancillary issues often raised when a married couple decides to divorce. Informal negotiation, mediation, and collaborative divorce are just a few of the options that an experienced family law attorney can help you explore. In many cases, employing these alternatives to litigation can help keep the divorce process as inexpensive as possible while ensuring that your legal rights are protected and your needs are met.

Contact a Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

Anyone who is considering a Florida divorce should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with family law attorney Alan R. Burton, call our office today at (954) 229-1660.

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In the midst of contested and adversarial divorces cases, judges are expected to be the neutral, impartial, objective party who make decisions when divorcing couples cannot agree. Generally, you are able to trust that if both sides make arguments defending their position to a judge, that judge will properly weigh the evidence and arguments to make a fair ruling for the parties. However, judges are human just like anyone else, and at time some judges may unfortunately make poor choices and be wrongfully influenced in their rulings. In such cases, it is highly important to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side who can identify unethical behavior on the part of the judge and challenge the fairness of the ruling.

The “Facebooking” Judge in Florida faces Charges

Earlier this year, Circuit Judge Linda Schoonover was removed from a divorce case that had a large amount of money at stake. Judge Schoonover went on Facebook and submitted a “friend” request to the wife in the case, Sandra Chace, a successful commercial real estate agent. Unsure of what to do, Chace consulted with her attorney, who advised her to deny the friend request.

Apparently upset that Chace rebuffed her request, Judge Schoonover then ruled that Chace should be responsible for the majority of the marital debt, as well as ordered Chace to pay her husband an excessive alimony award. Chace requested that the judge remove herself from the case, and successfully took the request before the Florida Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Judge Schoonover participated in unethical ex parte communications with Chace by contacting her on social media.

Ex parte communications are any material communications between a judge and a party or attorney in a case without a record of the communication or notice to all involved parties of the communication. Such communications can affect the impartiality of a judge in a case, or at least can make one party fear that they are not receiving a fair adjudication. For this reason, ex parte communications are prohibited and deemed unethical. If a judge participates in such ex parte communications, an attorney can make a strong argument for the removal of that judge from the case.

Apparently, this was not the first time Judge Schoonover had inappropriately participated in ex parte communications via social media. Previously, the judge friended a City Commissioner while she was presiding over her divorce case. The Commissioner apparently updated her status to say that she hoped “justice comes swiftly” to her husband, and the judge inappropriately commented, “Yep, justice comes swiftly.” In that case, the judge did remove herself at the husband’s request once he heard of the Facebook comment.

Judge Schoonover now faces numerous ethics charges stemming out of the Chace divorce case, as well as other “bizarre” and “paranoid” behavior, including installing hidden cameras in her chambers and calling law enforcement to report her office had been bugged.

The ethics charges demonstrate that not every judge is capable of being impartial in every case, so you should always have a family lawyer handling your case who can identify troubling behavior from the court. If you have a family law case, contact experienced Boca Raton attorney Alan R. Burton today

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Florida child support laws include a specific formula by which to calculate child support orders. The formula takes into account factors such as the number of children at issue, each parent’s income, expenses, costs of child care, costs of the child’s healthcare, any special needs of a child, and more. These calculations are meant to cover the basic necessities of the child. Generally, a court is expected to follow the guidelines for child support, however the court does have a limited amount of discretion to stray from the guidelines if it finds the circumstances justify such a decision. In most situations, however, the court may only deviate from the set formula by five percent.

Good Fortune Child Support

There are some circumstances under which a court may divert more substantially from the child support formulas and order child support amounts that cover more than just a child’s basic needs. This is referred to in Florida as “good fortune” child support, and is often awarded in cases in which one parent is particularly affluent. Courts have determined that children of such parents deserve to benefit from that parent’s wealth and success, especially since they would enjoy such benefits if the parents were married.

Benefits from a wealthy parent may include private education, travel opportunities, amenities, or other special activities that are above and beyond basic necessities. Additionally, higher child support payments may help establish savings and trusts for the children of a wealthy parent, even if they reside primarily with the other parent. However, there are limitations to good fortune child support awards. A court will limit its order to an amount that supports an appropriate lifestyle for the child, and will not require a wealthy parent pay an unnecessarily excessive amount simply because they can. For example, if a child already has all of his or her special expenses adequately covered, a court will not continue to increase the child support just because a parent’s wealth increases.

The following is an example of a case in which a court may be warranted in ordering good fortune child support. Tramar Lacel Dillard is a popular rapper commonly known as “Flo Rida,” and he has an estimated net worth of $30 million. Recently, model Natasha Georgette Williams established via a court ordered paternity test that Flo Rida is the father of her newborn son. Williams has filed suit in Florida requesting good fortune child support based on the rapper’s significant net worth and success. The court has yet to rule on that request, however, though it seems like it may be an appropriate case for such support.

Contact a Boca Raton Child Support Attorney for Assistance

If you are seeking good fortune child support for your child or are facing any other type of child support determination, it is imperative to have a family law attorney handling your case who understands how child support laws in Florida operate. If you have any family law matter, please do not hesitate to call experienced lawyer Alan R. Burton at (954) 229-1660 or (954) 295-9222 today for assistance.

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Upon divorce, Florida law requires that all marital assets and property be equitably divided between the spouses. First, the court must determine which assets are considered to be marital property and which assets are separate (or non-marital) property. Generally, the courts will then start by presuming that all marital property should be divided 50/50, but may then adjust the division after carefully considering several factors. Such factors include each spouse’s financial situation, contribution to the marriage, and support of the other spouse’s pursuit of higher education or career opportunities.

If a spouse loses a loved one, they may have received an inheritance, which may include liquid assets, property, investments, titles, and more. While inheritances can have substantial financial value, they also may have significant emotional value, as well, especially in the case of family homes, businesses, heirlooms, or other meaningful property. If you receive an inheritance and are considering divorce, it is only natural that you may be concerned about the fate of the inherited money or property.

Is an Inheritance Marital or Non-Marital Property?

The answer to the above question varies from case to case. Generally speaking, an inheritance is assumed to be non-marital property, which means it is not subject to division in divorce and you will get to keep the entirety of the inherited property. However, there are two main exceptions in which an inheritance may be deemed marital property.

First, if the inheritance was written in both of your names, it will be deemed marital property even if it came from a deceased loved one on your side of the family. This is occasionally the case in longer marriages where the spouses had close relationships with their in-laws, who included the spouses’ names together in a last will and testament.

Second, your inheritance may be converted to marital property if it was “commingled” with other marital funds. To commingle is to blend non-marital and marital funds in a single account or investment, so that they can no longer be distinguished. Additionally, if you put your inherited assets toward a marital purpose, such as buying a house or paying off joint debts, the court may consider that property to be commingled and divisible upon divorce.

If your inheritance has been commingled but you still believe it should be considered non-marital property, you will have the burden of proving why the court should not divide those assets or property. In such cases, you always want to have a divorce attorney who has extensive experience handling cases involving inheritances and other complex property division issues.

Contact a Boca Raton Divorce Attorney for a Free Consultation Today

Boca Raton divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton understands how important your assets—and particularly inheritances—are to you and your future. Mr. Burton knows how to fight to make sure you retain both the marital and non-marital assets you deserve in your Florida divorce case. If you are facing divorce, call our office today at (954) 229-1660 to schedule your free case evaluation as soon as possible.

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At the Boca Raton office of family law attorney Alan R. Burton, we have been keeping a close eye on the new developments in the many cases taking place in Florida regarding same-sex marriage. Currently, our state constitution defines marriage as only between opposite sex partners and prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. This caused an issue for two women who were legally married in Massachusetts, moved to Florida for some time, and wished to end their marriage. Florida family courts denied the women a divorce because their marriage itself was not recognized, so there was no legal union in Florida to dissolve. The couple appealed their case.

Additionally, several same-sex couples who wish to marry in Florida have brought cases challenging the constitutionality of the gay marriage ban. As we have previously discussed on this blog, two county judges in Florida ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, serves no important government interest, and is unnecessarily discriminatory against same-sex couples and their families. The Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, immediately announced her intentions to appeal these decisions on behalf of the state and its current constitution.

Florida Supreme Court may Hear First Same-sex Case

The couple wishing to divorce, Mariama Monique Changamire Shaw and Keiba Lynn Shaw, requested that their case skip the Court of Appeals and go directly to the Supreme Court for an ultimate decision. After taking a second look at the case, the Court of Appeals voted 10-3 to pass the case through the appellate level and instead requested that the Florida Supreme Court decide the issue. Skipping the Court of Appeals will significantly speed up the process, possibly by years.

The majority explained that the case should be rushed as it is a matter of “public importance” and a swift resolution is vital to the “proper administration of justice.” Specifically, the majority stated that with the increasing number of states allowing valid same-sex marriages, more and more people may seek out divorces in Florida if they have moved there.

One dissenting appeals judge stated that this case is not about whether gay marriage should be legal in Florida, but is instead about whether the amendment denies same-sex couples their right of access to the courts, which is a constitutional right. He stated that since there were fewer same-sex couples seeking divorce in Florida than seeking to get married, this case was not one of “public importance” and should not be rushed to the top of the state justice system. The majority stated the dissenters underestimated the effects a delay in deciding the case may have.

Advocacy groups hope that the Supreme Court will not only agree to hear this case, but will also expedite other same-sex marriage cases to the highest state court and decide the many cases together. We will keep you updated on any new developments by the Supreme Court on this important family law issue.

If you have any type of family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact the office of Alan R. Burton for legal assistance today.