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Advice From The Bench

roman statue with scalesUnsolicited advice is generally disregarded. This is especially true when you tell friends and family of your decision to divorce. Almost immediately everyone from your mom to your second cousin once removed has an opinion about something. You might hear what your best friend thinks about who should get the house, or where the kids should live. The bottom line is you should only take advice that comes with sound reasoning.

One of the most reliable sources of advice is of course your divorce attorney. But, sometimes people want to know a family law Judge’s take on the important issues that surround divorce and marriage. Some nuggets of wisdom from a popular Judge include:

 

● When your circumstances change, you do have the right to change (or modify) your divorce decree.

●… Continue reading

Can I Keep Property I Had Before The Marriage?

house with gavelYour great grandmother’s favorite bracelet, or your granddad’s collection of baseball cards hold sentimental value and are things you want to hold on to after a divorce. These types of property are things you consider your separate property, as opposed to the marital home or vehicles acquired during a marriage. So, when you divorce, an important question of property division becomes who gets what and can you keep what you believe to be your separate property?

 

In Florida, property is divided under a system called equitable distribution. What this means is that the Court divides property in an equitable way. This does not mean property is divided equally, it means the Judge decides what is fair. When deciding what is fair, the Court will consider each case on its own facts and look at:

How To Prepare A Financial Affidavit

dollar signIn Florida, the parties are required to prepare and submit a financial affidavit when seeking a divorce. An affidavit is a sworn statement, that the information contained therein is true and accurate. When divorcing, it is crucial to provide accurate information to the Court and to your ex-spouse. Anything less than full disclosure can cause serious consequences and may lead to undesirable results.

The form for the financial affidavit is provided by the Court, and completed by you along with the assistance of your attorney. There is a short form (for cases where income is under $50,000.00) and a long form. The long form is used when income exceeds $50,000.00 per year. Some things to consider when filling out either form are:

● Monthly Income: regardless of your pay frequency, the form calls for a report of monthly income and you should convert… Continue reading

How is Divorce Different From Annulment?

Man holding question markEntry of a divorce decree, and an order of annulment both end a “marriage”. The difference is that a divorce decree ends a legally recognized marriage while an annulment declares that the marriage was never valid or legal. The choice to request an annulment rather than file for divorce is different for everyone. For some, the reasons are based on religious beliefs, and for others an annulment is more desirable for financial reasons. Regardless of the reason for choosing an annulment versus filing for divorce does not mean you qualify for an annulment.

 

Florida law on annulments is sparse. However, there are common grounds for seeking an annulment, which include:

 

● Marriages entered into as a result of coercion or duress are not considered valid marriages and qualify for the annulment process.

● A marriage to a person suffering from… Continue reading

The Difference Between Community Property and Equitable Division

house with gavel and moneyDeciding who gets what when a couple divorces is an emotionally charged issue. How property is divided among the parties depends on where you live. Some states are considered community property states, which means all property the couple acquired while married is considered equally owned by each spouse. When a couple files for divorce in a community property state, the property is divided in a 50/50 split.

 

The opposite of community property is called equitable distribution. Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means when parties divorce, the marital property is divided equitably. This does not mean equally, it means the Court will consider what is most fair when making its property division order. Some of the things the Court will consider when deciding a fair distribution of property include:

 

● Length of the marriage

● Each party’s contribution to… Continue reading

Parenting Plans

kid on shouldersMental health professionals agree that when families separate, the best interests of the children are served by parents that are able to present a united face to the kids even in the midst of divorce. However, not all parents are able to effectively co-parent and attempts to do so can cause more harm than good. If the parents are unable to act civilly when the children are present, other methods of parenting after divorce must be explored.

Psychological studies show parallel parenting to be a good choice for those parents that are unable to work as a parenting team after a divorce. Parallel parenting involves:

● The parties disengaging from each other for an initial time period by having limited interaction

● Assigning decision making authority over certain topical areas to different parents

This type of arrangement does not mean the parties are… Continue reading

Appealing Adverse Decisions

laptop and gavelWhen you file for divorce, your case is decided by the trial court. But the trial court doesn’t always get it right the first time, and appeals are sometimes needed. The process to file an appeal is detailed and in most instances an appeal can only be raised when certain legal irregularities exist. The process can be long, so if you are considering appealing an issue it is important that you are ready to be patient.

Filing an appeal is a viable option when you believe the trial court made an error. An appeal is not a new case and it not the place to try to introduce new evidence. The types of things an appeals court will consider when determining if a mistake was made include:

● The record of testimony given in the trial court

● The exhibits that the parties presented… Continue reading

What is Collaborative Divorce?

offering to shake handsTherapy, mediation, hard work, and other innovative methods can result in a divorce process that ends without Courtroom drama and nasty exchanges between the parties. One such method gaining popularity is collaborative divorce. This type of procedure works when the parties agree to full disclosure of information and to settle disputes outside of litigation.

Benefits to participation in collaborative divorce include less stress on the children by showing the parents are able to work as a team to resolve differences, even if the marriage is at its end. Another benefit is a potentially shortened process since the parties agree to be upfront with all information and disclosures. This eliminates the need to go on fishing expeditions to find assets or other information relevant to distribution of property. Also, news articles point out the financial benefits of collaborative divorce, such as:

● Lower attorney… Continue reading

Can I Legally Separate in Florida?

question marksThe end of a marriage does not always mean divorce. For some, the decision to legally separate rather than divorce is the right choice. There can be a host of reasons why separation is more attractive than divorce, such as when the parties desire to protect assets yet desire to live apart. When separating, the issues of child custody, visitation, and other issues usually associated with divorce also surface.

However, Florida is one of only a handful of states that do not recognize legal separation. While this does not mean you are not free to live apart and remain married, it does mean the Courts will not recognize your status as separated. And while this may seem to be a hard and fast rule, at least per the statute, there does seem to be some evidence of Florida Courts acknowledging separated couples. When making… Continue reading

Remedies When Your Ex Violates Court Orders

justice scalesOrders of the Court are serious documents. The parties are expected to follow the terms ordered by the Judge, and when violations occur the responsible reaction is to hold the party in violation accountable for their actions. Seeking an Order of Contempt can serve as a wakeup call to a non-compliant ex-spouse that you are serious about abiding by what the Court has ordered and will not tolerate deviations. The Ferraro Law Group knows that circumstances change, and strict adherence to support and other obligations may not always be feasible. However, the law provides avenues for seeking changes to orders rather than allowing for outright ignoring the terms in place. When one party makes the choice to disregard a Court order instead of seeking to have a change made, we fight for your rights to remain in place. One of the tools at our disposal… Continue reading