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.

September 22, 2012

Divorce and children, and what is important to them

Divorce often times becomes a power struggle for control over the children. Issues such as time sharing, educational decisions, sports activities, religious upbringing, and medical care are just a few of such issues.

Anger between parents also brings the children into the middle of things. What role should the children play in their parent's divorce? Whose side should they take, and for whom should they speak on behalf of

The answer to these questions should be apparent. They are not the ones "getting divorced"; their parents are divorcing. It is not their battle, and they should not be a part of the proceedings.
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Divorcing parents in Florida must participate in state mandated parenting education courses before their divorces are finalized by the judge. It is better to participate in this required program early on in order to avoid as much conflict as possible throughout the proceedings.

HBO will be airing a documentary throughout the month of October which deals with divorce from the children's perspective. Kids will explain the impact of divorce on them, and they offer advice to parents on how they should conduct themselves during the difficult process of divorce.

Any parent who wants to clearly understand what impact the divorce process has on their own children should not miss this HBO documentary, "Don't Divorce Me! Kid's Rules for Parents on Divorce."

If you need any additional information, or assistance in the divorce process, and reducing the potential harm to children, contact an experienced attorney, one who is an advocate for children's rights. Alan R. Burton, Esq., an attorney with offices in Boca Raton, Florida is ready to advise and assist you.


September 22, 2012

Child support is a serious business

Paying child support in a timely fashion is important; not only is it important to the well being of your children, it is also important to your continuing freedom.

Although the Florida Constitution prohibits one from being imprisoned for a debt, the constitution will not protect you from being imprisoned as a result of non payment of your child support.

Although the Florida Constitution does provide safeguards for unlawful imprisonmement, if it is determined that the refusal to pay is willful, you most likely will be incarcerated for a period of time until something towards the child support arrears has been paid.

The local and national news is full of stories that deal with amnesty programs and other plans which are designed for and to encourage delinquent obligors to come forward with their child support payments.

However, these programs should not be considered as weakness or being lax on the part of the state enforcement divisions for the collection of child support. For example, Waynesboro, N.C. man was recently "brought down" by police tasers as he attempted to flee from police on a felony warrant for non-payment of child support. He is currently being held with no bond.777968_alcatraz.jpg

Some people will employ any means possible to avoid their child support obligations. Outside of Atlanta, a former government employee had his paychecks altered in order to avoid showing an increase in his income, which would ultimately lead to paying a smaller amount of child support.

This indiscretion on his part has ultimately landed him with a felony indictment for forgery, a first degree felony. Read the complete story about Freddie Ashmon, Jr.

The easiest way to not run afoul with the law is to pay your child support.

August 19, 2012

Statistics show that marriages are on the decline in Florida

More and more people, especially in Florida, are opting for the single life.

In Florida, there were 7.3 marriages per 1,000 people in the year 2010. Compare this rate to the 17.1 marriages per 1,000 people in the year 1940..

At the same time marriages are declining, the rate of divorce is increasing. In Florida, the divorce rate was 4.2 per 1,000 people in the year 2009. Just last year the divorce rate was an astonishing 76% of all marriages. You can read more about these statistics in a recent article reported in the Ledger.com.
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If you are contemplating marriage you need to be aware of these statistics. You need to prepare yourself for the worst and hope for the best. Prenuptial agreements may be a good idea in light of these kind of statistics. Plan ahead for the worst scenario, and protect yourself and your assets prior to making the important commitment that a marriage commands.

A prenuptial agreement is like an insurance policy, so to speak. You are insuring yourself against the potential for financial disaster should things not go your way. An experienced Boca Raton, Florida or Fort Lauderdale , Florida attorney, who has years of experience, can protect your interests. Make the call today to insure your future.

August 19, 2012

Modifying your child support obligation

A modification of child support, or alimony as well, is based upon an unforseen, involuntary, permanent and substantial change in circumstances. Florida statute 61.14 provides the statutory basis for a modification of child support and alimony.

If the court, after entertaining a petition for modification of support, either upward or downward, finds that there was a change in circumstances, or the financial position of either party has changed, the court can enter an order, retroactive to the date of filing the petition, granting the modification.

Often times it takes a considerable amount of time to have a matter scheduled for hearing before the court. The length of time varies between the particular judge and the courthouse in which the petition is pending.
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This is the rational behind the rule that petitions , if granted, are retroactive back to the date of filing. There is one important exception to this rule. If a parent seeks an upward modification of child support when the obligor is not exercising the agreed upon time sharing, the modification of that particular support obligation is retroactive to the date when the obligor first stopped adhering to the agreed upon time sharing schedule.

Terrell Owens, a well known player in the NFL
, was recently seeking a reduction of his child support obligations. His claim was based upon his current state of financial affairs. His efforts to reduce his support obligations would most likely have been successful, but for the fact that he most recently signed a new contract with the Seattle Seahawks for a reported sum of $1,000,000.00.

The case of Terrell Owens illustrates the point well. In order to obtain financial relief, there must be a certain degree of permanency in the change of one's financial picture, not merely a temporary one.

If you have circumstances that you believe would warrant either an increase or decrease in your support obligations, you can call the law office of Alan R. Burton anytime. With over thirty years of experience in family law matters, Mr. Burton is well qualified to assist you with your questions. He maintains offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Feel free to call him today. He will be available to discuss your case.


August 9, 2012

Continuing as partners in the family business after divorce

Married couples acquire many things together over the course of their marriage, including homes, vacation homes, bank accounts, automobiles, and stock portfolios. They frequently start businesses together as well.

What happens to the family business after divorce? How does it get valued, how does it get divided, who gets to continue to run the business .... these are just a few of the questions that need to be addressed in this situation.

Generally speaking, the courts do not like to keep the parties together in a business after a divorce. That being said, the business would have to be valued by a professional, and one party would have to make arrangements to buy out the other party's interest. This is the scenario which plays itself out most often.
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There are those rare occasions when divorcing couples can, however, continue to operate a business together if they can agree on that arrangement. A story was reported today in the New York Post that dealt with the continuing operation of the Philadelphia Eagles by the divorcing owners, Jeffrey Lurie and his wife.

Although their particular situation is not generally the norm, it does occur. If you have questions about your particular business, professional practice, or any other jointly owned enterprise, it would be a good idea to obtain some professional advice from an attorney experienced in these matters.