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

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

Litigious divorce can be avoided if you prepare

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Orlando residents are well aware of the national divorce rate, which hovers around 50 percent. So many people get divorced these days that it pays (quite literally) to be prepared. That’s why the idea of a prenuptial agreement is no longer taboo when a couple gets married; and it is also why couples who are doing well after they get a divorce were prepared for their split.

This will sound bizarre, but to some people who are entering divorce proceedings, the whole thing is essentially a game. They take pride in “winning” the divorce, more so than they care about the actual aspects of the divorce. For example, if a prized asset is at the center of a dispute between you and your spouse — an asset he or she does not really care about, but you do — they may spur costly (and unnecessary) litigation just to try to “win” that aspect of the divorce. It could also be that this litigation is an attempt to make you cave in on the divorce.

Of course, there are also extremely litigious divorces that have meaning — where property, bank accounts, retirement accounts and numerous other things are on the line. For a spouse who may not be in control of things before the divorce, they need to prepare so that they can be in the best possible position after it.

This means closing any joint accounts that you and your spouse share. Get your own credit cards and accounts so that you can handle everything once the divorce is over. Also, make copies of important documents pertaining to your marriage. It will help you navigate the divorce more smoothly.

Source: USA Today, “Protect your finances while divorcing a bully,” Elizabeth MacBride, June 23, 2013

Chances of divorce may increase with excessive Facebook use

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The internet and social media have done wonders to connect people from all walks of life and from all across the globe. The past 20 years or so of globalization and interconnectivity — spurred by the internet — has been amazing to watch and experience.

Facebook has been at the forefront of changing the way we relate to each other. The social media site says that there are, literally, a billion active users on Facebook every month. So many good things can come from the interconnectivity provided by Facebook; and, yes, there are certainly negative aspects to the site as well (that annoying guy in your news feed always finds unique ways to unknowingly aggravate you).

But why are we talking about Facebook here on a divorce blog? There are two important reasons, and the first involves the social media site and the potential for divorce if you use it too much. The theory comes from a new study that looked at 205 “excessive” Facebook users (the qualifier means they check the site more than once every hour). 79 percent of these Facebook users were involved in a romantic relationship; and the study found that with excessive Facebook use came more troubles with the user’s significant other.

Since such users are more likely to keep tabs on their boyfriend or girlfriend online, “Facebook-induced jealousy,” as the study called it, was more likely. Researchers surmise that such a phenomenon could make divorce more common for married excessive Facebook users.

The other reason Facebook is important to divorce is that, whether you check it excessively or not, the social media site can prove very influential during divorce. Inflammatory or abusive statuses aimed at your soon-to-be-ex can be referenced in family court, which could affect a number of issues, including child custody. Photos and other information can also be used by divorcing spouses, to substantiate certain claims and give credence to why they are asking for certain conditions.

Source: Huffington Post, “Facebook, Divorce Linked In New Study,” June 6, 2013