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Articles Posted in Divorce

Late last May, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion called In re Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code. As a spouse contemplating divorce or a parent potentially facing a parental responsibility/timesharing case, you may think that a thing like a Supreme Court opinion on “amendments to the Florida Evidence Code” would be some sort of “hyper-technical lawyer thing” that would have little or no impact on your case. And, quite possibly, you’d be wrong in thinking that. Of course, it really isn’t reasonable to expect you, as a non-lawyer, to be keeping up with all the new changes to the Florida Rules of Evidence. This is a great reason, among a host of others, why it pays to have a knowledgeable Florida attorney on your side. Your experienced Fort Lauderdale family law attorney is going to be up to date on all of those changes and how to use those amended rules to your maximum benefit.

That May opinion from the Supreme Court altered the way that trial courts analyze whether or not expert evidence is admissible proof in a case. Up until the Supreme Court’s opinion, the rules for determining whether expert evidence was admissible were contained in a 1923 federal appellate case. Going forward, Florida’s rules of evidence for expert evidence admissibility will rely much more on a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case called Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.

Under the new rules in Florida, expert evidence is admissible if the testimony “is based upon sufficient facts or data” and “is the product of reliable principles and methods.” Additionally, the expert witness advancing that testimony must have “applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.”

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When people think about the services that their skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney provides, the first thing probably involves the attorney standing before a judge (or filing legal documents) to make strong and persuasive arguments that get the client to a successful outcome versus their ex-spouse or partner. Certainly, that is a big part of what your family law attorney does… but it isn’t everything. Another service is something that takes place outside court. That service is giving you the knowledgeable and unbiased advice you need to hear in order to be best equipped to make sound decisions about your case.

Take, for example, a misguided ex-husband from Kansas. D.O. and his ex-wife were involved in family litigation in a court in Iowa. The couple contested many issues, according to 850 WFTL, including property distribution, parental responsibility, timesharing and property taxes.

D.O., frustrated by the court filings submitted by his ex-wife’s lawyer, hatched a plan. He made a motion requesting permission “to settle his differences with his ex-wife by having a sword fight,” according to the report. Yes, that’s right… a sword fight… complete with authentic samurai swords imported from Japan. The husband’s motion for trial by combat stated his goal as hoping to “rend [the] souls” of his ex-wife and her lawyer “from their bodies.”

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Florida, like all states, has laws governing awards of spousal support (also known as alimony) following a divorce. Typically, alimony involves a monetary payment from one spouse to the other to help the less well-off spouse maintain something close to the standard of living he/she enjoyed during the marriage. Florida has many different types of alimony, so if you’re considering a divorce, whether you’re the wealthier or the less wealthy spouse, you should take the time to retain a skilled Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney to help you ensure that the alimony ordered in your case is a fair outcome.

Unfortunately, in several areas of the law, society evolves and changes faster than the law. In some ways, that’s good, as the law should be a stable and consistent thing. Other times, though, it isn’t, such as when it doesn’t keep up with important shifts in the way people live. Believing that some of Florida’s alimony laws fall into the latter category, some members of the state legislature have, once again, championed alimony reform, with HB 843 having been introduced in the legislature in December.

One of the key targets that HB 843 seek to reform is the concept of permanent alimony. Generally speaking, permanent alimony means that the recipient spouse is entitled to continue receiving payments until she dies or remarries (or, in some situations, begins cohabiting with a partner.)

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Several experts recommend against doing business with family. A few years ago, CBS News published an article about “5 Dangers of Doing Business With Family and Friends.” Many times, though, the pull of familial love and the desire to help out a child, sibling or parent may overcome concern about those dangers.

So, what happens if you receive money from your parent while you’re married and then you and your spouse divorce? It depends of the specific facts, but many times, if that money is a loan, then it is a marital debt. If your spouse is trying to put you on the hook for paying 100% of the loan debt you received from your mom or dad, don’t give up. Fight back with a skilled and knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney.

That type of scenario actually happened to one Florida Panhandle man in his divorce case. During the marriage, the couple received $125,000 from the husband’s mother. The couple received that money after the wife, a real estate professional, discovered a condo she deemed to be a good investment and suggested that she, her husband and her mother-in-law go in on the condo together. The husband’s mother balked at buying an ownership stake in the condo, but instead allegedly decided to loan the couple $125,000 so that they could make the purchase.

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One recent Southwest Florida case included a “de facto” domestic violence injunction, and served as a reminder to anyone going through a divorce, especially a hotly contested one, that things can always take unexpected turns. You can’t always expect the unexpected, but you can prepare for it and safeguard yourself from an unexpected and potentially damaging twist in your divorce case by having a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney on your side from the start.

Do you know what a “de facto domestic violence injunction” is? Probably not, as almost no one outside a certain set of lawyers would even be loosely familiar with the phrase. It’s very important to know that, if a court that was deciding your divorce case issued such a de facto domestic violence injunction, it would be just as serious as a “regular” domestic violence injunction.

So, what exactly does a de facto domestic violence injunction look like? In that extremely contentious case from Collier County, it involved a divorce judgment that, in Paragraph 19, said that “the Husband shall not come on or about the Wife’s place of employment. The Husband shall not come on or about the Wife’s residence, unless he has been specifically invited by the Wife, in writing, and for the sole purpose of delivering the children into her care. The Husband shall not come within 100 feet of the Wife’s motor vehicle.”

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There are many different decisions that have to be made in connection with your divorce, and they are all important to achieving your overall goals, although some may be more important than others. For example, if you file your divorce in the wrong county, then that may lead to your case getting dismissed or transferred to a different county, all of which can slow down you getting you to where you want to be – which is with a signed divorce judgment in find.

To make sure than you are doing everything possible, in terms of factual evidence, legal issues and procedural rules compliance, to give yourself the most complete and most efficient success possible, be sure you have an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney on your side, who can help you avoid getting trapped by the sort of procedural pitfalls that can ensnare even the most intrepid of self-represented spouses.

N.D. was a woman placed in a particularly precarious divorce scenario. She married her husband, J.P.D., in 2015 and, for three years, they lived in Orange County. In late 2018, they moved to Volusia County. Three months after that move, the wife again was relocating, this time to Miami-Dade County. This last move, though, was to escape the domestic violence her husband was inflicting on her.

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In today’s “gig” economy, fewer and fewer people are receiving incomes solely through salaried positions that pay steady earnings every week or every two weeks. Whether you’re a self-employed professional, someone who works in commissioned sales or an Uber driver, you know what it means to have an income that fluctuates.

If you’re also someone who owes alimony in Florida, you may wonder what these fluctuations mean to your alimony obligation. As a recent case highlighted, there are situations where an income change may entitle you to obtain a reduction (or even an elimination) of your alimony obligation. If you think your income changes have placed you in that position, be sure to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney right away to discuss your potential case for alimony modification.

In that recent case, C.M.S. was a professional who owned her own real estate title and escrow business and also was an ex-wife who owed an alimony obligation to her ex-husband. The wife’s title business relied very heavily on one client. That client, which had been responsible for roughly 85% of the title company’s business, eventually opened its own title operation and ended its relationship with C.M.S.’s company. Additionally, real estate “short sales,” which had been a huge area of profitability for C.M.S.’s company, became massively less common as the economic recovery led to rising property values. On top of those things, new regulations significantly restricted how C.M.S. could market her business.

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Typically, under most circumstances, assets and debts acquired during the time that a couple is married are considered by the law to be marital assets. That applies to student loan debt just the same as any other debt, generally speaking. There are, however, special circumstances that may make one spouse’s student loan debt acquired during the marriage non-marital debt or debt that is otherwise required to be distributed unequally.

In order to win that, the spouse seeking the unequal distribution (or classification of the debt as non-marital) must show the court that special circumstances exist. So, whether you’re arguing for a 50-50 division of the student loan debt or for some other type of distribution, you need to have on your side a skilled South Florida divorce attorney with an in-depth knowledge of Florida law and what that law requires in this kind of dispute.

A.T. was a Gainesville-area man with student loan debt who was going through a divorce case with his wife, N.T. During the time that the couple was married, A.T. incurred more than $10,000 in student loan debt. When the time came for the trial court to rule on the equitable distribution of the couple’s assets and debts, the court declared that the student loan debt was the husband’s non-marital debt and that he was 100% responsible for paying that debt.

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Sometimes, the story of your marriage and divorce, for purposes of your divorce case, can be very straightforward. Many times, though, it’s not. Many, if not most, divorcing couples, have some nuance, quirk or other atypical element to their story. To make sure that you are getting the best possible outcome from your divorce case, it pays to have a skilled South Florida family law attorney on your side to spot those unique things and to help you understand what those things can mean for you.

J.H. and W.S. were one of those couples with an atypical element in their case. They married in 1997. Late in 2000, they separated. The pair was quite serious about divorcing, with the wife filing a divorce petition and the pair completing and signing a marital settlement agreement early in 2001.

Then… fate intervened. The husband received a diagnosis of colon cancer and the two got back together. The wife dismissed her divorce filing and (according to the wife, anyway) resumed living together as husband-and-wife for another 15 years.

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Reason #237 why it pays to have a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney on your side: because winning your case requires an in-depth knowledge of the law… all of the law.

Some people may think they can pursue their divorce case without legal counsel. They may reason that they have strong grasp of the relevant facts of the case, and may even claim a working knowledge of certain divorce-related Florida laws like alimony law, parental responsibility law, child support law or equitable distribution law. As the recent case of one Flagler County couple demonstrates, winning your case may require more than that.

A.R., the wife, reportedly filed for divorce in 2016 after 17 years of marriage. The couple had three children together. The spouses worked to negotiate the terms of a marital settlement agreement and, eventually, the husband sent the wife the agreement, which he had already signed. The wife talked to her attorney, wrote down five handwritten statements on the document, signed the agreement and sent it back to the husband.

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