Articles Posted in Economy

A wife successfully managed to obtain a freeze of $3 million of her husband’s assets while posting an injunction bond of only $100. The 3d District Court of Appeal upheld this low bond because Florida’s courts were in the position only of enforcing an order in an underlying divorce case situated in Argentina, which meant that the Florida courts should defer to the Argentinian rule, which disfavors imposing bonds on the economically weaker spouse in a divorce.

A woman filed for divorce from her husband in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2011. Both were Argentinian citizens and residents, but the wife claimed that the husband held some money in bank accounts in Miami. The court in Argentina issued an order freezing half the funds in those accounts and seeking the aid of the American courts in enforcing that order.

The wife then went to the Circuit Court in Miami and succeeded in obtaining a temporary injunction to freeze the accounts. The court required the wife to pay a bond as part of the injunction process, but it set that amount at only $100. The husband asked the court to increase the amount of the bond, claiming that the injunction froze roughly $3 million in assets and that $100 was too small an amount. The court held a hearing but declined to increase the bond. The Circuit Court concluded that its role was nothing more than one of enforcement of the Argentinian order under the principal of comity, which means the recognition of legal rulings from an outside state or country.
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One variety of estate planning technique used to shield assets from creditors is the use of discretionary trusts, such as so-called “spendthrift trusts.” In a recent ruling by the 2d District Court of Appeal, however, the trusts a former husband created failed to block his ex-wife from collecting the alimony he owed her. The court decided that, although Florida has a public policy favoring the recognition of spendthrift provisions in trusts, it has a stronger policy favoring the protection of spouses through the enforcement of spousal support orders.

When a couple divorced in 2007, after 30 years of marriage, they reached a marital settlement agreement resolving, among other items, alimony. The agreement, which the court ratified, required the husband to pay the wife $16,000 per month. Despite receiving a sizable regular income from a series of discretionary trusts, the husband fell behind on his alimony.

The wife filed motions seeking enforcement of the alimony order, including asking the court to order the garnishment of any distributions from the trusts to the husband. The trustee objected, claiming that the law protected trust assets from all creditors, including the wife. The trial court agreed with the wife and issued the order.
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Just three short months after Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s divorce became final, a Florida appeals court was again called upon to enter a decision in the half-decade long legal contest. The 3d District Court of Appeal overturned a trial court’s order requiring the NBA star’s ex-wife to undergo a mental evaluation and also removed the trial court judge from the case, citing his denial of the “most basic right of due process” to the ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches.

Many of the facts of Wade’s ill-fated marriage are well-known by now. Wade and Funches married in 2002, had two sons, and filed for divorce in 2007. The divorce proceeding turned into a marathon affair, becoming final only three months ago. In the property settlement, Wade agreed to pay Funches $25,000 in alimony, with another $10,000 in travel and living expenses. The basketball star also agreed to pay Funches’ mortgage and gave her the use of four cars.

This outcome apparently displeased the ex-wife, as Funches took to the streets of her hometown of Chicago. Funches stages a public protest claiming that the divorce had left her “on the streets.” Wade’s legal team fired back, returning to court to argue that Funches’ protest demonstrated her mental instability and dangerousness and requested that the court order a psychological evaluation of the woman and reduce her contact with the boys. Trial court judge Antonio Marin ordered the evaluation.
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As a result of tough financial times, married couples seeking a divorce in Florida are increasingly filing for dissolution of their marriages without the assistance of an attorney. In fact, more than half of divorces filed in both Sarasota and Manatee counties within the past five years involved at least one pro se spouse. An individual who acts as his or her own attorney in court is normally referred to as a pro se litigant. Depressed housing values, fewer assets, and the perceived cost of legal fees may all play a role in the trend.

In the past, home equity was a big source of contention in may Florida divorces. When the housing bubble burst, many divorcing couples turned to online or other do-it-yourself divorce forms. As a result, too many pro se divorcees do not fully understand their legal rights, and unfortunately end up making unwise compromises with regard to financial support, child visitation, and other aspects of family law. Not surprisingly, the divorce process can be a dangerous road to travel alone.

For many divorcing spouses, going before a judge without the assistance of an experienced legal advocate is a mistake. First, the economic downturn has resulted in budget cuts that can affect those who choose to represent themselves in a Florida family court. For example, most Legal Aid and low-cost mediation services throughout the state have lost funding. This results in dramatically increased wait times before a pro se litigant may obtain an appointment. Consequently, many would-be divorcees attend library workshops where a volunteer explains what specific legal terms mean and how to fill out a pro se divorce petition. However, such volunteers may not provide important legal advice. Additionally, Florida family court case managers are often stretched thin and public law libraries are often underfunded. As thousands of legal novices try acting as their own attorneys, Florida family law courts have reportedly become increasingly bogged down.

If you are considering ending your marriage, it is important to remember that Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means neither partner needs to be held responsible for the end of a marriage. Although most family law matters can be resolved outside of court through a negotiated settlement, you still need a dedicated advocate on your side to represent your interests.

No matter the situation, couples who seek to end their marriage may negotiate a postnuptial agreement like a marital settlement agreement prior to filing a petition for dissolution. A postnuptial agreement can save divorcing couples both time and hassle because it will normally address the disposition of assets, pets, and any agreed upon spousal support obligations. If you are considering divorce, you should contact a hardworking family law attorney early on in the process to help you protect your rights and your financial future.
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Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal has reversed a permanent periodic alimony and attorney fees award in a high profile divorce case. A Miami-Dade trial court awarded Nancy Loftus Quinones $14,135 in monthly alimony following her 2009 divorce from her husband of 18 years, ABC News correspondent John M. Quinones. At the time of the parties’ divorce, the former wife was reportedly largely unemployed for 18 years and the former husband earned more than $1 million per year. The couple also had two children who were attending private schools, one of whom was still a minor. Mr. Quinones reportedly voluntarily paid the private school tuition for both children.

At the time of the divorce, Mr. Quinones reportedly brought home more than $58,000 per month. He allegedly paid approximately $52,000 per year on college tuition and other payments for the couple’s adult son. Because the parties reportedly did not enter into a contractual agreement regarding the tuition payments, the trial court committed error when it considered the former husband’s voluntary payments for the couple’s adult child when determining the wife’s alimony award. This increased Mr. Quinones’ monthly expenses and reduced the amount of money he had available each month to pay alimony to his former wife.

Mrs. Quinones claimed she required $28,000 per month in order to maintain her current lifestyle. According to the Third District Court, the number was not unreasonable based on the parties’ lifestyle and her former husband’s income. Despite that no evidence was offered to refute the former wife’s financial claims, the trial court adjusted her alimony award downward. Consequently, the Third District Court of Appeal determined the trial court failed to properly take into account the standard of living the wife enjoyed prior to the couple’s divorce as required by Florida Statute.

The Third District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded the case for reconsideration of the permanent periodic alimony award. On remand, the trial court was ordered to disregard Mr. Quinones’ voluntary payment of tuition expenses for his adult child and to take into account the standard of living enjoyed by the parties prior to the dissolution of their marriage. Additionally, because there was nothing in the trial court record to demonstrate the former wife engaged in behavior to prolong litigation or inflate her attorney’s fees, the Court reversed the trial court’s costs award and remanded the issue for reconsideration. Finally, the Third District affirmed the trial court’s equitable distribution award.
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Last month, a Hillsborough County Circuit judge ordered the arrest of a successful Tampa area businessman, after he was found guilty of five counts of criminal contempt of court for failure to pay his child support and alimony obligations. The man reportedly failed to attend the contempt hearing where Judge Caroline Tesche sentenced him to almost six months in jail for repeatedly refusing to pay more than $6 million in alimony and child support.

The man’s ex-wife initiated divorce proceedings in 2009 and the former couple reached a final settlement agreement in July 2011. Although the couple has a 12-year-old son together, she stated her former husband has not supported them for several years. According to her attorney, the man now owes his ex-wife $10 million.

The man in this case is reportedly a decorated Vietnam veteran, a former president of a company, and previously ran a building materials business which allegedly reported profits of more than $4 million per month at its height. At one point, he reportedly owned a mansion and regularly drove several high end sports cars. Now, the man claims he is financially insolvent. In fact, he allegedly filed for bankruptcy just three days prior to the contempt hearing. Still, Judge Tesche believes the father has the ability to pay.

This man reportedly owns stock in several large companies as well as other assets. His attorney has argued that the man’s hands are tied as the former couple’s settlement agreement prohibits him from selling his stock in order to generate cash. He also claims the man is unable to liquidate any of his assets and lives off of loans and a small monthly Department of Veterans Affairs disability check.

According to the former wife, her ex-husband has the money and is merely hiding millions of dollars in assets from her. In November 2010, he spent more than two weeks in jail for refusing to produce documents during the couple’s divorce proceedings. When he filed for bankruptcy, the man reportedly estimated his assets as being in the range of $100 to $500 million and his liabilities at no more than $50 million. To further complicate the case, the Internal Revenue Service is also allegedly performing a criminal investigation into his affairs. His attorney has stated he is not aware of the man’s current location.

Each year many Florida residents find themselves in the midst of a less than amicable divorce. Understandably, the host of emotions associated with the end of a marriage can be overwhelming. The financial damage can oftentimes make a bad situation even worse. If you are contemplating divorce, you need an experienced family law attorney to help you protect your financial interests.
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The Sun Sentinel is reporting that there has been an increase in the number of amicable divorces and divorces without lawyers. While the total number of divorces between 2005-2009 decreased, simplified divorces increased 20% in Broward County and 50% in Palm Beach County. In these simplified cases, parties resolve their case in a more amicable fashion.

The economic downturn has resulted in less assets to divide, concerns about the cost of hiring two lawyers and mediation becoming a more attractive alternative to contested divorce litigation. In South Florida, 60% of marriages end in divorce. A contested divorce can cost $10,000 to $25,000. Conversely, mediation can cost less than $5,000.

Couples who require equitable distribution of their assets and liabilities, a parenting plan and a time-sharing schedule should consult with a Broward divorce attorney. Lawyers can assist their client in finding hidden assets and calculating child support.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that an improved economy has more couples feeling freer to end their marriage. Many people who are in troubled marriages have waited until the financial problems have settled to hire a Florida divorce lawyer. Now that individuals are more comfortable with the improved economic outlook, they are deciding to file for divorce. In 2010, a city in Florida in close proximity to Fort Lauderdale saw divorce cases rise 12% after falling 5% in 2008.

While couples have stayed together during the financial crisis, divorce attorneys in Miami-Dade and Broward now see a demand in clients wanting to proceed with a divorce. In fact, this is similar to the type of divorce filing activity that occurred after the Great Depression in the 1930s and during the recession in 1990 and 1991.

For more affluent couples, the decision to file for a divorce is based less on the economy and more on how they perceive their net worth. Now that the stock market has begun to recover, individuals feel free to move ahead and file for divorce

In what appears to be a sign of the beginning of the economic recovery, the divorce rate appears to be increasing in South Florida. During the recession, many couples in Miami and Fort Lauderdale did not file for divorce since they could not sell their home and their assets had decreased in value. As the divorce rate fell about 7% between 2008 and 2009, divorce attorneys in Broward saw business decline.

Marital and family lawyers now see banks lending money, stock market gains and individuals tired of waiting to file for divorce as reasons why the increase in filings is occurring. In addition, spouses retirement portfolios have increased and they are also able to borrow money in order to buy out the other spouse from the equitable distribution of marital assets.

Nonetheless, the economy still plays an important role during a divorce. Banks may pursue debt collection against both spouses even though one has agreed to make payment on a marital liability. For some couples, the recession improved their marriage. For others, the financial pressure was tough on the family and has now resulted in a divorce.

Disagreements over finances are one of the leading causes for divorce filings in Fort Lauderdale. When money is tight or investments are performing poorly, even couples who are happily married may encounter disagreements. However, before you talk to a divorce lawyer about alimony, child custody matters and a parenting plan, perhaps you should make some adjustments to your finances by having a financial divorce from your spouse.

In the past, a majority of financial decisions were made by the husband. Today, women depend on men far less than they did years ago. Women are now employed and have their own investments. In light of the climbing divorce rate, women do not want to be in a position where they rely upon men for alimony, support and maintenance.

A large percentage of marital disagreements deal with how money is spent. In addition, some couples have different investment objectives, methods and risk tolerances. South Florida couples with strict budgets who struggle to make ends meet may also fight about which bills to pay first.