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Articles Posted in In the News (Divorce)

Broward Circuit Judge Susan F. Greenhawt, the present administrative judge of the unified family court, has notified Governor Rick Scott that she is retiring from her nine year tenure on the bench, effective June 30, 2012.

Divorce lawyers in Fort Lauderdale have been informed by Chief Circuit Judge Peter Weinstein that Circuit Judge Arthur Birken will step in and become the administrative judge of the unified family court. Judge Birken presently presides over marital and family law cases involving alimony, child support, time-sharing, parenting plans and paternity.

Judge Weinstein was surprised when Judge Greenhawt informed him in February of her plans to leave the bench and become a mediator. Judge Weinstein, along with many marital and family lawyers in Broward County, Florida, believe that Judge Greenhawt has displayed an extraordinary work ethic.

Two bills passed by the Florida House died in the Senate as the legislative session ended on March 9th. House Bill 549 would have put an end to permanent alimony in the State of Florida. House Bill 1209 was designed to ban Florida courts from considering foreign or religious law in legal decisions. As the session ended, the Florida Senate chose not to call either bill to the floor for a vote. Proponents of both measures have vowed to reintroduce the proposed laws in the future.

A spokesperson for the Florida Alimony Reform group, Alan Frisher, expressed disappointment in the Senate’s failure to pass alimony reform during the recent legislative session. According to Frisher, current alimony laws promote extended periods of animosity between ex-spouses. He believes the state should instead focus on the length of a couple’s marriage as well as transitional alimony which would purportedly encourage both spouses to become self-sufficient. Frisher stated the organization will continue to fight to change the state’s allegedly antiquated alimony laws. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Association strongly opposed House Bill 549 and the organization’s head, David Manz, referred to the Florida Alimony Reform group as a vocal minority.

The Florida Senate also declined to vote on House Bill 1209, “Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases.” Although the measure did not single out Islamic law, it was often referred to by critics as the the “anti-Sharia” bill. If re-elected, Senate sponsor Alan Hays of Umatilla plans on reintroducing the measure in the next legislative session. Opponents of the failed measure have stated such a law is unnecessary and expressed concern over the intent of the bill as well as its effect on family law matters such as divorce and child custody. According to Hays, the measure was simply designed to ensure United States law is the only law considered by Florida courts.

In Florida, a court may award alimony where there is a need on the part of the alimony receiver and an ability to pay on the part of the alimony payor. A needs assessment will examine the distribution of marital assets and the couple’s standard of living prior to the divorce. If the potential alimony receiver has the ability to maintain the same standard of living after all assets are distributed, a Florida court generally will not award alimony.

Each year, many Americans find themselves in the midst of divorce proceedings. Although the range of emotions associated with the end of a marriage can feel overwhelming, the financial damage can also be devastating. If you are faced with the dissolution of your marriage, contact a qualified divorce attorney to help you protect your interests. An experienced divorce lawyer will discuss your options with you and help you file your case.
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Last week, the Florida House passed a bill which would ban all courts in the state from considering foreign or religious law in legal decisions and contract disputes. Despite passionate opposition from a variety of religious activist groups as well as two Jewish lawmakers, House Bill 1209 passed with a vote of 92-24. Although approximately 50 witnesses were on hand Tuesday to provide statements against the bill, lawmakers chose not to allow their testimony and instead went straight to the floor for a vote.

Critics refer to House Bill 1209 as the “anti-Sharia” bill in reference to religious based Islamic law. Although the bill was passed by a wide margin, Representatives Jim Waldman of Coconut Creek and Elaine Schwartz of Hollywood strongly opposed the bill. Representative Schwartz stated thousands of her constituents wrote to her expressing their concern over the measure. Because the bill would ensure Florida law trumps religious or foreign law in family law cases such as divorce and child custody disputes, she also expressed worry regarding how the law would affect divorces mediated by Jewish tribunals.

The bill, titled “Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases,” was sponsored by Representative Larry Metz of Eustis who stated the proposed law was designed to prevent Florida courts from upholding Islamic law as has recently occurred in other parts of the country. He also stated he believes the law is fair because it applies to every foreign and religious law equally. Representative Metz cited increasing economic internationalization as an additional factor behind the law. He sponsored a similar ball last year.

Carin Marie Porras, chair-elect of the Florida Bar Association’s Family Law Section, believes the proposed law impairs the rights of Florida citizens. She stated Florida courts do not currently consider foreign laws that contradict public policy. The law’s effect on divorce and family law has the potential to be widespread. Before the bill becomes law, it must be approved by the Florida Senate. An identical Senate Bill 1360 is now under consideration by state lawmakers.

Each year many Americans find themselves in the midst of divorce proceedings. The range of emotions associated with the end of a marriage can feel overwhelming. The financial damage that can accompany a divorce can also be devastating. If you find yourself faced divorce, you owe it to yourself to consult with a qualified divorce attorney to help you protect your financial and other interests. An experienced divorce attorney will discuss your options with you and help you file your case.
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The members of the bar and bench are mourning the death of Maxine Cohen Lando, a veteran Miami-Dade Circuit Judge who died today at Mount Sinai Medical Center from cholangiocarcinoma, a bile duct cancer. She was 61.

Since spring of 2011, Judge Lando had undergone surgery and chemotherapy. Her condition began to deteriorate when she fell at the courthouse in October 2011. She had been in the hospital since February 2012.

Judge Lando began her legal career 40 years ago at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s office. She was an Assistant Public Defender from 1974 to 1985, where she served in the Felony Division, and was a Senior Trial Assistant for both the Juvenile Division and the Misdemeanor and Traffic Division.

In an 83-30 vote, the Florida House has passed Representative Ritch Workman’s bill designed to end permanent alimony in the state. House Bill 549 would not only prohibit new permanent alimony obligations in favor of long-term support orders, but it could also be applied retroactively to permanent alimony awards made in the past. This means Florida citizens currently paying permanent alimony would have the opportunity to reduce or eliminate spousal support obligations. The bill will now move on to the Florida Senate.

If the bill becomes law, it would reduce the length of time a court may award alimony payments to half of the length of the marriage absent additional written justification by a court outlining the need for a longer duration. It would also make it easier for those paying alimony to stop payments upon retirement and prohibit a court from ordering the paying spouse to live on a lower net income than the payee. Additionally, the law would prohibit a court from considering the income and assets of an alimony payer’s new spouse upon remarriage.

According to Florida Alimony Reform (FAR), a group that assisted in writing the bill, the law is necessary because current Florida alimony laws are unfair to men. 95 percent of divorced individuals paying alimony in the state are men and the financial burden of permanent alimony awards often prevent them from retiring. House Bill 549 was a compromise bill. FAR originally advocated for more sweeping alimony reforms.

The Florida Bar Association has publicly criticized the alimony bill and accused FAR of spreading misinformation. According to a press release written by David Manz of the Florida Bar Association’s Family Law Section, the proposed law is “far-reaching in magnitude and would have significant adverse and unintended consequences.” Although the Florida Bar reportedly agrees alimony reform is necessary, the organization claims FAR has exaggerated the purported lack of fairness in the current system. Manz also stated the Bar Association would support fair reform to Florida’s alimony laws.

In Florida, an alimony award is intended to maintain each spouse’s standard of living after a divorce. Because an award of alimony is contingent upon the financial needs of one spouse and the other’s ability to pay, alimony is not awarded in all circumstances. The length of the marriage also factors into any alimony awarded by a Florida court.

Although a permanent alimony award may be made at the discretion of a judge after a moderate or short-term marriage is dissolved, it is normally awarded to a spouse who is no longer capable of meeting basic financial needs after a long term marriage of more than 17 years. Florida courts are required to determine no other alimony award is “fair and reasonable under the circumstances,” before permanent alimony is awarded. For marriages which lasted between 7-17 years, there must be clear and convincing evidence permanent alimony is the appropriate award.
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A 30-year-old Opa-locka mother of three was arrested last weekend for allegedly attempting to sell her infant son for $7,000. She was charged with a felony adoption violation after she reportedly called an acquaintance and offered to sell him her 8-month-old son. The man, a confidential police informant, immediately alerted Monroe County authorities and assisted police by recording conversations with the woman regarding the planned sale. After she reportedly failed to meet the man and an undercover officer from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, she was taken into custody at her apartment. An outraged Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge ordered her bail set at $25,000.

The woman allegedly chose to sell her child due to financial strain. She had reportedly sought assistance from the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. According to her neighbors, she was also struggling to pay the monthly rent on a one bedroom apartment. The woman told the judge presiding over her bond hearing she only received $650 per month in child support from her estranged husband.

A Miami-Dade juvenile court judge, María Sampedro-Iglesia, placed temporary custody of all three of the woman’s children with her estranged husband. According to her husband, the infant the woman allegedly attempted to sell is not his child. Because he is currently unemployed, the judge also ordered him to seek food stamp assistance.

Another man attended the temporary custody hearing and stated he may be the father of the infant allegedly put up for sale. He stated he would seek custody of the child if a paternity test revealed he is in fact the boy’s father. According to Sampedro-Iglesia, the law views the woman’s husband as the child’s father and the other man currently has no paternal rights.

In Florida, parents are obligated to provide support for their children. A child support award is determined using established statutory guidelines. The award will take into account costs related to medical and dental care, day care, and the amount of time each parent is awarded according to their time sharing plan. If a child suffers from any disabilities, it may also factor into an award of support. If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or under-employed, a court may award child support based on imputed income. Imputed income is determined using a parent’s job qualifications, past employment record, and community pay rates.
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Details of professional wrestling personality Hulk Hogan’s confidential divorce settlement came to light this week after a recent court filing. After more than 25 years of marriage, Hogan’s ex-wife, Linda Bollea, reportedly received approximately 70 percent of the couple’s liquid assets, $3 million in property, 40 percent of various company revenues and several luxury vehicles. Luckily for Hogan, he was not ordered to pay alimony despite the long term nature of the Florida couple’s marriage. Child support was not at issue as the couple’s two children were adults at the time of the couple’s split.

The divorce settlement was reportedly disclosed when Hogan filed a copy of the agreement as part of an ongoing legal dispute between the former couple. Hogan is currently challenging a court order to pay his ex-wife a percentage of gross company revenues. According to Hogan’s attorneys, the divorce settlement stipulated his ex-wife receive a percentage of net company revenues and requires that all disputes must be addressed through arbitration.

Hogan’s divorce was no doubt costly. He likely would have benefited immensely from a negotiated prenuptial agreement, which the couple reportedly did not have. In Florida, a prenuptial agreement is a written contract signed by both potential spouses prior to marriage which outlines how assets will be divided in the event of divorce or death. The semiretired wrestler’s highly public and acrimonious split from his wife reportedly dragged out in the courts for almost two years. If the parties had entered into a prenuptial agreement, negotiations over assets and spousal support obligations likely would have been decided well in advance of any split. Unfortunately, many people who enter into marriage with few assets do not consider signing a prenuptial agreement and later regret it.

Even where no prenuptial agreement exists, most family law issues can be resolved outside of a courtroom through negotiated settlements. Postnuptial agreements can be a useful tool for couples in Florida. Postnuptial agreements are written contracts, such as marital settlement agreements, entered into by married couples who are contemplating separation or divorce. A postnuptial agreement will generally address the disposition of assets and spousal support obligations. Such agreements may also include provisions regarding child support and custody but they are always subject to modification by a court.
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If you are interested in buying a divorce cake, a local bakery in Cooper City, Florida can provide you with your custom cake. A Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney has learned that couples who divorce in Broward are throwing parties to celebrate that their marriage is over. These parties help transition a party from married life to single life. One divorce party planner strictly provides services to divorcees. The company allows a divorcee to choose from different themes depending upon their own preferences.

Divorce party planners believe that divorce parties justify the traumatic experience that people go through following a trial in Fort Lauderdale that deals with alimony, child support, child custody and other marital and family law matters. The party fulfills a void in a person’s life during a crisis such as a divorce.

For some individuals, celebrating their divorce fulfills the need for companionship. During and after a divorce, people are on their own. They tend to feel anxious and depressed. While some people spend as much as they spent on their wedding, a divorce party can also be viewed as an unfortunate way to celebrate a family that has been split up.

A legislator in Florida, Representative Ritch Workman, is attempting to repeal a state law which makes it illegal to cohabit with a party who is not a spouse. Specifically, “if any man or woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together..they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree”. This crime is currently punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Approximately 544,907 Floridians live in a relationship in violation of Florida law. This law is now viewed as both unenforceable and unrealistic. One advocate believes that there is a role for government to promote marriage instead of cohabitation. The rationale is that greater marriage rates have a lower likelihood of crime, less domestic violence and better educational results for children.

Individuals believe that there are governmental limitations in promoting marriage. Arresting individuals who live together is not realistic or fair. Many Floridians do not want to marry due to a prior Broward divorce which they experienced or lived through with their own parents.

In 1981, John Ferenc bought a home in Florida with his wife. Several years later, he began to serve a prison sentence for burglary, grand theft and some other crimes. While in prison for 26 years, his wife paid off the entire mortgage.

In 2009, Ferenc was released from prison after 26 years. Shortly after, he filed for divorce. His wife, Loretta Jean, is 72 years of age. She is disabled, uses a walker and is not very mobile. She is not prepared to move and does not want to move largely in part of the depressed real estate market.

A order issued by a Florida marital and family law divorce judge requires the wife to vacate her home, a place where she has lived in for 30 years. Effective September 1, 2011, the husband will receive temporary and exclusive use and occupancy of the marital residence.