For many Florida business owners, the end of the marriage entails numerous financial decisions, not all of which are directly related to the union itself. Unless specific provisions were laid out in a prenuptial agreement, business assets will become part of the property division process. An important consideration during the early stages of negotiations involves comprehensive understanding of the tax ramifications associated with various options.
For example, many spouses make the mistake of taking a narrow focus of an expansive topic. For example, arguing over who will retain the family home is a common scenario. For business owners, it may make more sense to cede interest in the family home in exchange for a greater share of business assets.
To begin, real property is an illiquid asset, and has different valuation than other types of investments or cash holdings. A home may be valued at $450,000 at the time of divorce, but the final value will be determined by market conditions, taxes and a number of other factors. On the other hand, business assets can continue to grow with proper management.
In a divorce in which a Florida business owner wishes to retain the lion's share of business assets, and his or her spouse is narrowly focused on the family home, the property division decision should be easy. Ceding interest in the home is usually a far better financial decision in the long run. As with all matters pertaining to divorce and business assets, enlisting the services of a financial advisor is always a wise course of action.
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court created a path for same-sex couples to legally marry, cases have come before courts in Florida and across the nation to clarify how other laws should be applied to those couples. An example lies in a multitude of child custody cases in which one partner claims that the lack of a biological connection precludes the other partner from having child custody rights. Recently, one state ruled on the matter, finding that same-sex parents should have the same rights as heterosexual parents.
The case centered on a legally married lesbian couple who wanted to expand their family. One woman gave birth to a child, whom the couple raised together for a period of time before separating. At that point, the biological mother claimed that her former partner had no legal right to their child due to the fact that there was no biological relation.
A large portion of the case rested on the argument that state law made use of terms such as "father," "man" and "he." All of those terms suggest paternity, a status that a woman is not able to embody. When the matter went before the state's Supreme Court, the justices determined that the language was irrelevant. Because the U.S. Supreme Court had previously ruled to legitimize same-sex marriage, the state court found that the same child custody rights should be granted to all parents, regardless of sexual orientation.
This ruling has been heralded as a victory for same-sex parents. The case is one of many currently before courts in various states in an effort to clarify the rights of same-sex parents. For those in Florida who have a nontraditional family structure, the outcome of this unusual child custody case may be of interest.
For many Florida parents who are separated or divorced, obtaining sufficient financial support to raise their children is an ongoing challenge. Unpaid child support is an issue that affects many families. There are a number of misconceptions when it comes to child support matters, and many people make snap judgments about parents who are not up to date on their child support obligations.
In reality, however, many people fall behind on child support due to financial circumstances that are outside of their control. When an illness, injury or unexpected job loss occurs, it takes very little time to fall seriously behind in child support payments. That can prompt a number of negative outcomes, including court proceedings aimed at collecting unpaid child support.
In Washington D.C., a new program seeks to remedy unpaid child support. The office of the attorney general has offered amnesty for parents who are making a sincere effort to provide for the needs of their children. The program encourages noncustodial parents to come in and work out a new payment plan. Those who participate may be able to restore their driving license or quash arrest warrants. A matching grant also gives parents a boost in making good on those obligations.
Programs such as this one provide noncustodial parents with a renewed sense of hope when it comes to overcoming back child support. Many of these parents sincerely want to do what's right for their children, but have been facing a seemingly insurmountable burden for many years. Florida parents who find themselves in a similar set of circumstances should research their options in regard to addressing outstanding child support debt.
Going through a divorce is an onerous process for anyone, but for Florida spouses who are incarcerated, a divorce can seem like an impossible goal to accomplish. That leaves many inmates in a terrible position when it comes to property division or other matters. One state has created a program aimed at assisting spouses in various family law matters, even while they remain behind bars. The success of the program could spark similar efforts across the nation.
All jurisdictions have a specific set of rules when it comes to how cases are processed. Very often, initiating or furthering a case requires a party to appear in court or at the courthouse to file documents. That can be a hurdle for inmates, who have no ability to gain transportation to court. While they may be able to receive transportation for an existing case, they are often unable to gain transportation for the purpose of initiating their own legal proceedings.
One solution is to establish a special court or court division that allows inmates to appear via video. The program also secures pro bono legal aid through local organizations, so that the inmates are represented and guided through their case. That can help them to work through matters of property division, child custody and other issues while they are incarcerated, which improves their chances of success once they are released.
In terms of property division, this could make a world of difference for incarcerated spouses living in Florida. Being able to work through the property division process while still in prison could step any dissipation of assets that might take place prior to the party's release. If there is real estate or other property to be sold, or investments to divide, the resulting funds could be deposited into an account. That would give the inmate a financial cushion to rely upon as he or she got back into the swing of things upon release.
Most Florida spouses understand that being able to process the details of their divorce in a collaborative manner is the preferred approach. Most people, however, only think about the emotional advantages of working through a collaborative process to end their marriage. There are also numerous practical benefits that come with collaboration, many of which relate to the property division process.
One advantage is the increased flexibility available to Florida families. Through collaboration, couples are able to construct a unique divorce settlement that is in line with their particular set of needs. That increased flexibility allows spouses to reach an agreement that preserves marital wealth, which can then distributed to both parties.
Another benefit of collaboration is the fact that the couple's financial particulars remain private. In divorce litigation, extremely private information is discussed openly in court, for anyone present to hear. In addition, a great deal of information becomes part of the official divorce record, which is publicly available. In today's world, the risk of identity theft is a real concern. In collaboration, spouses are able to craft a settlement on their own, the details of which remain private.
Collaboration is not a good fit for every Florida family. In cases where there is a history of domestic violence or when one spouse exerts a controlling influence on the other, a more traditional approach may be necessary. However, all Florida families should consider collaboration as a possibility, and decide for themselves what approach to take to meet their specific property division needs.
For Florida residents who are preparing to divorce, the manner in which that process is initiated can inform and shape both the process and the eventual outcome. That is especially true in regard to child custody cases, where laws vary from state to state. An individual who carefully plans his or her divorce and child custody strategy can achieve a significant advantage when the time comes to file. Jurisdiction is everything when it comes to family law matters.
A parent who anticipates a lengthy or contentious child custody battle should think carefully about where his or her best interests lie prior to filing for divorce. Filing in a state that has advantageous custody laws in place can make a world of difference in the outcome of the case. In order to file in another jurisdiction, there are often residency requirements that must be met.
Some individuals meet those requirements by relocating to a new state and temporarily living with a friend or family member until the required period of time has been reached. In other cases, a spouse will accept a job in the more beneficial state and relocate with the children while the other spouse stays behind to handle the sale of the home or other family matters. A similar outcome can occur if the party who wishes to seek a divorce is the one who remains in place with the children while his or her spouse relocates for work or other purposes.
When a change of jurisdiction is even remotely possible, Florida parents should take the time to research where their best interests lie. If a child custody case can be simplified by relocating to a more favorable jurisdiction, many parents are willing to take that step. At the end of the day, achieving an outcome that is right for the needs of shared children is the most important focal point in any child custody matter.
Living with drug addiction is a constant struggle, both for the addict and his or her loved ones. When a parent becomes addicted to drugs, the safety and security of the child becomes the top priority. To that end, many addicted parents in Florida and other states lose their child custody rights, often to state authorities. That can be a devastating outcome to both parent and child and is a cause for concern. One state is trying a new approach to these cases and is hoping that restoring custody rights earlier rather than later can lead to positive outcomes for everyone involved.
The program is called "Best for Babies" and creates a team of professionals who work with parents to restore their child custody rights. The program was created based on research that suggests that children have a strong need to bond with their parents before the age of three, while they are going through critical stages of development. Participants are given the support of social workers, child development experts, attorneys and even judges.
Parents who are actively in treatment for their addiction are given the chance to have their child returned to their care, as long as they are following the rules of the program. Parents appear before a judge at regular intervals to check on their progress. When they need help connecting to resources for addiction or child services, social workers step in to assist. By the time they complete the program and receive their full custody rights back, parents have made significant strides toward addiction recovery and are able to provide a safe and stable home for their children.
Programs such as this one are not a good fit for all parents who have lost their child custody rights because of drug addiction. However, for those who are truly ready to make lasting changes in their lives and value their role as parents, having the support of a dedicated team can make all the difference. Parents in Florida who are facing similar custody challenges should make every effort to seek meaningful treatment for their addiction and build a strong support network to help them work toward reuniting with their children.
There are a number of ways that Florida parents can lose custody of their children to the state. Abuse and neglect are the most common reasons why the authorities get involved and remove kids from their parents' care. There are child custody determinations around the nation, however, where kids are removed from their homes for reasons that fall far outside of matters of abuse or neglect. An example is found in the case of a family who are fighting to have their son returned to them after he was removed over concerns about the intelligence level of the parents.
The couple have been fighting the system for nearly four years, after the state took custody of their newborn son just hours after his birth. That decision was made based on an assessment that the parents have "limited cognitive abilities" that prevent them from providing adequate care for their child. The mother is believed to have an IQ level of around 72, and the father tested at around 66. Both of those IQ measures are well below what is considered average, which is 90 to 110.
The couple have a great deal of support on their side. One advocate for the family has been very outspoken about her interaction with the parents and their son. She claims that both parents have demonstrated good parenting skills while on supervised visits with the child, and that both are eager to bring him home to live with them. However, he remains in foster care, despite there being no signs of abuse or neglect.
It is also interesting that the mother has a set of 6-year-old twins from a previous marriage. Those children live with the couple, and there is no mention of any action on the part of the state to remove the twins from their home. That has led many people to question why the state insists that the couple are not able to safely parent their son, but are adequate caregivers for two older children. To readers in Florida and elsewhere, child custody determinations that focus on the intelligence level of the parents are extremely distressing.
When one parent is subjected to acts of violence at the hand of his or her partner, a very careful approach is required in matters of divorce and child custody. Research suggests that an abusive parent is likely to turn that abuse toward his or her children when the relationship ends. Unfortunately, the Florida court system has few protections in place to address this risk, leaving children exposed to harm even after one parent has made every effort to remove them from an environment of domestic violence.
It is estimated that more than 580 children have been killed by a parent during a child custody, child support or divorce case over the past decade. According to child safety advocates, many of those deaths could have been prevented if the courts had listened to parents who warned of the risk of abuse. That need led U.S. Representatives Pat Meehan and Carolyn B. Maloney to introduce a resolution that would increase protections in cases that include allegations of domestic violence.
The resolution would ask courts to place a child's safety above all other factors in a custody case, even the child's best interests. It also suggests that courts take a very strict approach to evidence presented by professionals, ensuring that those individuals demonstrate expertise in working with victims of trauma or abuse. An additional suggestion is made that addresses how professionals are compensated, and presenting a strong preference for payment by the courts instead of by the parties of a case.
Should this resolution be accepted, parents in Florida and elsewhere could receive additional protections in cases where domestic violence plays a role. That could come as a welcome relief for parents who want to move forward with divorce or child custody, but who fear for the safety of their children if they make that move. While this is not an issue that affects all Florida families, it can truly be a matter of life and death for others.
When preparing for divorce, Florida spouses should make every effort to become fully informed on the process and all associated expenses. That is especially true when it comes to making property division decisions. Unless an individual has a clear idea of how his or her financial landscape will look after a divorce, it is impossible to make wise property division decisions.
One of the most obvious, yet often overlooked financial matters associated with divorce involves alimony and child support. The spouse who is expected to receive support payments should create a post-divorce budget that is in line with their projected income. The spouse who will be tasked with making those payments should plan their own future financial obligations accordingly.
Another expense related to property division involves the costs associated securing new housing. In many cases, both spouses move out of the family home and into new settings. Funding the purchase of new furniture, household items and other startup costs is an important and necessary expense. For spouses who stay in the home, there may be increased costs associated with having to pay a professional to handle tasks that one's partner used to take care of.
These are just some of the issues that divorcing spouses in Florida may face. Securing new insurance, increased child care expenses and the cost of short-term counseling are a few other financial burdens that can follow a divorce. Understanding the full range of these expenses can make it far easier to negotiate a property division settlement that is in line with one's future needs and projected goals.