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Miami Divorce Law Blog

The blurred lines of marital property

Dividing marital property can be difficult during and following a divorce, especially when contentious issues arise between the parties. Finances can be a sticking point when both individuals are attempting to look out for themselves. Add minor children to the mix, and even well-meaning parents can find themselves in divorce disagreements over a number of money questions.

For one couple, whose divorce is playing out somewhat publicly due to the husband's political position, messy divorce disagreements over property and money have literally come home to roost. Court papers currently identify poor housing conditions related to the couple's 5,300-square-foot Florida home. According to the documents, broken windows and a leaking roof have caused mold and moisture damage inside the home.

What factors do Florida judges consider regarding child support?

Child support is one of the biggest things to be addressed during any divorce in Florida. No matter where you stand on this personally -- whether you want to get support or whether you may need to pay it out -- it is important to understand exactly how the system works and what factors play into the equation. Below are some of the things -- though not all -- that judges are going to consider when deciding who has to pay and how much needs to be paid.

First of all, the judge is simply going to look at the income levels for both you and your spouse. Naturally, this begins with your wages and, if they are hourly, how many hours you work. However, the judge may also consider things like yearly bonuses, performance bonuses and other earnings.

An invalid divorce can cause issues years later

A second or later marriage comes with some risks if either party to the marriage was not thorough in the legality of a previous divorce. There are several reasons that a divorce may be invalidated; in one case highlighted by the Social Security Administration, a possibly invalid divorce could have risked the wife's ability to claim benefits through her husband's earnings record.

In the case in question, the husband and his first wife both lived in Florida. The husband obtained a divorce from his first wife in 1935 by personally appearing at a proceeding in another country for the divorce. According to the document provided by the SSA, if that divorce were contested in a timely manner by the first wife, it might have been invalidated by a Florida court because neither of the individuals were living in the other country at the time the divorce was granted.

Physical violence may come after other types of abuse in Florida

When physical domestic violence takes place, it sometimes gets the most attention from the media. One only has to look at the cases involving Ray Rice and Jeffery Taylor, both of whom are professional athletes, to see how this works. However, some professionals caution that physical violence may only happen after other types of abuse have already taken place.

For example, sexual abuse could happen first, or people could be victimized by stalking and other such actions. These can be dangerous, even though the physical evidence -- such as black eyes -- may not be there.

Child custody cases that cross state lines can get complicated

For Florida parents, child custody is often a big concern in any split-family situation. Custody issues sometimes extend to other members of the family, including grandparents. When child custody issues cross state lines, however, it can become complicated for families.

One current custody case involves adults and children in Florida and two other states. The case began when two children were removed from their mother's home. Reports are that the mother lost custody because of allegations of abuse or neglect.

Creating a parenting plan for your special-needs child

Divorce is a tough process when you have children, but it can be even rockier if your youngster has special needs. October is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness Month, which allows us to bring an extra bit of attention to those parents who are trying to create a parenting plan for their special-needs youngsters. Statistics show that about 10 percent of kids ages 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Compare that to the skyrocketing divorce rates in many states -- including Florida -- and you may have a recipe for disaster if you do not proceed with caution.

Most children experience periods of time during which their behavior veers into the realm of "out of control." However, this is even more pronounced for children who suffer from ADHD. Difficulty focusing can make it hard for youngsters to truly understand the impact that divorce will have on their lives; and the constant activity level can put a strain on the adults who are orchestrating the split.

Seeking help with your premarital agreement

Some individuals and couples in Florida and across the nation balk at the idea of a premarital agreement. They believe the agreement takes away from the romance and commitment of the marriage process. When done correctly, however, a premarital agreement can actually enhance commitment to one another.

Being willing to sign a premarital agreement means that you want to ensure the ongoing safety, stability and happiness of your partner. Hopefully, your partner wants to do the same for you. Though a common and useful function of a premarital agreement is to ensure individuals are financially stable if the marriage comes to an end, an agreement can also help lay out some expectations for the marriage itself.

Oil baron's divorce leaves billions on the line

It is unlikely that your divorce involves dividing up billions of dollars worth of assets. Still, no matter the size of your marital holdings, most couples can learn from the example that is currently being set by the divorce of Harold and Sue Ann Hamm. Harold is the billionaire owner of a successful oil company, and the couple's divorce has been making headlines from Florida to California -- and everywhere in between.

Official estimates place the couple's assets at about $17 billion. That means this case is shaping up to be the largest divorce settlement ever decided by the U.S. court system. The primary issue in this divorce is that of business ownership and influence; Sue Ann is attempting to recover financial assets from the growth of her husband's company, potentially forcing him to surrender a portion of his ownership in the firm.

What happens if you don't pay child support in Florida?

A point of contention in many divorces is the amount of support one spouse will pay another. Even two parents who do want the best for their children may argue over child support payments, and there are times when the amount of child support required by an order becomes too much for one party to handle.

A change in circumstance or income can help someone receive an order for a child support modification, but it's never a good idea to stop paying child support out of the blue. If child support is ordered and is not paid, then several consequences can occur. According to the Florida Department of Revenue, enforcement of child support orders involves actions that can impact someone's life and credit.

Know about these recent changes to Florida child custody law

Your child custody proceeding is a serious matter that requires serious representation. Although divorce comes along with a variety of legal issues, few have the same emotional component associated with a child custody negotiation. Determining visitation and crafting a parenting plan can be stressful and time-consuming, especially if you do not have appropriate legal representation. No matter your personal situation, you deserve a legal team that can represent your interests throughout your Florida divorce proceeding.

Understanding the legal terms associated with child custody can be confusing. In fact, the word "custody" is not even used in Florida law anymore; after a 2008 change, courts refer to "parental responsibility" and "time-sharing." The state is stressing a collaborative approach to promote unity in raising the kids.

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