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The Challenges of Same Sex Divorce

Posted on: September 19, 2017 by in Divorce, Family Law
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same sex divorce

Although it’s been a couple of years since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, there are still some hiccups with the issue. Particularly, there are challenges with same sex divorce. Divorce happens, and settling a divorce under any circumstances can be difficult. However, divorce in same sex marriages pose some additional challenges. Here’s a look at some of the challenges faced by same sex couples during the divorce process.

1. Social Security

Prior to the country-wide legalization of same sex marriage, gay couples had no way to get social security benefits. After the legalization, the Social Security Administration announced that more same sex couples could be entitled to Social Security benefits or Supplement Security Income payments.

After your marriage ends, you need to take action to receive the benefits that you deserve. You have to let the Social Security Administration know about changes in your marital status as soon as possible. Additionally, you need to apply for your benefits immediately. Don’t hesitate to file for survivor benefits or social security spousal benefits, or you may miss out. If the administration denies you, don’t give up. Many times, it’s necessary to appeal a decision before you get your benefits. A denial doesn’t mean you won’t get benefits; it means you need to try again.

2. Alimony

Since 2013, same sex couples have received the same tax treatment as heterosexual couples by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of the Treasury. Employers and employees received a notice that explained how to handle employment taxes and overpayment adjustment issues in same sex couples.

Despite the equal tax treatment, there is an issue that same sex divorce often encounters regarding alimony taxation. At one time, same sex couples couldn’t deduct alimony payments on their taxes. As a result, there were high gift taxes. If you want to get the right tax benefits, you need the help of a lawyer who understands how same sex alimony taxes work. One with experience in the industry can tell you what tax deductions you can make with your alimony payment.

3. Taxation

Another challenge for those going through same sex divorce relates to federal taxation. Before same sex marriage was legal, same sex couples couldn’t file joint federal taxes. Now, married same sex couples have the same rights as married heterosexual couples. But that doesn’t mean that things are easy. Although same sex couples now have more financial advantages when filing taxes, divorce can get complicated.

If you get a divorce, your tax status can change. Usually, a joint filing status means that you have better tax treatment. If your income bracket is high, you can pay more in taxes every year after a divorce. However, a lower bracket means that you may pay less. Your first time filing taxes after your divorce could be shocking. To prepare yourself, you should speak to an accountant or an attorney. They can help you learn how to file your taxes for the best result.

4. Marital settlements

Before the legalization of same sex marriage, property transfer between two homosexual people in a relationship was difficult to handle. They needed to consider tax liabilities and gift taxes. This makes marital settlements difficult for same sex couples to understand. Often, they don’t know what to expect in a marital settlement.

If you and your partner are going through a same sex divorce, you need to understand the process of marital settlements. There are some consequences that could impact you. Before you start the process, you should understand what the outcome should be. You are eligible for the same benefits as heterosexual couples, but you should know about the process to make sure that you get what you deserve. Only then can you ensure that you get what you deserve.

5. Family home transfers

When gay marriage was not recognized throughout the whole US, family home transfers for homosexual couples during a divorce was difficult. There was a confusing maze of taxes to navigate through. They often needed to pay capital gains taxes. Transferring family homes became quite complicated and costly. Meanwhile, heterosexual couples could transfer family homes without needing to pay taxes.

Of course, now same sex divorce allows for the tax-free transfer of a family home. But the challenge is understanding how to avoid taxes in the transfer. You should arm yourself with the knowledge to understand how to make a tax-free transfer.

6. Finding a same sex divorce lawyer

Many people make the mistake of hiring a divorce lawyer with no experience in same sex cases. However, this can mean that you don’t get what you deserve. If you want to make the most of your divorce, you need a divorce lawyer who understands same sex divorces.

Fortunately, there are lawyers who specialize in same sex divorces. With their help, you can get through your divorce ready to handle all of its challenges.

Florida Common Law Marriage and Cohabitation: What You Should Know

Posted on: September 11, 2017 by in Divorce
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common law marriage

Marriage can be a hot topic, with a lot of misconceptions. None more than Common Law Marriage. There are a lot of myths, and it can be a very confusing concept. In many cases, the differences are in the eyes of the law and not the relationship itself. This can make it very confusing for anyone who is trying to figure out where they land on that scale and what their options are.

Common Law Marriage

A Heterosexual Couple

Common law marriages don’t apply to same sex marriages. Those unions require paperwork and definition. Regardless of any of the other factors, these partnerships do not qualify for common law marriages. They would, instead, be classified as cohabitation.

Length of Time

Contrary to popular belief there is no set length of time. This is something that the state will review, as it is relative. In some cases, the time is said to have been years, but the fact remains that there is no stated time.

Perception of Marriage

If you share a last name, refer to each other as spouses and file a joint tax return, this will add legitimacy to your common law marriage. If the relationship is treated as a marriage and accepted as one, the requirement is met.

The intention of marriage- If you intend to be married, common law marriage can be used as a step before that. Intending to be married could be expressed with an engagement ring or a marriage license.

All of the above factors have to be true for a state to recognize a common law marriage. Not all states have common law marriage. Florida is one that does not but does recognize common law marriages that are from other countries.

Cohabitation

In 1868, Florida made it illegal for two people to live together. It was considered “lewd and lascivious” for two people to live together before they were wed. A second-degree felony, it was punishable by 60 days in jail and a five hundred dollar fine, until 2016. By the time the law was changed, Florida was one of only three states where it was illegal to cohabitate without marriage.

Separation

In the state of Florida, if you are not married, you do not have any rights that married couples would have. This holds true for common law marriages. You cannot reside in Florida and have the state establish a common law marriage. It will recognize a common law marriage from another state, however. Should you desire a dissolution of your common law marriage, you would have to acquire it from the state that established it. Because Florida doesn’t have common law marriages, it will not terminate one.

Cohabitation doesn’t entitle you to any particular split or partition of property or assets. If you cannot discern who gets what and you have to go before a judge, the whole ordeal could get messy. It would be wiser to obtain a cohabitation agreement. Think of it as a prenup, without the marriage. The document will determine who gets what in the event of a split and a court will consider it a binding contract. It is a document you will want to see an attorney about. There will be plenty of details to cover, and you want to make sure that you account for everything. Properly submitting the paperwork is an important step. It’s better to leave these things in the hands of professional divorce attorney.

Understand Your Rights

Common law marriages and cohabitation can be complex distinctions. They are also messy when they end. If you are on the messy end, you want to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you find out what your options are, the less of a loss you’ll suffer. You can read more about it here. You don’t want to take the chance of waiting too long while your partner is finalizing documentation to secure assets.

When it comes to legal matters, it is better to prepare paperwork for a worst case scenario before it happens. Should the event arise that you decide to separate, personalities can change quickly and, hotter heads will take over. Staying calm will help you and your ex-spouse reach a solution much faster. It is better to decide these things while you are thinking calmly and rationally. That is the best way to make sure that everything stays fair and even. Even if it has to end, it should be amicably and fairly. You want to figure things out like adults. This will make it easier for you to move on and start your new life.

Father’s Rights in Florida: What You Should Know Before Your Divorce

Posted on: August 29, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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Many people who find themselves about to go through a divorce have one main concern – their children. While they may also worry about finances and property, their children come first. They worry about how a court might award custody of their child or children. If you are considering divorce, there are a few things you should know about your rights as a parent before you start the process. To give you an idea of what might happen, here’s a guide to a father’s rights in Florida.

What are a father’s rights in Florida?

In Florida, there is no preset way to determine who gets custody of a child in a divorce. In fact, the arrangement varies on a case-by-case basis. Although the court prefers to award a joint custody agreement, this isn’t always the case. If you and your partner can’t come up with an agreement, it’s up to a judge to decide who gets custody. They base their decision on the best interest of the child or children. And to determine that, they look at a few key factors.

Generally, this is good news for fathers. As long as you can prove that you are the child’s best interest, you could get sole custody. However, this is not a common occurrence. What is more common is a joint custody agreement where the child spends some time with you and some with the mother.

Important Factors

Choosing whatever is in the best interest of the child isn’t easy. Here are a few things that a judge considers:

  1. The ability of both parents to work together and honor a court-appointed schedule This includes the willingness to change the schedule when it’s necessary.
  2. The amount of time that a child has spent in a certain lifestyle, and how a change might affect the child. For example, if a child spent all his time with his mother before a divorce, a judge may think it’s best to continue that arrangement.
  3. A parent’s ability to put the child’s needs before his own
  4. The geography of the situation. For example, does the child need to stay with his mother or father to stay in the same school district? How much time does it take to travel from one parent to another. While this might not be a deciding factor, it can affect the time sharing plan.
  5. The morals of each parent, as well as their mental and physical health.
  6. The child’s home and community
  7. If the child is old enough, the child’s preference
  8. A parent’s knowledge of the child’s day-to-day activities. This includes preferences, typical activities, and more.
  9. The ability to provide a steady routine
  10. Evidence of neglect, abandonment, or child abuse. If there are any pending charges or any prior ones, this could count strongly against you.
  11. Evidence that one parent lied to the court about pending charges

These are only some of the factors that a judge considers. There is a long list of factors that can affect your custody agreement. No single factor determines a child’s placement. Instead, a judge evaluates everything together.

Other Things to Consider

Although every custody case is different, one thing remains the same. You need the help of a lawyer to get results. Proving that you are in the best interest of your child is not easy to do. Even if joint custody is your goal, you need help reaching that goal. It takes a lawyer with experience in family law to get you the outcome you want.

Of course, custody may not be your goal. And if that’s the case, you should also be aware of your right to visitation. In Florida, a father has certain rights to see his child. For one, he has the right to have regular contact with his child in-person or on the phone. While you and your partner may be able to create a visitation schedule, a judge can also do it. By law, the mother has to stick to that visitation schedule.

There are situations in which a judge may take away your visitation rights. This could occur if you fail to put your child’s needs before your own. It could also happen if you can’t provide a safe environment for your child, or a set routine. If you’re having a difficult time getting the visitation rights that you want, you may need a lawyer.

Get The Help That You Need

Because there are not set rules in custody cases, you need a lawyer’s expertise. A father’s rights in Florida vary, and one of the most important factors is how a lawyer handles your case. When you have good representation, you may be able to prove to a court that you are the best option for your child. You can also fight for any other rights that you believe you deserve.

If you understand a father’s rights in Florida and still want to go through with your divorce, you should seek representation. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can finish your divorce.

 

The Biggest Divorce Settlements in History

Posted on: August 18, 2017 by in Family Law
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Divorce is never going to be cheap. It can be a long process, and it can get very expensive. What your settlement will look like can depend on your attorney and your assets. Here is a list of the some pretty expensive divorces. But, these are the highlights of that list. They are the biggest divorce settlements in history. Some of these divorce settlements are a higher value today, once you adjust for inflation.

Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi $874 Million

First on our list of the biggest divorce settlements in history is Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi. Adnan Khashoggi was an international business man who was also an alleged arms dealer. There were even allegations that he ran a prostitution ring. He was the focus of an investigation in France and was facing criminal charges. When his twenty-year marriage to a former model ended, it was settled at $874 million. They had a daughter and four sons together.

Harold and Sue Ann Hamm: $1 Billion

An Oil and Gas Executive, Harold Hamm ended up writing a $974.8 million check to Sue Ann after their divorce, and she got even more in assets. They spent two years in court before reaching a settlement. He is quoted as saying it “got the job done” when he wrote it. Initially, Sue rejected the check, saying it wasn’t enough. The check was then cashed, and Sue decided that she was still due more funds. She appealed to raise the settlement but was told that since she cashed the check, the court could do nothing for her. She has since tried to appeal, again.

Steve and Elaine Wynn: $1 Billion

Having been married twice, they decided to call it quits. Their settlement stated that they were to split assets and stake in the board of their casinos. The divorce was relatively quiet and somewhat smooth, but there have been rumblings about Elaine’s place on the board. Part of their dissolution says that he has to always vote for her place, but she is having a hard time retaining her seat. There have recently been headlines questioning how long she will have her seat on the board and what will happen if they take it away.

Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone: $1.2 Billion

The former model filed for divorce in 2008. Her husband was a billionaire who got his money from Formula One racing. While she received a $1.2 billion payout, but it was later stated that her ex-husband was given money from her trust fund. An arrangement was made more than a decade before the divorce and still exists today. She receives approximately $100 million per year.

Rupert Murdoch and Anna Maria Torv: $1.7 Billion

Rupert Murdoch’s divorce from his second wife Anna ended in a $1.7 billion settlement, after thirty-one years. A lot of it was in stock. It didn’t take long for Murdoch to recover. Seventeen days later he found a new woman to marry. His new wife is 38 years his junior. This time, he made sure the prenup would limit the settlement amount if this marriage didn’t work out. Luckily for him, he had a prenup because the marriage did eventually end. Afterward, he married Jerry Hall. She has four children with Mick Jagger and is a former model.

Alec and Jocelyn Wildenstein: $2.5 Billion

The Wildensteins are famous for their art collection. Their collection is worth billions and said to include pieces the stolen by the Nazis. But, what may be more famous if Jocelyn’s predilection for plastic surgery and her quest to look like a cat. After the divorce in 1999, the award was $2.5 billion and $100 million per year for thirteen years making this the biggest divorce settlements in history.  Some of the settlement money has gone to plastic surgery. You may not know her name, but after all of the work to her face, you may recognize her.

Property Division In Divorce Settlements

In many cases, it can come down to the attorney you have in your corner and the case they can put together for you. You may not have all of the assets that these cases involved, but you surely don’t want to pay out more than the court requires. In some cases, a settlement can be fifty percent of what you have. There are some cases where the payout is more, and in others, it is less.

You want to have an attorney who will get you the best deal and as quickly as possible. Knowing what you want to keep will make it easier for them to fight for you. But, if what you want is to have financial gain; it may be a hard fight. This is a great place to start if you need information about getting a divorce and how you can keep your losses low. The divorce itself will cost enough; you don’t want to pay out more than you have to.

How Does a Prenuptial Agreement Work?

Posted on: August 9, 2017 by in Divorce
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prenuptial agreement

At one time a prenuptial agreement was only for the rich and famous. However, more and more couples are deciding to have a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot. Prenups aren’t just for those among us that have an enormous amount of assets to protect. Almost anyone can benefit from some form of prenuptial agreement. Prenups cover a range of issues from alimony to retirement accounts. Given the fact that nearly half of all marriages will end in divorce, it may be wise to consider a prenup.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people that are going to marry each other or enter into a civil union. These agreements are also known as a premarital agreement, a marriage contract, an antenuptial agreement or a prenup for short. The purpose is to settle financial matters in advance of a divorce. While this may seem like a rather unromantic thing to do before marriage, it could prove as a smart financial decision.

Your prenup can cover exactly what you wish. There isn’t a set standard for a prenup that you must use. If you wish to include information about your property or your retirement accounts you can. There are a few things that you can’t include in a prenup; we will discuss those in more detail in the rest of the article.

What Do Prenups Include?

A prenup can include many different provisions depending on the wishes of the couple. These provisions include but are not limited to:

  • Alimony: A prenuptial agreement can set guidelines for future alimony payments. It can also dictate that neither spouse will receive alimony.
  • Division of Property: A prenup can include provisions for who receives what property. Also, they can spell out how children from a previous marriage will receive part of the property. Lastly,  these agreements can include information about what happens to the property if one of the spouses dies.
  • Retirement Accounts: One common provision to this type of agreement is what to do with each spouses retirement account. Rather than splitting retirements accounts after a divorce, many couples opt to just keep their own.
  • Debt: In a marriage, both parties are usually responsible for any debt. However, a prenup can determine how the couple handles the debt after a divorce. This is especially useful for those individuals whose spouse’s own businesses.
  • Division of Household Duties: A prenup can even cover what tasks each spouse should perform. However, it is probably best to leave those sorts of stipulations out of your prenup. Sticking to financial matters is probably the best when to go when drafting your agreement.
  • Morality Clauses: Prenups can also include clauses for infidelity. If one spouse cheats on the other, they may lose their rights to part or all of the marital assets. Morality clauses are increasingly more common.

What Can’t a Prenuptial Agreement Cover?

A prenup can’t cover anything illegal. Also, a prenup cannot cover things that go against public policy. For instance, a prenup can not cover child custody. In cases of child custody the court considers what is in the best interest of the child and not a contract between you and your spouse. At the time of the agreement, one spouse may be able to provide a better life for their children. However, things change. What is best for the children at the time of the agreement may not be at the time of the divorce. Therefore, courts do not allow child custody provisions in prenuptial agreements.

Preparing a Prenup

The most important part of preparing a prenup is honesty with your partner. If you want an agreement in place before your marriage, don’t wait until a week before to spring it on them. Discuss the possibility of a prenuptial agreement long before your wedding day. This will help you avoid any resentment or unneeded stress in your relationship. Sit down with your partner and discuss everything you want in the agreement and ask them their thoughts. Be open to compromise, because after all, you hope never to have to use this agreement. Discuss when the prenup should start and how long it should last. Maybe, after 20 years of marriage, you want to eliminate the prenup. While most prenups start on the day of the wedding and last forever, yours could be different.

Gather all of your financial documents including retirement accounts, the property you own, your bank statements, and anything else that the agreement could cover. Sit down with a prenup attorney and hash out the finer details of the agreement. While it may seem like a cold and calculated decision, it could save both of you a lot of time and money in the event of a divorce. Lewert Law can help you decide whether or not a prenup is right for you. Contact us today to learn how they can help.

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Kelley Ms. Lewert never lost sight of the practical realities of my divorce. Although she listened compassionately so that she understood what she needed to, she did not let me lose sight of my goals and what was acheivable within the system even when things got emotional. She protected my financial interests and my personal interests. Thanks to Ms. Lewert, I no longer have to deal with a difficult ex-. She didn't always tell me what I wanted to hear, but because of that, my case did not drag out longer than it should have. I never felt that she put her own interests ahead of mine. Her judgment was reasonable and her advice sound. She and her staff were good at dealing with difficult and unreasonable people in a professional and ethical way. Thanks to Ms. Lewert, I never got drawn into senseless battles, recovered as quickly as possible from my divorce and was able to move on and enjoy a better life. I have recommended her repeatedly to others who need an excellent family lawyer.

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