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Tampa Family Law Law Blog

What should I expect from property division?

When you divorce, you have to divide your marital property with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Florida law mandates that property division be equitable, which most people wrongly interpret as meaning equal. You should not expect your division of assets to be exactly equal, but you should expect a fair share of marital assets.  

Deciding what is fair is not always easy. Both you and your ex have assets and financial interests you would like to protect, and you probably both have slightly different views of what would constitute a "fair" division. This is especially true when there are many different types of property to consider, which is common for most married couples. Such property might include: 

  • Homes or investment properties 
  • Family businesses 
  • Retirement accounts 
  • Family heirlooms or inherited money 
  • Collectibles, artwork or other valuables 
  • Savings or investment accounts 

Collaborative divorce may be better option than litigation

Divorce is often a painful and sad process for families, even when it is the best choice for everyone involved. People considering divorce may feel discouraged at the potential for a long legal battle when they are anxious to just start their new life. However, for many people in Florida, there are other options besides fighting out every detail in a courtroom. Some experts recommend mediation or a collaborative divorce as these alternative dispute resolution options can achieve the same end in a much easier process.

Experts who tout the benefits of a collaborative divorce say that it is an option that is usually less costly than going to court. It involves each spouse working with their respective attorneys out of court to reach an agreement that is amenable to both parties. Other experts might be brought in for specific reasons, such as a child specialist or a divorce coach. Mediation is a similar option where a neutral party can be utilized in order to handle a particular issue, such as child custody. Whereas litigation can be a laborious and expensive process, making any future dealings with an ex contentious, collaborative law can be faster and more agreeable.

Falling behind in child support payments can add up quickly

When a marriage or relationship ends, it can be an unfortunate occurrence, particularly if children are involved. Most parents here in Florida want to do whatever it takes to care for their children, whether they remain in a relationship with the other parent or not. If a parent's financial situation changes, it can be difficult to continue paying child support. If a parent falls behind, it can spiral out of control very quickly, as one recent out-of-state case illustrates.

A father in Minnesota was arrested recently for his outstanding child support payments. He and his ex wife divorced in 2000. At that time, courts ordered him to pay $780 a month in child support, which he did until falling behind in those payments three years later. Though he attempted to continue paying, he was unable to catch up with the payments he owed, and the amount finally ballooned to nearly $114 thousand, including court fines; he was ultimately taken into custody.

Your eligibility for TRICARE after a military divorce

In many ways, a military divorce is quite similar to a civilian divorce. You are still dealing with the trauma of a family breakup and the difficult decisions about what to do next. The differences involve the benefits to which you may be entitled if you are a civilian married to a member of the U.S. Armed Services. Some of these benefits require action prior to your divorce, and if you miss the opportunity to apply for them, you may lose them.

Depending on how long you have been married to your military spouse, your benefits may be significant and could include a portion of your spouse's military retirement. Additionally, you want to be sure to understand your eligibility for health care coverage following the divorce. This may be especially important if you have children covered under your spouse's policy.

New tax laws for alimony will take affect in 2019

It is an unfortunate fact that some marriages don't last forever. Divorce proceedings can be difficult on Florida families, especially when it is time to determine how to handle financial agreements between former spouses. In an earlier post, we discussed how new tax laws will affect couples next year when handling alimony payments. However, there are steps that divorcing couples can take in order to deal with these changes.

The dawning of the new year will change tax laws in relation to alimony for the first time in decades. Though alimony payments used to be tax-deductible for the paying ex-spouse, and considered taxable income for the receiving ex-spouse, this will no longer be the case. There has been a rush to divorce before the end of the year, but experts warn that those who haven't yet filed will likely not be able to finalize the necessary agreements before 2019. Luckily, there are ways to navigate these new tax laws to create as positive an outcome as possible.

Military divorce: Enlisting may be an indicator of future divorce

Florida military families make many sacrifices on behalf of the nation. It is one of the highest callings a person can answer, though it is not without its stresses. Long deployments, moving around frequently and other difficulties can greatly affect family life. A recent study examined various career fields and found that military careers may be disproportionately more likely to factor into divorce. It is unfortunate, but military divorce is a reality for many families.

A recent study based on U.S. Census information found that out of the eleven career fields most likely to experience divorce, three of them are military-related. Those military supervisors who are considered first-line have the highest percentage of divorce, at 30 percent, and the risk rose for those who are under the age of 30. The other two categories are those enlisted personnel who work in tactical operations and air weapons and those in the military with an unspecified rank, including military veterans. The rates for those two categories are around 15 percent. Also, the study found that women in the military in general have a higher rate of divorce.

With the right help, your military divorce can end smoothly

Florida military members and their families already deal with difficult situations on a nearly daily basis, but divorce can be particularly tricky for these individuals. While the end goal of a military divorce is the same as that of a civilian divorce -- to end a marriage -- there are complicating factors that can make achieving this goal difficult. Couples must address sensitive issues like child custody, support and alimony all in the complicated realm of the armed forces.

Before a military member or his or her spouse can even file for divorce, a unique question must be addressed -- in which state should the proceeding be filed? In general, there are three possible options. It's possible to file in state where the active duty member is currently stationed, in the state where legal residency is claimed or in the state where the other spouse currently resides. This should not be an arbitrary decision. State laws govern things like property division, child custody and more, so couples should be certain that they file in the state that can best address their interests.

Don't worry about property division -- get a postnup

Money problems are one of the leading causes of divorce, yet few people imagine the potential future money problems they may deal with in their marriage. For these individuals, it can be difficult to reconcile the idea of getting a prenuptial agreement to protect against a problem that they cannot foresee. Married Florida couples can utilize postnuptial agreements to address important issues, such as property division and more.

A postnuptial agreement can address all of the same topics as a prenup, with the one obvious difference being the time at which it is signed -- after already getting married. The typical postnup might include things like personal property, debt, income, expected inheritances and how to divide all of these assets. Even business interests from entrepreneurial pursuits established after saying "I do" can usually be included in a postnup.

Does birdnesting fit into your child custody arrangement?

Florida couples often struggle deciding what to do with the marital home after a divorce. Should one person keep it, and if so, whom? Should they sell it and split the profits? A new child custody trend gives parents a third option -- let the kids keep it.

Instead of shuffling the kids back and forth between mom and dad's houses after a divorce, birdnesting involves maintaining the family home as a stable space for the children. Instead, parents rotate in and out. This is seen as a way to give children a more stable transition during an otherwise extremely difficult part of their lives. Parents usually maintain a separate residence -- often an apartment -- as well, although they never occupy the same space at the same time.

Avoiding financial mistakes is smart for your post-divorce future

No matter now amicable a couple may be during the divorce process, it is still a difficult and often emotionally challenging process. The stress of ending a marriage can often lead to decisions that are not always wise or sustainable for the future. If you are facing divorce, it is beneficial to learn about common financial mistakes people make in divorce and how to avoid them.

The choices you make during the divorce process can impact you for years to come. Of course, this includes decisions regarding your divorce order, but also other choices you may be tempted to make, such as impulse purchases. It is in your interests to think clearly and act cautiously during this time of change and transition.

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