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Alimony is an area of the law that requires a fact intensive investigation by the court.  When a court decides to either award an alimony claim or deny an alimony claim, the court is required to consider all of the statutory factors set forth in Florida Statute 61.08(2).

If a final judgment fails to consider all of the factors set forth in Florida Statute 61.08, the judgment is fatal, and the award or denial of alimony will be reversed and remanded to the trial court for further consideration.

This problem arose in a recent case from Broward County, Florida. In the case of Badgley  v. Sanchez, 165 So3d 742 (2015), the trial court failed to consider all of the statutory factors in making an award of alimony.  The appellate court took note of the fact that some of the statutory factors were considered, but not all of them.  The appellate court stated that a failure to consider all of the mandated factors is reversible error.

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A financial affidavit must be filed in an initial divorce proceeding as well as in supplemental dissolution proceedings.  Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285 (e)(1) requires the service and filing of a financial affidavit in supplemental dissolution proceedings within 45 days of service of the initial pleading on the respondent.

In child support modification proceedings, Florida Statute 61.30(14) provides that the respondent shall include his or her financial affidavit with the answer to the petition no later than 72 hours prior to any hearing regarding the finances of either party.

The requirement to provide a financial affidavit in supplemental proceedings cannot be waived by the parties.

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A parenting plan is a written contract between the parents of minor children.  Parenting plans are subject to court approval.

At a minimum, a parenting plan must include the following: (1) A description as to how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child; (2) the time sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent; (3) which parent will be responsible for health care; (4) school related matters, including the address to be used for school boundary determination and registration; (5) other activities that the minor child may be involved with and who shall bear the expense of those activities; (6) the various methods in which the parents shall communicate with the child.

A parenting plan can be as detailed as the parents require, and can provide for any specific situation concerning the family.

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It is understandable that some spouses who are divorcing are not necessarily in the mindset to cooperate with one another. After all, fighting and disagreements have likely played a role in the decision to end their marriage. However, refusal to come to an agreement regarding one or more issues in a divorce can cause serious delays and can increase the cost of a divorce.

Before a court will grant your divorce, you and your spouse must settle numerous issues including:

  • Property and debt division;
  • Child support;
  • Time-sharing and visitation;
  • Parenting plans;
  • Alimony.

If any one of those issues cannot be settled out of court, the divorce can be delayed as the court will have to decide for you. You and your spouse will have to present evidence to support your arguments for how you want to resolve the issue at trial and the judge will rule on the matter.

A recent divorce case demonstrates just how much a divorce case can be affected by adversarial disputes instead of cooperation. After 25 years of marriage, the wife of the founder of Cancer Treatment Centers for America filed for divorce. The filing occurred in 2009 and the case is still dragging on due to several disagreements regarding a prenuptial agreement, custody, and division of their millions of dollars in assets. The case has involved numerous hearings, appellate hearings, changes of lawyers, contempt orders, and other complications, and is now finally going to trial over asset and property division. In the meantime, both spouses have likely spent an enormous amount of money, stress, and time dealing with the divorce proceedings and have been unable to remarry since their marriage is not yet dissolved after more than six years. Continue reading

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When two people get married, it often makes sense to combine finances. Spouses open joint bank accounts and combine their incomes to help each other pay off debts–both pre-existing debts and new ones acquired during the marriage. In many situations, spouses may depend on one another to be able to cover their monthly bills. This can all lead to a messy situation if the spouses decide to get divorced.

During a divorce, Florida law requires the fair and equitable division of all jointly-owned property and this law applies to debts, as well. However, dividing up debts can be complex, especially if some debts are owned individually and others jointly. The name on the debt does not always mean that person will be solely responsible for the payments, however, and it is important to discuss debt division with an experienced divorce attorney who understands the relevant law. The following is some brief information regarding the division of certain debts in divorce:

Student Loans

Student loans are often individual debts unless the spouses cosigned on the loans or the loans were acquired during the marriage. In such cases, the loans would be considered marital debt and you may be held responsible for sharing the payment unless you and your spouse can agree otherwise. However, even if you agree that your spouse will be responsible for the loans, your name will likely remain on the loans and any failure to repay could affect your credit. Continue reading

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A major issue between parents who split up is who will get custody of their child. In many cases, if you do not particularly like the other parent or believe he or she may be irresponsible in some way, you may want to obtain sole custody rights. However, getting sole custody in Florida is extremely difficult.

In order to understand why this is the case, you should have a basic understanding of custody laws in Florida. First, there are two different aspects to child custody:

  • Physical custody: the time you spend with your child visiting you or living with you; and
  • Legal custody: the right to be a part of major decisions in the child’s life, including schooling, activities, religion, and medical care.

In Florida, physical custody is called “parenting time” and legal custody is often referred to as “parental responsibility.” How these rights are divided between parents is set out in a parenting plan that must be approved by the courts. Continue reading

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Facing a court case involving your children can be emotional and stressful. The following are only some of the questions that are frequently asked of child custody attorneys regarding this type of case in Florida.

Can I get sole custody of my children?

It is important to note that instead of the terms “joint custody” or “sole custody,” Florida law refers to “equal time-sharing” or “majority time-sharing.” While the law favors time-sharing with both parents, it is possible in some situations to have your children with you the majority of the time. However, courts will generally allow at least some visitation with the other parent except in exceptional circumstances. So, unless the other parent does not want to see your children, you will have to share some time with your children.

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Many different religions have different requirements for ending a marriage, such as a declaration of nullity in Catholicism or the practice of talaq in Islam. However, none of these practices ends a legally valid marriage in the eyes of the law in the state of Florida. Instead, Florida has many requirements and steps that you and your spouse must follow in order to legally dissolve a marriage. Without taking these steps, you will still be considered to be married by the Florida government. This can affect many different aspects of your life including taxes, your ability to remarry, property acquisition, and more. To avoid any unforeseen complications in your life, it is always imperative that you properly seek and obtain a legal divorce from the court if you want to end your marriage in Florida.

The following are some of the requirements set out by Florida law for a valid and legal divorce in our state.

A valid marriage — In order to seek a divorce, you must first have a valid marriage. While this may seem like common sense, many marriages may not be valid due to age, consanguinity, bigamy, and other reasons.

Residency in Florida — In order for a Florida court to hear your divorce case, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for the past six months before the filing.

Proper court filing — You must file a petition with the court requesting the divorce that includes all the necessary information. There are many different options for divorce filings including for simplified dissolution or uncontested divorces. Continue reading

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When most people hear the term “domestic abuse,” they tend to think of an abusive spouse or partner who uses physical violence to control or dominate the other person involved in the relationship. While this type of violence certainly occurs and is a serious issue, abuse between spouses can take many forms, many of which are nonviolent. Importantly, whether or not domestic abuse has occurred can have a significant impact on the way that a divorce is resolved in terms of child custody, property division, and alimony, so it important for anyone going through a divorce to discuss the matter with an attorney in order to determine whether domestic violence has, in fact, occurred in a particular case. Some of the more common non-physical forms of domestic abuse are discussed below.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse generally involves behavior that undermines a person’s self-esteem or results in a situation in which the abuser can exert significant control over the victim. This kind of abuse can include verbal threats, put-downs, yelling, humiliating, victim-blaming, isolating, and intimidation. In serious cases, victims of emotional abuse can develop serious psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Continue reading

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Divorce can be an uncertain or stressful situation for anyone. After all, many facets of your life from your living arrangements to your finances to your relationship with your children will likely change. While these changes may be difficult for anyone, they can be particularly difficult and stressful for a parent who has decided to stop working to stay home and care for the children and the household.

Being a stay-at-home parent is never easy, as there is a great amount of responsibility involved in constantly caring for small children on a daily basis. In addition, a stay-at-home parent is often tasked with a large percentage of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other household chores. Such contributions can be extremely valuable for a household, especially if it eliminates the need for costly child care, housekeepers, or other services. In addition, a stay at home parent agrees to put his or her own educational or professional goals on hold for the greater good of the family.

Unfortunately, when it comes time for a divorce, the breadwinner of the family tends to focus on his or her financial contributions and not appreciate the sacrifices the stay-at-home parent has made. Because they have contributed more financially, they often believe they deserve more financially, as well. Luckily, family courts generally take the non-financial contributions of stay-at-home parents into considerations when making determinations regarding alimony and other financial support in a divorce. However, it is always wise for stay at home parents to do the following and more to protect their rights: Continue reading