Articles Tagged with divorce

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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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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

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A major part of any divorce case will likely be the equitable division of assets as directed under Florida law. Not all assets owned by the divorcing spouses will be subject to division, however, as only assets considered to be “marital property” must be divided. Marital property is anything owned by both spouses together while separate property is only owned by one spouse (and the owner spouse will get to keep that property). It is important to take particular care when you are deciding which property is classified as marital and which is separate. If you misclassify certain property, you may lose valuable assets in your divorce to which you otherwise would have been entitled.

Marital assets generally include any property that is acquired by either spouse through the duration of the marriage. This can include real estate, investments, retirement accounts, cash, and personal property. Even if only one spouse purchases a property or opens a retirement account, if he or she uses would-be marital funds to do so, the property will be considered marital regardless of the name(s) on the title. All too often, a spouse believes that because he or she started a business or titled a vehicle in only one name, that the property will be considered separate. In fact, in these situations, any business proceeds or vehicle equity acquired during the marriage should be divided between the spouses. If marital funds were used to acquire the property or if the proceeds of the property/assets would benefit both spouses, the classification should generally be “marital.” This can be confusing in many situations, so it is wise to review all property and asset classification with an experienced divorce attorney who understands Florida law. Continue reading

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There are many different laws in Florida that can apply to divorce cases. Laws dictate how child support is calculated, how property is divided, and much more. Once again, the Florida legislature has proposed several bills that could create some major changes to two different laws that are central to many divorce cases–alimony (also called spousal support) and child-sharing (also referred to as custody).

Florida State Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) introduced Senate Bill 668, which addresses both alimony reform and child-sharing reform. In addition, House Bill 455 was introduced by Representative Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland), though it only address alimony reform and does not include any changes to child-sharing. Finally, State Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) introduced his own bill that solely seeks to change child-sharing and does not involve alimony. With all of these different bills introduced, the debate exists among legislators whether or not the two issues are related and whether they should be addressed together or separate from one another. Continue reading

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Fraud can happen in a wide variety of circumstances and divorce is no different. Courts depend upon information provided by each spouse in order to issue final judgments on issues such as child support, child custody, spousal support, and equitable division of property and debts. If one spouse provides false information in an attempt to manipulate the divorce outcome, he or she can be held liable for fraud. In other situations, an individual may falsify whole documents including settlement agreements or court orders. If any type of fraud is suspected in a divorce, it is important to discuss your legal rights and options with a qualified family law attorney as soon as possible.

Examples of Divorce Fraud

The following scenarios are examples of ways that fraud can occur in a divorce:

  • A spouse hides assets in offshore accounts or presents false account statements to the court so he or she does not have to give up an equitable portion of the assets.
  • Two spouses agree on a particular division of property, however, before presenting the agreement to the court, one spouse changes the details of the agreement and forges the other’s signature.

Continue reading

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When a court issues an order for visitation and timesharing of children, it is common for one or both parents to be dissatisfied with some aspect of the parenting time arrangement. Even if you both agree to the arrangement at the time of the custody case, circumstances may change and may lead to conflicts regarding the custody and visitation schedule. In such cases, you may be able to request that the agreement be modified to better suit changed circumstances. This process can take time, however, and many parents may be tempted to take the matter into their own hands. Doing so can have serious consequences from the court, however, including fines or even jail time.

The following are some examples of actions you should never take on your own regarding child custody:

  • Withholding visitation or custody rights if the other parent fails to pay child support.
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Many people believe that when they get married, their credit score will be combined with their spouse’s and that their credit will be intertwined. Therefore, many people may wonder what will happen to their credit if they later decide to get divorced. First, it is important to understand that your marital status does not directly impact your credit–not at the time of marriage nor at the time of divorce–since at no time does your credit fuse with your spouses. However, this does not mean that your credit score will not be affected due to divorce, as there are other factors that may cause some credit issues.

Joint Debts

Though your marriage does not affect your score, the non-payment of joint debts wil. If you have a mortgage, auto loans, or other credit accounts in both your and your spouse’s names, you and your spouse will have to agree how to continue paying these following separation. Your divorce decree should equitably divide your joint debts in accordance with Florida law, however, you may not be able to refinance certain debts to remove your name. This means that, if the court assigns certain joint debts to your ex-spouse and they fail to pay the debts, your score could be affected. While you may be able to dispute late payments by using your divorce decree or may be able to report the non-payment of debts to the court, this can be a complex process and may not necessarily raise your score. Continue reading

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Divorce can involve many complicated legal filings and administrative tasks. One important task that should not be ignored is changing your name back to your maiden name if you wish to do so. While name changes have traditionally been associated with women, this is no longer the case since the legality of same-sex marriage and trends in recent years of combining last names or of husbands taking the last name of their wives.

Legally changing your name back can include many different steps, including the following:

  • Requesting an official name change in your divorce petition, so the final divorce decree includes a court order allowing you to change your name back;
  • If your divorce decree does not include a name change order, you will need to file a Florida Petition for a Name Change to get a court order by that method;
  • Collect the following documents in order to update your name on official documents:
    • A certified copy of the court order for the name change;
    • Proof of your identification (passport or state-issued ID); and
    • Proof of age (birth certificate, certificate of foreign birth, or adoption order).
  • Use the above documents to change your name on your social security card, driver’s license, passport, and any other necessary forms of identification.
  • Use your new documentation to change your name on bank accounts, credit accounts, with your employer for payroll, utilities, and any other relevant accounts.

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The end of a long-term relationship can be emotionally difficult and can make people act in ways that may be out of character. Sometimes, people who are getting a divorce feel a newfound sense of freedom that allows them to pursue new social or romantic options. In other instances, a divorce can cause individuals to engage in emotional coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or overspending. While these are natural and human reactions to the end of a relationship, sharing this type of behavior on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram could have a negative effect on the way that certain issues in your divorce are resolved. Some of the ways that social media posts could affect your divorce are detailed below.

Sharing on Social Media Could Affect Child Custody Determinations

Under Florida Law, the guiding principle that courts must follow when making child custody determinations is the “best interests of the child.” In figuring out what type of custody arrangement is in a child’s best interests, courts may consider any factor that they deem relevant. For this reason, social media posts that indicate that a person is engaging in behavior that the court believes could affect a person’s ability to be an effective parent could potentially be introduced as evidence in cases in which child custody is disputed. Continue reading