James P. Ferraro, Esquire

James Ferraro

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New Tax Laws Change Alimony

Permanent Alimony Tax Laws

Tax Reform changes long standing alimony principles.

Anyone watching the news knows that within the next few weeks, working Americans will be seeing more money in their paychecks thanks to the Trump Tax cuts approved at the end of last year.  Some businesses have proclaimed that they will pass on a portion of their savings to their employees, others have committed to expanding in the United States.  What people aren’t hearing about, is how the new tax laws will effect permanent alimony payors and payees.

Starting January 1, 2019, any new permanent alimony award will be taxable to the payor and deductable to the payee.  Historically, it has been the opposite.  The payor has traditionally been able to deduct the amount of alimony paid each year from their gross income, thus… Continue reading

How A Divorce Judge Splits The Hairs… A Guide To Equitable Distribution in Florida

Divorce (1)Almost every couple that has gotten married, has acquired stuff….  Everything from homes, businesses, cars and boats, right down to the last spaghetti pot and coffee mug must be divided in the event of a divorce.  And if you and your spouse can’t figure out amongst yourselves how to divide the marital property, a divorce judge will ultimately make that decision.  The good news is that the law says that the judge must make an equitable division of marital property.  The bad news is that “equitable” does not always mean “equal,” and a judge has a lot of discretion in deciding what is fair.  Once a decision is made it will stand, unless the judge clearly abused his discretion in coming to the result.   But before marital property is split, the judge must determine what is marital property,… Continue reading

Is It Time To Modify Your Custody or Support??

Stuart Divorce Attorney

Over 40 Years Serving the Treasure Coast!

Often times parents, typically those unrepresented in custody proceedings, will agree on a timesharing schedule with a belief that they can come back later to change it when time or budget permits.  However, modifying a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or Paternity can be more difficult than you think.


To modify an existing custody order, a parent would have to prove that there has been an unanticipated change in circumstances, and that modifying the existing order would be in the best interest of the minor children.  If the parent can overcome the burden of proving that a change in circumstances exists, the judge will then reconsider the factors set forth in Florida Statutes to determine timesharing with the minor children moving forward.  Those factors include:

(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each… Continue reading

Another Successful Michael Shields Memorial, Project LIFT Wins!!!

2011 Logo - Blue RJ Ferraro and a group of buddies founded the Michael Shields Memorial Fishing Tournament to benefit local charities while celebrating the life of their friend.  This year, with a Full Blood Moon and a mullet run in full swing, Anglers on the Treasure Coast fished to benefit the troubled youth of Martin County’s Project LIFT on September 25 and 26.  The Tournament opened with a Captains Reception at River Palm Cottages in Jensen Beach.  With over 400 in attendance, 176 anglers, 144 fished caught and over $35,000 in net proceeds to Project LIFT, the tournament was a huge success! 


The Michael Shields Memorial caters to inshore fishermen of all levels.  Even novices can compete as gold and platinum sponsors are paired with the area’s top fishing guides to fish for snook, tarpon, redfish and trout.  This year,… Continue reading

Same Sex Marriage is Legit!

women holding handsToday, in a historic 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage is a right granted by the Constitution.  Prior to today, the Supreme Court had side stepped the issue which emboldened 36 of the 50 states to pass legislation legalizing same sex marriage.

Justice Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion,

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its… Continue reading

Florida Legislature Tables Alimony Reform

coins and billProponents of Florida Alimony Reform will have to wait at least another year before seeing any changes to current law.  This year’s legislative session came and went, and the proposed Alimony Bill never reached the Governor’s desk for signature.  The House Bill included provisions that created a formula for determining the amount and duration of alimony based on the length of the marriage and the parties’ respective incomes.  It was drafted with the input and endorsement of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar.  The idea was to give judges a road map for consistency, and directions on how to deviate when circumstances required it.

Although the House voted in favor of their proposed Bill (93-22), things came to a halt when members of the Senate insisted that the Bill include a presumption in favor of 50/50 timesharing when minor… Continue reading

House Bill Proposes Big Changes for Alimony

coins and billHouse Bill 943 is up for discussion in the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow, and if it becomes law, it will drastically change alimony as we know it.  The Bill would completely change how Courts currently consider alimony awards, by among other things:

1. defining how to determine the parties’ income and whether to impute income to the husband or wife;

2. creating guidelines that the courts should follow based on the years of the marriage and the difference in the parties’ income to determine both the amount of an alimony award and the duration;

3. limiting modifications of alimony to the amount and not the duration; and

4.  Setting forth factors a court should consider in deciding if a supportive relationship exists that would warrant a modification or termination of alimony.

If the Bill becomes law this session, courts would have to look… Continue reading

How Can I Get Temporary Results?

alarm clockThe legal process is complex and sometimes the wheels of justice turn slowly. While it is true that as soon as the case is filed the process is put in motion, it is equally as true that in most instances the parties need immediate relief. Waiting for a final order is not feasible when you need child support, or need to know who gets the kids for the holidays. To remedy this problem, you must play an active role in your case and seek temporary orders that set forth the rights and responsibilities of the parties while the case is pending.


The Family Dissolution Act governs the procedure for a divorce case in Florida. Some things you will want to seek a temporary ruling on include:


  • Child support: it is vital you have a temporary order put in place determining the amount… Continue reading

3 Tips To Make Sure Fighting For Your Kids Doesn’t Turn Into Just Plain Fighting

child hand in adult handEveryone wants to feel loved and secure. This is even more true when you are a child. Throw in the fact the parents are divorcing and most kids need reassurance they are loved by both parents and that their lives will be as normal as possible. It is important to stand up for the rights of your children, but in order to maintain a healthy environment, it should be done properly. The ultimate result should be one that provides a loving home life for children of divorce, and provides a sense of security.


Mental health experts agree when the parents are able to make decisions regarding their children without conflict, everyone wins. Here are 3 tips on how you can fight for your child, but not fight with your ex:

1.  Agree to disagree, but only with each other. When… Continue reading

How Divorce Affects The Stay At Home Parent

little hands in big handsWhen a couple gets married, one of the major decisions they make together is when to start a family. For some couples this means one of the parents stops working to stay home with the kids. When those couples divorce, it is important for the stay at home parent to understand the consequences of having decided to forego a career.

When a divorce is sought, the Court will make a division of the marital assets as well as make other important financial rulings. If you have stayed at home instead of pursuing a professional life, you should be concerned about your economic future. Some common concerns:

  • Your skills set may be outdated, making it difficult to find employment.
  • Your children may still be at a young age, and require a stay at home parent. This can make it hard to find a job.
  • Returning… Continue reading
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