Don’t forget these critical steps leading up to your divorce

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Whenever a couple files for divorce, there are plenty of things to handle on the legal side. The divorcee neds to deal with property and asset division; possible alimony; and the enforcement of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements (if they are present).

But in addition to the legal and procedural aspects to a divorce, any divorcee needs to perform a number of personal tasks as well to ensure that the divorce is a successful one. Many people are not aware of these crucial steps in the divorce process; they may skip them entirely, culminating in disastrous results. So here are a few things to remember when you file for divorce:

  • Do a little housecleaning… but not necessarily literally: You want to find some important documents that pertain to your personal, financial and legal holdings. For example, past tax filings are important to have during a divorce, as are records of credit card bills and bank accounts. You’ll also want hypersensitive documents, such as paperwork that pertains to wills or estates.
  • If you have kids, address child custody and support issues as soon as possible: How much will you pay, or receive, in child support? How will you and your soon-to-be-ex split payments for college tuition? Whose health insurance plan will your child be placed under? You’ll want to know where you and your spouse stand on these things, and subsequently handle them in an appropriate manner. Reaching an agreement before going to court can be greatly beneficial.
  • Prepare for the claims you want to make: Consult an attorney so that you can build the best possible case for earning retirement benefits, valuable assets and other things involved in your divorce that you really want.

Source: Huffington Post, “We’re Getting A Divorce, Now What?,” Linda Descano, July 29, 2013

Settlement reached in Wade divorce, visitation to be discussed

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As many NBA fans in Orlando are aware, Dwyane Wade — the longtime icon of the Miami Heat before LeBron James took his talents to South Beach — has been embroiled in a nasty divorce with his ex-wife since 2007, the year he filed. Since then, Wade and his ex-wife, Siohvaughn, have engaged (pardon the pun) in numerous public battles over their relationship and its tumultuous ending.

Money has been central to these debates; in particular the endorsement money Wade gets from a number of sponsors. However, the child custody arrangement for the now-former couple has also been subject to numerous disputes.

Initially, the debate centered around custody. Child custody can be a complex issue in divorce; but many times the splitting couple realizes that shared custody is the best thing for everyone involved. That was not the case in Wade’s divorce, as Dwyane was granted sole custody of the two sons he had with Siohvaughn.

That’s a significant ruling in any custody dispute. Prior to a court ruling on custody, it can behoove both spouses to enter negotiations on the topic. Court rulings, though impartial, are rigid and often lack the details that either spouse is looking for. Once determined, it can be difficult to successfully appeal the ruling. Negotiations between the spouses and their attorneys can result in a more appropriate and personalized custody agreement.

However, in cases where sole custody is awarded, the spouse left out of the equation can take legal action to earn visitation rights.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Dwyane Wade divorce drama ends after settlement with ex-wife,” Chuck Schilken, July 23, 2013

Ex-MLB All Star Danny Tartabull involved in child support dispute

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Last night, millions of people around the world gathered to watch Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game as the American League defeated the National League 3-0. But at the same time, a former American League All Star has been facing a child support dispute that could result in jail time.

Danny Tartabull, who represented the AL in 1991, allegedly owes more than $276,000 in unpaid child support intended to provide for his two sons.

Much of the news coverage on this story has focused on the amount of money Tartabull made during in his 14-year baseball career while expressing some incredulity that someone who earned as much money as Tartabull made could fail to pay his child support obligations. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Tartabull’s peak salary was $5.3 million per year. However, Tartabull is not alone among professional athletes who have had difficulties obeying financial judgments from family law courts. Here is the reason why.

Professional athletes have very high incomes, but have relatively short careers. Often, a child support order is entered at the peak of an athlete’s career and earning capacity. Because courts determine child support awards based on a parent’s income at the time, many pro athletes have child support obligations based on their peak incomes. However, a professional athlete’s income is subject to wild fluctuations. Upon retirement, pro athletes often see their income fall to a small fraction of what they had been earning, but their child support obligations do not automatically reduce themselves.

Whenever there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as a reduction in income, a parent who owes child support has the right to work with an attorney and request that payments be reduced. All too often, parents who owe high child support payments they can no longer afford fail to seek a child support modification and eventually fall behind in payments.

Source: NBCLosAngeles.com, “Ex-Major League Baseball Player Tops Child Support “Most Wanted” List,” Dan Stamm, July 12, 2013

The many faces of alimony in the state of Florida

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Alimony plays a big role in divorce; it is usually awarded, though there are cases where it doesn’t happen (a prenuptial agreement can forbid it, for example). Known today as spousal support, the award of alimony is given to the spouse who is in a weaker financial state. In the past, this almost always meant that the woman in a divorce would receive alimony. Since the marriages of generations past had defined roles for each spouse — the man worked, the woman took care of the home — alimony was necessary in a divorce to help the woman out in the wake of the split.

While some marriages are still like this, many Florida couples share joint incomes. Both husband and wife have a job, and they both take care of the kids. They share their duties; their successes; their failures. So when these couples file for divorce, spousal support no longer means that the woman will get spousal support. It is a more fluid system that merely looks at which spouse needs the financial support, given that, without their spouse, they will be in a weak financial state.

Here in Florida, there are four different types of alimony: bridge-the-gap alimony (a short-term payment plan), rehabilitative alimony (payments that go towards re-education or skills acquisition for the receiving spouse), durational alimony (set amount of time for payments) and permanent periodic alimony (provides “necessities of life” granted during marriage to a divorced spouse). Alimony negotiations tend to be complicated — and given the numerous types of alimony, it behooves a divorcing spouse to be prepared for these discussions.

Eliza Coupe, one of the stars of the recently cancelled TV show “Happy Endings,” will need to be prepared after she and her husband — who is requesting alimony from her — filed for divorce.

Source: Daily Mail, “Not such a Happy Ending: Actress Eliza Coupe’s husband files for divorce after her hit show is also cancelled,” July 2, 2013

Spouses not always on the same page when it comes to divorce

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There is a theory that women fall in love before men. In fact, many movies play on this notion as a female character becomes upset when a man says “thank you” after the woman says “I love you.” While it may be a spark of comedy for sitcoms, but it is more real than one might think.

Not based on gender at all, many couples are not on the same page when it comes to wanting adivorce. In some cases a souse may never want a divorce, so how does someone approach a conversation that they know the other spouse doesn’t want to have or may be unprepared for?

The first thing to think about is saying the words “I want a divorce.” Is there anything causing the trepidation besides having an uncomfortable conversation? The the fear is over safety, don’t have the conversation and raise the concerns with an attorney immediately.

While discussing divorce with an attorney is very important in the above situation, it is more than helpful in any situation. The more information a spouse has about divorce, the better prepared they will be for the conversation too.

When it comes to the conversation itself, two things go a long way. Being respectful and being direct. First off, remember that if the other spouse is either unprepared or unwilling to get a divorce, the news will most likely come as a shock. Skirting the issue won’t help, which is why it is good to be direct and why information from an attorney can help.

Last, understand that the conversation may be an ongoing one. In some instances, a spouse who truly doesn’t want the divorce may never be ready. In this type of situation, the attorney can provide help based on the specific circumstances.

Source: The Huffington Post, “How to Bring up Divorce When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want One,” Alison Heller, June 11, 2013