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Is an engagement ring a marital asset?

From time to time I come across a client who asks whether an engagement ring is considered a marital asset and, if so, whether it will be subject to the equitable distribution/property division performed at the end of the case. The simple answer is that an engagement ring is considered a pre-marital gift and therefore it is the non-marital property of the recipient (generally the Wife). “It was error for the trial court to consider the wife’s premarital property, such as her engagement and wedding rings which were found to be gifts to the wife, in the equitable distribution scheme.” Melvik v. Melvik, 669 So.2d 328 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996).

A wedding ring, on the other hand, is considered an inter-spousal gift (i.e. a gift between spouses during the marriage) and the equitable distribution statute (Fla. Stat. 61.075) deems inter-spousal gifts to be… Continue reading

Use of Exempt Assets to Pay Marital Obligations

In addition to substantial tax savings/benefits which accompany IRAs, 401ks and other qualified retirement plans, they are often exempt from creditors claims.  This makes them a useful asset protection tool. One creditor who is not hindered by these general exemptions, however, is a former spouse to whom a party owes alimony, support, or attorney’s fees.

On the contrary, the Court may use an IRA to satisfy obligations imposed under Chapter 61 including an alimony obligation or arrearage (and presumably attorney’s fees) despite the fact that this type of account is normally exempt from creditors. “In a Chapter 61 contempt proceeding a trial court may properly look to a former spouse’s individual retirement account to determine whether that spouse has the ability to pay a purge amount in a contempt order. Contrary to appellant’s argument, the section 222.21(2)(a), Florida Statutes (1995), exemption of… Continue reading

Providing Health Insurance Coverage to an Uninsurable Former Spouse

When parties are covered by a group health plan during the marriage, the non-participant spouse is often left without a permanent source of coverage when the marriage ends. Once the temporary relief provided by COBRA or Mini-COBRA ends; a former spouse who is afflicted with pre-existing conditions will often be placed in dire straits.

This issue, which has both financial and emotional components, can often derail settlement negotiations and convert an otherwise simple dissolution into a complex undertaking. If you become involved in a case where long-term health insurance coverage becomes an issue; you should note that an otherwise benign provision in the Florida health insurance code may have a significant impact on your client’s rights and your ability to settle an otherwise difficult case.

Florida Statute § 627.6675 titled Conversion of Termination on Eligibility requires an insurer to provide “conversion coverage” for qualified individuals… Continue reading

On the Move: Stuart attorney Ferraro certified as family law mediator

Joshua D. Ferraro, a partner in the Ferraro Law Group, P.L. of Stuart, has become certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a family law mediator.

This designation allows Ferraro to act as a neutral intermediary to facilitate the resolution of complex family law cases such as divorce and custody disputes.

Ferraro mediates family law cases where both spouses are represented, as well as cases where the parties have chosen to act without seeking independent legal advice.

Ferraro graduated cum laude in 2004 from Stetson University of College of Law in St. Petersburg. Ferraro was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2004, and in 2005 he was admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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Specializing in Divorce and Family Law throughout Stuart and the Treasure Coast for more than 40 years

In addition to being a family law firm, we are a family-owned law firm. Founded in 1992 by Russell J. Ferraro, Jr., the firm has quadrupled in size over the years as Russell was joined in practice by his three  sons and one daughter-in-law. Under the leadership of Russell, the Ferraro Family law firm has served more than a thousand divorce clients and participated in the distribution of approximately half  a BILLION dollars in marital assets.

The Ferraro Law Group is AV Rated and listed in the Register of Preeminent Attorneys. Our founding partner is consistently designated both a Super Lawyer and a Top Attorney and has been Board Certified in Marital & Family Law since 1985, the first year that this distinction was offered.

We place a premium on client service and we believe that client-education is a hallmark of an excellent… Continue reading