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Tampa Family Law Law Blog

2018 brings new child custody laws to Florida

The new year brings new laws to the Sunshine State. Among the pack are new laws regarding child custody agreements, now known as divorce and time-sharing agreements in Florida. The state has set new guidelines to help parents come to an agreement regarding time-sharing when the parents are unable to do so on their own.

The rules come as part of an overhaul that has been occurring over the past few years in the child custody policy field. Starting this year, a new standard parenting time plan is now available for parents who just can't seem to agree. The judge can easily determine how the custody will be split by using the new formula.

The unexpected financial boon of divorce

When it comes to smart money moves, most people don't immediately think of ending their marriage. However, one unexpected benefit of divorce is that it can leave a person in a better financial position than before. Individuals in Florida may be wondering just how that can be, since traditional wisdom warns of the financial risk of separating from a spouse. 

One of the financial boosts will pay off only if a person stays in the marriage long enough. A divorced person who was married for 10 years, did not remarry and was the lesser-earning spouse is able to file for Social Security benefits on the ex's record at retirement. Other retirement accounts could be split during property division as well, giving some homemaking spouses an income boost. 

Property division during a divorce includes retirement accounts

A person may have spent a significant portion of adult life saving with his or her partner in order to have an ample amount of funds for retirement. Perhaps one partner handled more of the household management while the other focused on earning income. Now, the person is facing divorce and is wondering what is fair for property division in Florida? Is there any way to prepare for such a change, also? 

There's simply no easy way to be ready for the end of a marriage, but if one is lucky enough to see it coming, then a person may wish to start putting away some extra cash for the inevitable expenses of divorce -- housing, furnishings, attorney fees, therapist fees, fees for the financial separation and more. These funds will be disclosed during the proceedings, but can be extremely helpful to a person who needs to start over. Cash flow can be a concern during the immediate aftermath of a divorce. 

As a father, when is it necessary to legally establish paternity?

If you are a father, you know how important it is to maintain a strong relationship with your children. This is especially true for fathers not married to the mother of the child or who are facing other custody concerns. In some cases, it may be necessary for a Florida father to legally establish paternity in order to enforce his rights as an active and involved parent.

You may wish to have an active role in the life of your child, but doing so may cause complications if not married to the mother of your child at the time he or she was born. Perhaps you had an informal arrangement that is no longer viable or perhaps you wish to establish your presence in your child's life. Whatever your concerns may be regarding paternity, you do not have to deal with them on your own.

Divorce doesn't necessarily shrink the family

At the end of a marriage, some individuals may fear the loss of close bonds with their children or that the family will become smaller. As it turns out, for many, the family size tends to grow as individuals remarry and add stepchildren to the mix. One study shows that divorce tends to make American families 66 percent larger, as some individuals in Florida may be surprised to learn. 

The university study shows that families are growing larger and there is a need for terms to define the names of the new extended family types, such as the girlfriend of the son of the stepmother for example. With the family expansion also comes questions about familial responsibility. The issue is widespread as the study found that households in which the head in under the age of 55 have a 33 percent likelihood of containing a stepparent. 

Alimony payments must meet requirements to be deducted

A person who has terminated a marriage with a spouse may later be responsible for making several types of financial payments to the former spouse. Among those payments are child support, property settlements or alimony. In Florida, an alimony payment can be deducted from taxable income if it meets certain guidelines. If not, the payment remains taxable. 

In order to qualify as an alimony payment, the spouses must not file a joint tax return or be members of the same household when the payments are made. The alimony payment must be part of a divorce or separation instrument, and the payment must be made in cash or equivalent. The payment must be made to the former spouse, and the divorce agreement must not recognize the payment as something other than alimony. Finally, the payment must not be required to be made after the death of the recipient. 

Child support basics -- who, what and why

More than just a check, child support payments are designed to help a child thrive. In Florida, a person may wonder about the ins and outs of child support, especially if they are newly separated or divorced. With each new situation in life comes questions about the details. In regard to child support, some are wondering - who is it for, who is responsible to pay and why is it important? 

Child support is for the care of minor children. This type of financial support is for basic care such as food, housing, utilities and required expenses, as well as for items or activities that the child enjoyed during life in the two-parent household. Regular payments can increase stability in a child's life, reduce poverty and the need for government assistance. These payments are typically court-ordered.

Property division raises questions of how to handle the house

For many couples, the family home is the most valuable asset. During a divorce, an individual will need to figure out with their ex-spouse how the house will be handled. Who will stay, who will go, or will the home be sold are all questions that can be looked at. Property division can have far-reaching impacts on an individual's lifestyle, so for many Florida residents, this is a critical part of any divorce. 

A person who decides to leave the house to the spouse may want to take precautions with their credit. Simply taking one's name off the deed to the home does not automatically take away one's responsibility for the mortgage. If one's name is left on the mortgage, he or she may be responsible should the ex miss payments. This is why, many times, individuals choose to make refinancing the mortgage a condition of giving the house to the spouse after the divorce. 

Why properly valuing your business is important

Divorce is a complex process, but it can be especially complex when there are small business assets at stake. As a Florida small business owner, you know that your divorce will have an impact your financial future, but with the right help and a clear understanding of your rights and options, you can protect yourself and the future of your business.

One of the most important steps to protecting your business assets is to have a current valuation of your business and all related assets. You have a rightful claim to a portion of all marital assets, and you also have the right to seek a property division order that ensures continued profitable operations.

A divorce can bring unexpected blessings

Some people consider the end of any marriage a tragedy, but compelling arguments exist that say this is not always the case. A divorce can often ease many of the stresses in an individual's life and make room for new healthy energy to come in. In Florida, people may be interested to learn about the unexpected blessings of divorce that come along with the ending. 

As a person dissolves a partnership that isn't working, it opens up space for exciting new things. One aspect of the newness is new traditions. No longer will a person have to do things a certain way, or celebrate holidays with certain abrasive individuals. Also, because a person may be living alone again, he or she will be able to learn new skills. If the old partner traditionally took care of something, the breakup will allow the person to branch out and pick up new skills. 

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