Articles Posted in Divorce

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Many individuals who are facing divorce have never been to court before. While some simpler, uncontested divorces may only require one, or even no court appearances, other cases that are contested and/or involve complex issues can require both spouses to be present at numerous hearings before their dissolution of marriage is final. While court hearings may be inconvenient and may interfere with work or other schedules, it is highly important that you take these appearances seriously. Additionally, if your spouse fails to appear in court, there can be consequences for them and effects on your case.

The consequences of failing to appear without previously notifying the court can vary depending on the type of hearing scheduled, the reason for the hearing, and the reason for the failure to appear. For example, the following can occur:

  • If your spouse fails to appear at the first court appearance and has also not filed a written answer to your divorce petition, you may request that the judge enter a default judgment granting the divorce. While your marriage may be dissolved with a default judgment, other issues including child custody or property division may not be settled
  • If your spouse does not come to a hearing to decide certain issues in the divorce, the judge may either reschedule the hearing or may decide the issue based on your testimony alone, which can often work in your favor.
  • In some cases, if the you believe your spouse is intentionally not showing up to hurt the case, you can ask the judge to hold them in contempt of court and they may face criminal penalties and an arrest warrant can be issued.

A former Florida state senator was held in criminal contempt after he failed to show up at two different divorce hearings and failed to give one of their dogs to his wife as ordered by the court. His appeal of the contempt finding went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court and has recently been sent back to the trial court due to due process considerations. This case goes to show how a failure to appear can drag out legal issues as the failure to appear occurred in 2011 and the case is still persisting. Continue reading →

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When you get married, it makes sense to name your spouse as the beneficiary of various financial accounts and insurance policies. Even if you have children, you likely trust that your spouse will use the proceeds of your accounts to their benefit. In the event of a divorce, it is highly important that you revisit all of these accounts and change the beneficiaries to someone other than your former spouse. The following should be addressed when changing beneficiaries:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts

To make sure you do not forget to change an account, you should have an experienced attorney take inventory of all of your accounts and policies.

Consequences of Failing to Change a Beneficiary

If you fail to change a named beneficiary before you pass away, your former spouse may inherit the proceeds of your accounts, which you likely would not want. In addition, your children will not have a right to these funds being used for their benefit. This is especially important if your children are from a previous relationship and your former spouse has no legal parental obligations to support them. If your children wish to challenge the inheritance of your former spouse, it may require a costly legal battle. Continue reading →

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Recent research has focused on the growing trend of older adults deciding filing for divorce. A study called “The Gray Divorce Revolution” conducted by sociologists at Bowling Green University focused on the rising number of divorces that occur in later stages of life. In 1990, less than one-tenth of divorcing individuals were over 50 years old, but today that number has increased significantly to one-fourth. In addition, one in ten divorcing spouses are over the age of 65, which is more than twice the number 30 years ago. With the increase in “gray divorces,” it is important to examine some of the legal issues that may be more prevalent for these divorcing spouses.

Keeping the House

Staying in the family home may not be a priority for many younger spouses who end their marriage, but older homeowners may have potential benefits in being awarded their house. The following are some benefits of homeownership in retirement years:

  • As you age, you may become eligible for tax waivers and exemptions for your real estate;
  • Owning a home can provide benefits when applying for Medicaid or other public benefits;
  • You may need the tax benefits of deducting mortgage interest to offset higher tax liability in retirement;
  • Homeowners age 62 or older become eligible for a reverse mortgage, which can help with financial support;
  • Even if you choose not to live in the home, it may provide rental income or significant equity if you have owned the home for a long time.

Continue reading →

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Often, a divorce may be the first encounter you have with the court system and legal process. You will likely not be familiar with the many laws in Florida that govern divorce and set out your rights and responsibilities during and after the dissolution of your marriage. For these reasons, you should always seek out assistance from a highly skilled and experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney who can ensure that your best interests are protected in your divorce.

Many individuals may not know where to begin in selecting a divorce attorney and how to make sure they make a quality choice. While you may be tempted to simply do a quick internet search and choose the first name, this may or may not be the right decision for you. Divorce is a sensitive legal matter that can have significant and long-lasting effects on your life, so you should always choose an attorney as carefully as you would choose a surgeon or other life-changing professional. The following are some things you may want to consider when you are deciding you will represent you throughout your divorce.

Do Your Friends Have Recommendations?

Asking friends or family members who have been divorced for attorney recommendations may be helpful. However, you should only seek advice from individuals whose divorce situation was similar to yours. For example, if a friend had no kids and no property, his or her legal needs are likely very different from a person who owns a home, has assets and investments, and/or has children. Every divorce is different, so take that into consideration when listening to recommendations.

Do You Get Along With the Lawyer?

In your first consultation, make note of the family law attorney’s likability, temperament, and whether you think they can relate to you. Divorce can be a long and emotional process and you want to be able to get along with and feel supported by the individual who is representing you.

Do They Listen to Your Goals?

Some individuals want to get a divorce finalized as quickly and efficiently as possible, while others are determined to obtain certain property or spousal support even if it takes more resources to do so. Find out whether the attorney has experience in handling divorces with your particular goals. Additionally, if you do not wish to battle it out in court, ask whether the lawyer regularly engages in alternative dispute resolution methods, including mediation or collaborative divorce.

Contact a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney to Discuss Your Case Today

At the family law office of Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton, we understand that choosing the right divorce attorney for you can be a daunting process. We will always be open and honest with you in answering your questions and helping you decide whether we are the best fit for you in your divorce. We have extensive experience handling a wide range of divorce and family law matters, including child custody, child support, spousal support, division or property, and more. Please call today at 954-229-1660 to find out more about how we can help you.

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A child custody and parenting plan order will set out many different guidelines about how you and your child’s other parent should share parental rights and responsibilities while your children are still dependents. These guidelines can involve primary physical custody, visitation schedule, how you will share in making decisions for your child, and much more. However, there are situations in which the circumstances of one parent may change and the provisions of the custody agreement are no longer feasible. One common change in circumstances is the need or want to move the child to another area of Florida or even to another state. There are many legal issues involved in child relocation and you should always seek the assistance of an attorney if relocation has become an issue in your case.

If You Agree to Relocation

If a parent plans to take a child over 50 miles away for more than 60 days, Florida law states they must obtain permission to do so from the other parent. In some situations, the other parent may simply agree to the relocation. Even so, the parents must submit an agreement to the court for approval before the move can take place. This agreement must also set out the new visitation and time-sharing schedule for after the move.

If You Do Not Agree

Cases can become significantly more complex if the noncustodial parent does not give his or her permission for the relocation. In such situations, the parent wishing to move must petition the court for permission to do so. If the other parent does not respond to the petition, the court will generally approve the relocation. If the other parent opposes the petition, a hearing will be held for the court to decide what is in the best interests of the child.

Many factors may be considered when determining whether a relocation would be in the best interests of the child. Some factors include the following:

  • How the move will affect the child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, or others who are important to the child;
  • How the move would affect the child’s physical, emotional, and educational well-being and development;
  • What the child wants;
  • The chances of preserving a meaningful relationship with the other parent after the relocation;
  • The reasons the parent wants to relocate, including whether the reasons are valid and whether the move will increase the child and parent’s quality of life and financial circumstances.

Contact an Experienced Boca Raton Child Custody Attorney for a Free Consultation

Many issues regarding child custody can arise in the months and years after an initial custody order is issued. While relocation is one of the most serious issues that can affect child custody, parents can have major disagreements about vacations, education, health care decisions, and much more. It is critical to have representation by an experienced family law attorney who thoroughly understands child custody matters in Florida both in your initial case and any subsequent issues that come up. If you are facing a child custody case, call the law office of Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton at 954-229-1660 for help today.

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Domestic violence or the threat of violence can endanger the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of you and your children. Many victims of domestic abuse from a spouse are hesitant to leave their marriages out of fear of the potential retaliation from their spouse. Anyone who is fearful should be aware of legal tools in Florida that can help to protect victims of domestic violence and their children. For example, a protective order will legally prevent a spouse from coming near or contacting you or your children or they may face serious legal penalties.

If a victim of domestic violence does decide it is time to leave a marriage, it is understandable that he or she would want to legally dissolve the marriage as soon as possible. Some individuals run into difficulties, however, if they have only recently moved to the state of Florida. This is because Florida law requires you to live within the state for six months before a family court judge will grant you a divorce.

Bill to Make an Exception for Domestic Violence Victims

A new legislative measure filed by state Representative Halsey Beshears (R-Monticello) would carve out an important exception to the residency requirement for a Florida divorce if one spouse has been physically or emotionally abusive to the other spouse and/or their children. This would mean that, if a marriage is abusive, a spouse would not have to wait six months after moving to Florida for a divorce.

Often, abusive spouses want to move their families away from family and/or friends to isolate them. This often means that the domestic violence victim does not have as much of a financial or emotional support system in a new home state. If an abused spouse has nowhere to go and no way to support children in Florida, he or she may be essentially held hostage in the marriage until the six-month waiting period is over. The new law seeking to change these often dangerous circumstances is in its early stages, but we will eagerly watch its progress and post updates here.

In the meantime, if you have not lived in Florida for six months and are in an abusive marriage there are other legal options to pursue before you can actually file for divorce. You should discuss your case with an experienced domestic violence attorney in Florida as soon as possible to learn how you can protect yourself and your children.

Ask a Committed Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for Help

Whether you are a victim of domestic violence, you want a divorce, or both, experienced Boca Raton family law lawyer Alan R. Burton can assist you. Our office represents individuals in a wide range of family law matters, including orders of protection, child custody cases, and the entire divorce process. We offer free, confidential consultations to evaluate your case and give you more information regarding how we can help in your individual situation. Please do not hesitate to call today at 954-229-1660 for assistance.

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If you are no longer married or in a relationship with the other parent of your child, you will need to make many legal decisions regarding time-sharing and visitation. These are the terms that have largely replaced the term “child custody” in Florida, since Florida law sets out that maintaining continuing and frequent contact with both parents is in the best interests of the child unless there is evidence to the contrary. No longer do the courts presume that the mother should automatically have full custody and the courts make this type of determination hoping to uphold both parents’ rights to share in raising their child.

Determining how to share time and legal custody of children is not a simple matter and many parents may consistently argue over specifics of the arrangement. To avoid this, parents who have joint physical and/or legal custody over children must have a parenting plan approved by the courts. It is always preferable for parents to agree to the specifics of a parenting plan and then have the court approve it, as they know their child’s schedule and specific needs firsthand. Unfortunately, in some cases, parents cannot agree on all of the specifics of a parenting plan and the court must intervene and decide for them. No matter who decides the specifics, however, a parenting plan must include certain provisions.

Necessary Provisions in a Parenting Plan

The following are some terms that must be decided upon and put into writing:

  • The schedule regarding when a child will physically reside with each parent;
  • A specific description about how you will share in raising your child on a daily basis and who will be responsible for specific tasks;
  • How the parents will communicate with each other and with the child when they are not physically together, such as text message or calling on the phone;
  • Who will make decisions regarding the child’s health care;
  • Whose address will be used to determine which school the child will attend and for registration at the school;
  • Who will be responsible for extracurricular activities and sports.

In addition to necessary provisions, parents can include other information to make future decisions easier and to avoid conflict. For example, they can decide in advance who will get to take the child on vacation during which time of the year. They can also set out instructions on how they will settle conflicts regarding parenting should they arise. Often, this can keep parents out of court in the future and avoid the cost and stress on themselves and their child of having a court resolve parenting and time-sharing issues.

Contact an Experienced Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for a Consultation

If you are facing a time-sharing and visitation case, you should always have the guidance and representation of an experienced Boca Raton family lawyer. Attorney Alan R. Burton can assist you in coming to a favorable arrangement with only minimal involvement of the courts. Please call our office today at 954-229-1660 for assistance.

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Divorce can be a complicated matter for anyone. The process of dissolving a marriage can become significantly more complex if one of the spouses is a member of the military. This is because certain laws exist that apply to military marriages that do not apply to civilian marriages. The following is some information regarding military divorce in Florida.

Protection From Default

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects a military member on active duty from divorce proceedings to which they cannot respond. Often, when a spouse refuses to respond to a divorce filing, the spouse requesting the divorce can file a motion for default and have the marriage dissolved. This could result in a military member coming back to the United States or Florida and being surprised that they are divorced. For this reason, the law allows the proceedings to be postponed for the duration of their active duty and for an additional 60 days if needed. If the military member is okay with the dissolution, they can waive their right to postpone the divorce.

Property Division and Support Issues

Though real and personal marital property will still be subject to Florida’s equitable division laws, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) sets out how to divide military retirement benefits. For marriages that lasted over 10 years during the military duty, the USFSPA directs that a portion of the military member’s retirement benefits goes directly to the former spouse.

On the other hand, Florida law sets limits on the total amount of spousal support and child support that can come out of a military member’s pay. The support cannot equal more than 60 percent of the pay and allowances received by the military member.

Other Florida Divorce Laws Apply as Usual

When it comes to the other terms of a divorce, the general Florida divorce laws will apply to a military divorce filed within the state. For example, the grounds for divorce are the same for both a military couple and a civilian couple. Child custody determinations will be made according to law and, though active military service could be a factor considered in the custody and timesharing decisions, the overall decision will still be based on the best interest of the child. If both spouses are present in Florida, the process will be the same as any other divorce and both spouses should retain their own experienced attorneys for assistance.

An Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Assist You

Every divorce will be different and may have unique legal issues that may arise. Whether you are a member of the military, own a business, have a high net worth, or have children, experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton can help you. Mr. Burton has an extensive understanding of all applicable Florida divorce laws and will strive to handle your case in the most efficient way possible. If you are considering divorce, please do not hesitate to call our office at 954-229-1660 for a free discussion today.

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In recent months, a new trend related to divorce has been going viral on social media. Known as the “divorce selfie,” a photo will show couples together just after their divorce is finalized. Most couples who have posted these divorce selfies say that the photos are not intended to make light of divorce, but that they can serve many purposes to make post-divorce life easier.

First, if the divorced couple has kids and will share custody, these pictures demonstrate a united front and seem to indicate that the former spouses are willing to cooperate. Additionally, the photos can show family and friends that the couple is accepting of the dissolution of their marriage and still respect each other. This can make social interactions or events with mutual friends easier and less awkward in the future. While a divorce selfie will, of course, not solve all of the couple’s problems, it can represent a positive attitude toward the divorce process and moving on.

Cooperation Can Make the Divorce Process Easier

If a couple is willing to work together to come to mutually favorable agreements regarding the terms of their divorce, the marriage can often be dissolved in less time with less cost. Couples can reach agreements regarding division of property and debts, spousal support, child custody and parenting plans, and any other issues relevant to their particular divorce case. Once a court approves the terms of the agreement, the divorce can be finalized.

Some divorcing couples are not able to automatically cooperate on every issue. This does not mean that the divorce must be acrimonious, however. If a couple cannot agree on something, their attorneys can engage in negotiation or even use mediation to try to help the couple reach an agreement to avoid arguing the matter in court. Taking arguments to the courtroom can drag the process out significantly and can often drive up the expense of the divorce case.

While cooperation is always preferable for everyone involved in a divorce, there are cases in which this is simply not possible. In such situations, the family court will intervene and hear evidence in order to decide on the matter. If you believe your spouse will be adversarial during your divorce, it is important to seek representation from an attorney who can present arguments to the family court judge in the most efficient way possible while still striving for the best results for you and your children.

Contact a Qualified Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for Assistance

Spouses who are able and willing to cooperate throughout the divorce process often save time, money, and emotional energy. Even if you have some disagreements along the way, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you find solutions and can work to facilitate communication and negotiation whenever possible. Alan R. Burton is an experienced divorce and family law attorney in Boca Raton who seeks to obtain the most favorable and efficient outcome possible in your divorce case. Please call our office today at 954-229-1660 to find out how we can help you.

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With the recent breach and data leak regarding approximately 32 million subscribers to the “married dating” website Ashley Madison, many married couples have likely been facing difficult situations as news of possible infidelity became exposed. It would not be surprising, in fact, if numerous couples end up in divorce court over a leaked Ashley Madison subscription. This leads to the common question: What role, if any, does a spouse’s adulterous behavior play in a subsequent divorce case?

Questions of Fault

In Florida, you must file for divorce on a “no-fault” basis, which means that no specific reason–such as adultery–can be given for the divorce. Insteading of blaming one spouse, all divorces are based on the assertion that the marriage is irretrievably broken. For this reason, adultery has no effect specifically on basic questions of fault in a divorce.


Though adultery cannot be considered for fault purposes, it can be considered when the family court is making other determinations, such as whether to award alimony. However, the court cannot award alimony simply as a punishment for a cheating spouse. Instead, the court must further find that the adultery affected the non-cheating spouse’s need for financial support.

Child Custody Determinations

In addition to alimony determinations, a court may consider infidelity as a factor in deciding how to award physical and legal custody. For example, courts regularly examine the moral fitness of each parent when deciding what type of custody arrangement will be in the best interests of the child. Adultery, especially flagrant or particularly scandalous behavior, may lead the court to doubt the moral fitness of the spouse who cheated and may influence a decision to limit custody or timesharing if the court believes the affair had an adverse effect on the child’s well-being.

Division of Property

Florida law requires division of marital property to be equitable and fair based on the particular circumstances of the spouses. If the court finds that the unfaithful spouse spent marital assets on an affair that otherwise would have been divided, the court can award the other spouse more assets and property. Similarly, if the cheating spouse incurred debts to pay for an affair, the court may find that those debts are the sole responsibility of that spouse instead of dividing the debt balances between the two parties.

Call a Boca Raton Divorce Attorney for Help

As you can see, adultery can play a role in a divorce case. If you suspect that your spouse has been unfaithful or if your spouse has accused you of adultery, it may cause a number of potential complications throughout the divorce process. It is important that you have the representation of an experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer and keep your lawyer fully informed regarding any possible issues or accusations that may arise during your divorce. Florida family law attorney Alan R. Burton understands how to face such issues head-on with your best interests in mind. Call our office today at 954-229-1660 to talk about your case for free.