Think you don’t need a prenup? Think again

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A lot of Orlando couples will get engaged his holiday season. After the glow of the proposal and acceptance wear off and the wedding planning begins, increasingly another discussion is taking place between engaged couples. What about a prenup?

Prenups are no longer the sole provinces of wealthy and high-profile couples. Now many people who are relatively young and not necessarily wealthy have them. In a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of divorce attorneys reported an increase in the number of prenups they have encountered in the past few years. By far, the main reason given for the agreement is “protection of separate property.”

Why get a prenup if you don’t have a tremendous amount of money or assets going into the marriage? For one thing, you may stand to inherit a good deal of money or property from your parents or other relatives. That could all end up being split with an ex-spouse.

If you are divorced or widowed and going into a new marriage, a prenup is highly recommended – particularly if you have children. Whether the marriage ends in death or divorce, you most likely want to ensure that your children get all or part of your estate, even if it’s just some sentimental family heirlooms.

Another advantage of writing a prenup is that it gets couples talking about finances – not just how they want to handle what they bring into the marriage, but what they earn and purchase afterwards. A prenup does not have to be solely about money. Some couples include a clause, for example, saying that they will get couples therapy before ending their marriage.

You may need to broach the subject with your intended spouse carefully if you are not sure how he or she will react. It’s not easy to tell someone you love and are committing to spend the rest of your life with that if it all goes south, you want to make sure he or she doesn’t get the vacation home on Fisher Island your great-aunt is leaving you.

An attorney can guide couples through the process of developing a prenup and help them discuss and decide on things they may not have considered. Then, once that’s out of the way, they can get on with the wedding planning.

Source: moneynews.com, “Three Things to Consider Before You Ask for a Prenup” No author given, Nov. 27, 2013

Possible correlation between divorce and accidental death

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When a marriage approaches a premature end, the time leading up to when the couple decides to end the marriage can be stressful, and stress can lead to a variety of medical conditions, from ulcers to heart attacks. But a recent study is providing information that seems to indicate that a person who has been through a divorce has a greater risk of falling victim of an accidental death.

The study, which followed 1.3 million Americans over the age of 18 who either survived or died in accidents 1996 to 2006, shows that a divorced person is twice as likely to die from a preventable cause, such as poisoning or fire than a married person. No explanation was given, but it could be the concept that two heads are better than one, so if two people are looking for hazards accidents could be more easily prevented than if just one person is looking out for themselves.

Interestingly enough, the same statistic holds true for single people. They are also twice as likely to die from a preventable cause than a married person. There was no different between married, divorced or single people who died from accidents out of their control, such as plane crashes.

Does this mean that two people should stay married even though they are miserable in order to prevent such accident from happening? No, but it does remind us that we need to be careful of the things we do and of the things around us.

In a divorce it is important to get back to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible. For anyone who is going through a divorce, speaking with a legal professional can help the person protect their rights to assets or secure alimony or child support so their new lives can begin on a positive note.

Source: My Fox Austin, “Divorce may raise risk of accidental death” No author given, Nov. 12, 2013

Kim Rothstein files for divorce

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Filing for divorce is a stressful experience, and many couples retreat from their personal life while they go through the process. However, for a high-profile couple, this is not always possible. Our Orlando readers may be interested to know that one half of a couple that has frequently been in the news has filed for divorce.

Kim Rothstein, wife of Scott Rothstein, who is serving a jail sentence in an undisclosed location, has filed for divorce. Court records state that she cites mental and physical abuse as reasons for the filing. She also claims that her husband kept her in the dark about his financial scheme and that he guarded every move she made, essentially controlling every aspect of her life.

This includes, according to her filing, her involvement in hiding assets from federal authorities. She claims that it was her husband that told her to hide $1 million in jewelry and assets and that from his secret prison location, he instructed her how to sell the assets and hide the money. She stated that when she realized that she was in serious legal trouble for participating, she admitted everything to the authorities and helped them capture several others who were part of the scheme.

Scott Rothstein is currently serving a 50-year sentence for being the mastermind behind the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. His location is unknown because he has been working with authorities to help convict others in hope of taking time off his own sentence. For her part in hiding of assets, Ms. Rothstein is facing a jail sentence of three to four years, but could be sentenced to less time since she did cooperate with authorities.

Although many marriages end in divorce, most don’t include the complications that this particular marriage had. However, anyone who has decided to end their marriage should speak to a legal representative who is experienced in handling divorces so a person’s assets can be protected.

Source: Sun Sentinel, “Kim Rothstein files for divorce, says it was Scott’s idea to hide jewelry” Paula McMahon, Nov. 08, 2013

Divorce more prevalent in some places than others

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Although the divorce rate remains relatively high all over the country, it would seem some areas of the country are more prone to divorce than others. For couples who are in the process or working out agreements regarding property division, assets valuation and determining child support or alimony, it’s an interesting question to ponder if the location of a marriage was a contributing factor to its eventual end. Orlando readers will be interested to know that although the state didn’t rank high on the list, one particular city in Florida did.

According to a study completed by the American Community Survey and the Daily Beast, Panama City, Florida, has the most divorces in the United States. In second place is Sierra Vista. As for states, Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Alabama and Arizona have the highest divorce rates in the country. For example, the state of Arizona’s data shows that roughly 11 to 13 people out of 1,000 end up filing for divorce.

No matter what state you live in, getting divorced can be a complicated matter, especially if there are substantial amounts of assets to consider. The more material possessions a couple has between them, the more complicated the divorce can be. This is especially true if the couple cannot agree on how to split the assets. When you factor in children, child support and alimony, the process becomes even more complicated and runs the risk of becoming acrimonious as well.

This is why it is important that anyone who is considering getting divorced seek the advice of experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. A legal professional can help a person who is ending their marriage protect their assets.

Source: ABC 15, “Divorce rates high in Arizona, according to study” Weslie Swift, Nov. 05, 2013

Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr split after 3 years of marriage

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When a couple decides to go their separate ways, it is often a sad and painful period in each person’s life. During this time, it would be easy for one of the other spouse to become angry or bitter, and lash out at the other spouse. The animosity can increase dramatically if children are involved, and if there are significant assets involved. As if all that isn’t enough to deal with, for ahigh-profile couple, much of the divorce proceedings play out in the public eye.

But even with all those issues, some couples stay determined to keep the breakup as amicable as possible. Thus is the case with Orlando Bloom and his wife, Miranda Kerr. After three years of marriage, the couple released a joint statement announcing their separation and impending divorce. The couple has a two-year-old son.

Realizing that the two are forever tied to each other because of their son, the “Lord of the Rings” star and the Victoria Secret model have chosen to focus on their friendship and love of their son. The pair married in July, 2010, but according to sources, they have been separated for several months.

Choosing to be amicable during their divorce proceeding is a very wise move. Creating animosity will just cause unnecessary pain for everyone involved, including the child. Parents who decide to end their marriages must ensure that both parents are as involved with their children’s lives as possible, since that is only fair to the child.

For those who are considering a divorce or who are in the process and want to ensure their rights are protected regarding alimony, child support or visitation, speaking with a legal professional experienced in family law can help.

Source: People.com, “Orlando Bloom Speaks Out About Miranda Kerr Split” Sheila Cosgrove Baylis, Oct. 31, 2013

D Wade’s ex is not crazy according to judge

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Some couple get divorced, and they have no issues making decisions regarding alimony, child support or child custody. Other couples however seem to fight about every aspect of the divorce, including a custody dispute, although most couple don’t do battle in the media spotlight. This would be the case for Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade and his ex-wife, who have been embroiled in a custody battle for several years.

An appeals court just ruled that Wade’s ex-wife was not crazy or in need of an evaluation. The evaluation was requested by Wade as a way to have her time with their two boys reduced. The request was made in response to a videotape of Siohvaughn protesting outside a Chicago courthouse where part of the couple’s divorce proceedings had taken place.

Although the couple has been officially divorced since 2008, child custody issues have being ongoing. In this latest attempt, not only was Wade denied his request, but the appeals judge ruled that the original judge who has granted the request by Wade be removed from the case.

From this point on, another judge will be hearing the child custody case. Legal counsel for Siohvaughn Wade is thrilled with this decision, believing that the original judge was star-struck. Counsel hopes that the dispute can finally be settled with the best interests of the children in mind.

Child custody disputes can become acrimonious, but it is important that both parents remember that the children have two parents and should have access to both as much as possible. Anyone who feels they are being denied access to their children should speak to a legal professional experienced in family law issues. These individuals can help a person protect their rights so they can continue to be a vital and ever-present part of their children’s lives.

Source: Gossip Extra, “EXCLUSIVE – Miami Appeals Court: Dwyane Wade’s ex-Wife Not Crazy; It’s Her Right To Talk Trash About Him!” Jose Lambiet, Oct. 23, 2013

Why alimony reform spells disaster for women

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A blog post from two weeks ago explained why Governor Scott’s veto of alimony reform was a good thing. However, reformists are still attempting to have permanent alimony made a thing of the past. But there are others who disagree with the reformists and believe that alimony reform will have a detrimental effect on families overall.

Most couples who decide that the mother should stay home with the kids do so for several reasons, one of which is so the husband can concentrate on his career. If a woman knows that alimony is no longer an option, she is going to opt to work so she can protect herself in the event of a divorce. This means the husband loses his fulltime at home support. Also, if both work, expenses to take care of the children such as daycare, an au pair or a nanny would have to be included in the household expenses. A wife who stays at home eliminates the need for those things, but that does not mean she does not deserve to be compensated for the work she did and the money she saved the family.

One of the main reasons reformists are calling for the changes is because many men state they are stuck paying alimony payments they can no longer afford. Their payments might have been based on a much higher income than they might have now. This is plausible considering the economic climate. However, in the state of Florida, alimony agreements can be modified provided the former husband can prove that paying the current court-ordered amount is financially impossible. The only time a husband will be put in jail for nonpayment is when he refuses to pay but has the means to do so.

Another reason reform is detrimental is because it allows the husband to walk away from the marriage with no obligation to provide financial support for his former wife, a person who voluntarily stopped working or put a career on hold to take care of the family. Twenty years later, once the kids are grown, you could have a woman who is living in virtual poverty because she has no tangible skills to use in the workplace. Any woman who is facing such a situation because a former spouse won’t pay would be wise to speak to a legal professional experienced in divorce and alimony issues.

Source: Huffington Post, “Alimony Reform Laws Focus on the Exception to the Rule and to the Detriment of the American Family” Deborah S. Chames, Oct. 09, 2013

Stay or get a gray divorce?

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The rate of divorce is rising for people over the age of 50. “Gray divorces” don’t come with the common issues that a younger couple might have to deal with, such as child support and visitation, but they do have some special issues, and these areas of dispute can complicate a situation even more and cause further acrimony.

Older couples have seen their share of triumphs and tragedies. They’ve raised children, had careers and possibly wrestled with financial hardship. By the time they reach the retirement years, one would think it would be clear sailing. Or time to relax on the porch. But therein lies part of the problem: If one half of the couple wants to literally sail off into the sunset on a cruise, while the other wants to enjoy the golden years rocking the days away at home, conflict can arise, and in some cases, a divorce is the end result.

The one thing most retired couples can agree on is that they want to enjoy the years after they’ve worked and raised their children. But most couples do not discuss how they want to spend their retirement years while they are still working, so when it comes time to retire, they discover they are not on the same page. Discussing your retirement desires and dreams ahead of time can stave off the shock of realizing that you and your spouse have completely different retirement goals.

There’s also the financial aspect. Conflict can arise if one spouse wants to spend their retirement money, but the other wants to leave something behind for the kids. Also, if one half of the couple always handled the finances, the other half might not be aware how well they can live during retirement. Even with wealthy couples, one spouse might not know their financial standing. Finding out that a retirement dream is or is not attainable can cause additional stress on a relationship, so it is important that the couple be completely aware of the financial situation. For those who find themselves still contemplating a divorce, understanding their legal options when it comes to divorce can help make their decision clearer.

Source: Reuters, “Stern Advice – Till death (not retirement) do us part” Linda Stern, Oct. 09, 2013

Permanent alimony brings balance

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Some want to believe that we have progressed enough in our society to have outgrown the need for certain things. One of those concepts that some would like to see fall by the wayside isalimony. Although the argument can be made that with women in the workforce, the need to pay them monthly for the rest of their lives is no longer necessary, there are still flaws in the argument. Not to mention, it completely glosses over why alimony is actually paid in the first place.

Recently, Florida governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have eliminated permanent alimony for spouses. Some organizations, such as Florida Alimony Reform (FAR) were disappointed by this action. Others, however, breathed a sigh of relief. Eliminating permanent alimony would have risked the equitable division of assets for a lot of divorcing couples, equity the injured spouse would never be able to recoup, no matter how long they were in the workforce.

Here’s why: For couples who are only married for a few years, rehabilitative alimony kicks in to give the spouse who did not work a chance to get back on his or her feet. It’s not permanent alimony and ends after a set period of time. Permanent alimony was never intended for short-term marriages. For couples who were married for 20, 25, or more years, this is where permanent alimony truly comes into play. A spouse who stayed at home while the other worked invested time and resources into the marriage. They raised the kids, supported the spouse in his or her career endeavors and ran the household. If a couple in that situation divorces, the spouse who did not work would never recoup the investment. Permanent alimony serves to attempt to balance the equitable distribution of assets in the marriage. It accounts for the intangibles.

The ending of a marriage is a sad period for everyone involved, however it should not be punitive for either party. Anyone who is facing a divorce and has questions about alimony would be wise to speak with a legal professional about their options. These professionals could determine if alimony – rehabilitative or permanent — is an option that should be explored.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “My Word: Permanent alimony rights a wrong” Jerry Reiss, Oct. 01, 2013

Reproductive science may affect child custody proceedings

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Science is encroaching on the realm of child custody as it steams ahead into the world of frozen embryos. Already one of the toughest portions of a divorce for couples in Orlando, Florida, it seems that some couples are starting to argue over the rights to decide on the fates of any embryos the couple created together. Previously considered property, it seems that decisions in some states have elicited the possibility that this might actually be a child custody matter, considering the property has the potential to become a living child one day.

For instance, one couple who decided to divorce had put aside nine frozen embryos. The couple had signed an agreement with the fertility center when this happened, giving custody of the embryos to the woman in case of a split. But she was deemed an unfit parent by the courts when the man was given sole custody of their three-year-old daughter during the divorce proceedings. This brings several worries to the table for the father: He does not want his ex-wife to become a parent again because she may not be able to properly provide for another child and he does not want to be held responsible for child support when he wanted the embryos destroyed. Would it be right to hold a person liable for child support when she or he wanted the embryos destroyed instead of used and brought into this world? Even if the person using the embryos waived child support, she or he may still need to seek assistance from the state. The government may then, in turn, sue the other donor of the embryo – the other biological parent – for the support it has paid.

Experts are worried about how quickly reproductive science is moving forward as it eclipses the law and continues on. It makes many areas of divorce rather murky and uncertain, forcing family law judges to make decisions that are relevant to the current social climate. Legal issues will likely continue to arise as fertility techniques become more and more viable. Perhaps other techniques may arise in the future, too, and legislators will have to play catch-up each and every time.

Source: Washington Times, “Are unborn children people or property in a divorce, and who decides?” Myra Fleischer, Sep. 19, 2013