Articles Posted in Divorce

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If you have decided to file for divorce or if your spouse plans to file soon, there are some steps you can take to not only make the process easier but also to protect your interests as much as possible. The following are only some examples of things you can do to improve your situation in this emotionally difficult time.

Get Your Finances Organized

If you get divorced, you will be on your own financially, whether or not you worked during your marriage. If you are awarded spousal support, it may likely only be for a limited amount of time. It is always wise to take inventory of your financial situation, including your income, debts, assets, and more to understand how much you will need to support yourself. If you are moving out, you will need to have a budget to know how much you will have to earn to cover all of your new bills and expenses on your own. Additionally, gathering and copying financial documents will make it easier when you have to present them during your divorce.

Have a Place to Stay

If you and your spouse are still living together, be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. When divorce is looming, emotions can run high and you need to have a plan if you must leave the house in a hurry. Have an overnight bag ready for you and your children, if necessary, as well as a safe place to go.

Design a Plan for the Children

If you are separating, you and your spouse should have a plan to tell the children about your breakup and to make the change as easy as possible for them. Coordinate schedules and determine what steps need to be taken to limit the negative effects on your children. Work out a visitation and custody plan if it is possible to agree. Having a plan will make designing your parenting plan in divorce that much easier.

Stay off Social Media

Anyone getting divorced should avoid being active on social media profiles as much as possible. You should never put down your spouse or air your grievances on social media, as it will get back to them and make the situation more contentious than it already may be. Additionally, if you post information or photos of you having a good time, they may be interpreted as insensitive or proof that you are making irresponsible decisions. For example, a picture of you having a glass of wine with a coworker of the opposite sex may be used to insinuate that you are drinking too much and dating around. It is always wise to simply resist the urge to post on your accounts until the divorce is final.

Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney

If you are getting divorce, it is imperative to have an experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer handling your case, providing valuable advice, and protecting your best interests. Please do not hesitate to call the law office of Alan R. Burton today at 954-229-1660 today.

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In a divorce case, every individual wants to obtain a decree with the most favorable terms possible so that he or she may move on with financial stability and quality relationships with his or her children. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes during their divorce cases that hinder the outcomes. The following are only some of the errors that commonly affect the outcome of a divorce case.

Having unrealistic expectations — If you march into a courtroom demanding an exorbitant and unjustified amount of spousal support or sole custody of your children when shared custody is appropriate, your case may be affected in many ways. First, if you refuse to agree to reasonable terms, your case may be delayed and many issues may be placed into the hands of the family law judge, who may not find in your favor. An attorney can help provide a realistic view of the potential terms of your divorce decree.

Assuming your spouse will cooperate — Many people optimistically expect their spouse to be cooperative and fair when discussing and agreeing upon the many terms of their divorce. Unfortunately, the divorce process can incite a lot of negative emotions and many spouses become difficult and resentful before the divorce is finalized. You should never fail to have an attorney simply because you expect fairness from your spouse. Having the representation of an experienced divorce lawyer will ensure that you have the needed legal support if your spouse becomes unreasonable.

Accepting a settlement agreement without the advice of an attorney — The legal system can be intimidating and, too often, lead you to agree to divorce terms that are actually unfair. Your spouse’s attorney may try to deflect from unfavorable terms or insinuate that you will not be able to obtain a better offer in order to convince you to sign an agreement. Do not allow yourself to be bullied by your spouse into signing anything without the advice of a qualified divorce attorney who has reviewed your case.

Making false claims against your spouse — If you want to receive a more favorable child custody arrangement or spousal support order, you may be tempted to exaggerate the faults of your spouse to the court or even to fabricate details. This is never wise, however, as such allegations must be adequately proven for a court to consider them. If you do not have evidence to support your claims against your spouse, a court will view your allegations unfavorably and may take action against you.

Call a Boca Raton Divorce Attorney for a Free Consultation

There are many legal mistakes individuals can make throughout the divorce process that can have potentially long-lasting consequences. At times, these mistakes can be irreversible and can affect your finances and relationship with your family. To avoid such errors, you should always have the guidance of a highly experienced family law attorney throughout your divorce case. If you are considering or facing divorce, please do not hesitate to call the office of Boca Raton divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton for assistance today.

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Being convicted of a crime can have many adverse effects on an individual’s life and marriage. Crimes often involve deceptive behavior, which can lead to distrust between spouses, and jail sentences can separate spouses for an extended period of time. Understandably, these factors can all lead a spouse to file for divorce. Having a spouse in jail can cause complications for the divorce case, however, as one recent case out of Florida demonstrates.

Rothstein Divorce Finalized

Scott and Kim Rothstein were married in 2008 and lived a luxurious lifestyle. In 2009, however, Scott fled Florida for Morocco due to a federal investigation and the couple has been apart since. Scott was soon arrested and charged with allegations related to one of the most extensive Ponzi schemes ever to take place in Florida. Scott was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. His wife, Kim, was also convicted of a felony for hiding jewelry from investigators and served a 15-month sentence. While her jail sentence was over in March, she had to wait until the end of July to have her divorce from Scott finalized.

Many aspects of their divorce were relatively simple–Scott did not contest the divorce filing and did not even have a lawyer representing him in family court. The couple had no children together and the criminal cases with a subsequent bankruptcy left them with very little property. As far as property division, the judge reportedly granted ownership of a single car to Kim as most of their other property had been seized.

There were some complications, however. The divorce was supposed to be finalized in late 2014, though difficulties arose because both spouses were in prison. Under Florida law, at least one spouse must state under oath that the marriage was irretrievably broken. While Kim was expected to testify via phone call from prison, no one could administer an oath and so the hearing had to be postponed. Additionally, Kim requested to switch from her married name back to her maiden name to try to stop constant association with Scott. However, because she is on probation for a felony conviction, the judge denied that request.

Though the Rothstein divorce was relatively simple considering their history, many divorces following crimes are more complex. For example, if a couple has children, a criminal history may significantly affect child custody questions because a court may believe that a relationship with that parent may not be in the child’s best interests. Additionally, if a parent is incarcerated and unable to earn a living, any child support or spousal support determinations may be affected.

An Experienced Florida Divorce Attorney Can Assist You

Divorce cases often involve unique issues and a criminal conviction can cause many legal complexities to arise. Boca Raton family law attorney Alan R. Burton understands how to efficiently handle any issues that may exist in your specific case, so please call today at 954-229-1660 for help today.

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Mental incapacity plays an important role in many different family law matters. Cases alleging mental incapacity of one of the spouses can become complicated and adversarial. Because you cannot actually get into someone’s head and know what they were thinking at a particular point in time, gathering and presenting evidence of mental incapacitation can be complicated. The following are some examples of when mental capacity may be at issue in a Florida family law case.

Marriage

In order for a marriage to be valid, both individuals must be of sound mind, must understand the nature and effects of getting married, and must be mentally capable of agreeing to the marriage. Simply because one person has a mental condition does not automatically render them incapacitated for marriage purposes, but if a court decides one spouse did not have the capacity to agree to a marriage, that marriage will be deemed invalid.

Prenuptial Agreements

If you sign a premarital agreement, you must have the mental capacity to understand the provisions of the agreement and the effects of the agreement should you get divorced in the future. If you did not have the ability to understand what you were signing at the time you signed, the agreement may be declared invalid.

Divorce

Mental incapacity is important in Florida divorce in more than one way. First, a Florida statute permits a spouse to get a divorce if they have been djudged to be mentally incapacitated for at least three years prior to the divorce filing. In such cases, the individual’s guardian or representative family member will be notified and will be able to appear in court on his or her behalf.

Additionally, Florida family courts will not grant a divorce that was filed by a mentally incapacitated person who does not understand the effect of a divorce. For example, a Palm Beach County judge recently ruled that an 87-year-old man with dementia could not be granted a divorce. His wife argued that his children are manipulating him for financial purposes to pursue divorce and that he would not actually want a divorce if he understood what was happening. The court agreed and dismissed the divorce case.

Child Custody

If one parent is mentally incapacitated, they will likely be unable to properly care for a child. Therefore, in such cases, the court may determine that it is in the best interests of the child to award full custody to the other parent or only provide for limited supervised visits with the incapacitated parent.

A Qualified Boca Raton Family Law Attorney Can Help

Having the requisite mental capacity is only one of many potential issues in marriage, divorce, and other family law matters. Each case will have unique legal questions and you always want to make sure you have an attorney handling your case who understands how to identify and address any potential issues. If you have any type of family law matter, you should not delay in discussing your situation with Boca divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton today. Call 954-229-1660 for a free consultation.

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Celebrity divorces can be difficult, not only because of extensive media coverage but also because one or both of the spouses may have a significant amount of wealth. In one recent divorce, a wife is attempting to obtain a large portion of her husband’s $85 million fortune as well as a large amount of additional ongoing support.

The wife of songwriter, singer, and successful music producer Timbaland filed for divorce at the end of June. She previously filed in 2013 though that case was dismissed as they attempted to reconcile. Apparently that attempt at reconciliation was not successful, as now she has not only filed again but requested many different types of financial support, including the following:

  • Child support for both their biological daughter and her son from a prior relationship
  • Support for private schools, summer camps, and vacations
  • Life insurance
  • Lump sum financial award
  • Spousal support while the divorce is pending
  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Permanent alimony
  • Attorney’s fees

Because of the amount of money that she is seeking, it is likely that the couple did not sign any type of premarital agreement limiting the support she would receive in the event of divorce.

The amount of support she may be granted will depend on many different factors. For example, reports indicate that she does not have assets of her own, so she has no way to immediately support herself and her family. It will also depend on the amount of money Timbaland actually earned during the marriage and how much will be considered separate property if it was amassed prior to their wedding in 2008. The division of property will also depend upon state laws because, unlike Florida’s equitable division law, California is a community property state and has different methods of property distribution in divorce.

In regard to child support, Timbaland will likely be required to provide a substantial amount for their biological daughter. His wife claims that, even though he is not the biological father of her older child, Timbaland claimed the child “as his own” both privately and publicly. It remains to be seen whether or not the family court will find enough evidence to require Timbaland to provide support for a child that is not legally his own.

Overall, it seems that the divorce will involve complex issues and may require extensive negotiation and court intervention to settle them.

Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Today

Any divorce can have legal issues arise. However, divorces involving parties with significant assets, children, and no premarital agreement can become particularly complicated and costly. If you have a substantial financial fortune, it is imperative that you seek help from a divorce lawyer who knows how to handle this type of case. Boca Raton family law attorney Alan R. Burton has extensive experience handling all types of divorce cases, including those with a lot of money at stake. Mr. Burton will protect your best interests, so call today at 954-229-1660 for help.

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During a marriage, a couple can amass a wide variety of assets and accounts. Additionally, they can take on a significant number of debts such as mortgages, loans, or credit accounts. Before a divorce can be finalized, a court must decide how these assets and debts are going to be divided between the spouses in accordance with Florida property division law. In order to do so, a court must be aware of all of the applicable financial accounts and properties that may exist. Therefore, spouses are required by law to submit Mandatory Disclosures regarding their finances within 45 days of the filing of the initial divorce pleading.

The following are financial documents that must be exchanged in mandatory disclosures:

  • Financial affidavits — A spouse can use a shorter form if their income is under $50,000 per year, though must use the long form if it is more than $50,000. Exchanging affidavits is mandatory in every case and cannot be waived.
  • All federal, state, personal property, and gift tax returns filed in the last three years. If a tax return has not been filed, 1099, K-1, and w-2 forms are required for that year.
  • Pay statements or other proof of income for the past three months before the filing, including statements of the source of the income.
  • All loan and credit applications prepared in the last 12 months.
  • All current leases, deeds (for three years), or promissory notes (for 12 months), whether they are individual or jointly owned.
  • Statements for brokerage accounts currently owned or owned in the last 12 months, either individual or joint.
  • Statements for retirement accounts, pension plans, profit sharing plans, or deferred compensation plans.
  • Statements and certificates for all life insurance policies.
  • Cards for any medical or dental insurance plans covering the spouse or their children.
  • Tax returns for any corporations, trusts, or partnerships for the prior three years if the spouse is at least 30 percent owner of the entity.
  • Statements for all credit card account or other debts for the last three months.
  • Any premarital agreements signed or agreements entered into by the spouses during their marriage, including any modifications.
  • Any court orders requiring a spouse to receive or pay child support or spousal support.

In addition to this long list of financial documents, if you are claiming that certain property is non-marital and should not be divided, you must provide evidence and documents in support of your claims. This can include proof of how and when the asset was acquired or why it should be considered individual property.

A Qualified Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Help You

Meeting the requirements of mandatory disclosures in Florida can be a daunting task in a short amount of time and it is easy to forget something. It is important to have an experienced divorce lawyer guiding you through the process to ensure you receive the best results possible. If you are facing a divorce, your first call should be to family law attorney Alan R. Burton at 954-229-1660 for a free consultation.

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Child custody is often a complex and hotly contested issue in family law cases. In many situations, parents involved in a custody case are getting divorced or ending a dating relationship and, too often, one parent may want to limit the custody of the other. One parent may allege that the other engages in misconduct or is otherwise unfit to parent the child. Though Florida law presumes that joint custody and relationships with both parents is preferable, the courts will look into such allegations to ensure that the custody determination is truly in the best interests of the child. In these situations, the court may order a custody evaluation.

Custody evaluations involve the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to protect the rights and best interests of the child. A forensic psychologist may also be appointed to help evaluate the situation. These professionals are expected to remain impartial regarding the two parents and focus solely on what type of custody arrangement may be best for the child.

An evaluation may include the following depending on the particular situation:

  • Interviews with the child
  • Interviews with each parent
  • Observing the way the child interacts with each parent
  • Interviewing doctors, teachers, or others who may help shed light on the parent-child relationships
  • Psychological testing
  • Alcohol and drug evaluations

When the evaluators feel they have gathered enough information to issue a recommendation, they turn a report in to the court.

Custody evaluators can take many different factors into consideration when making their recommendations, including each parent’s background, approach to parenting, opinions of the other parent, position, mental health status, as well as any incidences or accusations of domestic abuse or alienation of affection. They can also recommend that one or both parents attend parenting courses or therapy sessions as part of the arrangement.

Consult With an Attorney Before Your Evaluation

It is only natural that you will be nervous and stressed going into any evaluation interviews. However, there are certain things you should remember in order to receive the most favorable custody determination possible. An experienced family law attorney who understands how the Florida family courts handle custody evaluations can help prepare you for your interviews or meetings. A lawyer can advise you of common questions so that you are not surprised in the interview and inadvertently make a comment that can hurt your case.

Contact a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for Assistance as Soon as Possible

Custody determinations are extremely important as they often directly affect your ability to develop and maintain a lasting relationship with your child. For this reason, you never want to go into a custody evaluation unprepared. Experienced family lawyer Alan R. Burton has helped numerous parents obtain positive custody arrangements that work for them and their children. Mr. Burton can also handle all other aspects of your divorce or family law case. If you are facing a divorce or custody case, you should not delay in calling our Boca Raton office at 954-229-1660 for help today.

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German media recently reported a story regarding an angry husband who decided to take the division of property into his own hands following a split with his wife of 12 years. The man posted a video on Youtube that showed him taking a chainsaw to many of his and his wife’s possessions and literally cutting them in half. The video shows the resulting half of a bicycle, a couch, a bed, a laptop, an iPhone, a teddy bear, and even their car. The husband claims he sent one set of halves to his wife and posted his own set on eBay.

While this husband’s video entertained millions of viewers and his actions garnered international attention, pulling such a stunt is not advisable in the face of divorce from a financial and legal standpoint. In fact, in a Florida divorce case, that husband would likely face financial consequences for destroying marital property in such a manner.

Property Division in Accordance with Florida Law

Florida law mandates that division of all marital property must be equitable. Equitable does not mean equal (and especially does not mean cutting everything directly in half), but instead means that the division should be fair. What is fair will depend on many factors including the nature of the property, the length of the marriage, contributions to the household, and much more.

Many angry spouses may have the desire to destroy some of their marital property simply to keep their spouses from having it. This can include spending lavish amounts of money or physically destroying personal property. However, courts will take such behavior into consideration when making other determinations regarding the divorce case. For example, if you waste money or property, a court may award your spouse more of the remaining property to make up for it. Courts may also award your spouse additional alimony due to your wrongdoing. Furthermore, vengefully destroying property can also affect how a court views your character when making custody determinations. The court can also take into account whether you seem to be uncooperative in the divorce process when deciding what is fair and equitable.

In short, while sawing your property in half may make for an entertaining viral video, it will likely cause difficulty in your divorce case. It is always important to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before taking any action regarding your property, especially before doing anything dramatic or impulsive that may affect your case.

An Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Help You

One of the main functions of a qualified divorce attorney is to advise you on what to do and what not to do throughout the course of your divorce case. A Boca Raton divorce lawyer will be able to provide an objective point of view with Florida’s divorce laws in mind to ensure you receive the most favorable outcome possible. If you are facing divorce or want to discuss any matter involving family law, call the law office of Alan R. Burton at 954-229-1660 for assistance today.

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87-year-old Martin Zelman of Palm Beach has filed for divorce from his wife of 15 years, though now Florida family courts will have to decide whether or not he truly wants one. Last year, another Florida judge declared Zelman mentally incompetent and appointed his son and daughter as his guardians. With this declaration, Zelman lost the right to make most decisions for himself, however, he retained the right to file legal claims, which allowed him to file a divorce petition. His wife, 80-year-old Lois Zelman, is challenging the validity of the divorce filing as she claims Martin does not, in fact, want to get divorced. She asserts that his three children are behind the divorce and that they have purposefully isolated Martin and fabricated stories that she abused him.

If Lois remains married to Martin until his death, she would retain access to their homes in Palm Beach and New York City, their cars, their club memberships and art, and will receive an estimated $10 million. If the judge grants the divorce, Lois will receive none of Martin’s $50 million dollar estate based on a prenuptial agreement they signed prior to marriage and his children will instead inherit all of his wealth. The judge stated that he will have to determine whether or not each side is simply fighting over money or whether they truly have Martin’s best interests in mind. Each side, of course, claims the case is not about the money.

Divorce Involving an Incapacitated Person in Florida

Florida has a law in place intended to protect mentally incapacitated individuals whose spouses try to divorce them while they cannot defend their rights. The statute requires the filing spouse to wait until the incapacitation has lasted for at least three years before a court can grant a divorce. However, the incapacitated person is generally not the one who is seeking the divorce in the first place.

Even though the probate judge last year found that Martin Zelman had the capacity to file legal claims, the family court could decide that Martin is an incompetent witness, which would halt the divorce proceedings. If the court finds that he does not have the adequate capacity to get divorced, the judge could also potentially make them wait at least three years under the law. It is not clear what this waiting period would accomplish in this particular case, however, as Lois does not want to get divorced. We will have to wait and see what the court decides at an upcoming hearing.

An Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Help You With Your Case

Divorce cases can have many unique issues and you always want to have a lawyer handling your case who thoroughly understands Florida divorce laws and how they apply to your unique situation. Family law attorney Alan R. Burton knows how to handle even the most complicated divorce cases and will always zealously defend your rights. If you are facing divorce or any other type of family law matter, please call our Boca Raton office today at 954-229-1660 to discuss how we can assist you.

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A woman in New York wanted to divorce her husband for years, however, she had repeated difficulty serving him with divorce papers as he had no permanent residence, no known employer, and could not be physically located. She reportedly tried for a long time to somehow serve the divorce papers with no success. To help her finally dissolve her marriage, Ellanora Baidoo and her attorney made an unusual request to the family court–could she serve her husband Victor on Facebook?

Successful service of divorce papers is an essential part of any marriage dissolution case because of the highly significant familial and financial effects that ending a marriage may have on an individual’s life. Though the civil procedure rules generally only specify that service of process can occur in person, by posting, or by mail, there have long been alternate arrangements allowed by the courts when the above methods proved unsuccessful. Over the past decade, email has become an increasingly used alternative option for service of process when other methods prove challenging.

Now, the judge hearing Baidoo’s case agreed that she could use Facebook to try to serve her divorce papers with some conditions:

  • Baidoo had to sufficiently prove that the Facebook profile she found for her husband was, in fact, actually connected to her husband’s account; and
  • She must demonstrate that he checked his Facebook account regularly so that it would be likely that he would see the service of process before the deadline to respond passed.

Baidoo was able to use her regular communications with her husband via his Facebook account as both proof that the account belonged to him and that he logged on regularly.

The judge in the case noted that the court had the right to direct how service of process may be completed and that perhaps social media was the “new frontier” in electronic service options. If Baidoo’s husband still chose not to respond to the divorce summons, she may likely be able to secure a default divorce against him as she seeks no financial compensation but merely the end of her marriage. Though Facebook service should not be expected to be allowed in many different cases, it may be an innovative tool to complete service in particularly challenging situations in which a spouse may not be located.

Find out how an experienced family law attorney can help with your divorce case

Many divorce cases have unique issues–such as service of process challenges–that may require creative solutions like using social media or other resources. An experienced divorce attorney will know how to resolve a wide range of issues that may arise throughout the course of your divorce case and will be able to communicate with the court to ensure your needs are met and your rights are upheld. Family lawyer Alan R. Burton routinely helps clients facing unique family law matters and will always work for the most favorable outcome in your case. Call our office in Boca Raton at 954-229-1660 for a free consultation today.