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Tampa Family Law Law Blog

The difference between marital and separate property

When people file for divorce in Florida, there are many issues to resolve. Dividing marital property is one of the largest topics to tackle when creating a divorce settlement. It can be difficult to split the property that people have become attached to throughout years of marriage. However, not everything is eligible for division upon termination of a marriage. There are some items that may stay with the original owner once the divorce is finalized.

Separate property is not considered marital and is not eligible for division once a marriage ends. This involves property and/or assets that either party owned prior to the marriage, as well as any gifts given to either party during the marriage. Furthermore, inheritance that was given to either spouse before, during or after the marriage. Separate property can, however, easily become marital if the title of the property is modified to include the other spouse’s name or if the assets are deposited into an account shared by both parties.

What are the alimony payment enforcement procedures?

If you are receiving alimony in Florida, you may wonder what you can do if your ex-spouse stops paying the court-ordered alimony. This is a common issue that the law has set standards for. The Florida Statutes state that a person who stops paying alimony without a prior agreement or order to do so will be held in contempt.

If this happens, your ex-spouse will have to go to court. The court can make the person attend job training, report income directly to the court or actively look for employment if unemployed. The court may also charge court fees to your ex-spouse. It is the responsibility of the person charged with contempt to prove that he or she cannot pay the alimony as ordered.

Why you should say I do to a prenuptial agreement

No one gets married with the expectation that their marriage will fail, but some Florida couples will find it greatly beneficial to put certain legal protections in place before saying I do. Marriage is an exciting step, but before you walk down the aisle, you may want to consider the benefits of drafting a prenuptial agreement.

Not everyone needs a prenuptial agreement, but for many couples, it is the wisest and smartest step. This small effort can be greatly beneficial for the future, not only in case of a divorce, but also because of the peace of mind that this protection can bring.

Proposed law to reform spousal support

Spousal support, or alimony as it is commonly referred to in Florida, is a hot button issue in many divorces. According to the Sun Sentinel, the Sunshine State is one of only a few states that have lifelong spousal support payments. As things currently stand, Floridians who divorce and receive alimony payments will continue to receive them for the length of their spouse’s life. The exception is that those payments stop if the supported spouse remarries.

The law has been discussed frequently by the state Legislature, and it is again the subject of a reform bill being debated in the House. Two years ago a similar bill made it all the way to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk, but it went unsigned due to the retroactive nature of the bill, which gave him pause. The version currently at issue has no such clause. In its current state, the bill would use a formula to calculate how much spousal support one should receive and for how long based on both the difference in income and the number of years a couple was married.

Protect your company from the ravages of divorce

Owning your own business can be a trying yet wonderful thing. There is a lot of pride in building something from nothing. However, if you started your business after getting married, or if the majority of your company's growth occurred during your marriage, did you know that if you get a divorce, your spouse may have rights to a portion of your business?

Florida is an equitable distribution state. That means that each spouse should be able to walk away from the marriage with a fair division of assets. If your business is your biggest asset, it may be up for grabs unless you take steps to protect it well ahead of time.

International child abudction

Are you one of the many Florida parents who has to worry about your child or children being taken out of the country by a former spouse or partner illegally? If so, you should know about some of the things you will want to have ready to go in the event that this ever happens. As explained by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, the more documentation you have easily and readily on hand, the better off you will be in helping authorities locate your child.

Some of the documents that authorities may ask you for include a marriage certificate and divorce decree as well as a birth certificate for the child. Anything that outlines the terms of your custody or parenting time agreement with the other parent should be accessible at any time. Copies of your child's Social Security card and passport if one has been issued would also be good to keep with these items for quick reference.

Refinancing to keep a home during divorce

It is a very common thing for a resident in Florida to wish to keep a family home when getting divorced. People can understandably have strong emotional ties to their homes. This can be even more true when a couple has minor children and there is a desire to stay in a home for the sake of providing consistency and stability for the children. If you are in such a situation, you should know that there are some very specific financial realities that must be addressed when doing this.

Fox Business explains that one of the most common ways people retain homes after a divorce is through refinancing the original joint mortgage and obtaining a new mortgage as a single person. The spouse who then leaves the home may be paid for his or her portion as per any divorce agreement. This process might sound great in theory but it is important to know how and when to initiate a refinance for this purpose.

QDROs and retirement assets in a divorce

Florida residents who get divorced know that their retirement accounts may well be considered part of their marital estate. This means that some amount of this prized form of long-term savings may need to be split with a spouse as part of a property division settlement. In addition to being concerned about losing some retirement money to a spouse, people may also be concerned about the potential for paying high taxes or penalties on money paid to a spouse from a retirement account.

The U.S. Department of Labor explains that a qualified domestic relations order is a court document that may be used to set up a person other than the account owner as legally able to receive distributions from the account. This is called an alternate payee. This person may be the spouse for the purposes of settling a property division agreement. With a QDRO in place, the account owner may be safe from any tax or penalty liability on money distributed to the alternatee payee spouse.

Pets at the center of divorce disputes

As you prepared for your impending divorce, you may have experienced strong emotions. Perhaps the discussion about the fate of your home caused you anguish. Maybe negotiations over spousal support stirred concern about your future. Amid the issues that certainly have swayed your emotions is the dispute over which of you will get to keep the pet.

In a time of high stress, you may have been counting on having that trusted animal to bring you comfort. Now, it appears that your claim to the animal is not a given.

How the child’s best interests are determined

When it comes to dissolving a marriage or ending a relationship, often the most difficult aspect is determining what to do with the children. Whether you have been together for a few years or a few decades, the thought of losing custody of the children can be overwhelming. We at the Law Firm of Chris E Ragano fight for the rights of our clients to ensure that they are treated fairly and awarded the custody they deserve.


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