Archive for the ‘ Family Law ’ Category

Paternity Tests Gone Wrong

Posted on: October 29, 2017 by in Family Law
No Comments
paternity tests

These days we assume that DNA will prove everything. It will prove your innocence, and it will prove your guilt. We even trust it to prove the paternity of our children. But, what about when the tests are wrong? You can read more about paternity tests here.

False Inclusions of DNA Paternity Tests

Paternity tests using DNA work by identifying specific size pieces of DNA that a child has taken from the father. If the DNA of the man has the same size pieces, he might be the father. But, there will also be men in the population who have those same sized pieces. So, more locations are tested, which are genetic markers. The more markers tested, the rarer the pattern will be, the more men the testing excludes. If the testing is stopped after only identifying a pattern that is common, there is a greater chance that the man tested isn’t the father. This can be one area where the test will fail. This is why they will always state that these tests offer a probability that the man tested is the father, not a certainty.

False Exclusions

On major reason for an error in exclusions is human error. It can be possible that the collector accidentally placed the child’s DNA specimen in the mother’s DNA envelope and vice versa. This will, of course, exclude the father from paternity because they are testing his sample against the mother’s and not the child’s. There are several different ways that this mistake, and others, can be switched around. But, human error is the bottom line and most common source of false exclusions.

As a result, there are more laboratories that will test all three samples against each other, just to be sure. There are other instances of a parent sending a sample which wasn’t theirs. This may go unnoticed, but once it is found out the father is forced to go in and give a sample. Or there might not be enough DNA in a sample, which may also cause errors.

DNA Mutations

It is sometimes the case that paternity tests will show a father is not the father. This can be the case if two or more locations do not match in their DNA with the child. It isn’t uncommon for the child’s DNA to mutate, causing a harder match to the father. This may happen in one location; two is a bit rarer. But, it is extremely odd for a father to fail a match on three markers. The AAB’s minimum testing requirement is that the lab has to have at least two markers which do not match to exclude the father. Some laboratories will go the extra mile and offer more research to exclude or confirm the father’s match.

Relatives

In some cases, the actual father of the child might be related to the person accused of being the father. This means that when the child is tested, the markers will test positive to a certain number. If the test is stopped too early, the man being tested could be concluded to be the father of the child, because a low number of markers will be the same size. Because the two men share genes, this would not only be possible; but likely. This is why the most efficient laboratories will test as many as fifteen markers for each test. There are also some that will run the test again if there is enough sample left after the initial test.

Attorneys

Attorneys involved in cases that require a paternity test will most likely be familiar with the statistics of errors. They will know how to steer your case in the direction that will give you the rights you deserve as a parent. There may be some problems with a paternity test, but they are solid enough when done correctly. Having a lawyer in your corner who can show that to the court is essential. This isn’t something you want to take into your own hands. It requires an understanding of the law and a level of experience that only a lawyer can provide. They will be able to battle your case a way that you aren’t.

If you have questions about your paternity test or a case you would like to bring to court, you should start here. Having an attorney with experience in these cases can be the difference between paternal rights and losing your child. This isn’t the time for you to try to defend yourself. This is a very serious matter, involving the law and your future. You need a professional on your side to explain what is happening and what will happen next. That only comes with experience and study of the law.

Tough Conversations: Talking to Your Children About Divorce

Posted on: September 27, 2017 by in Divorce, Family Law
No Comments
tough conversations

Going through a divorce is difficult for everyone involved. Children have a particularly tough time getting through a divorce unscathed. In fact, the divorce talk may be one of the most tough conversations you have as a parent. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to make the conversation easier. With these tips, you can learn how to tackle these tough conversations with ease.

1. Understand that tough conversations are often long-lasting memories

While you might think that a tough conversation is quickly a thing of the past, that’s far from the truth. The conversation that you have about divorce is one that your children will remember. Years later, they will look back on the conversation. If it goes well, they may find comfort in it. However, a bad conversation will cause pain.

You should only have the divorce talk with your children when you realize the significance of your words. Before you have the talk, you should take the time to plan your words carefully. Tough conversations like this one can be forever engrained in your children’s minds. Don’t take the situation lightly.

2. Avoid secrets

Many parents make the mistake of telling one child, and not the rest. While you may think that telling your oldest first is a good idea, it’s not. It forces your child to keep secrets from everyone else. No one should have the pressure of your divorce on their shoulders alone. Instead of telling one child at a time, tell everyone at the same time. To accomplish this, you can call a family meeting. Make sure that everyone is present, and share the news with everyone.

In addition to forcing children to keep secrets, telling children about your divorce separately causes another problem. It makes some kids feel less worthy than others. For example, you might choose to tell your youngest child last. In doing so, you send a message that they can’t handle a difficult situation. You also may send a message that you trust them less than your other children. While that may not be the case, your child can interpret it that way.

3. Speed up the process

Divorce proceedings can be long, and they can be stressful. As much as you and your partner might disagree on the divorce terms, you should try to finalize the divorce quickly. Drawing out your divorce is difficult for your children. It makes them question whether or not you will divorce. Additionally, it makes them bear the stress of the divorce for longer than they need to.

For the sake of your children, try to speed up the divorce process. If you have to, hire a mediator. Take advantage of the best lawyers that you can find and work hard to come to a swift solution. In a divorce, no one really wins or loses. You may as well come to a quick solution and let your children escape the stress of the situation.

4. Don’t make assumptions

One of the biggest mistakes that parents make before having tough conversations like divorce is to assume. Don’t assume what your children are feeling. Instead, ask them how they feel about the situation. Listen to their answers and address their concerns. Their answers may surprise you. If you had a prepared speech based on assumptions, your speech might make them feel worse about the situation.

Every child handles a divorce differently. While one child might act out in anger, another might fell some relief at the prospect of divorce. You can’t know how your child will react until you talk to them. Once you know how they really feel, you can have a conversation about the issue. Until then, you should avoid speaking about it.

5. Don’t belittle their feelings

Sometimes, a child responds to a divorce with emotions that seem ridiculous to an adult. No matter how silly you think your children are acting, don’t belittle their emotions. The way they feel is the way they feel; they can’t change that. While it’s your job to make them feel better, you should be careful how you go about doing that. Be sensitive to their emotions and don’t invalidate their feelings.

6. Put your emotions aside

While a divorce can be hard on you, you need to keep your emotions in check when you discuss it with your children. Leave any childish emotions and behavior at the door. Instead of playing the blame game or arguing with your partner, be an adult. Join forces with your partner for a few minutes to show your children that everything will be okay.

If you and your partner can keep things amicable for a short time, your kids will benefit from it. They will feel more at ease about the divorce process. If you can’t keep your emotions in check, your children might worry about their future. Let them know that things will turn out for the best, even if you have your own doubts about it.

The Challenges of Same Sex Divorce

Posted on: September 19, 2017 by in Divorce, Family Law
No Comments
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.

The Biggest Divorce Settlements in History

Posted on: August 18, 2017 by in Family Law
No Comments
divorce settlements

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.

Don’t Do These 4 Things During a Child Custody Battle

Posted on: July 21, 2017 by in Family Law
No Comments
child custody battle

A divorce is a very trying time in anyone’s life. The hardest divorces are the ones that include a nasty child custody battle. This added stress can cause someone to act irrationally and in ways that can negatively affect his or her case. It is crucial to keep a cool head as the court will take all of your behavior into account. The most important thing to every parent is their child or children. To give yourself the best chance for a favorable outcome of you child custody battle it is important to know what not to do so you do not hurt your chances. Having a knowledgeable family attorney can take away much of the burden and be a great resource during this difficult time.

Do Not Have Negative Interactions with Your Child’s Other Parent

With today’s technology, you can effortlessly shoot off an angry text or phone call that you will later on regret. Sometimes if you are lucky, these snafus will not come back to haunt you. However, if you are in a child custody battle, you can not take that chance. You can be confident that your ex-spouse along with his or her lawyers are preparing any past mistake you have made for the court to see. This point although true for both parties is particularly the case for fathers.

In our society males are thought of automatically as dominant and in some cases controlling. This preconceived notion makes it easier for a woman to claim that her ex-husband is abusive or at the very least very demanding and controlling, not painting a good picture for the court. Because men start off at a disadvantage, in this case, it is imperative that the mother does not have any past texts or calls that can paint you in a bad light. There is also more to this than just electronic interactions. It is of the utmost importance that there is never a physical altercation between mother and father.

First of all, any physical contact with another person made in a harmful or offensive manner is a crime, and you can not parent your child from jail. This stays true 100% of the time. If you are in the middle of a child custody battle and the judge see’s you have a prior incident of violence towards either your ex-spouse or children it will significantly hurt your chances for a favorable outcome. This not only true for men but also women. Just because someone is a female does not mean they can not be abusive. It is crucial for a child not to see mom and dad fighting. Studies show that children who witness domestic violence early on suffer developmental challenges and life-long emotional problems.

Do Not Fail to Pay Child Support

This is not a fact but it is a good rule to go by that child support is your most important financial obligation to a judge. It cost money to raise a child obviously. Failure to pay child support after a court order can be considered contempt of court. If you are found to be in contempt, you can face either a hefty fine or possibly even jail time. Failure to pay child support can significantly damage your chances in a child custody battle. First off, the judge will take you not paying child support as a slap in the face for not following a direct order from the court. Second and most importantly, not paying child support looks like a lack of concern for your child. A judge will be hesitant to grant custody to a parent who can not follow through on paying child support.

Do Not Miss Scheduled Times

In a child custody battle, everything matters. Things such as showing up late for school drop off and pick up may seem inconsequential, but they can hurt your chances at a favorable outcome. Courts and judges understand life happens and you may run late here and there, however, if your lateness becomes a trend it can be something they take into account when deciding custody. This does expand to more than just school drop off and pick up; it can include sports practices or any extracurricular activity your child takes part in.

Do Not Abuse Drugs or Alcohol

Even a suggestion that you may abuse drug or alcohol can be very damaging to your appearance with the court. The single most point a judge will determine custody on is what is in the greatest interest of the child. A parent who abuses drugs or alcohol will almost automatically eliminate themselves from having a chance to win custody of their child. When a child’s well-being is at stake, a court will not hesitate to take a child away from a parent if there is evidence of alcohol or drug abuse.

Paternity Lawyer, How They Can Help You

Posted on: July 14, 2017 by in Family Law
No Comments
paternity lawyer

One of the most complicated things a family can go through is the issue of paternity. If a paternity problem arises, it can become a very complex and possibly costly process. A paternity issue is a confusing and very intimate process. Especially in the state of Florida, it is best to have an experienced and knowledgeable paternity lawyer on your side.

Biological Father Has No Rights

According to the state of Florida, barring certain situations, it is usually in the best interest of the child or children to have both their biological parents in their life. However, the most common of these particular situations when it is not in the best interest of the child is when there is an unfit parent. Being unfit as a parent can include physical or emotional abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, and mental health problems among others. Florida does not recognize the biological father as having legal rights regarding the child. There are only two ways for a biological father to have legal rights to his child when they are born. These two possibilities are the father is already married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or the father’s name is added to the birth certificate.

This rule, of only granting a father legal rights concerning his child, in these two ways has many critics. The pundits claim it is not fair for a biological father to not have legal rights to his child. Florida does, however, offer a means by which the biological father can establish paternity. This is important because then the father can have the same legal rights to the child as the mother does. That is why it is crucial to choose the correct paternity lawyer if you do decide to go to court.

Paternity Lawyer, Why Paternity Is Important

Establishing paternity is vital for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost it is important for a child to know who both of their parents are. When children know this, they are more likely to feel confident in who they are and where they come from. It is also important for children to know who both parents are because children respond to love from both parents. According to Dr. Paul Amato, Professor of Family Sociology and Demography at Penn State, children who grow up with both biological parents are less likely to develop cognitive, emotional and social problems.

It is also important financially for a child to have two legally responsible parents. Studies have shown that children who only have one legally responsible parent are more likely to end up poor than children who have two legally responsible parents. Furthermore, it is vital to have legal rights to your child because there are certain things that only a child’s legal mother and father can do. These include receiving copies of school, medical, dental, and religious training among other things. Perhaps the most important reason is for your child’s medical records. It is crucial for the child and doctor, or any health care provider to know the child’s family medical history. Any health care provider needs to be aware if the child has possibly inherited any specific health problems or genetic traits from either side of the family.

Paternity is also vital in case the possibility arises of the relationship not working out with the child’s mother. Without establishing paternity, a father can not file a court order for custody or visitation time.

How To Establish Paternity

The state of Florida automatically recognized the paternity of a newborn baby as the woman’s husband. However, if the woman who gives birth is not married, then paternity must be established. This establishment can be either voluntary or involuntary through a court order. In Florida, there is something known as a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity.” This pact is established when the mother and supposed father agree on who the child’s father is. The parents in this acknowledgment are under oath that the man signing the paper is indeed that child’s father. Once it is signed, there is a sixty day holding period. After these sixty days, neither parents can nullify the agreement. Under Florida law, there are five ways to establish paternity legally.

  1. Being married to the child’s mother when the child is born
  2. Signing the child’s birth certificate when or after the baby is born
  3. Marrying the mother and updating birth records at the Florida Office of Vital Statistics
  4. Obtaining genetic testing
  5. A judge’s order establishing legal paternity

Children are the most important thing to a parent so make sure not to take any shortcuts when looking for the best paternity lawyer possible.

 

 

 

What to Expect: Using the Florida Child Support Calculator

Posted on: June 14, 2017 by in Family Law
No Comments
Florida Child Support Calculator

One of the most critical parts of a divorce is determining child support. In our state, however, we have a Florida Child Support Calculator that can help understand what the child support amount will be in your situation. Let’s look at how this calculator works, how to use this calculator, how close this estimate can be to the actual amount awarded by the court, and what variables might be at play that affects the final numbers.

What is the Florida Child Support Calculator?

For all but two counties (Miami-Dade and Manatee), the Florida Department of Revenue oversees the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program. The program provides an array of services including paternity testing, genetic testing, establishing a child support order and enforcing those support orders. The state of Florida provides specific guidelines as to how much child support parents must provide after a divorce. The Florida Department of Revenue provides a free calculator for parents to estimate the amount.

How to Use the Florida Child Support Calculator

1)    Enter the income of both parents. The custodial or majority parent is the parent that has the children most of the time.
2)    Enter the number of children that the support order will cover.
3)    Enter the monthly daycare costs paid by each parent
4)    Enter the monthly healthcare costs for the children paid by each parent. Healthcare is listed in two sub-categories: the amount toward healthcare insurance, and if applicable, the amount of any healthcare or medical expenses not covered by health insurance. For example, if you pay out-of-pocket for a specific prescription for your child, you would enter that in the second category.
5)    Enter the total number of the child’s overnight stays with each parent. The stays are cumulative for the year, so the total of both amounts must equal 365.

The calculator will then determine the percentage of financial responsibility of each parent. The calculation establishes the amount of child support paid by each parent. It will also show the monthly total child support owed to the mother by the father, or to the father by the mother.

Factors to Consider Before Using the Calculator

The Florida Child Support Calculator is relatively straightforward to use, but only for estimation purposes. If your combined monthly income is under $800 or over $10,000, the calculator will not be able to provide an accurate estimate.

A court needs proof of paternity in order to issue child support. You can determine paternity in several ways. The easiest is if both parents are married when the child is born, which automatically establishes paternity. If the parents are unmarried, the father can establish paternity by signing as the father on the birth certificate.

When neither of these outcomes happens at the hospital during the child’s birth, paternity can still be determined. If the couple gets married afterward, the parents can complete an “Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida” form when applying for their marriage license. Unmarried parents can retroactively add the father to the birth certificate by filling out an “Acknowledgment of Paternity” form. This form is then signed before two witnesses or through a notary.

A judge determines paternity in court when the man believed to be the father does not want to establish paternity voluntarily. Or, both parents can undergo genetic testing, and if the test proves the man to the genetic father, Child Support Services files an Administrative Order of Paternity. The order will add the father’s name to the birth certificate while avoiding a court appearance. Paternity of the children not only is needed to award child support, but it also allows for both parents to get a shared custody order from the courts and to have a legal say in decisions regarding the child.

How Reliable is the Estimate?

Even once paternity is established, and the numbers crunched,  a judge decides the final amount of child support awarded. The judge looks at the same parameters utilized in the Florida Child Support Calculator but also considers other factors when determining the final amount. For instance, the judge might increase the amount of support if medical and dental expenses are significantly higher than what the calculator estimates. The age of the child and school tuition can affect the amount. And the total available assets of each parent and the child can be a factor too.

Sometimes a parent’s income varies by season, such as a construction worker who works less during the winter months. In these instances, the judge may restructure the monthly support to reflect that. If more than 55% of a parent’s gross income is going toward child support, the court may make an adjustment. The judge will also examine the proposed parenting plan. If one parent refuses to become involved in the activities of the child, it could result in more support financially.

So the Florida Child Support Calculator can be a useful tool. You can access it here to give you an idea of what the support award might be. But getting a divorce, especially when children are involved, is a very complicated process. We’re here to help you navigate the legal issues through this difficult time.

How Trusts and Wills Can Change After Death: What You Need to Know

Posted on: April 21, 2017 by in Family Law
No Comments
trusts and wills

The loss of a family member is a stressful time, and that stress is compounded when it is time to look at the loved one’s trust or will. Tensions can run high even with the best estate planning. But what happens when a family member passes away and the rest of the relatives share differing views of how to divide and distribute the deceased’s assets and property? Trusts and wills may have complicated components in an attempt to deal with situations such as second marriages, disinherited family members, or favored relatives that can cause a lot of turmoil. Probate disputes are not uncommon. And they can become emotionally charged very quickly when families are in disagreement of the wishes of the deceased.

Meet Sandra and Mark

Here’s a situation to illustrate how various family members might feel during a probate dispute. Sandra has three grown children. After her first husband had passed, she sold the family house of 30 years in Boca Raton. She moved four hours away to a retirement community in Jacksonville to live closer to her sister. Sandra met Mark there, and they were together for several years before marrying last spring. After the wedding, she sold the condo she had purchased and used profit from that sale to buy a larger condo in the same complex with her new husband.
Sandra and Mark cared for each other very much, and Sandra had wanted to update her will to reflect that. Most of her of assets were from the sale of the family house when her first husband died. At the time, she divided the inheritance equally among her three children. Recently, she told her kids that she was planning on revising her will to include Mark for particular sentimental items and a small financial portion as well, but most of the inheritance would remain just for her three children and their families.

More Than His Fair Share?

Though older, Sandra was in very good health, and her passing came as a shock to everyone. She had not yet made the revisions to her will that she had discussed with her children over the holidays. When it came time to settle her estate, Mark felt Sandra’s estate should be distributed differently. He felt entitled to 25% of her financial assets, and that her three children should each receive 25% too. Mark felt this was fair since he did not think that Sandra’s kids called or visited enough, nor did they help Mark and Sandra move when they purchased the new condo together.

What Do the Kids Think?

All three children have different ideas of what is fair. Since Sandra made a tidy profit on her condo sale and used that profit toward the purchase of the new condo with Mark, her son Allen feels that is Mark’s portion. He thinks the will should stand as it is, particularly since they been married for just one year. Sandra’s youngest thought his mom was quite clear that Mark receives a portion of the inheritance, but that 25% is too high. Sandra’s daughter Anne is not concerned with the money but still very upset. Mark wants to keep some of Sandra’s belongings that Anne planned on passing down to her own children.

Prevention Is Preferable with Trusts and Wills

The best way to deal with a situation such as this would have been to prevent it. Periodically reviewing trusts and wills and making any revisions as quickly as possible would have gone a long way in this scenario as Sandra’s wishes would have been clearly spelled out. When not possible, the second best option with this type of probate dispute might be mediation.

Mediation Can Help with Family Disputes

Mediation might be the best way to deal with situations with a lot of ambiguity surrounding trusts and wills. It is an alternative form of dispute resolution. Mediation is not a possibility for every probate dispute. But, when it is an option it allows families to reach agreements that are preferable to an outcome determined by the courts. In mediation, everyone involved has an opportunity to share their feelings and opinions on the matter. It can provide more privacy than litigation, which can make the process less stressful for some family members.

Litigation May Be Necessary

In some scenarios, or in cases where mediation is not possible or desirable, litigation may be necessary. Unlike mediation, probate litigation involves hearings and trials in probate court. The probate judge will be the one to determine the outcome of any disputes regarding trusts and wills.
Regardless of whether you are seeking a lawyer to help a loved one create or revise a trust or will so that there will not be any family disputes in the future, or must find a lawyer to help you with probate mediation or litigation, you can contact Lewert Law by calling 561-220-0123 to help you.

Social Media During Child Custody Cases: What You Need to Know

Posted on: April 7, 2017 by in Divorce, Family Law
No Comments
child custody

When two spouses divorce, one of the most common questions that come to the forefront is “who gets the kids.” It’s a fair question, often considering times the two spouses each believe they’ve earned the right to raise their children as the primary guardian. However, only one parent can keep the children under their roof, and one thing the children will likely do will play a large part in the parents’ success in gaining child custody as well. Social media.

Kids love their social media. At any given point you will find a child on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, or more. Social media took over the on-the-go entertainment scene in recent years, bringing plenty of positives to the table. Some work exclusively in the social media field now. Others market their companies through social media, gaining more income.

However, social media also can be destructive. Many posts put the posters in hot water, including those in the court of law. While children most often use social media, adults do as well. When adults use social media, they do so in a much more serious internet world. Anything that reaches the wrong audience in the wrong way can be harmful towards them. For example, in a child custody case, there are plenty of do’s and don’ts to worry about when it comes to social media.

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media During Child Custody Cases

Do: Consult Your Child Custody Lawyer Regarding Your Content

You always wish to consult your Child Custody Lawyer before you post something on social media. One wrong post here or there can bury your case, so going to the experts works as a way to ensure you do not make any crucial mistakes. Say you have a tweet saved in your drafts stating that you felt your day in court was unfair. You want to tweet it out to the world. Your Child Custody Lawyer will explain to you that tweeting about the case can only do harm, not good for you. Judges will see the tweets and believe you are unable to control your emotions, or unable to respect authority. Your gripes to your followers will turn into a major setback for your case, all because you wished to let off some steam online.

Consulting your Child Custody Lawyer ahead of time prevents such tweets from leaving the drafts folder. Even in the case of a private profile, opposing lawyers may be able to get a copy of the tweet and share it with the court. Suddenly what you believed to be a private complaint about the court system is now negatively impacting your case. Simply put, consult the experts before you put anything online. Otherwise, you may find yourself hurting your own case inadvertently.

Don’t: Post Anything Negative About Anyone Involved In Your Case

This is the most common mistake made by those in child custody cases. A simple tweet complaining about the ex, or a simple Facebook post saying the children are not respectful. They may seem innocent, and they may even carry innocent intentions. However, what they are in your mind and what they are to juries and judges serve as two completely separate entities. The tweet complaining about your ex may make you look vindictive, or unappreciative of the relationship you once had. The opposing side can spin your complaint into a series of complaints and/or a way of acting unappreciative of what you had. Suddenly you look like the bad spouse.

The post concerning your children brings, even more, troubles to the table. After all, you are fighting for the right to be your children’s legal guardian. Anything negative you say about those same children will make it look like you do not unconditionally love your children. However untrue that may be, the way something looks is the way something looks. Avoid these negative posts at all costs.

Do: Save Anything That Could Help Your Case

Remember, you are battling a case here. Any evidence that could help your case must be saved. This way your Child Custody Lawyer can look it over and determine the best way to use it to assist you. For example, perhaps one time your ex threatened you in a Facebook message. That Facebook message could be the key to proving them to be an unfit parent in comparison to you. Suddenly, social media is your savior, and you have custody of your children. The little details can go a long way in cases like these. Saving posts and showing posts to your lawyers will allow for them to have them most ammunition possible in the courtroom. In the end, that’s all you can ask for. Your case will be fought with the most evidence, and social media will be a helper, not harmful.

Premarital Agreements – Lewert Law

Posted on: December 16, 2016 by in Family Law
No Comments
Premarital Agreements

Contact Lewert Law If You Need Premarital Agreements Drawn Up!

Premarital AgreementsMarriage can be a beautiful thing, but it is also – in the eyes of the law – a business arrangement. For this reason, the best way to protect your assets before you go into a marriage is to get premarital agreements drawn up. At Lewert Law, we specialize in drawing up personalized premarital agreements that suit your needs, no matter how simple – or complicated – they may be.

What do premarital agreements cover?

At Lewert Law, we look at everyone’s assets, and needs, and determine what their premarital agreements should cover. And though no two people’s needs are exactly alike, the following is a generalized list of things that can be covered in premarital agreements.

  • The division of property: typically speaking, in the state of Florida, each person gets to keep the property they come into the marriage with, and in the event of a divorce, the property reverts to him/her. However, what happens in the event of one spouse’s death? Who gets what property? And what about the division of property acquired during a marriage – does it go to the surviving spouse, or to the child(ren) produced as a result of the marriage, or to the child(ren) of the spouse(s) from previous relationships? These are just a few of the many questions that will be addressed in premarital agreements regarding the division of property.
  • The care for child(ren): if the marriage produces child(ren), provisions have to be made for their care in the event of a divorce, or in the event, one of the spouses passes away.
  • Who takes care of what bill: in many marriages today, both spouses have careers of their own, and come into the relationship with the money of their own. Therefore, “who takes care of what bill” is a question that deserves to be answered in any sort of agreement signed between the couple. For example, would it be better if the husband paid the mortgage on the property, while the wife paid for the utilities and other living expenses? Who provides for amenities for the child(ren)? These are just a few of the many questions that can be answered in a proper premarital arrangement.

In short, Lewert Law understands that any premarital arrangement needs to take each person’s needs into account. There is no such thing as a “boilerplate” arrangement, so it’s essential to hire an experienced attorney like the one you’ll find at Lewert Law to handle your personalized arrangement. For more information about Lewert Law, and how they can help you with your premarital agreements, contact us today.

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