Archive for the ‘ Divorce ’ Category

Florida Passes Changes To Alimony Law

Posted on: April 15, 2016 by in Divorce
No Comments

Alimony awards vary widely in the state of Florida, but a proposal heading to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s desk might change that. Under the current alimony law, a divorce in south Florida handled by a Miami or Boca Raton divorce lawyer might end with a generous alimony award. Yet the same couple and same attorneys in a central or north Florida divorce could wind up with a completely different alimony arrangement.

This spring, Governor Scott will again have the opportunity to determine the fate of legislation that could substantially reform Florida’s alimony and child support laws. In 2014, Scott vetoed an alimony reform proposal that could have retroactively modified existing divorce and alimony settlements. This year, legislators tweaked their reform proposal – Senate Bill 668 – to eliminate that problem. Senate Bill 668 has yet to reach Governor Scott’s desk, and some are urging him to veto rather than sign the legislation.

3

Senate Bill 668 would end permanent alimony payments in Florida. It creates a new formula that judges would use to decide the amount and duration of alimony payments, and it generally limits the duration of alimony payments to 25 to 75 percent of the length of the marriage. It also allows for a modification or a halt to alimony payments if the paying ex-spouse retires or if the receiving ex-spouse increases his or her income by ten percent or more. Senate Bill 668 also allows for the modification of alimony payments if the receiving partner enters a new “supportive” relationship.

WHAT DO OPPONENTS OF SENATE BILL 668 SAY?

However, the reform faces opposition from women’s groups and the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar because of a controversial provision involving child sharing. Despite the agreement on alimony, the Family Law Section is asking the governor to veto Senate Bill 668 because of another provision that would establish a “premise” that all divorce cases involving children should start with the assumption that parents will have equal child sharing time.

4

Maria Gonzalez, chair of the Family Law Section, said the attorneys’ group is against establishing any legal premise about time sharing, whether it’s fifty-fifty or any other ratio. Any premise “does not serve the best interest of the children,” Gonzalez told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Under the current law, there is no premise in favor of either parent. Judges are left to determine what is best for the children, and that’s a decision that can also impact child support payments.

Gonzalez said that the family law attorneys she represents favor the current system that allows judges to weigh as many as twenty factors to decide how much time a child should spend with each parent. Judges are also given discretion based on the individual details of each case. Gonzalez argues that one problem with establishing a legal premise in such cases is obvious. In individual cases, low-income parents who can’t afford a lawyer would be unable to mount a legal challenge to the premise.

Gonzalez added that some attorneys also find objectionable a section of Senate Bill 668 that compels judges to file their written findings regarding a family’s child-sharing plan. Such filings could make public the private details of families’ lives. “All kinds of very specific, detailed findings will now unfortunately have to be included in a final judgment,” Gonzalez warns. “And that is detrimental to families. It’s not in the best interest of children to have a final judgment air all of the family dynamics in written findings.”

WHAT DO SUPPORTERS OF SENATE BILL 668 SAY?

Nevertheless, State Senator Tom Lee of Brandon, a proponent of the fifty-fifty child sharing premise, believes there are good reasons to support the legislation. Lee tells the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that enacting Senate Bill 668 will create “greater predictability and reliability” in custody cases. “Both (parents) will be treated equally when they enter the courthouse door,” Lee explains.

2

In addition to Lee, Governor Scott is being urged to sign Senate Bill 668 by State Representative Ritch Workman of Melbourne. Workman has sought for years to reform the state’s alimony laws. He told the Panama City News Herald that Senate Bill 668 is part of the effort to make divorce proceedings “gender neutral,” giving men and women equal footing at the start of the proceedings.

Family Law Reform, Inc., also supports the child-sharing premise, according to Alan Frisher, a financial planner in Melbourne, who heads up the organization. Family Law Reform has been working for changes to Florida’s alimony laws for the last eight years. Frisher told the Herald-Tribune that shared time with children is in the best interests of most families. But he also said the measure gives judges the discretion to alter that arrangement if the circumstances are warranted. “They can deviate from that. It’s not a problem,” he insists.

The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar supports the alimony changes, arguing that they will bring consistency to cases where awards now vary widely from judge to judge. A Boca Raton divorce attorney, for example, would help a divorcing spouse win the same alimony award in Boca Raton that the person would receive in a Pensacola or Jacksonville divorce court. The bill’s child sharing provision is the only reason they’re asking Governor Scott to veto the legislation. Senate Bill 668 does away with many of types of alimony familiar to couples. Permanent alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative, and durational payments would be no longer ordered by judges.

1

HOW WOULD ALIMONY BE DETERMINED UNDER SENATE BILL 668?

Instead, awards would be based on the incomes of spouses, and judges would have the discretion to deviate from the guidelines. State Representative Bill Hager of Delray Beach told the Palm Beach Post that he’s spoken with both men and women who support the alimony changes. Hager said one female doctor was ordered to pay permanent alimony to an ex-husband – sporadically employed and cohabiting with a girlfriend – after a marriage of ten years. “It’s time to change these wrongs and live in the here and now,” Hager said.

When Senate Bill 668 arrives on Governor Scott’s desk, he will have fifteen days to sign or veto the legislation. If the bill becomes law, it will go into effect on October 1, 2016. Whether Governor Scott signs or vetoes the controversial measure, it might be wiser in the future if Florida’s lawmakers addressed the child-sharing issue and the alimony issue in separate pieces of legislation.

Infographic – By The Numbers: Florida Divorce And Children

Posted on: March 12, 2016 by in Divorce
No Comments
Florida Divorce And Children

America has one of the highest divorce rates in the world and a quick look at the figures proves this fact. More than 43% of the children living in the United States today grow up without their fathers and, out of this number, 28% of them live in households with incomes below the poverty line. The good news though is that couples who have youngsters are 40% less likely to get divorced than couples who do not share any youngsters. Through this infographic, you can get a better picture of the dissolution prevalence in America and the effects that dissolution has on the lives of both the couples and their children.

Facts About Divorce

 

Share this Image On Your Site

How Some People Spend Their Tax Refund

Posted on: March 7, 2016 by in Divorce
No Comments
Boca Raton divorce lawyer

The ancient Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “To everything there is a season,” and that includes divorce. People want to enjoy their summers and summer vacations, and they also want to enjoy – and try to save money through – the holidays. That leaves only the first few months of the year. Thus, with a new year ahead and the prospect of some extra cash through an IRS tax refund for a lot of people, dissolution season ends up coinciding with tax season – January through April – which means that plenty of divorce petitions are being filed right now. If you plan to pay for your divorce with the cash that you’re getting back from the IRS, this is the time to consult with a good divorce attorney, and in south Florida, with an experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer. For quite a number of reasons, you can’t go into the divorce process alone or without the advice and services of an experienced divorce attorney.

At least one spouse’s finances, income, and way of life are probably going to change dramatically as the result of a divorce, so if you are using your tax refund to pay for divorce this season, you must be prepared to deal with the financial challenges and changes. If the financial aspects of your dissolution are not handled properly by an experienced divorce attorney, you could be walking right into a personal financial apocalypse. Laying the right financial groundwork for a dissolution begins with fully evaluating your finances and your financial condition. The next step is contacting a good divorce lawyer about the cost of legal fees and the other expenses linked to divorce. When your marriage reaches the point where dissolution becomes unavoidable, consider taking these six precautionary steps:

  1. Cancel any joint credit cards to keep your spouse from piling up debts that could become your responsibility.
  2. Create a budget and adhere to it. Reduce your spending wherever you can.
  3. If the beneficiary on your bank accounts and life insurance policy is your spouse, name another beneficiary.
  4. Determine what other changes to your life insurance policy may be needed.
  5. Protect your half of any joint checking or savings accounts. Take out half of the balance and start a new account in your name only at another bank. Inform your spouse of the withdrawal in writing, and keep a copy for yourself.
  6. Entirely reconsider all of your financial, estate, and retirement plans.

Boca Raton divorce lawyer

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES IN A DIVORCE?

Until an attorney meets with you personally and considers your circumstances and legal requirements, there’s simply no way to even guess what a divorce will cost. The price of a divorce is different in every state and every region, and candidly, in every case. How complicated are the issues in the divorce? What is the extent of the marital property, assets, and debts? Are there children involved? Can the divorcing spouses resolve some or all of their disagreements out of court? The issues in most divorces typically include:

  1. if children are involved, child custody, support, and visitation
  2. the division and distribution of marital assets, property, and debts
  3. spousal support (commonly called “alimony”)
  4. legal fees and other claims for reimbursement
  5. breach of fiduciary duty claims

Thus, what you spend on a divorce depends on the type and amount of legal services that you need. If everything is disputed, it’s going to cost more, but if some of those issues can be worked out in advance, you’ll pay considerably less. Some lawyers will arrange a sensible, realistic payment plan. And under Florida law, in some cases, your spouse could conceivably be ordered by the court to pay all or part of your attorney’s fees. The law states that a court in a dissolution proceeding “may from time to time, after considering the financial resources of both parties, order a party to pay a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees, suit money, and the cost to the other party…” [Florida Statute § 61.16(1)]. Most states have a similar provision, but if you are divorcing or considering divorce this tax season, have an experienced divorce lawyer explain what the fees and the options are going to be in your own divorce.

Boca Raton divorce lawyer

DO YOU HAVE TO “PROVE” ANYTHING?

When you’re working alongside a divorce attorney, focus on getting your money’s worth. Make full use of the legal insights, advice, resources, representation, and experience that your attorney offers. The state of Florida is a no-fault divorce state, so either partner may petition for divorce if the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is zero chance of a reconciliation. You do not have to prove that your spouse was at fault in any way to get a divorce in Florida, although you may still divorce on “grounds” if your marriage partner has suffered from mentally incapacitation for at least three years.

The residency requirements for a divorce in Florida are straightforward. At least one spouse must reside in the state for at least six months before filing for dissolution, and you have to file in the circuit court jurisdiction where you (or your spouse) live. There are twenty circuit courts in Florida; the fifteenth circuit is Palm Beach County. If there are no disputes between the divorcing spouses, if all of the documents are in order, and if all of the paperwork is complete, the court may be able to enter a final judgment for dissolution in as little as twenty days.

Boca Raton divorce lawyer

HOW IS MARITAL PROPERTY DIVIDED?

Regarding the division and distribution of marital property and assets, Florida is an “equitable distribution” state. What that means is that the court will distribute the marital property “fairly,” but not necessarily with 50-50 precision. Marital property includes the home or homes and vehicles, bank accounts, the income and debt acquired in the marriage, and more. It can also include business ownership, ownership of equities and bonds, objects of art or special value, and even the family pets. A Florida court may divide the marital property unevenly if the financial facts make that the fairest distribution. The court will consider the economic situation of each spouse, the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, and the best interests of the children if children are involved.

If you and your spouse can agree on how to divide your marital property, a Florida court will very probably approve that agreement. Property division may sound easy, but determining which spouse actually owns what property can be a quite complicated legal and financial process, especially if a divorce becomes acrimonious or if the property and assets that must be divided are considerable and extensive. But whether yours is a high-net worth divorce or you simply own a modest home, a couple of cars, and a savings account, you’ll need to work with an experienced divorce attorney who routinely handles the division and distribution of property in divorce cases. It’s the only certain way to ensure that you’ll be treated right, and for some, the only way to ensure that divorce won’t leave them destitute.

Boca Raton divorce lawyer

WHAT ABOUT RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS?

Especially in south Florida, where many older couples are divorcing in recent years, one matter that can add some real difficulty to the dissolution process is the question of retirement plans. Marital partners may have a claim to IRAs, pensions, 401Ks, and other retirement funds. Discuss any concerns about your retirement accounts when you first consult with your dissolution attorney. And if you have concerns about the fate of a family pet after a divorce, your attorney should know that as well. Don’t be reluctant to bring up anything – your attorney works for you.

If one spouse can pay alimony and the other spouse needs it, a Florida court will usually order it. To determine the amount of alimony, the court may consider the standard of living established in the marriage, the resources and earning potential of the spouses, and also the length of the marriage. Florida courts are allowed to consider adultery as a factor when ordering – or denying – alimony payments.

Of course, if you are a parent, nothing is more important than your children and their well-being. In a divorce that involves children, a Florida court will always make the child’s best interests the top priority. Every child is valuable, and every family and child custody case is unique. Florida courts decide custody cases without regard to the gender of the parent or the child. The court will typically order the parents to share parental obligations unless that would not be in the child’s best interests. The courts in Florida use official state guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of child support, and non-custodial parents in most cases will make payments until the child reaches age 18. In Florida, court-ordered child support is enforced by the state’s Child Support Enforcement Bureau.

CAN COURT ORDERS BE CHANGED?

As circumstances change in the future, a court order regarding alimony, child custody, or child support may become unfair or may no longer be in the child’s or children’s best interests. Your divorce attorney can represent you in the future if you need to have a court order modified because of something like a relocation, a substantial income change or a job loss, a disabling injury, a jail or prison sentence, or a remarriage or new child.

Whenever you seek to divorce in Florida, whether it’s this tax season or any other time of the year, you must work with a trustworthy and experienced divorce attorney who makes certain that you are treated fairly. For the legal help you’ll need in a Florida divorce, meet first with an experienced divorce lawyer. Many choose to divorce during tax season, but you should only move ahead with a divorce when you are ready both emotionally and financially. An experienced and trustworthy Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help. If you are seeking a divorce south Florida, when you are ready, make the call.

Which Should Come First? Taxes or Divorce?

Posted on: February 9, 2016 by in Divorce
No Comments

Any divorce proceeding, contested or uncontested, and with or without children, is going to be be difficult in its own right without any additional financial considerations. Most people who are considering a divorce would clearly prefer not to deal with the aggravation of income tax questions, but that pesky date on the calendar – April 15 – is looming. Is it better to file for divorce first, before filing a federal income tax return, or is it better to deal with the income taxes first, prepare and file the return, and then focus on filing for divorce? Especially at this time of year – income tax season – it’s a question that’s routinely asked of divorce attorneys.

Of course, a divorce will have a substantial impact on anyone’s income taxes, so being aware of what to expect at tax time can help you sidestep any trouble with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s been said that there are always three parties in a divorce rather than two, and that the IRS is the third party. The sad truth is that too many people finalize a divorce without properly considering the income tax impact of the choices they’re making. In south Florida, let an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney provide the specific legal advice that’s best for you personally regarding your income taxes and your divorce.

However, to answer the question of what’s better to do first – file your income tax return or file for divorce – the answer is the same for everyone, because it’s actually a moot question, at least for the current tax season. The IRS is interested only in your income and your marital status for 2015. If your divorce was final on the last day of 2015 – or on any other date in tht year – the IRS counts the entire year as a year that you were divorced. The sole exception is that some parents are allowed to claim a favorable “head of household” status that permits more deductions. To qualify for head of household status, you must have paid more than fifty percent of your housing costs for 2015, lived apart from your spouse for the final six months of 2015, and your dependent child had to reside in your home for more than half of the year.

EXEMPTIONS AND JOINT FILING

Obviously, claiming exemptions for your children will substantially reduce the final amount of the income taxes you pay. When ex-spouses can agree and put the agreement in writing, they can select which of them will receive the exemption for children. That decision can be worth as much as $1,300 in income tax savings. Alimony payments – now called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance” payments in most states – are deductible for the ex-spouse making the payments and are classified as income for the ex-spouse receiving the spousal support payments. However, child support payments are not tax deductible and are not classified as income by the IRS.

You and your spouse may only file your federal income taxes jointly if you were still legally married on December 31, 2015 – and obviously, if you both agree to file jointly. If you were legally married on December 31 and you agree to file jointly, simply check the “married filing jointly” box as you would when you were married. A legal separation does not count – your divorce had to be legally finalized on or before December 31, 2015, or the IRS classifies you as married for the entire year of 2015. If your divorce was final on or before December 31, the filing status that you check will be “head of household” or “single.”

Boca Raton divorce attorney

If you were still married on December 31 and you are now thinking about filing jointly, arrange first to consult with both your divorce attorney and with your tax advisor or financial advisor regarding the pros and cons of filing a joint return. Generally speaking, most persons will have their total tax payment reduced by filing jointly, depending on their incomes, deductions, and credits. You may also want to consider a tax indemnification agreement if you are filing jointly. If your spouse wants you to sign a joint tax return that he or she will prepare while the divorce is pending, try to obtain a tax indemnification agreement so that your spouse agrees not only to pay the tax due on his and her income for the year but also agrees to safeguard you from liability should the IRS or state tax authority later determine that more taxes are due. However, if taxes remain unpaid, you should be aware that the IRS may still attempt to go after either spouse. If that happens, obtain your divorce attorney’s advice.

If you are considering divorce or if your divorce is now pending, ask your divorce lawyer to see to it that your divorce settlement, judgment, or agreement – or a separate legal document – spells out precisely how you and your ex-spouse will deal with any tax refunds or liability if you file jointly. If you are looking for a refund check from the IRS, make sure that the check is payable to both of you, or get a written agreement that one spouse will pay the other whatever that other’s fair share is. If your refund is coming back as a direct deposit, have it sent to a joint account, or get a written agreement to protect yourself.

FILING SEPARATELY

If you do not want your spouse or ex-spouse to handle your tax return, have your taxes done professionally, or just do the taxes yourself and file separately. No court will force you to file jointly if you choose to file your taxes separately. If you file separately and your divorce was not finalized at any time in 2015 – that is, if you were still married when 2015 ended – then check the filing status “married filing separately” or “head of household.” If your status is “head of household,” you may claim the standard deduction, the dependent care credit, and the earned income credit, and your taxes may be lower. To claim head of household status, you must satisfy these three criteria:

  1. You paid more than half of your household’s 2015 rent or mortgage payments, utilities, homeowners’ insurance, and groceries.
  2. Your home was the principal residence of your child, stepchild, or qualifying foster child for more than half of the year, and you can claim a dependent exemption.
  3. Your spouse did not live with you in the last six months of the year.

If your divorce was not finalized on or before December 31 last year and you file as head of household, your spouse’s status will be “married filing separately.” Subsequent to the divorce, you may still file as head of household if you pay for more than half of your household’s costs for the tax year and if your child or children live with you for more than six months of the year.

When you deal with the issue of alimony during a divorce proceeding, you must consider how alimony payments will impact your income taxes. As noted previously, alimony is deductible for the person who pays it and classified as income for the person who receives it. If you are receiving alimony payments, plan for the impact of those payments on your taxes. Alimony is income with nothing withheld, so you might consider avoiding a big tax hit by making quarterly income tax payments to the IRS or by raising the amount that is deducted from your paychecks. Payments for child support and for the distribution of jointly-owned marital property are not deductible and are not classified as income. The IRS scrutinizes spousal support payments made in the first three years subsequent to a divorce to ensure that you are not surreptitiously transferring nondeductible items – distributed property or other payments like legal fees – into alimony so that those payments appear to be deductible. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can help you withstand the scrutiny of the IRS and help you handle the tax collectors if they have any questions after your divorce.

Boca Raton divorce attorney

GET TRUSTWORTHY, EXPERIENCED HELP

Every marriage, every divorce, and every income tax situation is different, so you must get advice for you own circumstances from a divorce attorney you can trust. Whenever taxes are involved, a divorce is quickly going to get complicated. Divorces are never easy for anyone, and they almost never go smoothly. Even uncontested divorces can be emotionally painful and financially difficult for the divorcing spouses, but tax problems and tax worries need not add to your many other divorce difficulties.

If it’s time for you to retain the advice and services of a divorce attorney, make certain that the attorney you choose fully explains to you the effect of your divorce on your income tax situation. It’s only after a divorce is final that many people realize they gave up their rights – and their property – needlessly because they tried to divorce on their own or because they chose an untested attorney. Make the right choice. If you are divorcing in south Florida, or if you need legal advice and services regarding any matter of family law, contact an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney. With April 15 rapidly approaching, make the call promptly.

Is Polygamy Legal?

Posted on: January 11, 2016 by in Divorce, Family Law
No Comments

Although the trend has taken a downward turn over the last century, it was not uncommon in the past to find men in the United States who were married to more than a single spouse at any given time. In fact, even at present, there are still thousands of couples within the U.S. who continue with this practice, particularly in the western United States. However, even though polygamists are usually left to conduct their multiple relationships with little or no interference by the authorities, this does not mean that polygamy is legal in the United States. To better understand the legal status of polygamy in the U.S., you need to be familiar with some of the terms used in that context. The terms include:

  • Polygamy: A polygamous marriage, by definition, refers to a relationship in which a single individual is married to more than one partner. It does not really specify the kind of marriage that exists between the individual and each of the partners. Generally speaking, the individual is usually legally married to only one of the partners, while the other marriages are only considered to be marriages from a “spiritual” perspective. Polygamy is not gender specific in its definition and it could be the man having more than a single wife or it could be the rarer practice of one woman taking more than one husband.
  • Bigamy: Unlike polygamy, bigamy is a more specific term. It refers to a situation in which a single individual is legally married to more than one partner. The second marriage could be intentional, where the individual knowingly goes through the legal process of obtaining a new marriage license to another partner while still legally married to a first partner. It could also be because the individual wrongly believes that the first marriage was successfully terminated, either through divorce, dissolution, or the presumed death of a partner, and then goes ahead to marry a second partner. Again, like polygamy, bigamy is also not gender specific and it could either be the man who is legally married to more than one partner or it could be the woman legally married to more than one partner.
  • Polygyny: Polygyny is the specific practice in which a man takes on more than one woman as a wife.

THE LEGAL STATUS OF POLYGAMY

Generally speaking, it would be accurate to say that polygamy is against the law in all fifty states within the U.S. But it is worth pointing out here that most of the states do not make precise distinctions in their laws when it comes to defining polygamy, and the term is loosely used to cover bigamy, polygyny, and any other relationship in which a single person is in a matrimonial relationship with more than a single partner. Each of the states has its own laws when it comes to matters of polygamy, and they reserve the right to interpret and enforce them within each state. In addition to the state laws, there are also several federal laws that specifically outlaw polygamy throughout the United States and its territories.

Even though the laws on polygamy at first glance appear to be precise in every state, the practice is still carried out in many places almost as though the state and federal laws did not exist. In fact, the state of Utah is now the setting for a reality television show that features a man who is married to four wives at the same time. The program airs weekly on national television. It is matters like these that beg the question. Just how illegal (or legal) is polygamy within the United States? In order to answer this question thoroughly, one must take into account a number of factors that can impact the enforcement of the polygamy laws. These factors are outlined below.

Boca Raton family law attorney

JURISDICTION

Although all fifty of the United States have laws designed to deal with polygamy, these laws differ very widely in their specifics from one state to another. Even within the same state, the laws and their enforcement may vary from one county to another. Consider the state of Florida, for example. In this state, all forms of polygamy are considered illegal, but the laws do not forbid people to live in polygamous-style cohabitation arrangements. If you’re in Florida, an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney can explain Florida’s marriage laws and how the state enforces those laws. On the other hand, in states like Utah, which has had a long history of polygamy-related conflicts, the laws are actually far more stringent. Utah enforces an anti-cohabitation laws that prohibits any two people – or more – from living together in a marital or marriage-style relationship without legal authorization.

SPIRITUAL ASPECTS

A number of jurisdictions recognize “spiritual unions” as marriage-style relationships even if those jurisdictions do not issue official marriages license for such unions. In fact, one of the primary challenges to the enforcement of the polygamy laws in most states is the challenge of overcoming spiritual beliefs that recognize polygamy. Islam, for instance, allows its faithful men to take more than one wife. Here is the conflict – the laws in the United States are supposed to recognize and protect the rights of all citizens to choose and practice their own religion and religious beliefs. Trying to stop Muslim men from taking on more than a single wife can conceivably be considered an infringement on a Muslim man’s right to worship.

LIFE AND SOCIETY

Authorities in many of the states where polygamy still appears to be rampant often turn a blind eye to the matter if it does not seem to affect the lives of the people involved or the society at large in any negative way. In fact, polygamy, if discovered and confirmed, does not usually attract automatic prosecution if it does not appear to be interfering with anyone and if the parties involved seem to be comfortable with the arrangement. But in some cases, as in cases of forced or underage marriages, the authorities may be compelled to act in order to protect the rights of the individuals involved. If compulsion is a factor in a marriage or if a minor child is involved, authorities may aggressively enforce the anti-polygamy laws in their jurisdiction.

PUBLIC OPINION

Anytime an offence – that is clearly defined by the law as an offense – is left unpunished, and the public learns about it, some people are tempted to think that the laws are of no importance or that the authorities supposed to enforce them do not have the willpower. This situation is undesirable for any jurisdiction, and the authorities could be forced by pressure from the public to prosecute polygamous couples who openly flaunt their polygamy. Most people would argue that this is the main reason why the Brown family in Utah — the reality TV stars – were prosecuted for polygamy after their television series first aired.

PENALTIES FOR POLYGAMY

Because of the specific differences in the laws regarding polygamy in the different states, the penalties and punishments for polygamy also vary just as widely. In many states, polygamy is considered a misdemeanor, but a conviction can nevertheless be penalized with a fine, up to a year in jail, or both. For more information about your own state’s laws, speak with a good local family lawyer, and in south Florida, speak to an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney.

Utah – and several other states – consider polygamy a much more serious offence, and those states impose stiffer fines and longer prison sentences for polygamy convictions. Penalties for polygamy also hinge on the circumstances of the relationships. Willing spouses generally receive milder sentences – if they’re even prosecuted. However, in situations that involve underage partners, forced marriages, or sexual abuse, a polygamy case may be treated as a felony, and a prison sentence for a conviction could last up to seven years.

Boca Raton family law attorney

ENFORCEMENT OF POLYGAMY LAWS

It is extremely difficult to enforce anti-polygamy laws in the United States, even in the states that seem to have the strictest prohibitions on the practice. One of the main reasons for this is that the spouses involved are usually very secretive about their relationships and therefore are not easily discovered. Additionally, some states’ marriage and polygamy laws are archaic and difficult to interpret in the present context. For instance, some anti-cohabitation laws assume that male-female couples living together are cohabiting in a marriage-style arrangement, but these days, many such duos live strictly as roommates and nothing more.

Another tactic that is sometimes exploited by polygamous spouses to protect their lifestyle is generating controversy regarding the finality of divorce decrees. In the eyes of the law, a marriage is legally terminated once a divorce decree is issued, but that does not compel a couple to stop living together. Some religious communities do not recognize divorce or the power of the state to grant a divorce. One conclusion is certain. Marriages of all kinds, and the laws that govern marital relationships, will continue to be a provocative and controversial topic for years to come. If you have any questions or concerns regarding marriage, polygamy, or any other matter of family law, contact an experienced family law attorney as quickly as possible for the legal help and advice you need.

How to Tell You’re Ready for Divorce

Posted on: November 2, 2015 by in Divorce
No Comments
Boca Raton divorce lawyer

How do you tell if your marital struggles are not a temporary blimp, but are indicating a long term rut? Every marriage goes through its rough patches, but there are some signs that are much more likely to predict the end of the marriage, than a reconnection between the spouses. If you find any of these warning signs in your marriage, then it may be time to think seriously about a divorce.

Ask yourself if you can imagine your life without the person you’re married to. If you find yourself fantasizing about leaving him, or fantasizing about a life without your partner, then that is a very strong indication that you need a change. Does your future look much better, and much more carefree without your partner?

If you have tried other ways of making a marriage work, like counseling or therapy, and still have seen no success, then you may want to consider a divorce. If you and your spouse both agree to attend marriage counseling sessions, you may be able to work through your differences. However, if one party is convinced that counseling won’t help, or if you’ve been to counseling and it hasn’t helped, then you need the services of a good divorce attorney.

In some cases, you may see physical symptoms that your marriage is in extremely deep trouble. For instance, if you find yourself often feeling very stiff, or closed in around your spouse, ask yourself why that is so. If being around your spouse makes you tense and uncomfortable, you might wonder if there are problems that are deep-rooted.

If your marriage is plagued by one or more long-term, irresolvable problems, and you have tried several solutions or compromises, you may need to consider divorce. Common long-term, hard-to-resolve issues in a marriage are usually things like continuing interference by one or both sets of in-laws; disagreements about or interference from stepchildren; chronic financial and employment problems; or the memories and feelings of betrayal associated with an extramarital incident.

Very often, in the weeks and months before marriage, the couple begins to emotionally disengage from each other. If you find yourself becoming emotionally distant from your spouse, or disinclined to share your innermost thoughts and feelings with him, then you may want to ask yourself why that is so.

It’s fine to have separate interests and groups of friends, but if it comes to the point where you’re spending almost no time with your spouse, and instead each of you are going out on your own, this could be a sign that you’re headed for divorce. It’s important to carve out alone time for the two of you, so try to make an effort to spend time together.

People, who are on the path to divorce, find that they are very rarely able to resolve their disputes. Arguments become so frequent that they become a routine part of the couple’s life. When a couple stops trying to find any solutions to these conflicts, then it may be a time to acknowledge that the marriage is unsalvageable.

Lack of intimacy is a major deal breaker in any marriage, and if you find that that area of the marriage is no longer attractive for you, you might want to ask itself why that is so. Usually, lack of intimacy is simply an indication that the emotional disassociation is almost complete.

Sometimes, a spouse who is considering divorce, but has not yet voiced those thoughts out loud, may take begin to take an intense interest in his personal appearance. If your spouse, for example, has sold off a prized possession to get a hair transplant, you might want to ask questions.

Look at the marriage through the eyes of your children. Ask yourself if your children are happy. Most adults have met people who remain for years in unhappy marriages “for the sake of the children.” And there’s no doubt about it – divorce is tough on kids, and all of the research confirms it. However, divorce is probably better than raising your children in an abusive, angry, or violent marriage. If you remain in a bad marriage for your children, they grow up amid arguments, angry shouting, and possible violence. In this kind of marriage, a divorce can provide children with these tangible benefits:

  • A calmer emotional setting: The first months may be tough after a divorce, but eventually your kids will settle into a “new normal” that is much calmer and much less contentious.
  • Happier parents: Happier adults make better parents, and happiness is infectious.
  • Better parenting: There’s no guarantee that you’ll be a better parent after dissolving a bad marriage, but the chances are good, because you’ll be able to focus more clearly on your children and your parenting.
  • Two homes without constant strife: After a bad marriage, divorce is a win-win situation for the kids.

While the research is settled regarding divorce’s impact on children, that research fails to consider the permanent damage children suffer when they grow up in a home with parents who don’t get along. A divorce frees everyone from ongoing negative undercurrents and continuing unhappiness.

Florida is a “no fault” divorce state, so no fault has to be assigned to either spouse in a divorce. A mere declaration by either spouse that the marriage is irreconcilable is enough to obtain a divorce in Florida. Regardless of your own personal feelings, if your spouse refuses to reconcile, you must seek an attorney who will defend your best long-term interests. When divorce is inevitable, if you live in south Florida, contact an experienced Florida divorce lawyer based in Boca Raton as quickly as possible.

Divorce is not the kind of decision that you should make lightly. However, it is also important to recognize when problems are so deep, that they are not resolvable even with counseling, therapy or other methods. Speak to a Boca Raton divorce lawyer for help filing for divorce. To learn how divorce will affect your life, schedule a consultation with a Boca Raton divorce lawyer.

Dating after Divorce: How to Decide When You Are Ready

Posted on: October 21, 2015 by in Divorce
No Comments
Boca Raton divorce lawyer

For most people the signing of the divorce papers comes as a huge relief, and they are anxious to begin dating again. Beginning a new romantic relationship can soothe wounded egos, boost self-esteem, and can help the person get his mind off the broken marriage, and the lost spouse.

How Can You Get Back Into the Dating Game?

Many experts insist that divorced persons wait for at least a year to begin dating again, especially if they have young children. Remember, that you may find the divorce to be a relief, but for your children, this is only just the beginning. There will be momentous changes taking place in their life in the year after their parents’ divorce, including the change in their parents’ residences, and visitation schedules that may be difficult to adjust to.

When you introduce a new partner into their already traumatized lives, the sense of confusion and bewilderment is simply increased. Young children, for instance, do not understand why there’s another male or female in their parents’ lives, while older children may become openly resentful, angry or bitter. All of those complications can be eased if you wait for your kids to settle into their new environment and to life after the divorce before you begin dating again. For more advice about how to help the children cope with your divorce, read the other posts on this Boca Raton divorce lawyer blog.

Also remember that dating too early after a divorce can leave you open to more pain and emotional distress soon after a major emotional upheaval in your life.

If you begin dating immediately after a divorce however, take care not to introduce your partner to your children. Your partner must not spend nights in your home, or even come home when the children are present. This will protect the children from the negative emotional fallout that is often the consequence of parents moving on too quickly after a divorce.

Whatever you do, be careful, especially if you’re dating online where you may fall victim to online dating scams. The most common online dating scam is simply about money. Someone gains your trust and says everything you want to hear. Soon, the requests for money begin. That cute young lady or gentleman who thinks your picture is so adorable might really be some thug out to steal your money, and he could be next door to you or halfway around the world. Sometimes you’ll be asked for money to help “a relative in the hospital.” You may be asked for travel money so that the person can meet you. If you send money, the person you are sending it to may simply disappear. Alternatively, the person may decide that you are gullible and begin asking for more. If you suspect that someone has sent you a phony picture of himself or herself, Google has a tool that can help you know. You can upload the picture to Google Images (images.google.com) to determine if the picture is in use elsewhere on the internet. (Click the camera icon for the upload function.)

Many people are emotionally vulnerable after a divorce. You must use your best discernment and realize that the internet is literally filled with scam artists and criminals seeking victims. Online scams are not the exception to the rule – they’re common.

Dating Tips for Older Divorcees

South Florida has always been a favorite destination of older and retired Americans, and the 21st century hasn’t changed that. What has changed is the rising rate of divorce among people in their 50s and 60s, what observers are calling “gray divorce.” Here are some other recommendations that may help you get back in the dating game:

  • Make new friends. That’s easier to do in south Florida, where many people are your age and in a similar situation. Be proactive. Volunteer, join organizations, or resume some favorite recreational pursuits you haven’t enjoyed recently.
  • Try not to burden or depend on your adult children. Find someone else to listen to your ruminations. Your children can be there for you, but set some boundaries for their sake and yours.
  • Start dating. You’re never too old. If romance doesn’t blossom, you’re still making friends, and friends are a valuable blessing when you’re older and single.
  • Accept and forgive yourself. Those divorcing at a later age sometimes find it harder to forgive themselves for earlier mistakes in life. But consider the math; the longer we live, the more mistakes we make. Everyone’s life is full of mistakes. What’s important is moving on in a positive way.

If you’re an older adult divorcing or expecting to divorce in south Florida, speak with an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney as quickly as possible.

Adjusting to Single Life

Some divorcees love returning to the dating game. However, for others, a divorce after several years of marriage is a painful experience. For one thing, you now have to go back to single life, and for someone who has for years been known as the spouse of another person, the thought of being all alone can be intimidating.

Here are some ways that can help you flourish as a single person after divorce:

Explore interests that you were unable to explore during the marriage. There might have been hobbies that you wanted to undertake or interests that you wanted to pursue, but couldn’t because of your other marriage and other commitments. Take that route now, and see where it goes.

Pay attention to your health, and getting fit. That’s not necessarily in preparation for dating, but to make you feel good about yourself, and more confident. When you look good, you feel good, regardless of whether you have a significant other in your life or not.

Get in touch with friends and family members who care about you. Build a close support network of people who are positive and care about you. Avoid surrounding yourself with negative people, or those who want to live in the past, or people who remind you of the past. That means that you might have to cut out some people from your friends’ circle, but so be it.

Travel alone. This amazing experience is one that many people forgo when they’re married or in a committed relationship. It might have been years since you took a trip as a single, or you might have never taken one your own. A trip doesn’t necessarily have to mean travel outside the country, and doesn’t have to be expensive. Look at affordable trips that are close to you, and take this time to declutter your head.

Experiment with your looks. No one is asking you to go drastic with a makeover, but a change in looks can help people move on and reinvent themselves. In a marriage, people do end up looking like what the partner wants them to look like, even though that may not be what they want to look like.

For help filing for divorce, schedule a consultation with a Boca Raton divorce lawyer.

Minimize Conflict during Visitation

Posted on: October 12, 2015 by in Divorce
No Comments

Boca Raton divorce lawyerMany divorces end with some amount of acrimony between the ex-partners. However, Boca Raton divorce lawyer believe that it is important for both of the partners to continue to work together as parents to ensure that their children are not traumatized by the divorce. It is important for them to keep any negative feelings about the ex-spouse on the back burner.

Be respectful in your dealings with your ex-spouse. You don’t have to be overly friendly, or chatty. But you do need to be respectful. Remember, respect begets respect, and if your spouse sees you behaving in an agreeable manner, he’s likely to respond in a similar manner. Avoid common behaviors like cutting off your spouse and interrupting him. That is not respectful at all.

Even if your spouse decides to behave aggressively or hostile, remain cool, and calm. You don’t have to respond to every provocation by your ex-spouse. Remember, that you are not playing that game anymore. You are now divorced, and how your ex-spouse behaves is none of your business.

If you are going to drop your child at your ex-spouses home for a visit, then make sure that you do not intrude on his or her space by stepping into the home. Remain outside until you are invited in.

Keeping communication to a minimum is absolutely recommended when you are handing over a child, and you’ve just been through a hostile divorce. Sometimes, talking actually makes things worse. Restrict communication to e-mails, SMSs, or other telephone calls.

Remember, that if you get into an argument in front of the child, it is only likely to traumatize or upset the child further. It may be a good idea to bring along a family member or a friend, who is calm, and can help prevent you from losing your temper or getting into an argument.

The holidays can be especially tricky for parents who are sharing custody of their children. Your holiday schedule will be included in your visitation schedule, finalized as part of your divorce. However, it is important for you to communicate with your spouse, and plan out exactly how you will carry out the logistics involved in dividing the child’s time over the holidays.

If you’re planning a holiday with your child in deviance from the normal visitation agreement, ask your ex-spouse beforehand. Don’t simply change plans without giving the other person notice. Make sure that all of the plans that you make are communicated to your ex-spouse beforehand, to avoid any misunderstandings. Don’t change plans at the last minute.

Try to be cooperative with your ex-spouse if he or she wants to change holiday plans this season. Remember, there may be a time in the future when you want some accommodation made in the visitation schedule when you have holiday plans with your child, and if you accommodate your spouse’s request now, he or she is much more likely to be flexible later.

For help drafting a visitation schedule, schedule a consultation with a Boca Raton child custody lawyer.

Parental Responsibility in Boca Raton

Posted on: July 10, 2015 by in Divorce
No Comments

Boca Raton Parental Responsibility LawyerWhen it comes to parental rights and responsibilities and youngster tutelage, Florida law determines what is best for the children per the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The laws in each state are different and designed to address both the legal and physical care of children whose parents are divorcing or for parents that have never been married.

The youngster tutelage laws in Florida work to establish which parent gets legal and physical custody. That parent will have primary care, control, and maintenance of the child. This means they will make all of the educational, religious, medical, and disciplinary decisions pertaining to that child.

Florida law grants sole custody and joint custody. Sole custody allows just one parent to have legal and physical custody whereas joint custody allows both parents to share the responsibility and make decisions together regarding the child. Even so, one parent is named the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation so the child has a primary residence, school, and a designated primary physician.

Florida law has laws regarding youngster tutelage and child support and regulates them to protect the child first, then the parent. It is wise to seek help from a qualified Boca Raton youngster tutelage lawyer to insure the best outcome for all involved. If your youngster tutelage case is brought to trial you will need to rely on your Boca Raton youngster tutelage lawyer to understand the Florida youngster tutelage laws and to act in your best interest.

Before you can be awarded custody of your child, you must establish paternity if necessary. Although many people think of paternity tests as a way to disprove that a man is the father of a child, paternity testing is also used by men seeking to legally establish their fatherhood and their paternal rights.

If you are a father, and if your paternity has not been not established through testing, it’s possible that you could you could lose your parental rights, and if you are denied your basic rights as a father, your child and your relationship with that child could be forever damaged. If your child’s mother challenges your paternity action, you must be represented by a Florida family lawyer who understands paternity cases and who will advocate aggressively on your behalf.

The court believes it is important in most cases that both parents are included in making major decisions for their child and that both parents play a significant role in a child’s life after a divorce. Remember, you have options and you have rights.

A paternity or child custody case can be complicated legally and highly-charged emotionally. Whether you are trying to prove that you are a father, or establish or modify a youngster tutelage order, it’s important that you seek legal assistance from an experienced attorney. Get the knowledgeable and trustworthy legal help you need regarding any paternity action or youngster tutelage orders by contacting an experienced Boca Raton child custody attorney as quickly as possible.

Florida’s Divorce Law

Posted on: July 6, 2015 by in Divorce
No Comments

Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer

If you want to divorce your spouse and live in Florida there are a few requirements you should be aware of first. You will want to get acquainted with these before you really consider a dissolution. In most divorce cases it is in your best interest to seek the help of a qualified Boca Raton divorce lawyer.

The process of a dissolution can be both emotional and confusing. It is always best to know the requirements before you begin. To be able to file for a Florida dissolution, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state or a member of an armed force stationed in the state. You both must agree that there are “irreconcilable differences” and you want to dissolve the marriage. If one contests the dissolution then it is common for courts to order some type of counseling before a few months before granting the dissolution.

Divorce proceedings can go rather smooth as long as both parties agree on how to divide property, debt and responsibilities for any children. If not, the case will end up in a hearing before a judge. Marital assets will be divided equitably. This is also a time when having a lawyer act as a liaison for you can be very beneficial to make sure you get what you are entitled to.

Another part of the divorce process is alimony, custody and child support, if applicable. Florida courts will order alimony if it is well-substantiated. Custody is decided on what is in the best interest of the child. Shared parenting is very common now but usually one parent will provide the primary residence, education or medical care. Child support is assessed by examining the income of parents, child care expenses, and the child’s health.

These decisions are life changing and rather than get yourself in a predicament that could follow you for years, you need a Boca Raton dissolution lawyer to make sure that you get what you deserve.

The History of Divorce

Divorce wasn’t really common in the United States prior to World War Two, but the history of divorce actually goes back thousands of years. Ancient Greece and ancient Rome actually had quite liberal divorce policies. It was only with the fall of Rome and the rise of the medieval church that dissolution almost disappeared entirely. England’s Henry the Eighth, famous for having six wives, challenged Rome in the early 1500’s, and after the Protestant Reformation, marriage came to be considered a civil contract rather than a sacrament. Secular authorities gradually began asserting the power to grant divorces.

 In the modern era, California was the first state to enact “no-fault” divorce in 1970, and since 1985, no-fault dissolution has been available in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. While all of the fifty states are still “no-fault” dissolution states, lawmakers in a number of states are imposing additional requirements upon those who now seek divorce. Before you initiate a dissolution in south Florida, discuss your circumstances first with an experienced Boca Raton dissolution lawyer. Over a dozen states have recently considered proposals that would make it more difficult to get a divorce. There’s a law now in Oklahoma requiring parenting classes for divorcing couples with children. Within the last few years, Arizona and Utah have passed laws that require counseling or a longer waiting period. If you seek a dissolution in Massachusetts and have children under 18, you’ll have to attend a six-hour parenting education course. Arkansas has a 540-day standard processing time for divorce, and couples there must separate for 18 months before they can file. The upshot is that an Arkansas divorce can take almost three years. Maryland, South Carolina and North Carolina all require a one-year separation or waiting period before you can file.

Some attorneys and judges think parenting classes and waiting periods help calm highly-charged situations and protect the children. Others simply think the laws are insulting – you’re already going through a tough time and the state is making it tougher. Apart from a 20-day waiting period after initially filing for dissolution, Florida law does not require separations or waiting periods. Neither does the law require parenting classes for all divorcing parents, but a judge, at his or her discretion, may order a couple to attend a parenting course prior to finalizing the divorce. If you are divorcing or you need to learn more about dissolution in Florida, help is here, so arrange as quickly as possible to speak with an experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer.

Who Needs An Attorney?

Nobody really wants to hire a dissolution attorney. It costs money. You can download all the forms for free and read everything you need to know online, right?

Actually that’s only partially true – the part about how nobody wants to hire a lawyer. Yes, it costs a bit of money, but your divorce lawyer’s job is to protect your interests in a dissolution. Without legal representation, many divorcing people stand to lose a lot more than an attorney’s fee. As for the forms, let your divorce attorney review them or complete them on your behalf. Any mistakes, inaccuracies, or lack of thoroughness could delay your divorce or jeopardize a fair settlement.

The truth is that you need more than a divorce lawyer. A dissolution is going to be one of the most important events in your life. You need someone with rigorous legal training, someone with extensive divorce and family law experience, and someone officially recognized by other attorneys as an expert in family law. You need the services of an experienced Boca Raton dissolution lawyer who is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law.

If you are a parent, if you have real estate holdings or own a business, if you’re in debt, or if you have a pension or retirement savings, any mistake on the legal paperwork or during a dissolution proceeding could be catastrophic. A divorce shouldn’t mean losing your home, going into bankruptcy, or losing custody of your child or children.

Divorce is never pleasant. When you are divorcing, you need an attorney who is sensitive to your emotions, anxieties, and fears, someone who routinely handles similar cases, someone who confidently offers you reassurance. In south Florida, retain the advice and services of an experienced Boca Raton dissolution lawyer from the very beginning of the divorce process, and don’t wait to make the call.

More Testimonials
Featured Thumbnail

Client Testimonials

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.

More Testimonials