Johnny Depp high asset divorce saga continues

Florida readers may recall media coverage of the divorce between actor Johnny Depp and his wife, Amber Heard. The end of their brief marriage made headlines after Heard accused the actor of domestic violence. They settled their high asset divorce case relatively quickly, with part of the agreement involving Heard pledging to donate the majority of her financial settlement to various charities. However, Heard recently filed new documents in the case, alleging that Depp has yet to fulfill his part of the bargain.

According to reports, Depp agreed to pay Heard a total of $6.8 million. In the weeks following the settlement, Depp paid $200,000 directly to one of the charities that Heard said she was planning to support. However, since that time Heard claims that she has not received any further assets. In addition to the cash portion of the settlement, she claims that Depp has also failed to return items of her personal property, change the title to a vehicle and cover outstanding expenses.

There is no word on why Depp has yet to complete his portion of those transactions. Some suspect that the actor is dragging his feet over Heard’s choice to continue speaking out on behalf of domestic violence victims. The couple signed a confidentiality agreement, and while Heard has not mentioned Depp by name, she continues to give interviews, write articles and speak publicly about domestic violence.

As this case moves forward, the court may require Depp to complete his portion of the transfer of assets. It is unclear whether Heard has a legal obligation to turn over the financial portion of her settlement to charity, or if she merely spoke about taking those actions. One thing that is clear is that Florida readers will continue to hear about the couple’s high asset divorce through media reports, at least until the matter is complete and both parties move on to new pursuits.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Amber Heard Files Court Order After Johnny Depp Refuses To Pay Divorce Settlement“, Cole Delbyck, Dec. 15, 2016

Elements to include in a parenting plan

There are many decisions to make when getting divorced. If you have children, one of the most important things you have to decide is how to share the time with your kids. Hopefully, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can consider what is best for the child. Creating a time-sharing schedule is just one aspect of a parenting plan. Here are some of the things you might want to include in your own parenting plan:

  • How is parenting time split? Remember to include holiday and special events.
  • How will the parents communicate with each other? There are apps designed for divorced parents to document communication and share a calendar together.
  • How are children dropped off and picked up? Generally, it is better if the parent with current physical custody take the children to the other parent’s home. This means the kids aren’t interrupted when they are in a game or the middle of dinner.
  • What rules exist in both homes? For example, homework must be completed before television or game time.
  • How will parents handle disputes? Who makes the final decisions? When should a mediator get involved?
  • How will the plan adapt to the growing needs of the child? When children begin to play sports, who is responsible for getting the child to games and to practice? What happens when the child takes a job or has band practice after school? Your parenting plan will need to change with the child’s needs, and should address this.

Both parents are important to growing children

The American Coalition for Fathers and Children firmly maintains that children need both parents. Research shows that children who spend at least 33 percent of their time with each parent do better in school and have better social skills than those who are primarily with one parent.

The law has many different factors which determine how to share time. It is important to think about what is best for the child. When two parents can work out a plan together, it is better for all parties than giving the court the last word. It may not be easy to make this plan with someone who you cannot live with, but you are the best people to make arrangements for your child’s needs.

Divorce is not the end of parenting together, but the beginning of co-parenting for the benefit of the child. Work together with a mediator and the other parent to help your child have both parents involved, and talk to your attorney about the legal considerations when creating a parenting plan.

Consider professional assistance with property division decisions

Dividing marital wealth is among the most important aspects of any Florida divorce. For many spouses, it is also the most stressful part of the divorce process. Fortunately, there is help available when working through various property division decisions. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst can help spouses make the best possible decisions when it comes to their unique set of divorce needs.

When dividing assets, there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account. Different asset types have very different tax ramifications. Failing to understand how one’s tax obligations will change based on different settlement options is a common mistake, and one that can be easily avoided. In addition, some assets are more liquid than others, making it easier to gain access to funds if the need should arise.

Another reason to consider working with a financial advisor is to gain assistance in creating a post-divorce budget. Understanding how one’s monthly expenses will look once the divorce is final will assist in the decision-making process. For example, a spouse who will have a high degree of financial stability after a divorce can afford to pursue assets that are not easily accessible now, but are likely to hold considerable value in the years to come, such as real estate.

By working with a financial advisor who specializes in divorce, Florida spouses are able to tap into a resource that may have been previously unavailable. That can make it far easier to navigate the decisions that must be made during the property division process. In addition, having the guidance of a pro can also reduce the stress of going through a divorce.

Source: CNBC, “Headed for divorce court? Here are your top 5 financial musts“, Andrew Osterland, Dec. 22, 2016

Consider putting life insurance in property division negotiations

For most Florida couples, the division of marital wealth is a top priority during a divorce. It is important to understand, however, that there are financial issues that range far beyond the division of existing assets. Life insurance is a prime example and is a matter that many spouses should carefully consider during property division negotiations.

Life insurance is important for spouses who expect to receive child support or spousal support payments from their soon-to-be ex. Without such a policy in place, the untimely death of a former partner can mean the immediate and permanent cessation of support payments. That can leave the surviving party in dire financial circumstances.

Life insurance is also important for individuals who will receive retirement assets that were earned through the employment of their spouse. If the spouse were to pass away before the full terms of the division of retirement assets were complete, the surviving spouse could encounter significant difficulty in claiming those assets. Life insurance provides an important safety net to protect against the unforeseeable.

During property division negotiations, it is possible to incorporate a life insurance policy that will protect against financial losses. Each and every Florida divorce is unique, and there are no hard and fast rules as to which party will be tasked with covering the cost of a life insurance policy. In many cases, the party who is expected to make child or spousal support payments is also required to purchase insurance. Regardless of who pays, having this important protection in place is well worth the initial investment to secure the policy.

Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: Don’t Lose Out On Funds You’re Entitled To“, Jeff Landers, Dec. 7, 2016

Choosing the right battles during property division

During the course of a Florida divorce, many spouses have a hard time making rational decisions. The end of a marriage is an emotionally turbulent time, and very few people can move through the entire process without encountering at least a few roadblocks. Engaging in heated property division arguments is a prime example, and is a very common occurrence for divorcing spouses.

For some, feeling taken advantage of or bullied leads to a tipping point where the spouse digs in his or her heels and refuses to give anymore, on any issue. When that occurs during property division negotiations, couples can find themselves fighting over items that will later seem utterly ridiculous. At the time, however, it can feel absolutely necessary to hold on to the wedding china or a piece of art that once hung over the mantle.

In many cases, the value of the item that the couple is fighting over pales in comparison to the legal fees that are accumulated during the battle. That can come as a very nasty surprise to spouses who have not really thought about how hourly billing works. In many cases, the party who ultimately “wins” the item in question would much prefer to have had lower legal costs, instead.

The best way to avoid undue property division arguments is to try and work together to iron out many of the details before involving an attorney. Of course, when there are highly valuable items in the mix, or when one party refuses to behave in a fair or just manner, then involving one’s Florida divorce attorney may be unavoidable. In many cases, however, there are ways of working through the division of personal property that is far easier than taking the matter to court or engaging in lengthy negotiations.

Source: The Huffington Post, “10 Things I Learned As A Divorce Attorney“, A. Rodriguez, Dec. 6, 2016

Prenuptial agreements on the rise among millennials

A recent survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers suggests that younger couples are taking a proactive approach to financial planning prior to marriage. Among the family law attorneys surveyed, 62 percent report a rise in the use of prenuptial agreements among younger couples. That change may indicate that young people in Florida and elsewhere are approaching marriage in a different manner than their parents or grandparents.

Research also suggests that young people are delaying marriage as compared to previous generations. That shift may be the result of having gone through their own parents’ divorce and wanting to avoid a similar fate, or could simply mean that young people are choosing to focus on their education and career prior to walking down the aisle. In either case, creating a prenuptial agreement is an excellent way to begin a marriage with the foundation of financial security.

Young people seem to understand that a prenup not only protects existing assets, but also provides important protections concerning debt. Many spouses bring considerable student loan and consumer debt into their marriage. Without addressing that issue within a prenup, debts can be divided in the event of a divorce. That can leave one spouse on the hook for financial obligations that he or she had no part in creating.

The research is unclear on the motivating factors that have led millennials to seek prenuptial agreements in increasing numbers. It may be that in the digital age, dating and courtship have gone through significant change, leading people to be far more pragmatic when it comes to the contractual obligations of marriage and divorce. For those in Florida who are considering a prenup, it is important to sit down with a family law attorney to discuss the particular set of circumstances at play.

Source: cnbc.com, “Before saying ‘I do,’ more millennials say ‘prenup’“, Jessica Dickler, Nov. 25, 2016