Articles Posted in Divorce

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

Act as an Objective Advocate

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

Ensure that your Legal Rights are Protected

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

Help You Find Alternatives to Litigation

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

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

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

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Imagine the following scenario: A woman with a one-year-old daughter marries a man who is not the biological father of her child. The stepfather takes an active role in parenting the little girl and considers her to be his own child. The biological father does not play a significant role in his daughter’s life. After twelve years of marriage, the woman decides to get a divorce and wants to cut all ties with her former spouse. The stepfather wants to seek visitation rights of the child he has considered to be his own for many years.

With the constant blending of families in recent decades, a stepparent’s right to visitation with a stepchild is a common issue that arises in divorce cases. Many people seek legal advice asking the following question: Do I have visitation rights regarding my stepchild following a divorce? Unfortunately, in Florida, the short answer to this question is no. Florida is actually one of four states that provide no rights to stepparents for visitation or parenting following a divorce. Though a stepparent will not have any legal rights regarding stepchildren on which to fall back, there are certain steps that a person can take to have a better chance of preserving the ability to visit with stepchildren after a divorce.

Work for an Amicable Divorce

Just because a stepparent has no legal rights to visitation does not mean that the divorcing spouses can never agree to visitation on their own terms. There are many tools that allow couples to decide their own fate in divorce and leave the decision-making power out of the hands of a judge. If you work to keep the peace with your spouse and engage in positive problem-solving techniques such as mediation or cooperative divorce, there is a better chance your spouse will recognize your honest desire to continue a relationship with your stepchildren and will agree to visitation.

Consider an Adoption

If the biological parent is truly not in the parenting picture and is willing to give up parenting rights, you may be able to adopt your stepchild as your own during the course of the marriage. Once you adopt a child, you will have the full rights and responsibilities of a biological parent, including rights to visitation and shared custody following a divorce. Though stepparent adoption is not an option in every case, it is always an option worth pursuing to ensure you retain access to your stepchildren should your marriage relationship sour.

If you are a stepparent who wishes to make sure you preserve a relationship with your stepchildren should you face divorce, it is a good idea to explore your options well before marital problems start, if possible. If you wish to pursue an adoption or simply want advice for an amicable divorce, experienced Boca Raton family law attorney Alan R. Burton can help you. We work for creative family law solutions that are the best result for everyone involved, so please do not hesitate to contact our office for help today.

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In previous decades, divorcing spouses may have hired private detectives or other surveillance to catch their spouses in lies or questionable behavior. In recent years, however, such resources have become almost unnecessary since many Americans tend to broadcast nearly every detail of their lives online. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and more allow people to post statuses and photos that allow a look into their daily activities. Such posts can make it very easy for divorcing spouses to catch each other in lies or combat arguments made to the court.

No matter how often divorce attorneys warn clients to stay off social media, we are constantly surprised by how many people ignore this basic advice. Some clients believe their online activities are okay because they “defriended” or “blocked” their spouse. However, you likely still have some online contacts in common with your spouse, and those “friends” may always report information back to your spouse. Information online is widely discoverable, so it is always the best idea to stay off these sites or even suspend your profile until after your divorce is final. The following are some issues that social media posts may adversely affect in your divorce.

Spousal Support and Property Division

If your spouse has significantly greater earning capacity than you, you may likely want to seek a greater portion of the marital assets and property or spousal support. However, social media posts may belie your claims of financial hardship and need for support. Photos of you on vacation, at concerts, or even a simple “check-in” at an expensive restaurant may give your spouse ammunition to fight against any spousal support orders.

Child Custody

If you and your spouse are arguing about any custody or time-sharing issues, you never want to risk looking like an unfit parent. For example, if you post any status updates or pictures that may indicate you are participating in excessive use of alcohol, drugs, or other partying activities, your spouse may use those to try to demonstrate that you are not acting in the best interests of your children.

Additionally, even if you do not post your own photos, there is always the chance that a friend will tag you in a post or photo. Even associating with questionable people can cast doubt on your reputation and your ability to act as a fit parent and role model.

The Ability to Negotiate with Your Spouse

It is often very tempting to air dirty laundry on social media sites. When emotions are running high, people may post negative messages regarding their estranged or separated spouse. This may cause tensions to rise and can make your spouse less likely to want to work together to come to agreements in divorce. Such acrimonious relationships often lead to litigation and lengthy battles to decide even the smallest of issues in a divorce.

In short, it is always best to stay off social media sites during a divorce and never risk that something you post may be taken the wrong way. If you are considering divorce, experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney Alan R. Burton can assist you with every aspect of your case.

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When most people think of divorcing couples who own homes, they may likely think of the question: who will get the house? This question usually implies that one spouse or the other will remain in the family home, while the other spouse must find a new residence. However, there is another option that many spouses do not consider—that neither spouse will get the house.

If a couple cannot reach an agreement regarding who may stay in the home, the issue will have to be litigated in court. The court will look for a way to most equitably divide the property in accordance with Florida divorce law. Often, this may require the couple to sell the family home at fair market value, pay off the mortgage, and then divide the net proceeds equitably, if there are any.

Note that equitable distribution of property is not always 50/50 as the court considers many factors when deciding how to fairly divide property. For example, if one spouse had an affair, gambling problem, shopping addiction, or other factor that caused them to waste marital funds, the court may award that spouse significantly less proceeds for the home sale.

Selling the home may not always be preferable for divorcing spouses, especially if there are children who do not wish to be uprooted or if there will not be enough net proceeds for future down payments on separate properties. While a court will examine all of these circumstances, there is always a chance that the judge will order the sale of the family house in a Florida divorce even if it is against the wishes of the spouses.

The Importance of Working Towards Agreements in Divorce

Divorce can be complicated, especially if you and your spouse own a home or other substantial property. If you cannot agree on certain matters, such as who will remain living in the house, you risk leaving those decisions up to the divorce court. The decision by the court may not be the solution either of you preferred, so it is always better to negotiate and work together to agree on important matters. Working together may be difficult if your relationship has deteriorated beyond a certain point, and in such situations, an experienced divorce attorney can work to negotiate on your behalf.

An attorney will not let emotions cloud his judgment during the divorce process and is therefore able to focus on what is best for you. Spouses who have qualified attorneys often have a better chance of coming to agreements and avoiding litigation. This is usually preferable as litigation can be costly, time-consuming, stressful, and will often end up in a less desirable result—such as selling the home and dividing the profits.

Contact an Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney for Assistance

Alan R. Burton is a highly experienced divorce attorney who has many resources to try to keep divorcing spouses out of court and come to agreements on their own. If you are facing divorce, contact our office today for help.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Property division is often a sensitive topic in a divorce. Couples tend to treasure their hard-earned assets and property and, in many cases, property division causes significant conflict in divorce cases. Also, property division determinations are unique in each divorce case as couples will never have the exact same property as other couples. Therefore, the details of each individual case are very important and a decision should be tailored specifically for that particular couple.

Couple Repeatedly Back in Court

William and Lili Wilson divorced in 2007 in Florida. The divorce was very adversarial, with the couple fighting over nearly every piece of property, including baseball cards. However, their divorce was only the first in a line of dramatic and traumatic events that would lead them back into the courtroom again and again.
In 2010, their 23-year-old son, Scott, was driving when an impaired driver slammed into his car, causing it to tumble into a canal. The drunk driver was a billionaire who walked home and failed to call 911 for an hour, all while Scott drowned in the canal. First, the parents brought a wrongful death claim against the billionaire in civil court and split the $46 million award evenly between the two of them.
Next, the drunk driver faced a criminal trial, after which he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. However, a juror published a book shortly after the trial, in which he admits to misconduct that involved drinking the same number of drinks as the driver allegedly had to see if the driver had actually been impaired. Now, the driver is on house arrest while he waits for a new trial, scheduled for later this year.

Fight Over the Remains

After all of that, William and Lili Wilson are back in court again, this time arguing over who gets to have control over and choose where to bury their son’s cremated remains. Lili wants to bury his remains in Florida, while William wants him to be buried in a family plot in Georgia that already has his son’s name on the headstone, and simply needs the dates of death filled in.
William was willing to divide the ashes, and asked the court to declare the remains “property” that could be divided evenly between the two. However, his former wife did not want to divide the ashes due to religious beliefs. A Florida appeals court decided that human remains cannot be considered assets or property and, therefore, would not divide the ashes. A lower court is expected to make a final decision on the matter on where the remains will finally come to rest.

Contact a Boca Raton or Ft. Lauderdale Family Law Firm Today

As you can see, some divorces can get very complicated and couples may face issues stemming from their split for years afterward, especially if there are children involved. If you have any type of concerns involving divorce, property division, child custody, or any other family law issues, do not hesitate to contact the office of experienced attorney Alan Burton for assistance today.

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In recent years, the subject of ever-increasing student loan debt among the young people of the United States has been the focus of many conversations, news articles, and debates. The Institute for College Access and Success reported that for the college graduating class of 2012, approximately 70% of students had borrowed money to help pay for their educational costs, and the average debt per borrower was $29,700. If two spouses each have student loan debt, that debt can become a huge factor in their financial success and also in the case of divorce.
Many couples ask the question: Who is responsible for student loan debt after a divorce? The answer to this question is not always simple and depends on the circumstances of each individual case. There are several factors to examine in order to determine what will happen to student loan debt.

When was the debt incurred?

If two people each enter into a marriage with student loan debt they took on prior to the marriage, that debt will usually be deemed separate and each spouse will be held responsible for only their respective loans.
If the student loan debt was incurred during the marriage in only one spouse’s name, the loans may be seen as marital or separate property depending on other circumstances. Even though most debt incurred during a marriage is seen as marital debt, if a student loan only benefitted one spouse, the court may rule that spouse is solely responsible for paying it back.
The situation becomes more complicated if both spouses signed for the loans. For instance, imagine a husband and wife co-signed student loans for the husband’s degree. During divorce negotiations, they agree that the husband will be solely responsible for making his own student loan payments. However, the husband does not have enough income to qualify for a refinance of the loans in only his name. Therefore, even though the divorce settlement states the loans are only his responsibility, the former wife’s name remains on the loans even after the marriage has been completely dissolved. In many cases, the former spouse’s name will remain on the loans for the life of the loan.
If the former husband defaults on his loans, the student loan company can still try to come after the former wife for the payment of the loans. Any negative payment information will also bring her credit score down, and challenging negative marks on your credit can be very challenging, even with a divorce decree that states the loans were not your responsibility. As you can see, the issue of student loans in divorce can be complicated and you always want to have representation by an experienced lawyer.

Call Experienced Divorce Attorney Alan R. Burton Today

If you are facing divorce in the Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale areas, you should contact Alan R. Burton for assistance as soon as possible. Mr. Burton has extensive experience handling all aspects of divorce cases, especially the financial issues. He provides the highest quality of representation and will work to make sure you receive the best possible outcome in your divorce case. Contact our office today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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In the past, a court would only grant a divorce if one spouse showed “grounds” for the divorce. Grounds meant that the other spouse did something wrong and was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Traditionally, grounds may have included emotional or physical abuse, adultery, abandonment or desertion, mental illness, imprisonment, and more. In order for a judge to allow the divorce, the spouse seeking divorce would have to allege certain grounds and then would have to adequately prove those grounds in court.
As you can imagine, proving serious wrongdoing on the part of the other spouse could be difficult and expensive. For example, if you believed your spouse had been unfaithful, you would have to be able to prove it to a certain degree. This proof could come in the form of witness testimony or physical evidence, both of which could be difficult to obtain. People often had to hire private investigators to spy on their spouses to gain the evidence they need. If witnesses were used, the matter could easily become an acrimonious he-said, she-said situation in which each spouse tried to discredit the other on by airing all of their dirty laundry. This only caused tension to rise between the spouses even more, and that tension would often make it even more challenging to successfully negotiate a divorce agreement.

No-Fault Divorces

Fortunately, fault-based divorces are a thing of the past in Florida. Now, the Florida Dissolution of Marriage law only requires that one spouse claim one of the following:
· The marriage is irretrievably broken; or
· One of the spouses is mentally incapacitated and has been so for at least three years.
Using the general “irretrievably broken” instead of specific wrongdoing as grounds has several benefits for divorcing couples in Florida. First, it limits the time and money necessary to complete a divorce within the state. Additionally, it allows a victim of domestic abuse to get out of their marriage more easily than if they had to prove fault. In many situations, no-fault divorces also tend to make the entire divorce process less acrimonious, as the spouses are not necessarily pointing blame at the other.
However, tensions can soar even in no-fault divorces. Though grounds are no longer necessary, the parties can still try to hide assets, make false accusations to try to get full custody of children, and more.

Contact a Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorney for Help

Though no-fault divorces may often be less complicated than the previous fault divorce system, that does not mean that a Florida divorce will necessarily be simple. In fact, many complex issues may arise, especially if you have children or a substantial amount of property. You should always have an experienced Florida divorce lawyer handling your case so you do not risk an unfavorable result in your divorce settlement and to make sure you comply with all court rules and procedures. Do not hesitate to contact Alan R. Burton, Attorney at Law today for assistance with all of your family law needs.

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