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.
If you and your spouse are getting divorced, one of your biggest challenges may be deciding how you are going to divide your home. The best way to get this process started is for both of you to set up your own home appraisal.
Having two appraisals done means you can feel confident in the results. It also means there are no questions about a biased appraiser. If the results are not exactly the same, you can find some middle ground. For instance, perhaps the first appraisal comes in at $260,000 and the second comes in at $240,000. You can split the difference and assume the value of the home is right around $250,000.
Of course, that is just the first step. Then you have to decide what you want to do with the house. You basic options include:
Selling the home and splitting up your earnings. For instance, if you still owe $150,000, you may come out $100,000 ahead. You both take $50,000.
Allowing one spouse to keep the home. This does offer stability, especially if children are involved, but it is wise to have that spouse refinance the house. This takes it out of the other person's name.
Keeping the home together. Some people do this when the market is down and it's not a good time to sell. For example, you could just rent the house out and split the earnings for the next year before you sell.
No matter what you decide to do, remember that a house is a major asset. You must know all of your rights and legal options.
You spent $10,000 on a wedding ring for your future bride. You got married. Seven years later, you're getting divorced.
You wanted to buy a sports car when you bought that ring. Now you want it back so that you can sell it, after the divorce, and use the money as a down payment. Can you get it back?
Probably not. The most common way that men get the ring back is if the woman decides not to get married at all. Then, the ring is often looked at as a gift with a condition. Since the two of you never married, the condition was not satisfied, so the gift no longer holds up.
In your case, you did get married. That satisfies the condition, so you cannot get it back.
In other instances, courts have ruled that wedding rings do not even count toward your estate when dividing assets. Since you gave it to your wife when the two of you were single -- dating does not matter in the eyes of the law -- it's just a gift. You can't demand it back any more than a gift you gave your brother or your old college roommate.
In some cases, courts will consider fault. Perhaps your wife committed adultery. You may be able to ask for the ring back, saying you wanted the marriage to last, but she ended it by being unfaithful. This can work in some cases, but odds are that you can't get that wedding ring back at all.
Property division gets complicated, especially with high-value assets. Make sure you know what legal options you have.
Deciding to end your marriage is a difficult choice. You may be feeling dread about the upcoming divorce process. There is a popular belief that all divorces are ugly and nasty. The truth is, a peaceful divorce is possible.
If you split as amicably as possible, not only will you and your children feel better emotionally, but the process will also be faster and cheaper. Here are some important pieces of advice for having a cordial breakup.
Accept your part of the blame
It may be tempting to completely blame your spouse for making your marriage fail. Do not fall into this trap. Remember that it takes two to tango and own your part of it. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim, realize that you are partially responsible for the end of your marriage.
Put your kids first
If you have children, it may be helpful to have a children-centric divorce. Keep in mind that kids will be more healthy and happy when they have close relationships with both parents. If both of you are responsible and caring parents, you may want to try to get joint custody so you can co-parent. This will help you keep the focus off of petty arguments and getting revenge.
Strive every day to negotiate the terms of your divorce with dignity and respect. If you and the other parent have mutual respect, everything will be much smoother. One way to accomplish this is by divorcing through mediation rather than going to court. When you step foot in the courtroom, you may automatically feel like you are in a hostile environment. Mediation, on the other hand, puts you in a neutral setting that will assist you in coming to a mutually beneficial outcome.
Believe it or not, it is possible to divorce peacefully. If you do not try to have an amicable divorce, you may suffer financially and emotionally.
If you heard that someone had been married for 20 years, would you assume they were in that relationship for life? They made it through the infamous seven-year-itch, after all. Odds are, they won't get divorced. Right?
Not so fast. Studies have actually shown that gray divorce -- the informal term for these divorces happening later in life -- is becoming more and more common. Why is it that couples who lasted for decades decide to call things off?
One potential reason is that they grow apart. It takes time, but they just do not feel like the same people they were when they got married.
Another reason is that an imperfect marriage can sometimes wear on the couples over time. For instance, one person may feel unappreciated, like he or she has to do all of the giving in the marriage. That's not the type of monumental event that leads to an instant divorce, but it can make someone feel weary with the relationship. Eventually, things just end.
Experts also note that some people crave their younger years as they grow older. It's often called a mid-life crisis. Someone who got married at 20 may suddenly feel like he or she is missing out at 40. These people often want to "reboot" their lives, and some of them do it by ending their marriages and seeking out a new, younger partner.
No matter the reason for the divorce, stats do show that this is happening more. It is clear that people of any age need to know all about their legal rights.
Owning a business isn't easy. Neither is staying married. Some experts believe those two things go hand-in-hand, making it more likely that business owners will go through a divorce.
Part of the reason, they claim, is that marriage is supposed to bring a couple together for a shared life. A business that is only owned by one person naturally can get in the way of that, since it's not a shared goal. One person is often far more invested -- emotionally, mentally and financially -- than the other.
For instance, one man said his wife often wanted to talk to him, sometimes about the difficulties they were having in their marriage, but he usually spent that time going over business plans. He was more interested in the company than the marriage.
His wife also did not take the company seriously. He said she thought of it more like an expensive hobby than something he was serious about.
Another man said that it took him nearly a decade to get his business idea -- a TV show -- off of the ground. During that time, he and his wife were very poor. They had kids, so living without a stable paycheck was hard. Eventually, his wife came to him and said that he had to give up on the dream of starting his TV show or he had to give up on the marriage. They got divorced.
It's important for business owners to understand the potential difficulties they'll face. When they do start moving toward divorce, it's also very important to know all of the options they have during that process, especially as they strive to protect the company financially.
You and your spouse split up, but you do it on relatively good terms. In fact, your ex even agrees to help you pay back your student loans. You put in the divorce decree that you will each be responsible for 50 percent of the payment every month.
Perhaps your ex doesn't even do this out of the kindness of his or her heart. Your ex wants another asset -- like your home -- and agrees to take on part of the debt to offset the difference.
Regardless of the reason, you get it in writing. Does that mean the lender is going to call your ex if he or she stops making those payments?
It usually does not. Are you named on the loan by yourself? If so, then all the lender cares about is that document. Lenders are not bound by divorce decrees and do not really care what you put in them. All that matters is the agreement you made to pay off that loan. You still owe them that money.
So, if your ex pays for the next year and then stops, you will need to start making those full payments. If you do not, the lender simply sees that as you shorting them 50 percent of the monthly bill, and your credit score is going to see the impact -- not your ex's.
This does not mean your ex cannot help you pay, but it just shows why it's so important to really understand your responsibilities and obligations after divorce. Make sure you know exactly where you stand, legally speaking.
It seems like an extravagant wedding would lower a couple's divorce odds. They must be confident that the marriage will last to spend that much on the ceremony, right?
However, a recent study claims that the opposite is actually true. Those who spend a lot on fancy, flashing weddings actually have a higher likelihood of splitting up than those who do not.
Specifically, the study looked at people who spent in excess of $30,000 on their weddings, saying that their goals focused more on the guests. They wanted to impress people. They were less worried about the marriage itself and more about how it looked from the outside, which could be why they were more likely to eventually get divorced than couples who kept their wedding budget under $10,000.
This recent study backs up the findings of another study that was done back in 2014. It also found a correlation between the cost of the wedding and the odds of divorce.
If $30,000 really is the cutoff that signifies a higher chance of divorce, it is worth noting that the average cost in the United States is $26,000 for a wedding. That's the statistic for 2017, though it could rise in 2018.
The largest cost, at an average of $4,700, is food. Wedding locations average $3,600, photography averages $2,800 and engagement rings average $3,400. Invitations add an average of $800 to the total cost, while flowers cost double that, at $1,600.
Are you going to get divorced? Whether your wedding cost more than $30,000 or under $10,000, it is very important for you to know all of the legal options that you have.
You often hear about offshore accounts in movies and tax evasion cases, but have you ever wondered why people really move their money out of the country? What you'll find is that there are many legitimate reasons to keep at least part of your wealth overseas.
For instance, some people want to diversify their assets. They know that currency values rise and fall like the stock market. Changing money into other currencies can help them maintain their wealth if there is a sudden drop.
Some people also worry about not having access to their money when they need it. After all, banks do not have much cash on hand. Having money at multiple institutions may make it easier to obtain in some cases.
Of course, a lot of people travel all over the world for business and leisure. These offshore accounts may not feel all that "foreign" to them, the way they sound to people who never leave the United States. They use them consistently.
Having money overseas, for those who travel, can also help in an emergency. If you suffer a serious injury and need medical care, that money can help you get it. Insurance companies may drag their feet and it can take time for them to deal with international medical bills. Having your own cash on hand ensures that you can at least get the care you need, when you need it, and worry about the financial implications later.
If you are going through a divorce, make sure you know how these offshore financial accounts may factor into the property division process.
If your marriage is in the process of breaking up and you are about to seek a Florida divorce, probably one of your greatest concerns is the manner in which the assets you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage will be divided between you. Obviously the amount of property you receive will impact your life from now on and determine whether or not you can continue living a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.
Unlike California and nine other states, Florida is not a community property state where the law says that each spouse owns 50 percent of all marital property. Rather, Florida operates under the Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act. Per this Act, a property settlement must be fair and equitable.
Fair and equitable factors
As you might expect, “fair and equitable” has no precise definition. What is fair and equitable for one couple may not be for another. It seldom, however, means a 50-50 asset split between you and your spouse.
The judge in your case will look at a variety of factors when determining what is fair and equitable in your specific situation. Such factors include the following:
Any gap between the incomes you and your spouse respectively earn
Any disparities, such as educational disparities, that exist between you and your spouse and impact the amount of income you can earn
Any health condition either of you has that requires a greater outlay of funds
Any expensive gifts either of you gave the other during the course of your marriage
Any substantial inheritance(s) either of you received during the course of your marriage
Any trust of which you or your spouse is the beneficiary
Fault versus no fault
As you probably already know, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that you need not allege in your divorce petition that your spouse somehow caused the breakup of your marriage. Most divorce petitions contain an allegation of irreconcilable differences or similar verbiage to that effect.
In terms of property division, however, fault often comes into play. For instance, if you can prove that your spouse committed domestic abuse, adultery or some other egregious act, the judge may well take such behavior into consideration when determining your fair and equitable property settlement.
Divorce mediation seems right to you because of your children. You think it will be easier on them than a court case. This is not a contentious divorce, and you both want to put the kids first. They are more important than your own relationship, so you're willing to work together if it helps them.
It's important to take this child-focused approach and apply it to the entire process. Things to consider include:
Custody and visitation rights
Do you want to share custody? If not, does the other person get visitation rights? Do those visitations need to be supervised? Odds are you will try to share custody, but never assume anything. Make sure you're on the same page.
Child support payments
If one of you does have the kids more, does the other person need to make monthly child support payments? How do you want to exchange money? For example, do you want to use a smartphone app so that you have a clear record of transactions?
How do you plan to split up holidays and birthdays? What will you do during summer vacation from school? It's best to detail your plans so that you aren't dealing with them later.
Things are going well now, but what if there is a dispute in the future? Do you want to have a resolution process already laid out? What types of disputes do you anticipate and how can you plan for them now?
Keep all of these factors in mind as you move through the divorce process. Make sure you are well aware of your legal rights.