Recently in Divorce Category

April 5, 2014

Are we all now familiar with the term "Conscious Uncoupling" ?

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

April 5, 2014

Divorce Mistakes That Everyone Makes

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

April 5, 2014

Law Prohibits Divorcing Couples From Having Sex

Incredible as it sounds, the Massachusetts legislature is considering such a bill. The proposal should not be considered in a vacuum however, as it applies only in specific situations, when minor children are involved.

The proposal was designed to promote and protect the best interests of the minor children, whose parents are in the midst of a divorce.

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Robert LeClair, a local Massachusetts lawmaker proposed the bill, after going through a bitter divorce himself. The specifics of the bill would be to prohibit the parent in possession of the marital home, from engaging in any type of sexual relationship with a new partner during the parties separation, and prior to the divorce proceedings concluding.

The bill would would have to be passed by the state legislature, and then approved by the governor.

The language of the bill reads as follows:

"In divorce, separation, or 209A( restraining order)proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts,"

The law, if passed, would raise some interesting questions about obtaining the necessary evidence to prove a violation of the law. Since children are generally not allowed to testify in court, absentee spouses will need to become quite creative in order to prove their case. This bill will most certainly keep the private detectives in Massachusetts quite busy.


Source:
The Huffington Post, "Massachusetts Bill Could Ban Sex During Marriage", Emily Thomas, March 24, 2014

March 25, 2014

Will our property be divided equally?

When you are seeking a divorce, the Florida courts will equitably divide the property that was acquired during your marriage. Equitably does not necessarily mean equally. his property is commonly referred to as marital assets.

Florida law provides that it would be a good starting point to divide marital assets 50-50. If the court intends on making a distribution of marital assets that is not equal, the court is required to consider a list of items, and to make specific findings of fact in the final judgment as to why the distribution is not equal.

The Florida statute which gives the judge authority to divide the marital assets is found under Florida statute 61.075, which is known as the Equitable Distribution statute.

If the court intends on making an unequal distribution of marital assets the court will examine the following list:

The contributions to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as a homemaker.

The economic circumstances of the parties.

The duration of the marriage.

Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.

The contribution of one spouse to the personal careers or educational opportunities of the other spouse.

The desirability retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, Corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.

The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets the parties.

The desirability retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party when it would be equitable to do so, or it is in the best interests of the child or that party.

The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets have to the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition.

Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

The division of the assets that have been accumulated during the marriage is usually not the most difficult task for a judge. The more complicated issue usually is placing values on various items of property the court intends on dividing.

The issue of dividing the property can often times become complicated and complex, depending on the nature of the specific type of property involved.

Please visit my website at www.AlanBurtonlaw.com for more information about my background and experience. I have well over 30 years of experience litigating divorce cases in South Florida, including courts in Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, Miami, West Palm Beach and throughout the region. My primary office is conveniently located on Glades Road, just west of I-95 in Boca Raton.

My initial consultations are always free. I would urge you to call me and meet with me, so that I can educate you as to your legal rights.

August 19, 2012

Statistics show that marriages are on the decline in Florida

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

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

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

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

August 19, 2012

Modifying your child support obligation

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 9, 2012

Continuing as partners in the family business after divorce

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

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

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

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

August 7, 2012

The importance of a prenuptial agreement

Why is a prenuptial agreement important and what purpose does it serve? A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two adults, and it can cover a myriad of issues, limited only by the imagination of the contracting parties.
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A prenuptial agreement most definitely, and frequently will, alter the rights of the parties should a divorce subsequently occur. Many agreements provide for the complete waiver and relinquishment of alimony and other support obligations from one party to the other. However, under Florida law, a waiver of temporary alimony under an agreement is unenforceable. You may wish to confer and consult with an experienced divorce attorney regarding this, as well as any other aspects of a prenuptial agreement.

Valuable property rights can also be given up under the provisions of a prenuptial agreement. In Florida, marital assets are most frequently divided 50-50 upon a divorce, so if one party feels that they will be contributing to the marriage in a greater proportion, they might want to provide for that contingency.

The actress Courteney Cox, who is involved in a divorce proceeding with David Arquette, apparently overlooked the importance of a prenuptial agreement. You can read her story now by following the link to her story in Forbes.

Although a marriage is considered a "partnership", that partnership does not necessarily have to be an equal partnership. This, in essence, is what a prenuptial agreement is all about. Courteney Cox may learn an expensive lesson in failing to participate in the execution of a prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements must, at a minimum, include complete financial disclosure by both parties; be executed without duress; and each party should have independent legal advice. Many times the validity of agreements are challenged, so a financial sanction should be assessed against the challenger who does not succeed in their endeavor to void an agreement.

Further information may be obtained on this area of the law by contacting Alan R. Burton, Esq. directly. Appointments are available in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.

August 7, 2012

Modification of support orders

Support orders in Florida, including child support and most alimony awards, are subject to modification, based upon a change in circumstances.

There is a statute on point in Florida which governs the procedure for modifying support orders. See Florida Statute 61.14.

The statute is broad, but the essence of the law is to provide for a modification when there is a material and substantial change in circumstances, which was unanticipated, or when the financial circumstances of the parties warrant a modification.

Divorce in Florida is conducted in "courts of equity", and fairness to all those involved is an underlying characteristic of these proceedings.

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If an obligor who is paying support has fallen on bad times through no fault of his or her own, the court should be readily willing to make the appropriate adjustment in support, either on a temporary permanent basis.

August 7, 2012

Collecting child support is not always a simple matter

The payment and collection of child support in Florida as well as around the country is not always an easy process. Its surprising to see all the stories in the media today, which deal with individuals in the "public eye" who are not paying their child support.

For example, the gold medal champion, Gabby Douglas, made a recent announcement at the Olympics, that her father was a "deadbeat dad",who neglected his responsibilities. This story was recently reported in the New York Post.

This is just one of the many stories I have come across this week, all of which deal with either celebrities or prominent sports figures who, for one reason or another, seem intent on neglecting their most important resources...their children.
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Former NFL star Warren Sapp reportedly filed bankruptcy recently, where it was disclosed by Mail Online that he owed substantial child support to four different women.

We are all familiar with the Michael Jackson story, but are not as familiar with all of the collateral stories, until now. Randy Jackson is embroiled in litigation with his family over the Michael Jackson estate. It may not be a coincident that he allegedly owes over $500,000.00 in back child support.

These figures obviously represent the accumulation of child support arrears, over an extended period of time. If you are the recipient of child support, the lesson to be learned here is to act fast. Don't sit back waiting for a miracle......be proactive, and "nip the problem in the bud" before it becomes an impossible situation to ever rectify.

As an attorney with an active divorce practice in Boca Raton, Florida, and all surrounding areas, including Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, with over thirty years of experience, I can implement a strategy for collecting child support payments which are due and collecting child support arrears.

Don't let this problem escalate to astronomical numbers and act today!

August 5, 2012

Can Facebook ruin your marriage?

Yes!

Facebook is mentioned in at least 33% of all the divorce cases filed in the United States in 2011. This is according to a story aired by ABC News.

There is no doubt that social networking and facebook are and will continue to play an integral part of all of our lives now, and well into the future. Privacy rights are now the exception, rather than the rule. Technology has taken over all aspects of our lives.

Someone is always watching you, and in a divorce proceeding, there are countless ways in which your actions can be used against you by your spouse. Custody and time sharing issues, and marital waste are just too examples.

Information, both helpful and useful, as well as damaging to your case, is just a click away.

August 5, 2012

Divorce, a private matter

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.

August 4, 2012

Does the length of my marriage make a difference when I get divorced?

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.


August 4, 2012

Is the payment of child support voluntary?

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to discuss child support issues with many parents. A frequent question that often arises is whether one parent has the right to waive the receipt of child support from the other parent?

The answer to this question is simple, NO! There are scores of cases in Florida which clearly state that the entitlement to child support is a right that belongs to the child, not to the parent, and the parent has absolutely no right to waive receipt of those funds.

What about the situation when a father proclaims his desire not to have any part in the child's life, in exchange for a release of his child support obligation. Will this work to release the father from his obligation? Again, the same answer, NO.

I recently read an article dealing with individuals in the "public eye," which dealt with this very issue of waiving the obligation to pay child support, and I find it contrary to law. This of course would be the story of Kate and Jon, which is all over the internet. Kate has publicly indicated that she has released Jon from his child support obligation. It was reported in a story in the Star magazine. There will be more to this story in the future. Most likely an agreement is in place for a temporary abatement of support, but certainly not the total eradication of support for all those kids. Stay tuned.

The payment of child support is not discretionary, it is mandatory. The payment of child support is a joint obligation of both parents. The Florida Child Support Guidelines are based upon this concept, so that each parent bears their proportionate share of the expense to raise their children.

Further information on this subject, as well as on other issues, can be found on my website at www.alanburtonlaw.com. With over 30 years of experience, I am well qualified to answer and address any and all of your concerns with family law issues of any kind, including divorce, annulment, paternity and child support issues.

August 2, 2012

What does it take for a marriage to become irretrievably broken?

In Florida, no grounds for divorce are required other than the fact that the marriage must be irretrievably broken.. As a matter of fact, you can find this provision under Florida Statutes 61.043, which indicates that all one need do in a petition for dissolution of marriage is to assert that the marriage is irretrievably broken. No other grounds are required.

Over the years, I have had many people tell me that their "spouse has abandoned them", or "deserted them", or engaged in "acts of either mental or physical cruelty against them". They want a divorce and want to know if these are sufficient grounds.

The reality of the situation is that all of these reasons, although valid reasons to seek a divorce, are not a prerequisite or requirement for obtaining a divorce. All one need do is to allege that the marriage is "irretrievably broken."
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What makes one couple's marriage broken may be very different than for another couple. Sometimes people grow apart; sometimes they engage in mental abuse, and sometimes......

Well, you decide. Is the victim of a knife wielding spouse involved in a marriage which you would consider to be irretrievably broken? This was a story recently reported in the Huffington Post. Check it out!