April 5, 2014

Are we all now familiar with the term "Conscious Uncoupling" ?

I know I am. Do we all know what it means? Do we know where the term originated? Do we know who created that term? The phrase is seen or heard almost on a daily basis.

I think by now we all know that Gwyneth Paltrow, the well known and talented actress, created it, or at least brought the term to the public forefront. Does the phrase actually have a clear defined meaning?

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What comes to my mind, as a divorce lawyer, is that the separation and split of the parties will be an amicable one. There will be no fighting and hostility. The parties will most likely conclude their marriage with an uncontested divorce proceeding.

Many of the articles I have read about the use of this phrase interprets it as some sense of superiority or pretentiousness. To me it simply signals the ability of the adults to consider their children's interests, and not to lay blame for the failure of the relationship to endure. It is the ability to understand that it is never just one person's fault, but a multitude of reasons, on the part of both parties.


Source:
The Huffington Post, "What the Hell is Conscious Uncoupling", Anyway?, Dr. Sonya Rhodes, PhD, April 2, 2014

April 5, 2014

Divorce Mistakes That Everyone Makes

Welcome to the 21st Century! With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter and the internet in general, your life has become an open book. You may need to seek the services of a seasoned attorney when social media becomes a central issue in your case.

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Postings to your facebook page can become fodder for your spouse's lawyer, especially when there are minor children involved. Don;t be fooled thinking that what you are posting is off limits to your spouse. It's not. As equally important are postings by others, which may have a direct link back to you, whether you were aware of it or not. One such example may be a posting of your underage child under the "influence at a party". Who was the parent "on call" at the time?

Everything on-line becomes a record, which may be used either in your favor or against you, as the case may be. The electronic age is not limited to social media, but to all aspects of your life, including financial matters.

Banking records are easily reproduced, which will clearly document a trail of your finances.

Privacy today simply does not exist. Be careful what you say or do, as it will most surely be used against you in court.


Source: The Huffington Post, "The Divorce Mistakes You Don't Even Know You Are Making", Taryn Hillin, March 18, 2014

April 5, 2014

Law Prohibits Divorcing Couples From Having Sex

Incredible as it sounds, the Massachusetts legislature is considering such a bill. The proposal should not be considered in a vacuum however, as it applies only in specific situations, when minor children are involved.

The proposal was designed to promote and protect the best interests of the minor children, whose parents are in the midst of a divorce.

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Robert LeClair, a local Massachusetts lawmaker proposed the bill, after going through a bitter divorce himself. The specifics of the bill would be to prohibit the parent in possession of the marital home, from engaging in any type of sexual relationship with a new partner during the parties separation, and prior to the divorce proceedings concluding.

The bill would would have to be passed by the state legislature, and then approved by the governor.

The language of the bill reads as follows:

"In divorce, separation, or 209A( restraining order)proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts,"

The law, if passed, would raise some interesting questions about obtaining the necessary evidence to prove a violation of the law. Since children are generally not allowed to testify in court, absentee spouses will need to become quite creative in order to prove their case. This bill will most certainly keep the private detectives in Massachusetts quite busy.


Source:
The Huffington Post, "Massachusetts Bill Could Ban Sex During Marriage", Emily Thomas, March 24, 2014

March 25, 2014

Alternatives to divorce litigation

Attempting to bring resolution to your divorce case through nonstop litigation is not always the best route to take

Divorce litigation can become expensive. There are other options available to bringing finality to your divorce.

The divorce procedure can take a heavy toll on an individual, both emotionally and financially. If reconciliation is not a viable option, you may attempt to resolve your case through the process of mediation. Mediation can be considerably less expensive for you, rather than litigation. Mediation involves the process of meeting with an impartial individual, usually a certified family court mediator, who is most often times a member of the Florida Bar.

Everybody engaged in the process of mediation who comes with a positive attitude in attempting to resove their case, will obtain results much quicker and less costlier than litigating through trial.

March 25, 2014

Engagement ring

One question I get quite frequently is whether or not an engagement ring is considered a marital asset.

In order to answer this question you need to know what a marital asset is. A marital asset is any asset acquired during the marriage. An engagement ring is generally a gift that is received prior to a marriage, therefore engagement rings are nonmarital, separate property of the recipient spouse.

A distinction should be made between gifts of jewelry that are made between the parties during the marriage. These items are considered interspousal gifts, and interspousal gifts are treated as marital assets.

Any jewelry that is received as a gift during the marriage from someone other than your spouse is considered your own separate property. For example, if you were to receive a ring that has been in the family for many generations, that would be considered a separate gift and your own separate property.

March 25, 2014

Guardian ad litem

A Guardian ad litem is usually appointed by the court in a dissolution of marriage action. Florida statute 61.401 provides that in an action for dissolution of marriage or the creation, approval, or modification of the parenting plan, if the court finds it is in the best interests of the child the court may appoint a Guardian ad litem to act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator, not as attorney or advocate.

A Guardian ad litem is generally an attorney who is a member of the Florida Bar. A Guardian ad litem may also be an individual certified by the Guardian ad litem program.

A Guardian, when appointed by the court shall act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator, not as attorney or advocate but shall act in the child's best interest.

The Guardian once appointed is giving certain powers, privileges, and responsibilities, as follows:

The Guardian ad litem may investigate the allegations of the pleadings affecting the child

The Guardian ad litem, through his attorney, may petition the court for orders to obtain various records concerning the child or either of the parents

The Guardian ad litem may request expert examinations of the child or the child's parents

The Guardian may help the court in obtaining impartial expert examinations

The Guardian ad litem can address the court and he or she can make a written report to the court. A written report has to be provided to everybody 20 days before any scheduled hearing

A Guardian ad litem is presumed to be acting in good faith and therefore a Guardian who was participating in a court proceeding is immune from any kind of liability, civil or criminal.

March 25, 2014

How to pay for a lawyer in a divorce case

Both the husband and the wife should be entitled to have equal access to the court system when proceeding with a divorce.

Often times, one spouse controls substantially most of the financial wealth that has been accumulated during the marriage. This makes it difficult for the other spouse to retain and seek the advice of a lawyer.

There is a remedy available to a spouse who has little or no access to funds, but who still requires an attorney. The remedy is found under Florida statute 61.16, which provides for the award of attorney's fees, suit money, and costs.

The statute general generally provides that the court may from time to time, after considering the financial resources of both parties, order a party to pay a reasonable amount for attorneys fees, suit money, and the cost to the other party of maintaining or defending any proceeding under this chapter, including enforcement and modification proceedings and appeals.

Don't become a victim simply because you do not have the financial resources immediately available to hire an attorney. I would urge you to call me and schedule a free consultation, so that you can be educated as to what your rights are in your divorce case, and to further discuss options available to you in the engagement of a competent, family law attorney to handle your case.

I have offices located in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale Florida. You have nothing to lose by calling me and scheduling an appointment for a free consultation.

March 25, 2014

What is a marital asset and marital liability?

Marital assets and liabilities are defined as follows:

Assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them.

The enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets resulting either from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution to or expenditure thereon of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both.

Interspousal gifts during the marriage.

All vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs.

All real property held by the parties as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired prior to or during the marriage, shall be presumed to be a marital asset. If a party wants to make a claim to the contrary, the burden of proof shall be on the party asserting the claim that the subject property, or some portion thereof, is not marital

All personal property titled jointly by the parties as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired prior to or during the marriage, shall be presumed to be a marital asset. In the event a party makes a claim to the contrary, the burden of proof shall be on the party asserting the claim that the subject property, or some portion thereof, is nonmarital.

March 25, 2014

Distributing marital assets before the case includes

If you can show "good cause" to the court, you may be entitled to an interim partial distribution of marital assets.

Good cause is defined as extraordinary circumstances that require an interim partial distribution. In order to obtain this type of relief, you are required to file a sworn motion setting forth specific factual basis for the relief that you are seeking. You would have to demonstrate to the court good cause as to why the court should not defer its ruling until the final hearing.

As just one example, employing this technique for an interim partial distribution of marital assets can be extremely helpful if one person is in need of immediate funds,

There are many, many situations that would require the necessity of seeking an interim partial distribution award. The point to note here is that you do not have to wait until you your case concludes in order for you to receive money or other marital assets.

March 25, 2014

Will our property be divided equally?

When you are seeking a divorce, the Florida courts will equitably divide the property that was acquired during your marriage. Equitably does not necessarily mean equally. his property is commonly referred to as marital assets.

Florida law provides that it would be a good starting point to divide marital assets 50-50. If the court intends on making a distribution of marital assets that is not equal, the court is required to consider a list of items, and to make specific findings of fact in the final judgment as to why the distribution is not equal.

The Florida statute which gives the judge authority to divide the marital assets is found under Florida statute 61.075, which is known as the Equitable Distribution statute.

If the court intends on making an unequal distribution of marital assets the court will examine the following list:

The contributions to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as a homemaker.

The economic circumstances of the parties.

The duration of the marriage.

Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.

The contribution of one spouse to the personal careers or educational opportunities of the other spouse.

The desirability retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, Corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.

The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets the parties.

The desirability retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party when it would be equitable to do so, or it is in the best interests of the child or that party.

The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets have to the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition.

Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

The division of the assets that have been accumulated during the marriage is usually not the most difficult task for a judge. The more complicated issue usually is placing values on various items of property the court intends on dividing.

The issue of dividing the property can often times become complicated and complex, depending on the nature of the specific type of property involved.

Please visit my website at www.AlanBurtonlaw.com for more information about my background and experience. I have well over 30 years of experience litigating divorce cases in South Florida, including courts in Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, Miami, West Palm Beach and throughout the region. My primary office is conveniently located on Glades Road, just west of I-95 in Boca Raton.

My initial consultations are always free. I would urge you to call me and meet with me, so that I can educate you as to your legal rights.

March 25, 2014

Can I keep the house?

I know that divorce can be a very scary time in your life. I know that you have many questions to which you do not have answers. I am a very capable and experienced divorce attorney, and I can guide you through the divorce process and give you the answers you will need. I know I can make you feel at ease throughout the divorce process.

The question frequently arises as to whether or not one person or the other person can continue to reside in the marital home after divorce. The answer to that question is resolved by the specific circumstances and facts that are applicable in your particular situation.

If the home was acquired during the marriage, and there are no minor children, then generally one person or the other can buy out the other person's interest. In that manner, you could become the sole owner of the home.

If you are unable to immediately acquire the other spouse's interest in the home, an option may be to enter into an agreement for temporary occupancy of the home for a set number of years. This might give you the time you need to get your life organized after a divorce, and arrange for financing to buy out your ex-spouse's interest in the home.

The situation is a little bit different if you have minor children. Generally speaking the courts will allow the primary caregiver to continue to reside in the marital home with the minor children, until the youngest of the children attains the age of 18. At that point in time, the house is usually sold and the proceeds divided equally.

Reading a blog can only give you a limited amount of information regarding this issue. It is always best to meet with a lawyer face-to-face and to discuss the specifics of your situation. Not only are you getting the information you need regarding your particular issue, your also have the opportunity to meet the lawyer who is going to be representing you. You should feel comfortable with your lawyer, feel that you can trust your lawyer, and that he will be responsive to you throughout the process.

I would encourage you to call my office, and to schedule a free consultation. My free consultations are in my office and I do not limit you to a telephone consultation. My offices are located in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

You can reach me at any time during normal business hours at 954-229-1660. After normal business hours, feel free to call me at 954-295-9222.

March 6, 2014

Relocation of minor children

Under Florida law, minor children are not permitted to move more than 50 miles away from their current residence, unless written consent is provided by a parent, or by court order.

An interesting situation arises when a minor child wishes to attend a private school in a out-of-state location. The obvious question becomes whether or not the attendance at this new school would be considered a relocation, thereby requiring the parent to comply with Florida Statute 61.13001.

The answer to that question was recently addressed in the case of Blakely v Blakely, 38 Florida Law Weekly D2170c. In that case the court deemed the attendance of the child at an out-of-state high school to be an educational decision for the child and not one of relocation, therefore the relocation statute in Florida was not applicable.

This analysis of the law was also set forth in the case of Young v Hector, 833 So2d 793, 794 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002).

March 6, 2014

Custody of Children in Florida

Custody of children in Florida is governed by the standard of the "best interests of the child." In actuality, the term "custody" is no longer used in Florida. The terminology that is used by the court's is what is known as "time-sharing."

Time-sharing is established in a parenting plan, which is a written agreement between the parents of the minor child. The parenting plan may be as general or specific as the parents of the minor child may require.

At a minimum, the parenting plan should provide for the day-to-day responsibilities for the minor child, the days the minor child will be with each respective parent, the school district in which the child shall attend school, who will provide the health insurance for the child and who shall make decisions regarding the best interests of the child

Every parenting plan will be different because the needs of the parents and the minor child will be different in each case. Every family has their on unique circumstances.

I would encourage you to call me to discuss your particular situation. I can be easily reached at 954-295-9222. There is no charge for you to discuss your case with me during your initial conference. I am an experienced Boca Raton lawyer with over 30 years of experience, with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton..

November 25, 2013

Alimony Reform in Florida

The current alimony laws "on the books" in Florida have been under recent attack. Although major changes were approved by the legislative branch of the government last year, the Governor issued a veto at the "11th hour."

You should expect to see a further attempt to pass some significant changes to the alimony laws this year as well.

Currently, there are four categories of alimony that an individual may be entitled to receive. None of the categories are mutually exclusive; a recipient may qualify for more than one type.

On short term marriages, those of which have a duration of less than 7 years, bridge-the-gap alimony may be appropriate. This type of alimony is to assist an individual with certain identifiable needs, and to assist one from making the transition from married life to single life. Bridge-the-gap alimony may not exceed a period of two (2) years, and is not modifiable once awarded.

Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to an individual in order to give them the appropriate education or training to become self sufficient. The presentation of a specific plan of rehabilitation, along with the cost, is required.

Durational alimony is available to an individual who has been involved in a short term or moderate term marriage. A moderate term marriage is one of over 7 years, but less than seventeen (17) years. The length of the award of durational alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage. The amount of the award is subject to modification, but the length of the award is not, subject to exceptional circumstances.

A long term marriage, one in which the duration is in excess of 17 years, entitles one to become a candidate for permanent alimony. The Court is required to make a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and equitable between the parties if it is the intention of the Court to make this type of award. Permanent alimony is subject to modification, and it terminates upon the death of the recipient or the payor.

When the issue of alimony is presented to a Court, the Court is required to examine several factors in determining the appropriate amount and type of support. THe court will examine the following factors:

1. Standard of living of the parties.
2. Duration of the marriage.
3. Age of each of the parties, along with the emotional and physical health of each
4. Financial resources available to both parties
5. Education of each of the parties; vocational skills, earning capacities
6. Contribution to the marriage, including services rendered for homemaking and
raising children, and assisting the other in building their career.
7. Tax treatment of any alimony awarded, such as whether it will be taxable to the recipient or not.
8. Income from any sources available to each party
9. Responsibilities for minor children after the divorce
10. Any other factor necessary to do justice between the parties

If you wish to examine the alimony statute in Florida in more detail, you can find it under Florida Statute 61.08.

More detailed information, specific to your individual situation, can also be obtained by calling me directly at 954-229-1660. I will be more than happy to discuss your case with you, free of charge.

September 22, 2012

Don't move without permission!

Moving from the state of Florida with minor children without permission can have serious consequences. The rules for relocation from the state of Florida are found in Florida Statutes 61.13001.

If the "stay behind" parent consents to relocation, make sure that consent is given in writing. stock-photo-18805289-boarding-pass.jpg If consent is not given, relocation must be initiated by the parent seeking to relocate, by filing a petition in the Circuit Court that currently has jurisdiction over the parties.

The petition must include a substantial amount of information, including the complete address of the intended new residence; telephone numbers, the reason for the requested relocation, and if for employment purposes, should include a copy of the employment offer.

The petition must be served on the other parent, who is afforded a twenty day period to respond to the petition.

The case then follows a process similar to the initial divorce case. Both sides gather their "discovery" and prepare for trial. The trial judge will have to consider what is in the best interest of the children that are involved in the proceeding. This is not an enviable task for the judge, who obviously must make a very difficult decision.

Whether you are seeking to relocate, or are opposing a relocation case. you should be represented by an experienced and qualified attorney, one who frequently is involved with relocation cases. Boca Raton attorney Alan R. Burton has been extensively involved in relocation cases, and he can provide you with invaluable assistance in these types of cases.