financesGoing through the divorce process can be, and often is, a difficult time, both emotionally and, in many situations, financially. Divorcing spouses may be forced to deplete financial accounts or sell assets to pay for necessary things like living expenses and legal fees. When you do, the expenditure of those assets may impact the outcome of your case with regard to equitable distribution. In any equitable distribution outcome, your goals certainly include not being penalized for depleting assets for legitimate reasons. To make sure you get a genuinely fair equitable distribution, make certain you have the services of an experienced South Florida family law attorney on your side.

For an illustration of the rules regarding the dissipation of marital assets, there’s the very recent case of T.M. and H.M. from Palm Beach County. Each spouse petitioned for divorce in 2016 after nearly 25 years of marriage. The couple’s divorce case covered several important issues, including equitable distribution and child support. After the trial was over, the wife appealed. In her appeal, she objected to several decisions the trial court made regarding equitable distribution as well as the calculation of her income for child support calculation purposes.

The outcome of the appellate argument regarding the equitable distribution of the couple’s marital assets was particularly useful. In T.M. and H.M.’s case, the trial judge awarded the wife her checking account and her savings account. The documents in the divorce case identified the value of the savings account as $13,275 and the value of the checking account as $13,212.

education costIn your Florida child support case, it is important to understand when a Florida judge can, and cannot, issue a ruling. As one Orlando-area case recently showed, the rules regarding when a court can order child support are much broader than those regarding when a court can determine custody. There is no requirement that Florida be the child’s “home state” under child custody jurisdiction laws. In other words, if you’re in Florida and you need to assert a claim for imposition of a child support obligation, you should reach out to an experienced Florida family law attorney as you may be able to bring your case in this state.

The child support case between R.K. and P.K. was one that involved this type of issue of court jurisdiction. The couple wed in Florida, had a child here and lived as a family in this state for several years. However, at some later point, the marriage broke down, the couple separated and the mother and child relocated to Ireland.

In the summer of 2017, the husband filed for divorce in Brevard County. As part of his court document filings, the father asserted that, under Florida’s child custody jurisdiction laws, Florida courts did not have jurisdiction over the child, so the husband’s pleadings pertained solely to the couple’s issues that did not involve the child. The wife’s court papers asked the court in Brevard County to award child support, ordered that the husband contribute to the child’s uncovered health care costs and to maintain medical insurance for the child.

child supportIn any child support case, it is important if you are the parent with support obligation to contest aggressively through proper legal channels any overstatement of the amount of money you owe. For one Miami father, that recently meant going to the Third District Court of Appeal to contest a ruling that he owed seven and one-half years of child support based upon a temporary domestic violence injunction. The father was able to get that support arrearage reduced from 7.5 years down to just one year because the injunction expired after one year and the law doesn’t allow imposition of support based upon expired injunctions. If you find yourself, like this father, facing a claim that you owe a massive support arrearage, take action by retaining a skilled South Florida family law attorney to handle your case.

To understand what this case can mean for you, it helps to study the timeline. In August 2007, a trial court issued a “temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence with minor children” against K.C. As part of that case, the court ordered K.C., the father, to pay $351 every other week in child support to the mother, B.G..

Many years later, K.C. and B.G. were back in court, this time on a paternity action. At the conclusion of this case, the court decided that the temporary injunction was still in effect in March 2015, and that the father owed more than $28,000 in back child support for the preceding seven and one-half years.

Legal News GavelIn any type of court case, including a Florida family law case, there’s the potential to think that you’re “behind the 8-ball.” Even if you find yourself in a very disadvantageous position legally, it is important not to assume that you have no options. Many times, under the law, you have more options than you might think, and skilled representation can make the difference between success and failure. Don’t give up on your case; take action instead and retain skilled Florida counsel. One South Florida father did exactly that, retaining our firm, and successfully getting a modification of his timesharing agreement overturned.

Our client, J.M., was a father who found himself hauled into court on the mother’s “emergency” request to modify timesharing. Filing an emergency motion can possibly allow you to get a hearing before a judge on an expedited basis. Even if you find yourself on the defending side of such a motion and facing a hearing in the immediate future, it is important to make every effort to retain counsel.

J.M. did not have a lawyer at his emergency hearing. The judge let the mother testify and let her call a witness. After the clock passed 5:00 p.m., the judge announced that the allotted time had expired and that the hearing was over. The father had not testified, had not presented any evidence and had not even finished cross-examining the mother. Unsurprisingly, based on this limited array of evidence, the trial court ruled in favor of the mother.

If you find yourself in a situation in which you need to move, and the custody of your child is the subject of a court order, there are certain steps you must take. First, go out and retain the services of a skilled South Florida child custody attorney. Even if the relocation is one made as a result of financial necessity (such as a sole income earner’s involuntary job transfer) or is entirely out of your control (such as a deportation), the law nevertheless says that you must go to court and file a petition requesting to relocate with the child. The court will assess the evidence and determine whether or not the move is in the best interest of the child. It is important that you wait until your petition is granted before making the move.Legal News Gavel

The case of S.B. and J.B. was an example of this type of dispute. The parents were divorced spouses who shared custody of a minor child. The divorce took place while the mother was pregnant, and the divorce settlement agreement stated that the unborn child would reside primarily with the mother.

Some time later, though, the mother’s new husband received a job transfer to South Florida. Unable to find a new job near home, the husband accepted the transfer, and the family planned to move to South Florida. The mother asked the court to approve the relocation. The court in these parents’ case ordered the parents to attempt to work out their timesharing issues on their own. S.B., even though the court hadn’t issued a relocation order, moved the child to South Florida anyway. This relocation led the couple to return to court. The judge denied the mother’s request to relocate the child. In addition, the judge also modified timesharing, ordering that the child reside primarily with the father. Specifically, the court awarded the father 70% timesharing.

If someone in your life decides to go to court and seek a domestic violence injunction against you, you have many options. Depending on the circumstances, you might think that the easiest and best option is just to ignore it. That is, in the vast majority of circumstances, the worst plan of action you can have. Simply ignoring the case, refusing to litigate, and allowing the injunction to be entered can have massive detrimental effects on your life.prison cell

Having a current domestic violence injunction against you can cause many problems. It generally will prevent you from possessing any firearms and possessing any ammunition. You can’t get a concealed weapon license if you have a current domestic violence injunction against you. The injunction may also negatively affect where you live, may cause you to be excluded from consideration for certain jobs (or even fired from the job you currently have), and may negatively affect your timesharing with your children. That’s why it’s almost never a good idea to turn your back on these cases. Instead, retain the services of a skilled South Florida domestic violence attorney and contest your case.

A recent case from near Clearwater serves as an example of how the process works and how a successful defense works. K.D., the wife, filed a request in circuit court asking for an injunction for protection against domestic violence against her husband, J.D. While the wife initially won and received the injunction from the trial court judge, the husband was ultimately successful on appeal. He achieved ultimate success because Florida has several things that a person seeking a domestic violence injunction must show, and the case K.D. made did not meet all of those requirements imposed by Florida law.

Legal News GavelWhen it comes to alimony, the law recognizes that the goal of the award is to provide needed support for the recipient spouse. To further that objective, a court may order the payor spouse to go out and purchase a life insurance policy that will, in the event of the payor’s untimely death, allow the recipient spouse to obtain the equivalent of the alimony ordered in the divorce. If you are the spouse whom a judge has ordered to pay alimony (and make the purchase of life insurance), it is useful to bear in mind that the law requires the court to make certain specific findings of fact about your situation and, if the judge doesn’t, you may be able to get the order commanding purchase of insurance reversed. Whether you are the spouse ordered to buy insurance or you are the alimony recipient, it is wise to have the representation of an experienced Florida family law attorney to protect you interests and needs..

A divorce from the panhandle county of Okaloosa, which ended up going all the way to the First District Court of Appeal, was a case where life insurance was a contested issue. The trial judge ordered the husband to pay child support and also to pay $1,500 per month in alimony. The alimony was durational for a period of four years. The court also ordered the husband to purchase a life insurance policy to act as security for the child support and alimony obligations.

In order for a spouse/parent to be required by law to purchase life insurance, there are certain procedural steps that the court must complete. For one thing, the law requires that the judge must make specific factual findings about the supporting spouse/parent’s ability to pay and the recipient spouse/parent’s need, just as the law requires for an award of alimony generally.

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Legal News GavelMany people likely remember that, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples had a fundamental right to marry in all 50 states three summers ago. Two years later, the high court made another ruling that, although receiving less news media coverage than the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision, also had a massive impact on families with gay and lesbian parents. That more recent ruling, from the summer of 2017, declared that the states were required to list a same-sex spouse on a child’s birth certificate if they similarly listed a mother’s husband (even if the husband was not the biological father). While some may view these battles as primarily political or social in nature, the reality is that birth certificates play a very substantial role when it comes to determining child custody after a split. Regardless of your orientation, probably nothing is more important to you than your relationship with your children, which is why you should make sure you retain a knowledgeable Florida family law attorney to handle your child custody case.

The reason this issue of names on a birth certificate matters so much is because of the way that Florida goes about deciding who has what rights when it comes to custody of, and timesharing with, a child. The law in this state grants a parent a privacy right that entitles the parent to control the amount of contact a child has with someone who does not have the status of legal parenthood.

Obviously, this matters for some opposite-sex couples, where the child may live with two parent figures, one of whom has legal status and one of whom does not. It matters a great deal, though, for a lot of same-sex couples where many of their families are in that position. It matters because, although everyone wants to think that their current marriage/relationship will last forever, many don’t. If you’re gay or lesbian, you may find yourself one day completely cut off from the child you raised for a decade or more since he/she was a baby.

Legal News GavelThe issue of alimony can be a difficult and contentious one in some divorces. That can be especially true if the former spouse who is now seeking an alimony award is already living with someone new. In spite of all the emotional difficulty that such issues and relationships can create, it is important to understand that not all relationships will impact the calculation of alimony. Whether you are seeking alimony or opposing payment of alimony, make sure you have an experienced Florida family law attorney on your side.

This type of complex set of relationship dynamics was in play in a recent case from Osceola County. The husband and wife were married for 20 years before the couple separated. During the marriage, the wife typically earned less than $15,000 per year working customer service jobs on nights and weekends, so that she could be at home with the couple’s children. The wife had a college degree and a teaching certification, but that certification was no longer valid. She suffered from many medical maladies, including hearing loss, permanent arthritis and several herniated discs in her back. The husband, on the other hand, made in excess of $70,000 per year as the regional branch manager of a library.

After separating, the wife moved into a home that she shared with her boyfriend. That fact factored into the outcome of the wife’s alimony request. The trial court determined that the wife had a need for alimony and the husband had an ability to pay alimony, but the court still awarded no alimony. The reason? The “wife has changed the nature of the request for

Legal News GavelWhen you pay child support, that money goes to allow the children’s other parent to provide for the children’s day-to-day needs. So, what happens when you or someone other than that other parent becomes the person who provides for that child on a day-to-day basis? Generally, there are certain circumstances in which the payor parent can offer what’s called an “equitable defense” against paying the full amount of support. One of these defenses is triggered when the child being supported ceases being supported by the custodial parent. In other words, you may have a case for not owing a portion of your child support obligation not only when a child moves in with you, but also when a child moves in with a grandparent or aunt/uncle or so forth. For answers to all your child support questions, contact a skilled Florida family law attorney for the information you need

One Florida family recently encountered this type of issue. The couple’s divorce action included a marital settlement agreement that laid out terms for child support. The agreement stated that the father would pay the mother $820 per month in support of the couple’s three children. The agreement also contained conditional terms for when each child became “emancipated” (turned 18). For support of two children, the amount stated in the agreement was $673 per month.

In 2016, the mother went back to court seeking an order of enforcement and/or an order holding the father in contempt. The mother alleged that, in June 2015, the father unilaterally started paying a reduced amount of child support, with modification order from the court. The father fought back, arguing that he was entitled to pay a lesser amount because the couple’s eldest child had switched from living with the mother to living with him.

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