August 14, 2014

The Effect of "RAIDS" on a Florida Divorce

Determining the requirement for and amount of child support and/or spousal support is an important part of many Florida divorces. The amount of income the paying spouse earns is highly important to these determinations, as it helps show their ability to pay a certain amount. Unfortunately, many soon-to-be former spouses use certain methods to lower the amount of income they earn or to misrepresent their earning power in order to avoid orders of high amounts of child or spousal support.

Specifically, many spouses develop "RAIDS," a term commonly used in family law that stands for "Recently Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome." RAIDS occurs when a high-earning spouse suddenly reports a decrease in income, thereby expecting lower support requirements. Depending on their employment situation, spouses may have different methods of achieving this deceptive goal.

Salaried Spouses


The most common way for spouses receiving a salary or hourly wages to hide income is to suddenly decrease overtime hours. Regular overtime can substantially increase earning potential. If a spouse declines to work overtime for a period of time prior to a divorce, their paystubs will clearly reflect less income. Such spouses often return to their regular overtime hours and income immediately following a court ruling.

Salaried spouses may also renegotiate their contracts to temporarily receive some of their income as additional benefits, expense reimbursement, or some other form of compensation not readily identifiable as income on a paystub.

Commission-Paid Spouses


Spouses who work as salespeople and receive much or all of their income in the form of commissions may also develop RAIDS. This is often achieved in one of the following ways, among others:

· Not selling up to their full potential for a period of time;
· Continuing to make sales, but delaying the finalization of sales (and payment of commission) until after the divorce is final; and
· Having a fellow salesman take credit and receive commission for a sale, and then pay the spouse the commission in cash that you are unaware exists.

Self-Employed Spouses


It is perhaps easiest for self-employed spouses to significantly reduce or hide income. First, many self- employed individuals often transact in cash for at least some of their business deals, and they may easily hide this income by simply not reporting it to the IRS on their taxes. At that point, you may have to look to personal logbooks or other records of cash sales to prove that income. Additionally, self-employed individuals may substantially increase their business expenses, which works to lower their overall "income" on their tax returns.

These are only some examples of how spouses can use RAIDS to reduce the amount of support they are ordered to pay. An experienced Boca Raton family law attorney knows how to examine tax returns, pay statements, and other financial documents to identify RAIDS and make an argument to the court in favor of the child or spousal support that you truly deserve. If you are facing a divorce, do not hesitate to call the office of Alan R. Burton as soon as possible for assistance with your case.

August 11, 2014

Are Professional Degrees or Licenses Considered Marital Property in Florida?

Under Florida law, all marital property is equitably distributed between spouses that are divorcing. Marital property includes all debts and assets that a couple accumulates during a marriage. For couples that have been together since they were in school, this often raises the question of whether professional degrees or licenses allowing one of the spouses to engage in a particular profession are considered marital property. This is particularly at issue in situations where one party to the marriage chose to forgo his or her own educational or career opportunities in order to support the other spouse in their pursuits.

In Florida and most other states, the answer to the question posed above is "no." Importantly, while a professional degree itself is not considered marital property, there are other arguments that can be raised in order to ensure that the spouse without the professional degree or license has his or her financial needs met after a divorce.

The Florida Alimony Statute


Under the Florida alimony statute, courts are authorized to use a variety of factors in determining whether either party will be awarded alimony. In addition, alimony can be "bridge-the-gap," rehabilitative, duration, or permanent, and can be awarded as both periodic payments or lump sum payments, or both. Courts are allowed to consider whether either spouse was unfaithful in determining how much alimony to award, and can also consider the following factors:

· The standard of living the couple had during the marriage;
· How long the marriage lasted;
· Both parties age and physical condition;
· The financial resources of each party, including both marital and nonmarital assets;
· The earning potential, job skills, and employability of each part, as well as the time it would take for either party to get the training or education that would allow that party to become employed;
· Each party's contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, education, child care, and career building of the other party;
· The responsibility that either party will have in terms of any children of the marriage;
· The tax ramifications to either party of an alimony award;
· The sources of income available to each party; and
· Any other factor that may be necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

As this list should make clear, courts have wide discretion in determining whether and how much alimony to award, and it specifically addresses the situation in which one spouse contributed to the education or career building of the other spouse. As a result, while a professional degree or license earning during the marriage will not be valuated and divided as part of the division of property, any contribution to that degree or license will be a factor in determining whether and how much alimony to award.

A specific type of alimony that may be awarded in a circumstance where one spouse forwent education in order to support the other is considered rehabilitative alimony. The alimony law authorizes that alimony may be awarded to a party seeking self-support through the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials or the acquisition of education, training, or work experience to develop work skills or credentials.

Contact a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation


Divorce proceedings in Florida can raise a number of legal issues that may have a significant impact on a person's life. As a result, anyone who is considering or currently going through a divorce should call Florida divorce attorney Alan R. Burton today at (954) 229-1660.

August 8, 2014

When Divorcing Spouses are Business Partners

In recent weeks, gossip headlines have been exploding with rumors of impending divorce for music superstars Beyonce and Jay Z. The couple married in 2008 and have one child, but media outlets report that they are currently booking separate hotels and hardly speaking. It is widely speculated that the couple is merely trying to keep up appearances due to their current joint tour.

It is not surprising that they would want to successfully complete the tour, as the pair will receive a $100 million paycheck after the tour ends in Paris in September. The tour promoter, Live Nation, has stated that a divorce during the tour would be devastating for public relations, since so many fans specifically want to see them perform as a loving couple. At this point, completing the tour together may be a feat, as they reportedly had an emergency meeting with Live Nation and a group of lawyers four days before the tour was to kick off. Four lawyers are allegedly accompanying them on tour to negotiate any conflicts that arise between the pair.

Business in the Midst of Divorce


When spouses are business partners, both parties' livelihood is often dependent on the success of that business. If a couple divorces, the company is considered marital property and must be equitably divided. There are a couple of ways couples may choose to equitably divide their business:

· Liquidate and split the proceeds; or
· Have one spouse buy out the other spouse's interest in the business.

Neither of the above options may be attractive to spouses in certain situations, however. If a business is particularly lucrative or meaningful to them, they may want to keep the company in operation, so liquidating is not an option. Additionally, neither spouse may want to be bought out and have to start a new business for the ground up. For such reasons, equitable division of a business can be a serious issue in a divorce.

A third option is for the spouses to end their marriage, but continue to run the business together. This option is, for obvious reasons, highly impracticable for spouses who can no longer communicate or agree in a healthy, productive manner. For couples who split amicably, on the other hand, it may be possible to continue to work together and profit from the success of the business they built. Some couples view a family business as a child--they cared for the business before the divorce and will continuing to care about it after the divorce.

It is not uncommon, however, for a divorcing couple to decide to keep working together only to have their working relationship later deteriorate. Beyonce and Jay Z thought they could remain professional and get through a tour, only to have the chances of making it to the $100 million paycheck seem slim--and they are not even divorced yet. These are all reasons why it is very important to make the correct decision regarding a family business in a divorce.

Boca Raton divorce attorney Alan R. Burton can advise you on all aspects of your divorce, including how to handle a family business. Contact our office today for help.

August 6, 2014

Florida Collaborative and Cooperative Divorce

While for many couples obtaining a divorce is a contentious and emotionally charged affair, some people who decide to end their marriage are able to work together to ensure that each party receives a fair outcome. For couples in this situation, collaborative or cooperative divorce may be an option. Both options are designed to avoid litigation and have the couple seeking a divorce work together with their attorneys as well as other professionals in order to reach a mutually agreeable settlement as to whatever issues they may deem critical. Although these negotiations are entered into with the best of intentions, it is still important that each party retain legal counsel to ensure that their legal rights are fully protected. Divorce law can be complicated, and there may be issues that could potentially arise of which non-attorneys may not even be aware. As a result, anyone considering divorce, collaborative or otherwise, should be sure to consult with a lawyer before entering into any legally binding agreement.

What is Collaborative and Cooperative Divorce?


The key issue in a collaborative divorce is that both parties enter into an agreement in which they commit to resolving the issues salient to their divorce without going to court. If they are unable to do so and resort to litigation, both attorneys are required to withdraw their representation. Both parties agree to deal with each other respectfully and in good faith, and also agree to use neutral specialists to resolve contested issues. As such, the parties to a collaborative divorce are heavily invested in the process, as giving up on the negotiation process would involve "starting over" with new attorneys, meaning that all attorney's and other professional fees up to that point would have been wasted.

One of the significant advantages of the collaborative divorce process is that both parties are able to use jointly hired professional in order to resolve complicated issues such as the valuation of a business or guidance on issues regarding parenting. This is significantly different than the situation that occurs when both parties bring in adversarial experts, relying on a court to decide between two sometimes vastly opposing positions on a contested issue.

Cooperative divorce is very similar to collaborative divorce, but the parties' attorneys are not required to withdraw, should negotiations break down.

Regardless of whether a person or a couple chooses to pursue a collaborative, cooperative, or traditional divorce, it is extremely important to retain legal representation. There are many important issues that can arise in divorce proceedings, including the following:

· Division of property;
· Child custody;
· Maintenance (alimony);
· Child support;
· Business interests;
· Relocation;
· Legal protections from domestic violence; and
· Visitation.

Many other issues could potentially arise in a divorce, and will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation.

Contact a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney Today for a Free Consultation


Anyone considering a divorce should be certain to discuss their situation with an experienced Florida divorce lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with Florida attorney Alan R. Burton, call our office today (954) 229-1660.

August 1, 2014

Judges Rule for Marriage Equality in Florida Counties

On this blog, we have been closely following the numerous cases making their way through Florida courts that pose challenges to our state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. This topic is important to us because instituting marriage equality in Florida will have a substantial effect on the family courts. Last we checked in, several couples were awaiting the decisions of Judge Sarah Zabel in Miami-Dade County and of Judge Luis M. Garcia in Monroe County. Both judges have since ruled in favor of marriage equality, stating the state constitutional amendment was unconstitutional.

Both Judge Garcia and Judge Zabel ordered the Clerk of Courts in their respective counties to grant marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Both judges reasoned that the marriage ban violated the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution. Specifically, Judge Zabel stated the following:

· The ban serves no important governmental interest;
· The ban treats same-sex like second-class citizens;
· The law as it stands prohibits certain citizens from participating in a fundamental societal institution--marriage; and
· The ban only hurts same-sex couples and their families, discriminates against them, and deprives them of equal dignity.

In addition, Judge Zabel compared this issue to the issue of interracial marriage, which reached the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) back in 1967. At that time, SCOTUS outlawed any bans on interracial marriage based on equal protection, and Judge Zabel does not see same-sex marriage bans as any different and stated the ban violates the "principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment" as well as failing to provide all citizens with due process of the laws.

Challenges Still Ahead


While those in favor of marriage equality were cheering about these decisions, the rulings were only the first step in having the Florida constitutional ban on same-sex marriage overturned. The Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi, has made it clear that she will work to fight against marriage equality and will defend the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. She has already filed notice with the courts of her intention to appeal Judge Garcia's ruling, which triggers a stay that prevents clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses in Monroe County. Bondi is expected to file notice in Miami-Dade County, as well.

Laws Are Ever-Changing


Family laws in the state of Florida can be challenged and potentially changed at any time. Because these challenges may arise in other counties or parts of the state, lawyers may not be readily aware of the changes and how they may apply to their cases. Boca Raton attorney Alan Burton knows how important it is to stay apprised of all changes and updates in the law that affect any type of family-related matter, such as marriage, divorce, child custody, and more. Mr. Burton will make sure that you receive the best outcome possible under the law in your particular case.

If you have any concerns regarding any type of family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office for assistance today.

July 29, 2014

What Happens to Debt in Divorce?

Finances are often a huge source of stress in a marriage. If two people have different spending habits and philosophies, arguments may arise on a regular basis regarding credit card balances and other debts. Unfortunately, financial disagreements are the primary predictor that a couple will divorce, according to a study conducted by the National Survey of Families and Households. These financial troubles can not only lead to divorce, but can also cause issues for you during your divorce proceedings, as well.

In a divorce, Florida law requires that all marital property and assets by equitably divided between the divorcing spouses. The same equitable division applies to all marital debts, as well. Marital debt usually includes all debts either you or your spouse incurred during the marriage, regardless if one or both of your names is on the account. It is surprisingly common for one spouse to take out an individual credit card without the knowledge of the other, and use that credit card to make large purchases or support an unhealthy shopping habit. Unfortunately, a Boca Raton family court may likely still consider this credit card balance to be marital debt and may hold you partially responsible for repayment.

How can you get relief from debts that are not yours?


Fortunately for you, an experienced Florida family law attorney may have ways to argue that you should not be held responsible for debts that are not yours. First, the date of separation or divorce filing can be very important. For example, if you got separated or filed for divorce and your spouse proceeded to quickly rack up large amounts of debt, your lawyer could argue that your spouse was simply incurring the debt in anticipation of dividing the repayment responsibilities between the two of you. In such cases, a judge will likely decide that your spouse is solely responsible for that debt. You should always check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus prior to a divorce to show that your name was not on any of the accounts your spouse opened.

Additionally, even if the judge does divide the debt responsibility between you, your attorney can make sure the division is equitable. "Equitable" does not mean the debts will be equally divided between the two of you, but instead means the debt should be fairly divided. If a judge finds that you should repay some of your spouse's debt, your attorney can argue that you deserve additional property in return, or that any spousal support you pay should be proportionally decreased.

Dealing with debt in a divorce is never easy, and almost every American couple has some debt in one or both of their names. Fortunately, an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney knows how to handle debt in divorce cases to work for the best possible outcome for you.

Alan Burton is a highly committed divorce attorney with extensive experience handling all financial matters as they relate to divorce cases. If you are facing divorce, please do not hesitate to contact our office today for assistance.

July 24, 2014

Is Divorce More Expensive in Florida?

When you get divorced, your finances naturally take a hit. Not only does Florida law require you to equitably divide all of your hard-earned marital assets and property with your soon-to-be former spouse, but there are also many costs associated with getting the divorce itself finalized. There are ways to minimize the costs of divorce, however, and a qualified divorce attorney will advise you on how to do so.

Costs of Divorce in Florida


Media recently reported on the top ten states for the most expensive divorces--and Florida unfortunately fell in the number one spot. These rankings were solely based on the basic fee for filing a divorce petition in family court in every state, which in Florida is at least $409, depending on the particular court. You can compare this to the filing fee just to the north in Mississippi, which is a mere $52. Unfortunately, filing the petition usually only gets the divorce started, and there are typically many other costs you may face beyond that initial fee.

In addition to the basic court costs, you may also have to pay for attorney's fees, guardian ad litem costs, and much more. If any issues are contested in your divorce, fees for paperwork, negotiations, and court hearings can easily spiral out of control. It is estimated that an average divorce can easily cost $25,000--about the cost of an average wedding.

Ways to Save


The good news is that many divorcing couples in Florida are able to keep costs low with the guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer. First, you may qualify for a simplified dissolution of marriage. You attorney can advise you if you qualify and generally the following factors must apply:

· You both agree to end the marriage;
· You are not expecting a child together and have no minor children;
· You both agree on the division of property, assets, and debts;
· Neither of you are asking for alimony; and
· Both of you waive your right to a trial.

In a simplified dissolution, your attorney can provide guidance on the best way to divide your assets, so your best interests are still protected. He will also draw up a petition, which you both sign and present to a judge. All the judge has to do is approve the final order.

If you and your spouse do not qualify for a simplified dissolution because you disagree on issues in the divorce but you still want to avoid costly court hearings, you may want to try mediation. Mediation can help you reach an agreement on major issues so that you may then file for a simplified dissolution. Though you will have to pay mediation costs, it is much less expensive and less contentious than taking issues to court.

Alan Burton is a highly experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney who always strives for the best outcome for every client. Mr. Burton knows that divorce can be expensive, therefore it is important to keep costs low and resolve issues as quickly as possible. If you are facing divorce, please contact our office for help today.

July 21, 2014

How to Get a Marriage License in Boca Raton

When you get married, you likely want everything to be perfect. While many couples focus on every detail of the ceremony and reception, some fail to focus on the legal requirements and implications of a marriage. It is highly important to take all the proper steps prior to a marriage to ensure that your marriage is valid and legal. One such step is obtaining the proper marriage license.

How to Obtain a Marriage License


Though you must be a resident of Florida to get a divorce, you do not have to be a resident of Florida to get married in the state. In fact, many people have destination weddings in the area and should remember that, if they are getting married in Florida, they must apply for a marriage license in Florida and not in their state of residence.

If you are getting married in Boca Raton or anywhere in the area, you may apply for a license at any of the Palm Beach Clerk & Comptroller locations. Both you and your spouse-to-be must be present at the time of application. Each of you must identify yourself by providing one of the following:

· Passport;
· United States driver's license; or
· Other state or federal identification card.

If one or both parties are under the age of 18, they must also provide a birth certificate and a parental consent form. Additionally, the parents must be present with their own identification, which must match the name on the minor's birth certificate. For minors under age 16, they must also provide proof that they are the expectant parents or parents of a child.

Couples from outside of Florida have no waiting period and may receive their license immediately. Generally, Florida residents must wait three days to obtain a license, however this waiting period is not necessary if the couple shows proof that they attended a registered premarital course. All couples may also receive a discount on the marriage license fees if they show proof of completion of a premarital course.

It is imperative that you follow all of the marriage license guidelines prior to getting married, otherwise your marriage will not be recognized by the state of Florida--or by any state, for that matter. Not having a legally valid marriage can cause significant complications down the road, especially if you ever decide to get divorced. If you failed to get a marriage license and were never legally married, you will not be granted a divorce and the state laws regulating dissolution of marriage will not apply. This means you never legally had any marital property, and will not necessarily be entitled to equitable division of property. Additionally, you will not be eligible for any type of spousal support. These are only some complications that may occur if you do not have a valid marriage.

Contact an Attorney for Help


Experienced Boca Raton family law attorney Alan Burton handles all matters that relate to pre-marriage, marriage, divorce, and more. If you are planning to get married and have any questions or legal concerns, do not hesitate to contact our office for help at 888-341-5223 today.

July 18, 2014

Florida Awaits Another Marriage Ruling

Floridians took another step toward challenging the definition of marriage under the state constitution. Due to a constitutional amendment in 2008, the constitution currently states that marriage is defined as between one woman and one man, and that the Florida state government will not recognize marriages between two people of the same sex "for any purpose." This amendment has not only barred same-sex couples from legally marrying in Florida, but also has prohibited same-sex couples who were lawfully married in other states from obtaining benefits or getting divorced in Florida.

Several lawsuits have been filed across the state, challenging Florida's gay marriage ban, both in an attempt to marry and to get a divorce. A hearing was held on July 2, 2014 in one of the most recent cases to be heard, Pareto v. Ruvin.

Specifics of the Case


Pareto v. Ruvin is a lawsuit filed by the Equality Florida Institute and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of six same-sex couples residing in Florida. The plaintiffs filed a motion requesting the court to rule that the same-sex marriage ban violates citizens' rights to equal protection under the laws, and is therefore unconstitutional. Judge Sarah Zabel heard oral arguments from both sides at the July 2 hearing.

The defense argued that Floridians voted by 62 percent to amend the constitution, and that vote should be respected. The attorney for the plaintiffs countered by stating the vote is simply using a majority for oppression of a minority. He also pointed out that there are thousands of state laws from which same-sex couples may never benefit if their marriages are not recognized in the state. Such laws involve inheritances, health care, taxes, and much more. The plaintiffs' side also stated that this case is not about gay marriage, but instead about equality for all people.

The trend across the United States has been in favor of same-sex marriage. To date, 19 states and the District of Columbia recognize marriage for all couples. Additionally, lower courts in the following states have ruled a gay marriage ban unconstitutional and are in the appeals process: Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Depending on Judge Zabel's ruling, Florida could be the next state to join the trend toward marriage equality. The ruling is not expected for weeks or months, and even if Judge Zabel rules in favor of the plaintiffs, the decision will still have to get through the Third District Court of Appeals, the Florida Supreme Court, and even possibly the Supreme Court of the United States.

A Boca Raton Family Lawyer Can Help


If Florida courts do, in fact, overturn the ban on same-sex marriage, the decision will affect the application of countless laws in the state. Same-sex couples will likely have many questions and require assistance regarding issues such as marriage, children, benefits, and divorce. Experienced Boca Raton family law attorney Alan Burton stays aware of all changes in the law and can help anyone facing family issues. Whether you have a case or simply a question, do not hesitate to contact our office today.

July 15, 2014

What Happens to Your House in a Divorce?

Going through a divorce is almost always an extremely difficult process. Often, people going through the breakdown of a marriage may have significant uncertainty about the most important aspects of their lives. Divorce can have significant financial implications for both parties, as you must divide the property and assets you have worked so hard to accumulate. Florida law requires the equitable division of all marital property, which includes most of the assets or debts that are acquired during a marriage. Because of the potentially serious financial consequences associated with ending a marriage and property division, it is important for anyone considering or already involved in a divorce to discuss their situation with an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney.

Division of a Home in a Divorce


For many people, a home is the largest purchase they will make in their lifetime. When a home is purchased after a couple has gotten married, Florida law treats the home as marital property, regardless of whether the home is titled to one or both spouses. In addition, there are certain situations in which a home purchased prior to a marriage may convert from separate to marital property, making it part of any division of property that may occur in a divorce proceeding.

As marital property, the value of a couple's home will be split equitably between the parties. Of course, there is no way to literally split the home in two, so there are many options that a couple or a court may consider when dividing the value of real estate that is marital property. Some of the most common options include:

· Liquidation - The parties could agree to sell the home and each take their equitable share of the proceeds. The challenge to this option is that selling a house can sometimes take months or years, so the parties may have to work together and pay the mortgage until a sale is complete.
· One party buys out the other - Another option involves one party purchasing the other's share by providing the other party with cash or other assets equivalent to their share in the home. If the party keeping the home does not have the immediate capital necessary to buy out the other's share, they may agree to a structured settlement or other monthly payment plan, which also provides additional support for the spouse giving up ownership of the house.
· Offset the value of the home with other marital property - With this option, one party keeps the house and the other gives up ownership, but instead of one spouse buying out the other with cash, they can agree to give up other property in exchange for the house. For example, if one spouse gets the house, the other may keep all of the investments.

Many factors may be relevant in deciding what to do with the family home. For example, it may be preferable to keep children in the home. Experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer Alan Burton can help you make the best decision for you regarding your home and any other issues in a divorce; contact our office today for help.

July 10, 2014

Domestic Violence Injunctions in Boca Raton

Few things are more frightening than violence or the threat of violence against you or your children. When that violence or threat comes from a spouse or member of your family, you may be even more afraid and not know how to protect yourself and your family. Fortunately, Florida law provides protections for residents who are victims of domestic violence in an attempt to keep them safe from their volatile family member. This protection comes in the form of an Injunction for Protection, and is often referred to as an order of protection or a restraining order.

What exactly is domestic violence?


Before you apply for an Injunction, you should be aware of the law's definition of domestic violence. Florida law defines domestic violence as any of the following actions against a family or other household member:

· Assault
· Battery
· Sexual assault
· Stalking
· Kidnapping
· Any criminal offense resulting in injury
· Aggravated assault
· Aggravated battery
· Sexual battery
· Aggravated stalking
· False imprisonment
· Any criminal offense resulting in death

The law also defines "family or household member" as any of the following:

· Spouses or former spouses;
· Two people related by marriage or blood;
· People living together as a family, or who previously lived together as a family in a
single housing unit; or
· Parents of the same child, whether they are married, divorced, or were never
married.

If you have suffered any of the above actions, or have a reasonable fear that you are in immediate danger of one of the above actions by a family or household member as described above, you may file a petition for an Injunction for Protection with the court. You do not have to be seeking a separation or divorce or criminal charges against the spouse of family member to qualify for court protection. A judge may award a temporary Injunction without the presence of the other party if the judge deems it necessary.

A temporary Injunction prohibits the offender from any further acts or threats of violence against you, may order them to leave if you share a residence, can prohibit them from showing up at your home, work, or school, and can also award you temporary custody of any minor children who may be involved. Your immediate Injunction is only temporary, however, and in order to obtain a final Injunction, you will have to attend a full hearing in front of a judge. The other party will be able to present their own case against an injunction at this hearing, so it is always important that you have the assistance of an attorney.

If you have been the victim of domestic violence, your first move should call the police or otherwise make sure you and your children are safe. However, your next step should be to contact the Boca Raton law office of domestic violence attorney Alan R. Burton. Mr. Burton can help domestic violence victims obtain an Injunction for Protection and can help to enforce that Injunction to ensure you and your children are safe from harm. Dealing with domestic violence can be difficult, but you do not have to face the issue alone. Call dedicated attorney Alan Burton today for help.

July 7, 2014

The Role of Vocational Experts in Divorce

When you are facing a divorce, it is always important to have a skilled, experienced attorney handling your case. In addition to knowing the rules and procedures of family courts, a qualified attorney has many resources that may help you get a favorable outcome in your divorce. One such resource is a vocational expert.

What is a vocational expert?


A vocational expert is a professional who studies which skills are most in demand in the current job market and, additionally, how much income a person should potentially be able to earn with those skills in certain careers. A vocational expert will examine an individual's education level, professional experience, interests, abilities, and other factors and compare those with others in the job market. As a result, these experts can estimate for which jobs a person may qualify and how much money that person may expect to earn.

How does a vocational expert help in divorce?


When a person is facing divorce, there are several ways a vocational expert may help. First, if you are seeking alimony, your spouse may insist that you do not need support. Even if you have been staying at home for years, a spouse may assert that you are qualified for a career with a large income and therefore can fully support yourself. A vocational expert can give an objective opinion on your chances of securing work in the current employment market and the kind of income you may expect to receive. This evidence can help show the court that you will need spousal support to pay the bills, at least for a certain period of time.

Additionally, your spouse may attempt to avoid paying spousal or child support by suddenly reporting a significant decrease in income. It is not unheard of for a high-earning spouse to actually resign from a position and take a lower-paying job to try to influence the court to order less child support or alimony. A vocational expert can examine your spouse's true earning potential based on available jobs and your spouse's qualifications and report their findings to the court. This can help expose any devious tactics your spouse may be using to avoid paying the true amount of support you deserve.

Finally, if your spouse reports a change in circumstances post-divorce that may modify court-ordered child or spousal support, a vocational expert may analyze the situation and determine whether there was truly a necessary change of circumstances. Additionally, if you have suffered a change in circumstances that renders you unable to pay court-ordered support, a vocational expert can corroborate the fact that your circumstances have truly changed due to illness, injury, or other factors that may affect employability.

If you believe you are on the brink of divorce, your first call should be to the Boca Raton office of Alan R. Burton. Mr. Burton provides the highest quality of representation for divorces and all family law matters and works to ensure that every client receives the best possible outcome. Do not hesitate to call our office for assistance today.

July 3, 2014

Common Terms You May Hear in Family Law Cases

Family law is an area of the law unlike any other. Florida has very specific laws dealing with matters of the family, including dissolution of marriage, child custody, child support, and more. Family courts also have their own rules and procedures that may be different from regular civil courts. For these reasons, issues involving your marriage or children require special attention from an attorney who has extensive experience with such cases.

Florida family laws cover a wide range of topics and set out specific provisions for the handling of family matters by the courts. Therefore, the vocabulary regarding family law cases is very specific, and may include numerous terms with which most people may be unfamiliar. The following are just a few common terms that you may hear throughout your family law case, as well as a brief explanation of their meanings.

Abandonment: A term that refers to when one party has deserted their spouse and children and has failed to provide support or to have a substantial or meaningful relationship with them.

Alimony: Another term for spousal support or maintenance following a divorce. Under certain circumstances, a court may order one of four types of alimony--bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent.

Arbitration: The process in which a neutral third party acts as a private judge to rule on a divorce agreement out of court. An arbitration agreement is legally binding with limited exceptions.

Collaborative law: Divorcing spouses and their attorneys agree in advance not to take the case to court and work together to come to an agreement. If the case does go to litigation, each party must find a new attorney.

Contested divorce: A divorce in which the parties cannot agree on one or more provisions of the divorce agreement, including custody, property division, support, and more.

Ex-Parte: A divorce proceeding that can take place, under limited circumstances, with only one of the spouses involved.

Guardian Ad Litem: A person a court may appoint to advocate for a child's best interests in custody or support proceedings.

Mediation: A process using an impartial third party who is trained to assist parties in negotiating a divorce agreement without having to litigate.

No-Fault Divorce: Type of divorce in Florida in which a spouse does not have to allege that the other party did something wrong, such as adultery.

Parenting Plan: A plan the court approves that details how each parent will share and be responsible for the daily upbringing of the child, including visitation schedules.

Petition: The document filed with the court requesting the dissolution of your marriage.

Prenuptial Agreement: A contract drafted and signed before marriage that set out provisions should the couple get divorced.

Restraining Order: A court order that can protect a victim of domestic violence and their children from contact with the abuser.

Uncontested Divorce: A divorce in which both spouses agree on all terms of the divorce agreement without requiring litigation, mediation, or other negotiations.

These are only some of the terms that you may hear in family law matters. If you have any type of family issue or questions regarding the law, contact experienced Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale family lawyer Alan R. Burton for help today.

June 30, 2014

How Does Divorce Affect Social Security Benefits?

Everyone in the United States should be planning for retirement to ensure they can support themselves after they leave the workforce. No matter how carefully you plan, there may always be events or factors that throw your plan off course. One such event is a divorce, especially if you and your former spouse planned for retirement together. If you have divorced, you may worry that you will lose all benefits associated with your former spouse's Social Security. Fortunately, this is not always the case, as the Social Security Administration lets you collect under your former spouse's Social Security record as long as certain criteria are met.

Receiving Social Security Benefits as a Former Spouse


The amount of Social Security benefits to which you are entitled upon retirement is based on your record of employment during your working life. The more you paid into Social Security via paychecks, the higher your benefits may be. In marriages where one spouse worked significantly more than the other, the spouse who stayed home is entitled to receive benefits based on their spouse's work record. A spouse may receive 50 percent of the benefits to which the working spouse is entitled.

If you were counting on a spouse's work record to receive Social Security benefits, yet then you divorced, you may worry that you are no longer eligible for those benefits. The good news is that you may still be eligible, whether or not your former spouse has remarried, as long as the following criteria apply:

· You are at least 62 years of age;
· You were married for at least 10 years to your former spouse;
· You have not remarried, or any subsequent marriage ended in annulment, divorce, or death. If you had more than one marriage end, you may receive benefits on the record of one of those former spouses, but not both;
· Your former spouse qualifies for either retirement or disability benefits from Social Security;
· The benefits you would receive based on your former spouse's employment record are higher than the amount you would receive based on your own work record;
· If your former spouse is qualified to receive benefits but has not yet applied to do so, you may apply for benefits on their record two years after the date of divorce; and
· If you apply for benefits on a former spouse's record while you are still working or before you are at full retirement age, a limit will be placed on the benefits you receive.

An experienced divorce lawyer can assist you in figuring out whether it is in your best interest to apply for benefits under your former spouse's record.

Contact a Family Law Attorney in Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale for Help


If you have any questions or concerns regarding retirement benefits or any other issue related to divorce or family law, experienced Florida attorney Alan R. Burton can help you. At our office, we handle a wide array of family law cases and strive to achieve the very best results possible for each of our clients. Do not hesitate to call us today to schedule a free consultation.

June 26, 2014

Florida Attorney General Speaks Out Against Marriage Equality

Marriage equality has been a hot topic in Florida ever since a same-sex couple requested that a Florida family court approve their agreed-upon divorce settlement. The couple had been legally and validly married in Massachusetts, however moved to Florida shortly thereafter. You must file for divorce in the state in which you are a resident, so they filed for divorce in Florida.

Florida, however, has a constitutional provision that only recognizes marriage as between a man and a woman. Because the state does not recognize that a same-sex marriage exists, the court decided there was no marriage to dissolve and therefore refused to grant them a divorce. They would be unable to file for divorce in Massachusetts unless one of them moved back there for at least one year, an option the couple states is impossible because of professional obligations.

The couple is appealing the decision and the Florida Supreme Court will examine the issue, as well as the validity of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Arguments in the Case


Pam Bondi is the Attorney General for the state of Florida and is defending the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the case. Bondi has argued that recognizing same-sex marriages from other states would be disruptive and that it would "impose significant public harm." Specifically, Bondi has indicated that same-sex couples do not provide the same stability or enduring family units. Ironically, Bondi herself has been divorced two times and is currently on her third marriage.

LGBT rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE) have criticized Bondi for her illogical and false arguments regarding the link between same-sex marriage and unstable households for children. SAVE called her reasoning nothing but "discriminatory rhetoric" and not a valid legal argument. Instead, the couple's attorney and rights activists have pointed out that many same-sex couples raise biological children of at least one of the spouses, so procreation is not a persuasive reason to prohibit same-sex marriage.

Bondi also argues that recognizing same-sex marriages from other states would cause problems for the state's pension and health insurance programs. However, human rights groups counter that the harm to same-sex couples who are denied such benefits far outweighs the inconvenience to the state of adapting its systems.

Courts in numerous states are questioning existing bans and limits on same-sex marriage in recent months. Federal judges in Ohio and Kentucky recently ordered that out-of-state same-sex marriages should be recognized within the states, and a federal appeals court will be ruling on a number of gay marriage cases.

As the decisions involving same-sex marriage keep coming both in Florida and across the United States, the scope of family laws will likely change significantly, bringing numerous issues related to same-sex marriage into the courts.

Alan Burton is an experienced family law attorney who stays up to date on all changes in the law and knows how to handle a wide variety of family-related cases. If you have any type of family law concern, contact our office for help today.