This Divorce blog by Law Offices of Barry I. Finkel, P.A. offers information and commentary advise to clients at all stages of the divorce process. We also represent clients in post-divorce matters, such as enforcement and modifications.
It's easy to go to the ATM, enter your card and learn your bank balance. It's a whole other thing to figure out where your spouse might be keeping cryptocurrency - a digital asset, such as bitcoin - and how to access it.
But that's just the position some high-asset divorcing spouses find themselves in: trying to gain their share of joint money their soon-to-be ex has squirreled away digitally.
Cryptocurrency has become more popular, and as a result, it is cropping up as an issue more often in divorces in Florida and around the U.S. In fact, a 2018 survey from the Global Blockchain Business Council showed that 5 percent of Americans owned cryptocurrency but 21 percent more were considering acquiring it.
If you suspect your spouse might have hidden some funds through cryptocurrency, a forensic accountant should be called in. A professional will know where to look in the discovery phase of a divorce for the possible acquisition of cryptocurrency.
Finding it is a different story. The more someone knows about cryptocurrency, the more likely they are to be able to hide it away. And, in fact, it is expected that over the next decade and longer, it is anticipated that people who are well-to-do will turn to cryptocurrency to do just that.
If you intend to divorce, be sure to let your divorce attorney know if you can't account for some of your marital funds. Your attorney will want to see bank statements that show large withdrawals and can call in a team to help investigate.
Many Florida couples approaching the end of marriage tend to view divorce mediation as a fad or a trend. They may not understand the many benefits this way of ending a marriage offers. Quick examples of these benefits include less conflict for parents and kids, affordable costs and a faster overall resolution.
Those that have heard about divorce mediation may believe that it is only an option for childless couples or couples with no real assets. We want you to know that this is a fallacy. Mediation can work especially well when a couple has children and for high-asset marriages in which the two spouses are willing to cooperate. Mediation does not simply end a marital relationship; it aids couples in resolving sensitive issues that arise when divorcing.
Couples often have difficulty agreeing on custody and parenting plans. Mediation empowers parents to address these issues in a comfortable environment and work collaboratively to reach a beneficial agreement.
This is another divorce element that can lead to stress and conflict for all involved parties. Mediation gives both parents a platform upon which to lay out their concerns, often leading to an agreeable resolution.
Typically, each spouse wants fair treatment when the marital property comes under scrutiny. Divorce mediation empowers each party to address these concerns in a fair and balanced manner.
Unfortunately, all couples are not good candidates for divorce mediation. In toxic relationships, for example, mediation may fail or give an unfair advantage to an overly controlling spouse. We urge you to talk about divorce mediation with an attorney before making your decision. To learn more about the process, please continue exploring our website.
After much counseling, conversation and consideration, you and your spouse have decided to divorce.
You made the decision jointly. And despite what you might see on television - acrimony and bitterness in divorce - it doesn't have to be that way.
It's best for both of you, and if you're parents, it's best for your children, if you can maintain friendliness and mutual respect. Some painful incidents could have led you to divorce, such as an affair, but you can rise above it.
Your first thought might be to fight it out in court, but what will you gain from that? Litigation can be tough on both your emotional and physical health, as well as lengthy and costly.
Instead, if you choose to take a different path and work together, it will save money and stress on both you and your kids. Resolving your divorce in a more civilized manner will be easier if you share the goal of going your own ways with the least confrontation possible.
With mediation, you can settle your divorce outside of court. A third-party mediator will work with you to determine an equitable split of assets and to settle other issues, such as child custody or support. It will take more than one session with the mediator to achieve a resolution, and if after multiple sessions it doesn't look as if you'll reach an agreement, you then can turn to litigation.
In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will work with your teams - that could include attorneys, financial advisers and others - to come to an out-of-court agreement. You will sign a participation agreement promising to come to terms with your divorce without going to court. This will help you keep your divorce more private and respectful.
An experienced divorce attorney can explain in more detail the difference between mediation and collaboration to help you decide which path is best in your circumstances.
One major reason why a lot of couples marry without a prenup is that it is a difficult conversation to have. Discussing a prenup involves discussing what will happen if the marriage ends, which a lot of people do not want to think about before the wedding. It is a tough but essential conversation to have, and here are some ways to make that task easier.
Have it early
Ideally, you should talk to your partner about prenups while the two of you still date. This way, you can get a sense of how your partner views prenuptial agreements before they become an actual factor. After the engagement, you should meet with a family law attorney as soon as possible. Crafting a prenup can actually bring a couple together because it forces the two of you to openly discuss your finances and your hopes for the future.
Opt for the truth
Talking about a prenup will be awkward. There is no way to get around it. The best course of action is to be honest and open with your partner. You can say how you have spoken with your family about the matter, and they want you two to have a prenup, if that is the case. Communicating your wishes honestly will make everything so much simpler.
Point out the benefits
Prenups often come into effect when one partner makes substantially more money than the other. Wanting a prenup can come across as stingy and greedy to someone who makes far less. However, prenuptial agreements provide protections to all parties who sign. A higher-earning spouse cannot get out of paying anything through a prenup. You should do your research to learn all a prenup can do.
If you think your spouse might be squirreling away money to keep it from you in a divorce, there's one place you can look for a number of clues: your tax returns.
Take, for instance, the story of a retired accountant who had made hundreds of thousands of dollars in estimated tax payments. Curious about the status of their tax returns, his wife got a history of their tax account from the Internal Revenue Service.
She uncovered his deception. Apparently, he had withdrawn about $500,000 from a joint brokerage account, overpaid the taxes and planned to file as a single person after the divorce and get a big refund.
The plan was thwarted. His ex-wife got half of the return.
Tax returns hold a lot of information about a couple's finances. Pay attention closely. You can see if your spouse has put money into a deferred compensation plan or maybe a health savings account or a 401(k) account.
Why is that important? Because it reduces your spouse's taxable income, therefore, potentially reducing the amount of child support or alimony they will pay. Knowing if your spouse has a 401(k) also is important because you could be entitled to share it.
Tax schedules also can hold clues. For instance, if you find that your tax return contains a Schedule D, that means there are capital gains or losses. Your spouse could have taken money out of a brokerage account, unknown to you.
Your divorce attorney also can help you discover financial improprieties in your accounts and might even call in a forensic accountant. It's worth it. You've worked hard for that money, too. You don't deserve to have it taken from you.
You're getting married soon. Amid all the planning - the venue, the guest list, even the color of napkins at the reception - don't forget one thing: An agreement that will protect your thriving Florida business.
Your soon-to-be spouse probably helps you out with the business. You appreciate that and don't want to shut them out should you ever divorce. Still, it makes sense to protect yourself - just in case.
Before your marriage, you can enter into a prenuptial agreement that outlines what would happen to your business in the event of divorce. The document can spell out everything from how a value will be affixed to the business as well as how you could split up your assets.
You could include such statements and conditions as:
Your business is worth a specific dollar amount at the time of your marriage. In the case of divorce, your spouse will receive 20 percent of the value over that at the time of divorce. So if the business is valued at $10 million on the day you marry and worth $15 million on the day you divorce, your spouse would receive 20 percent of $5 million.
Your business is nonmarital property and your spouse isn't entitled to a share. This saves you from having to open your books and having the business valued.
If you don't have a prenuptial agreement (or a postnuptial agreement, executed after your marriage), there are still ways to fairly divide the business.
Complete legal paperwork to declare yourself as the business' only owner, adding that a cash award will be made in lieu of a stake in the business in the case of divorce.
Keep your personal and business expenses separate. Mixing funds will make it that much harder to figure out whether your business or personal assets were put into the business.
Maintain a clear ledger that can trace the origin of monies spent on the company.
If you employ your spouse, pay them the same rate you'd pay anyone else in the position. If you don't, they could ask for a higher stake in the company, saying their sweat equity went into building it.
There are ways to protect your assets and still be fair to your ex-spouse, whether through a prenuptial agreement or other documents executed later. A family law attorney should be contacted to prepare the paperwork.
Typically, we use this space to discuss various topics related to divorces of high-earning spouses. However, there is a family law case pending in the Florida courts that involves a multimillionaire athlete and the woman whose two children he fathered that has elements involved in many divorces.
Miguel Cabrera plays for the Detroit Tigers and formerly played in Miami for the Marlins. He has admitted to being involved in a secret, extramarital relationship with a Florida woman for several years.
In December, a Florida judge ordered Cabrera to pay the woman $20,000 a month in child support. That is on top of $1 million to pay off her home in Orlando, as well as payment for health care, private school and entertainment for the kids. They are ages 6 and 3.
Cabrera has asked the judge to reconsider the $20,000 monthly payment, saying that is too much for child support and instead is more like palimony -- alimony for the woman he never married.
The judge agreed to take a second look at the issue and the amount paid to the woman, who originally sought $100,000 per month. Cabrera, 35, signed an eight-year, $248 million contract with the Tigers in 2016, according to Spotrac. The website projects his lifetime career earnings at more than $400 million.
"Upon reviewing the testimony, exhibits in evidence, arguments of counsel and the proposed final judgments submitted by the parties, the court exercises its inherent authority to reconsider [whether] the award of $20,000 per month of un-allocated child support is tantamount to palimony," the Orange County Circuit Court judge wrote on Feb. 6.
The woman sued Cabrera in 2017, contending he cut the $20,000 he was giving her by $5,000 after his wife found out about their relationship. The woman said he gave her and the children a way of life she couldn't maintain without his help.
It will be interesting to watch the resolution of this case to see what the judge decides. It could set a legal precedent for future family law cases in Florida.
You're working really hard to build your business from the ground up in Florida. You're putting in long days and sweat equity to make it a successful venture. Your spouse doesn't want anything to do with the business, so you have been on your own.
But have you made that business divorce-proof? Even if your spouse hasn't contributed to growing the business, it could be considered marital property if you split up.
The best way to remove your business from your list of marital assets in a divorce is to sign a prenuptial agreement before you're married. The business could be listed as a separate property.
But in the event that business didn't launch until after your marriage, you could pursue a postnuptial agreement. It's the post-marriage equivalent of a prenup, and it can lay out for a judge down the road just what the two of you have agreed to where that business is concerned.
Another option is to put ownership of the business into a domestic asset protection trust. Your spouse does not need to sign off on this plan. Technically, you no longer will own the business; the trust will. Be aware that there are some limitations about what kind of businesses can be moved into a trust.
Here are a few other tips for business owners who want to protect their asset from a divorce.
Don't mix your business and personal finances. Keep a household set of books and a business set of books.
Don't bring your spouse into the business. If you do, they could ask for part ownership in a divorce.
Pay yourself a salary that fits your position and the company. Your spouse could ask for a share of profits if they think you've denied your family the right amount of money by taking lower pay.
If your spouse is insistent on a share of the company, consider trading other assets for sole ownership.
Even if your marriage is solid today, it isn't a bad idea to take precautionary measures to preserve your company – just in case. An attorney can provide more information on steps to take to divorce-proof your business.
If this is your first experience asking for a divorce, you may feel intense dread. After all, the unknown is frightening territory. Even if you are in your second or third marriage, asking for a divorce can still be daunting. Each experience is unique to the situation and the couple.
Perhaps deciding on divorce has been a long, emotional road. Now that you are sure, you may have to share the unwelcome news with a spouse who has no idea you feel this way--or how your marriage is about to go sideways.
Do your homework
When you want to sell a computer desk online, do you merely post a blurry picture, the price and your phone number? Good luck. Selling online requires some effort on your part. You would post clear photos of the desk with at least one view of any defects, and you would provide measurements, product age, and even some alternate-use ideas. Good information attracts buyers. Asking for a collaborative divorce is no different.
Understand collaborative divorce for beginners
Once you have done the hard part of asking for a divorce, collaborative divorce is easy to explain. It can simplify divorce and guide families through the process with as little confrontation as possible. So that is a bonus for everyone concerned. You do not need a legal degree to explain the benefits to your spouse. Just choose a few of the simple points below about the advantage of collaborative divorce to get started:
The goal is to achieve a fair and mutual benefit.
Open-minded negotiation takes place in informal meetings.
You all meet together with your attorneys alongside you to discuss what each person wants.
You both understand and agree there will be compromise in some areas.
If difficulties arise, you can bring in a legal mediator skilled at helping couples reach an accord.
Collaborative divorce can help your children, as it may lessen parental tension.
Your team will work toward fairness and agreement.
Neutral specialists can rotate in to help you with sticking points regarding asset division or child custody.
You will not need to go through stressful and expensive litigation.
You will avoid going to court.
With a little information and a sincere desire that both you and your spouse can work together amicably, your discussion will be off to a good start. Do not expect to answer all questions or resolve concerns in one session. To minimize stress, keep talks somewhat brief. When the time seems right, you may want to learn more from a professional in collaborative marital dissolution.
Marriages don't have to end the way divorce is portrayed in the movies. There doesn't have to be one partner throwing the other's stuff out the window. Or worse yet, threatening to withhold the children from the other. There are ways to split-up under civil circumstances and move on without litigation.
It's through mediation, and it's something Florida residents do every day. Good candidates for mediation include spouses who want to maintain a friendly environment for their children and those who have agreed on most issues, such as a division of property. But just how does it work?
It typically starts with the mediator sitting down with both parties in a kind of getting-to-know-you session. The mediator will explain the ground rules of mediation and prepare you for what's ahead. If you both agree to the process, you can move forward.
Just as information you share with your attorney is confidential, so are things you discuss in mediation. Nothing will be disclosed unless the parties involved agree to a disclosure.
Once the first mediation session gets underway, the two spouses can make a statement that details issues they want to discuss.
The two parties may speak with each other if the mediator allows it. But if the conversation leads to yelling or crying, the mediator likely will put the two sides in different spaces and go back and forth between them in what is often referred to as a private caucus.
Couples who go through mediation might not come to an agreement on all of the important issues in their divorce or they could reach an impasse. But you very likely could reach a settlement that both of you believe is fair and in both of your best interests.
Before you sign the settlement agreement, you will want your divorce attorney to review it. Even if you go through mediation, you still need an advocate on your side. The mediator is a neutral party.