Articles Posted in Divorce Procedure

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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.

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In 2010, Keiba Lynn Shaw and Mariama Changamire Shaw married in Massachusetts, where their same-sex marriage was valid and lawful. The next year, the couple moved to Tampa, Florida and they separated in October of 2013.
In order to file for divorce in a state, one or both spouses must live within that state for a certain period of time, which is one year in Massachusetts. Neither spouse in the Shaw marriage was able to move back to Massachusetts for a year, so they would be unable to seek a divorce in that state.
For this reason, the couple decided to seek a divorce in Florida instead. They came to a divorce settlement agreement through a collaborative divorce process, and all they needed was for a judge to sign off on the agreement.

Florida’s Same-Sex Marriage Laws

In 2008, Florida amended its state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage within the state. The amendment states that no union will be valid or recognized as a marriage unless it is between one woman and one man. Therefore, even though the Shaws’ marriage was valid in Massachusetts, Florida courts will not recognize that the couple is married at all. Because there is no valid marriage, the court reasoned that no divorce could be granted. The family court judge dismissed their petition for divorce earlier in May. Many people are criticizing the denial of same-sex divorces in Florida, suggesting that it may deter same-sex married couples from moving to our state for fear they will not be able to end their marriage if they choose.
Mariama Changamire Shaw plans to appeal the decision, and hers would be the first divorce case to challenge the marriage ban in Florida. Similar challenges took place in Wyoming and Missouri, both in which same-sex couples did not wish to marry, but to instead end their marriage. Both states ended up granting the divorces while keeping their respective marriage bans intact. The ultimate decision in this case could have a significant effect on thousands of couples who may wish to divorce in Florida.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida has also filed lawsuits on behalf of several same-sex couples seeking to have Florida recognize their marriages, though these couples are not seeking divorces. With all of the upcoming challenges to the same-sex marriage ban, and with the general trend toward acceptance of same-sex couples, we could be seeing the courts overturn the Constitutional amendment in the near future.

Contact a Florida Divorce Lawyer for Help

No two marriages are alike and, as a result, no two divorces are alike either. While some divorce cases are relatively straightforward and are quickly wrapped up, others may have complicated issues or unique questions of law. For this reason, it is always highly important to have a skilled family law attorney who can handle any issues that may arise. If you are facing a divorce in the Ft. Lauderdale or Boca Raton areas, experienced family law attorney Alan Burton can help you with every aspect of your case. Contact our office today for assistance.

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In Florida, there is no specific statute that deals with the annulment of a marriage. There is however, a body of case law, which has developed from the common law, and which provides a basis for the annulment of a marriage.

Generally speaking, you must either have the legal capacity to marry or you must consent to marry. If you can prove that you lacked the capacity or were unable to give your consent to marry, there is a strong probability that you will be successful in having your marriage annulled in Florida.

An example of lack capacity would be getting married, while you are still married to someone else. This is an example of bigamy, when you have more than one spouse. This is a crime in Florida, and is a perfect example of lack of capacity to marry.

You also must be at least 18 years of age to marry in Florida, subject to a few limited exceptions.

Another common exception, that most people are familiar with, is intoxication. If an individual is so intoxicated that he is he or she is incapable of confirming our ratifying a marriage, the marriage may be subject to annulment.

Aside from capacity, the parties must consent to the marriage. If fraud or deceit is committed by one party upon the other, the consent may very well be lacking, and could negate the validity of the marriage.

Annulment cases are extremely factually intensive, and there are a multitude of different circumstances and scenarios that one could conjure up as a basis for an annulment.

Contact a Family Law Attorney in Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton

Experienced attorney Alan R. Burton is dedicated to helping individuals promptly get on with their lives, whether it be as a result of annulment of their marriage or divorce, so please contact our office today to schedule your free consultation to see how we can help you.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Generally speaking, a divorce should be a private matter. The proceeding often times involves sensitive and personal issues, which should not be made public. However, in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and in other courtrooms throughout south Florida, contested divorce proceedings are conducted everyday.

1267479_broken_heart_pic.jpgMany times someone will say something, in a fit of anger or for other reasons, and then their statement comes back to haunt them in court. Never say anything that you do not want repeated in open court.

Not only are your statements admissible in court, but all of your postings, photographs and comments that you place in the public arena on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, become open game. Be careful what you say or do during a divorce….it could harm your case and significantly impact the outcome.

Most recently there has been a barrage of public divorce cases and separations involving celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Stevie Wonder, and Kristen Stewart, just to name a few.

You do not want to achieve your notoriety in the context of your divorce case.

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The length of a marriage becomes one relevant consideration for the court to consider in a divorce case if alimony is an issue in the proceedings.

The Florida legislature has attempted to bring some standardization to the awards of alimony in divorce proceedings. Alimony has historically been that unknown “wild card” in contested divorce cases.
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Permanent alimony is now reserved primarily for long term marriages, which by statutory definition, is now defined as a marriage in excess of 17 years. A short term marriage is one under 7 years. Anything in between is a marriage of moderate length.

Bridge-the-gap alimony can be awarded to a spouse in a short term marriage, and it may not exceed 2 years. Bridge-the-gap alimony is not subject to modification.

After bridge-the-gap, you will see rehabilitative alimony and durational alimony awards. Rehabilitative alimony is designed to assist the recipient in either re-establishing the skills to be financially self sufficient, or to obtain the skills to do so. This type of alimony may end with non compliance with a proposed plan of rehabilitation on the part of the recipient.

Durational alimony may be awarded for up to a maximum number of years equal to the length of the marriage. The number of years is discretionary, based upon other factors which the court may consider.

You can read the Florida alimony statute by clicking the link attached. All of the factors which the court will consider are included within the statute.

Having appropriate, competent representation in a divorce proceeding is important, and becomes ever more so important when the duration of the marriage increases.