In Florida, the laws regarding divorce have followed a “no-fault” system since 1971. Today, there are only two bases for obtaining a divorce: that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, or that one spouse has been declared mentally incompetent for at least three years. Before that, there were nine bases for obtaining a divorce under the old statute. One of those bases was adultery. Even though adultery is no longer a ground for divorce, a trial court in a divorce case may consider a spouse’s infidelity and, depending on the facts proven, may use that affair to alter the decisions it makes on alimony and equitable distribution. A recent Fifth District Court of Appeal case originating in Flagler County offers an example of how this works.
When your spouse or you decides to file for divorce, the issues may seem straightforward, regardless of whether or not they are contested. You may have to resolve matters surrounding child custody and timesharing, child support, alimony, and the distribution of marital assets. Even if these issues do seem straightforward at first, do not fall into the trap of thinking that this necessarily means that you do not need experienced legal counsel. Any of these issues may present within it nuanced elements of the law. For example, in a child support and alimony case from this spring, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court order obliging the husband to pay for his wife’s moving out and obtaining a new apartment. The husband’s appeal succeeded because the way the trial court structured the obligation did not comply with the specific requirements of the law.
A Florida man successfully appealed a trial court ruling that declared the couple’s home to be the wife’s separate property. The Fifth District Court of Appeal overturned the trial court’s ruling, based upon the wording contained in the couple’s prenuptial agreement. That agreement gave each spouse the right to give away, sell, or distribute via estate planning tools his or her separate property. By transferring the title of the couple’s home from her name alone to the husband’s name alone, the wife completed exactly such a valid gift, which made the property the husband’s alone.
When you believe that you are threatened by your partner or former partner, the law and the courts may be a vital part of enhancing your safety. In order to make sure that you protect yourself, it is important to be sure that you are pursuing the proper type of injunction of protection. In one recent case originating in Palm Beach County, the Fourth District Court of Appeal revived a woman’s case seeking an injunction of protection against repeat violence. Contrary to the trial court’s decision, the woman did present a valid case because the woman’s evidence of stalking qualified as “violence.”
A recent study is reporting that there are specific peaks of divorce filings in March and August. According to researchers, people who want to get divorced do not want to file during the summer family vacation season or before the winter holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. The study found that divorce filings peaked in March and August and were the lowest in November and December. Divorce filings also decreased in April and did not increase until August.
Researchers examined divorce cases in 37 of 39 counties in one state between 2001 through 2015. Irrespective of the size of the counties, the trends appeared to be similar. The research indicated that there were 430 divorce filings in December, 570 divorce filings by March and 558 in August. From December to March the divorce filings increased by 33%. Similarly, from December to August divorce filings increased by 30%. The peaks in divorce case filing happen in the months after the winter and summer breaks.
The delay in divorce filings may be attributed to socially sensitive times during the year. People enter holiday seasons with rising expectations even though they may have had a substandard year. They leave the holidays looking for a new opportunity, a fresh start and a change. For unhappy marriages, vacations can be very stressful when they do not meet expectations. After spending a lengthy vacation with a spouse, individuals often find that they are even unhappier and begin to plan for their divorce.
When you become involved in a family law case, it is important that you follow the orders issued by the judge. However, it is also important to understand that, if you do not comply, there are certain limits imposed by the law regarding the punishments that the judge can hand out. These limits are the reason that the Third District Court of Appeal threw out an order jailing a man recently. The man, represented by Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Law Offices, could not permissibly be jailed because the notice regarding his most recent hearing, which he attended, did not state that he was potentially facing criminal contempt penalties.
There are many things related to family law that you cannot avoid paying by declaring bankruptcy. These include child support, alimony, or anything else paid to your spouse, ex-spouse, or child that is “in the nature of” support. In one recent case, though, a federal bankruptcy court ruled that a father could discharge as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case his portion of the fee owed to a psychological professional for a court-ordered psychological evaluation of the father’s child as part of the parents’ custody litigation. Bankruptcy covered the debt because it was not owed to or recoverable by either the child or the man’s ex-wife.
In Florida, if your marriage lasted 17 years or more, and you seek alimony, the law is fairly clear that a legal presumption exists that you should receive permanent alimony. There are various forms of proof that can overcome this presumption, but your young age cannot, by itself, make you ineligible for permanent alimony. In a recent South Florida case, the Fourth District Court of Appeal threw out an award of bridge-the-gap alimony because the trial court appeared to believe that the wife’s age of 42 alone made permanent alimony improper.
One of the many things you may be concerned about in a child support dispute is, “How will the court go about calculating how much I am able to pay?” This concern can be extremely high if you are someone who has recently lost your job, especially in this time of economic uncertainty and frequent “downsizing.” A case from the Tampa area that the Second District Court of Appeal decided earlier this month offers some very useful insight and information on this topic, along with hope for parents who’ve been recently fired but who are in court as potential payors of child support.
As a parent, one of your primary goals in life is the nurturing and protection of your children. When discovering that domestic violence has taken place in the home of your ex-spouse — and in full view of your children — you will probably feel spurred to take action. The law does allow the courts to make emergency changes to custody, timesharing, and visitation arrangements when situations like this occur. However, as one case from the Second District Court of Appeal shows, it is important to understand exactly what the courts can and cannot do for you when this sort of thing happens.