PREPARING FOR DIVORCE

If you are contemplating divorce, you should protect your assets, cash, documents so that you can afford to live in the process or prevent the other side from absconding (stealing away and hiding) with marital assets that you may be entitled to. Transfer the bulk large joint bank accounts so that your spouse can’t deprive you of it. You’ll want to take or make copies of every financial document you can find in the house. From investment accounts to wills and trusts; credit card statements, etc. These may all help you at a divorce trial. This doesn’t mean hide it. You’ll need to disclose it thru your attorney. But if you’re the non-working spouse, you don’t want to be under the thumb of a vindictive person. Remove documents (titles, financial documents, passport, etc.) from the house. There are so many things to think about in preparation. There are many online articles but it is best to talk to your family law attorney for a full picture.

Spouses Trying to Avoid Being Served with Divorce Pleadings

It won’t work. After your attorney files divorce papers, he/she sends it to the process server. You have 180 days from the day you file for your divorce to have your spouse served. If your spouse abandoned you and you can’t find where he/she is by diligent search, you can have your divorce published in the local newspaper legal section. If your spouse just is being very evasive, you can ask the judge to allow you to do this as well. Once service is accomplished, one way or another, and it remains unanswered for 20 days, you can proceed to get a default and go to final hearing without any further notice to your spouse. Consult an attorney about this.

Child Support: What is not income for calculations.

Florida Statute 61.30 outlines what constitutes income for the purposes of calculating child support. Many times, I get parties, and even some attorneys, who will point to sporadic large deposits into a client’s bank account. Many times, these are loans, cash-ins from other investments, or gifts. Unless these funds come from work or are regular monthly “gifts” from people like parents, it is not income for the purposes of calculating child support. The main clue is whether or not these are regular monthly deposits or items like commissions or bonuses from work. Each situation must be looked at carefully.

Adultery and Divorce in Florida

IT DOESN’T MATTER ! EXCEPT if it leads to squandering of marital income or assets. If he or she is spending money on the “friend”, the judge can disregard any claim that as an expense, obviously. If expensive gifts are bought for the “friend”, the money for those expenses is still considered part of the marital assets and will come out of the offending spouse’s share. Lastly, if there is inappropriate behavior in front of the minor children, the judge can consider that when deciding related issues in the best interests of the minor children. MESSING AROUND IN ITSELF, DOES NOT MATTER! This is a no-fault state.

DIVORCE, CHILDREN AND SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS.

Many divorce and paternity cases are settled by a written agreement between the parents. But before it becomes part of the final judgment in the case, the Judge is going to carefully review any issues regarding the minor children involved. If he believes that the agreement is not in the best interests of the minor children, he will not accept that part and send the parents back to talk or make decisions him/herself. Best interests of the minor children will always govern over the wants of the parents.

DIVORCE AND THE FAMILY BUSINESS

 If the husband and wife have a small family business, particularly incorporated, it is a marital asset which would be subject to evaluation and if possible, division. Sometimes, a third person is involved. If this is the case, the corporation or entity must be joined as a third party to your “lawsuit” for divorce so the Court has authority to resolve issues regarding that business. This is not necessary with large, publically traded corporations like Amazon or GE. The shares are the marital assets.  Something to keep in mind when you speak with a family law attorney

A NEW YEAR: MODIFYING SUPPORT AND OR TIMESHARE.

If it has been a few years or one knows of or has had a substantial change or income which may affect child support or alimony, one way or another, it may be worth while to consult an attorney about modifying the present court support order. If a person has been laid off or has had a substantial increase of income where employed or moved to better employment (either side), it is possible for a change. If one person is not exercising his/her share of timeshare with his/her children, again, a change in the schedule and support may be in order

Child Support: Driver’s License and Passport Suspensions

It’s pretty well known that if you get behind of your child support past a certain amount, the Florida Department of Revenue or the judge will suspend your driver’s license if you are without a sufficient reason. You then have to ask the judge or DOR to reinstate it. An attorney may be able to negotiate that for you. When it comes to a U.S. passport, not so easy. If you get behind $2500 or more, you can’t get a passport. Done deal, no “ifs”, “and” or “buts” Title 22 of U.S. Code,  Section 51. An attorney can’t help you with that one. One side note; the government will be more than happy to give you one if you’re coming back into the country!

HOW MUCH ALIMONY?

Despite attempts by Florida legislature, there is no exact formula for a judge to use in calculating alimony. The are length of marriage guidelines in Florida Statute 61.08. The amount? Factors: Payee’s need versus payor’s ability to pay, lifestyle standards at the time of marriage, debt and assets, age, health, education, experience, just to name a few. Some judges use an equalizing of income formula. In other words, make it so both have the same income after the payment of alimony. I will say that it is harder and harder to get an award of permanent alimony in this state. Especially, if the payee is younger and healthy. For more information, get a consultation from a family law attorney.

CREDIT FOR OR MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT OR ALIMONY.

You cannot orally modify child support or alimony. You have to go back to court and have the final judgment changed. The standard is an unanticipated, substantial and material change of circumstances. If you’re the one paying, taking care of extras like a child’s car payments, or summer camp, which are outside the order, is not considered modification. And you may only get credit for past payments for those things if there’s an agreement between the parties. Better get it in writing. But again, that is not a retroactive modification. You have to go back to court. Consult an attorney.

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