Divorce

How To Define Income During Dissolution Of Marriage

How To Define Income During Dissolution Of Marriage In a Dissolution of Marriage the couple’s finances are usually the main issue in the case.  Finances are considered in determining the division of assets and liabilities (equitable distribution), child support and alimony.  In most instances determining a spouse’s income is not very difficult.  Tax returns, w-2’s and pay stubs can assist in determining a person’s yearly income.  However, not everyone is a salaried employee who gets paid on either a yearly salary or standard 40 hour work week. There are many people who work on commission or have a large part of their income paid in either quarterly or yearly bonuses.  So are these bonuses income? How do we determine income when a bonus is not guaranteed or a commissioned sales person cannot predict how his year will be?  In determining child support each parent’s income must be considered to calculate the monthly support. It cannot be recalculated each month depending on an individual’s income which may vary based on sales totals or bonuses. Income is actually defined by Florida Statutes as follows: 1. Salary or wages. 2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments. 3. Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income. 4. Disability benefits. 5. All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements. 6. Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation. 7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments. 8. Social security benefits. 9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court. 10. Interest...

The Concept Of Divorce Planning

Over The past year or so it has come to my attention that many couples who are considering a dissolution of marriage from their spouse are attempting to initiate the process in a more civilized manner. Instead of retaining an attorney and filing for the dissolution they first seek to try and resolve it by reaching an agreement. This process obviously has many possible advantages. It is obviously less costly, since the costs of litigation can be expensive and it usually leaves the couple on much friendlier terms after it is finalized. Most importantly the couple is able to decide what is best for them and what is best for their children. I am not suggesting that this process can work in all cases, but there certainly seems to be a movement towards this manner of resolution. A couple who wishes to resolve their marriage by negotiation should deal with each other in good faith. If there are hidden assets or attempts to gain an advantage in the negotiation, a fair and equitable resolution will not be reached. In some relationships one party may be the person in charge of finances and as such may have greater knowledge of the financial position of the parties. It is important to understand that once an agreement is signed it is binding on both parties and very difficult to set aside. A settlement without all the information and without proper advice can often lead to inequitable results. I suggest that even if it is the intention of both parties to settle their dissolution without litigation it is still beneficial to retain an...

Holiday Cheer

Most people think of the holiday season with gleeful anticipation of time with family. For couples who have been through a divorce, the holiday season can often be a very stressful time. This stress can also be felt by the children of a divorced couple.

Do you need a Divorce Attorney?

DO YOU NEED A DIVORCE ATTORNEY? These days many individuals going through a divorce try to handle the matter without the assistance of an attorney.  They feel that it is better to try and settle the matter without spending large sums of money on legal representation.  In all honesty, simple divorces can easily be handled by the parties. Simple divorces are cases in which there are no minor children and no real assets or liabilities to divide.  There is a great deal of assistance through the courthouse or the internet to “walk you through” the process.   HOWEVER, sometimes people can be as they say “penny-wise and pound foolish”.  In an effort to save money on attorneys’ fees they may wind up giving up too much or perhaps not receiving his/her share.  An individual who represents him/herself is held to the same standards as a licensed attorney. A judge will not give an individual the benefit of the doubt, just because an attorney is not sitting by his/her side in court. This can often present a problem in a more complicated case. I have often reviewed Marital Settlement Agreements which were entered into without the assistance of counsel. Often these individuals come to see me after the fact, to request assistance in attempting to “get them out” of the Agreement.  Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to undo what has already been done.  A Marital Settlement Agreement or a Mediation Agreement has the same validity as any binding contract.  In addition, as I previously stated, individuals are expected to know the law and it is not an excuse to later say...

DISSOLUTION and FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

DISSOLUTION and FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE Clients who are going through a Dissolution of Marriage are often surprised to learn how much personal financial information they must reveal.  The laws of this state require complete financial disclosure. Most people get overwhelmed with this requirement, since it can be very time consuming.    Since Florida is a “No Fault” State, the primary area of dispute between a husband and wife is usually financial.  The following is a list of the financial information required pursuant to Florida law. All parties MUST complete a Financial Affidavit.  This Affidavit list a party’s income, expenses, assets and liabilities.  It is a sworn document, signed under oath by the client, swearing to its truthfulness.  A financial affidavit must be filed in all dissolution proceedings, even in the most simplified uncontested matter. In addition to the financial affidavit, certain documentation must also be exchanged between the parties within approximately six weeks from the date of filing. If it is a simplified divorce this requirement can be waived by both parties. The Financial Affidavits must be produced however.  The documents that are required include: 1. Income tax returns 2. Pay stubs for the past three months 3. Statement of income 4. Loan applications and financial statements prepared during the preceding 12 months 5. Deeds, leases and promissory notes executed during the past 12 months 6. Checking account statements for the past three months 7. Bank statements (other than checking) for the past 12 months 8. Brokerage account statements for the last 12 months 9. The most recent statements showing value of retirement accounts, profit sharing or deferred compensation accounts. 10....

Basic Issues Of Divorce

It seems that DIVORCE is often misunderstood.  Unfortunately everyone seems to know someone who is either going through a divorce or has been divorced.  Everyone has heard various “horror stories” about someone’s divorce case.  Many people who come to my office for a consultation are lost or confused as to what may lie ahead.  A common question is “how do I start this?”  Even though every case is obviously different from the next, most cases deal with the same general issues one might encounter in a divorce.  I thought it might be helpful to briefly touch upon each one of these.  1. Equitable Distribution: This is the principle by which assets accumulated and debts incurred during the marriage are divided. In most cases the division will be an equal division of both assets and debts.  This however is not always true.  Florida Statutes allows a Judge to consider various factors in determining the possibility of an unequal distribution.  In addition, non marital assets (assets owned prior to the marriage or received from a source unconnected with the marriage; such as an inheritance) will not be divided unless these assets were co-mingled with marital assets or gifted to the other spouse. 2. Alimony: Alimony is not an issue in every case.  There are a number of factors which must be considered in addressing alimony.  There are several different kinds of alimony which are contained within the law.  The one most people think of is “permanent alimony”, which is a sum of money paid on a monthly income until death or remarriage by the receiving spouse.  This is based upon, among...

3 Common Reasons Why Couples End Up Hiring A Divorce Lawyer

It’s an unfortunate reality that many marriages simply don’t work out. However, because of the nature of marriages, a divorce can be emotionally draining and stressful. Hurt feelings and resentment lead to disagreements over asset division and intense conflict. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming trying to work through everything. Because of the potential complications, it’s absolutely essential to have an experienced and knowledgeable divorce lawyer or family attorney providing expert advice and guidance throughout the entire process. There might be financial issues, property disputes, child-custody disagreements and many other aspects to work out, and the attorney can help every step of the way. An Experienced Family Attorney Can Represent Your Interests With more than 25 years of experience in Broward Country, the Law Firm of Evan. H. Barton & Associates can help you navigate through the difficulties of a divorce. We provide information to help our clients make informed decisions about divorce-related issues, such as pre- and post-nuptial agreements, child support and restraining orders. To set up a free consultation, Call Us At 954-385-9160 Today! Although there are many reasons that people consider divorce, here are some of the major causes: 1. Finances Sometimes, people just have incompatible notions when it comes to finances. One spouse might be frugal and try to save money, while the other likes to spend it. One might plan long term, while the other prefers living for today. Maybe one spouse runs up credit. There might be damage done to credit rating, loss of savings or just the daily tension of constant disputes. Over time, the level of conflict becomes too much to sustain a...

5 Reasons to Have Your Own Lawyer Even in an Amicable Divorce Case

Sometimes divorcing couples try to save money and hassle by having one lawyer handle their divorce case. However, if you have children, or if you own property, the risk is simply too great to make up for any money saved. If you have children, having your own child support lawyer is absolutely critical, no matter how amicable you and your spouse are being. Here are 5 reasons why you should always have your own representation if you’re going through a divorce. 1. Are You Really as Confident as You Say You Are? Nobody wants to come across as an emotional wreck even in a traumatic situation like a divorce. Sure, some people may applaud your commitment to “keep it amicable,” but you may very well regret your decision later on. Whose idea was it to “share” a lawyer? If it was your idea, you may have a bit more control over how things play out, but there are no guarantees. If it was your spouse’s idea, do you honestly think he or she will play fair while holding all the cards? (read more about child custody here) 2. Without Your Own Counsel, You Have Limited Recourse Afterward When a divorcing couple shares a lawyer, you might find the process of getting divorce less contentious. But a few years down the road you may conclude that you in fact did not get a fair deal. You may simply have to accept it, because once you both sign the final divorce agreement, you’re committed. Changing your mind gives you little to no basis for going back to court and trying to change...

Couples in their 60s splitting up at a Record Rate, New Report Says

Even as the divorce rate continues to fall, there is one age group that is moving in the opposite direction.  According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), divorces rates are on the rise among older couples and have been for the past two decades now. The new numbers found that more than 15,000 married men and women aged 60 and older decided to call it quits in 2011, which is more than triple the breakup rate for older couples back in 1991. Why is this happening? There was a time when young men were far more likely to file for a divorce than older ones. But that trend has reversed itself, since older men are now more likely to initiate a divorce than younger ones (50 to 34 percent, according to the ONS). There are many plausible explanations for this turnaround. Researchers believe that longer life expectancy, dual incomes, and separate savings all play a part in the dissolution of long-term marriages. Many couples report that they simply do not want to live together after they retire. Moving is also an common bone of contention, as some spouses prefer to relocate to retirement communities, while others are happy where they...

Should You Call a Child Custody Attorney During a Divorce?

Battles over child custody during a divorce are stressful and emotionally draining. If the custody of your child is contested, it’s absolutely necessary to hire a child custody attorney to represent your interests. The laws concerning these cases are complicated, and parents are often unaware of their legal rights. What can I learn from a child custody attorney? Specific circumstances differ in each case of child custody and divorce. You may not understand how the laws pertain to your particular situation. For example, in infant custody battles, a new mother can be awarded full custody automatically, while the father is granted visitation. Some parents may agree on visitation schedules in which the father can see the child every other weekend. However, it is a common case that the father seeks full or joint custody. Enhanced visitation rights are also an option. The court will generally award custody rights to the mother and visitation rights to the father, unless extenuating circumstances exist. A child custody attorney will work with both parties and explain how child custody laws relate to their particular case. Neither the mother nor father of the child has the ability to choose the amount of child support awarded to the custody holder. Seeking counsel on these laws is advisable before entering the courtroom. What can a divorce attorney do for me? Divorce attorneys can help you manage the process of the custody case. If your situation changes unexpectedly, for instance, if the amount of child support payments is no longer practical, a divorce attorney can take the necessary steps to have the amount adjusted. For example, if...