Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in high asset divorce

Few Florida residents could have escaped the recent media coverage surrounding a divorce between two of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities. While the tabloids have been predicting the high asset divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for some time, those rumors were recently confirmed when Jolie filed for divorce. It can be assumed that celebrity gossip will continue to swirl around the couple as they navigate the ins and outs of the end of their marriage.

The couple has been together since 2005, but waited to marry until 2014. It is reported that they signed a prenuptial agreement prior to walking down the aisle. That could make the dissolution of their marriage easier to navigate, and could simplify property division matters.

What could be for more troubling for the couple is a struggle over the care and custody of their shared children. They are parents to three adopted children and three biological children, and Jolie has asked for physical custody. There is no word on whether she is also seeking child support, although reports indicate that Jolie is not requesting spousal support.

As of the time of this report, the couple has made little comment concerning the recent divorce filing. Throughout the course of their relationship, they have largely shunned media attention unless they could use that attention to raise money and or awareness of a favorite charity, leaving Florida fans with little insight into their personal lives. In terms of their high asset divorce, it is expected that they will continue to try and maintain their privacy as they work through issues of property division in child custody.

Source: Forbes, “What You Can Learn About Divorce & Taxes From Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie“, Kelly Phillips Erb, Sept. 20, 2016

Understanding how Florida courts determine child custody

When establishing or a modifying a parenting plan in Florida, courts consider the best interests of the children. The child’s interests come before those of the parents.

While parents are free to negotiate their own parenting plan, when parents do not agree, a court will decide. In Florida, judges use 19 factors to determine the best interests of the child. This blog post explains the first of those factors, which is, “The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.”

What do all of these words mean? In a nutshell, Florida courts believe it is in the child’s best interests to have a good relationship with both parents. This is a goal both parents need to work together to achieve.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are living up to this factor, which judge use to establish or modify child custody:

  • Are you helping your child feel close to both you and your ex?
  • When your ex asks for a favor, such as picking up or dropping off a child early, are you willing to do it?
  • When the unexpected happens, are you willing to solve the problem rather than blaming your ex?
  • Do you criticize your ex in front of the children?
  • Are you reliable when it comes to picking up and dropping off your child at expected times?

This child custody factor shows how important it is to be flexible in parenting your children after divorce. You may meet the letter of your parenting plan, but if you fail to flexible, you may not be the meeting the goal of the plan, which is to provide frequent and loving contact with both parents

Learn more about the factors that make up a parenting plan in Florida.

Prenuptial agreements not the only source of protection

Many Florida couples choose to live together as they decide whether their relationship is worthy of marriage. For many of these couples, cohabitation turns into a long-term prospect, either by design or by circumstance. As they accumulate more and more assets together, many are unaware that they may be placing their financial stability at risk. While prenuptial agreements may not be of assistance to unmarried couples, it is still possible to secure a measure of financial protection.

Couples who choose to cohabitate can choose to draft a cohabitation agreement. Akin to a prenup, a cohabitation agreement outlines the terms by which assets would be divided in the event that the relationship ends. This protects both parties from losses and also helps ensure that everyone is on the same page as the couple moves forward.

Just like a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement begins by a full and open disclosure of the scope of assets. Both parties should fully disclose all income, assets and debt. Next, couples can agree to virtually any terms they desire in regard to the division of those assets in the event that the relationship comes to an end. The result is a binding legal contract that can help dictate the terms of a breakup.

In the event that a cohabitating couple eventually decides to marry, their cohabitation agreement can serve as an outline of how to draft a prenup. Prenuptial agreements are an excellent financial planning tool, and an option that many young couples consider as they weigh their plans for the future. Florida residents should consider both when entering into any form of committed relationship.

Source:, “Cohabiting Couples Might Want to Think Twice About Buying a House Together, Experts Warn”, Lois M. Collins, Sept. 19, 2016

Remember insurance coverage during property division

The process of dividing marital wealth can seem overwhelming for many Florida spouses. In order to achieve a fair division of assets, each and every item of value must be considered. Property division negotiations often become heated, and dividing marital wealth can quickly become the central focus of an otherwise collaborative divorce. It is important to remember the impact that health insurance coverage can have on one’s financial stability in the years that follow a divorce.

Health insurance is not an asset that can be negotiated during divorce. However, for spouses who have enjoyed the ability to obtain affordable health insurance coverage through their spouse’s employment, it is absolutely essential to have a plan in place for replacing that coverage once the divorce is made final. For some, that can mean a substantial financial burden.

If purchasing a separate health insurance policy is going to be prohibitively expensive, it is important to know that fact during property division. A spouse who will need access to funding in the months and years following the divorce may wish to pursue more liquid assets than one who has access to subsidized health insurance. That can change the scope of property division negotiations.

As with many other aspects of divorce and property division, health insurance considerations should be made early in the divorce process. Knowing what one’s financial obligations are likely to be in the months and years that follow a divorce empowers spouses to make decisions that are aligned with those interests. For those in Florida who are unsure of their best options, it may be helpful to work with a financial planner before reaching an agreement.

Source:, “Getting Divorced? How Divorce Affects Your Taxes“, Sheiresa Ngo, Sept. 12, 2016

Prenuptial agreements can strengthen marriages

When many Florida couples discuss a prenuptial agreement, the focus of those conversations tends to revolve around protecting assets in the event that the marriage does not work out. However, there is a far more optimistic and empowering way of framing the topic of prenuptial agreements. In many cases, working through the process of creating a prenup gives couples the chance to learn how each partner approaches finances, as well as their vision for the future.

Creating a prenup requires full financial disclosure on the part of both partners. This means sitting down and going over issues related to income, assets, debt and overall money management practices. Through the course of these discussions, each partner will come to learn a great deal about how the other approaches money. It also gives both sides the chance to enter into a marriage fully informed about the financial maturity of their soon-to-be spouse.

In cases where these discussions reveal a difference in money management skills, it is important to understand that all is not lost. Couples can view this as an opportunity to work together to set shared financial goals and work toward those ends. If they are able to align their financial habits, then their marriage will be off to a great start; if they are unable to make any progress toward shared goals, they could decide what steps need to be taken before embarking upon marriage.

Viewed in this manner, prenuptial agreements can be powerful tools for strengthening a relationship between an engaged couple. For those in Florida who are considering tying the knot, it is well worth the time and effort to broach the subject well in advance of setting a date. The end result can be a stronger marriage, with improved chances of success.

Source:, “The 3 Ways Being In Love Puts Your Assets At Risk”, Alfred Edmond Jr., Sept. 5, 2016

Considering college savings during the property division process

Dividing marital assets is a primary focus in most divorce cases. Just as no two married couples are exactly alike, neither are the financial considerations for any given couple. Some Florida couples have far more complex asset portfolios than others, but all couples should take care to address each and every asset held within the family. It is easy to overlook uncommon asset types, which can lead to an unequal distribution of wealth during the property division process.

An example is found in college savings accounts. Often, couples open these accounts and begin funding them when their children are very young. The intent is to provide financial stability that will allow a child to pursue higher education without incurring significant debt. During divorce, these savings accounts become yet another asset that needs to be discussed.

For example, if the divorce settlement does not specifically address a college savings account, problems can arise years down the road. If the custodial parent remarries and the new spouse also has children, there is little to stop the former spouse from using funds from the college savings account to pay for his or her stepchildren’s education. That can leave little or no resources left for the child who was the intended beneficiary of the account.

The easiest way to avoid such an outcome is for Florida parents to include an agreement concerning college savings accounts within their divorce settlement. Such an agreement can clearly outline the child or children who are entitled to make use of the college savings funds. In addition, a clause can be included to address what will happen to the funds if the child does not attend college. Having these issues addressed during the property division process can avoid an unpleasant series of conversations in the years to come.

Source: Forbes, “How To Protect Your College Savings During A Divorce“, Brian Boswell, Aug. 28, 2016