Prenuptial agreements essential for older spouses

Preparing to marry is an exciting time, no matter one’s age. For those who are taking the plunge after the age of 50, however, there are certain legal considerations that should be addressed as part of the wedding planning. Prenuptial agreements are an excellent example, and can provide important benefits to Florida spouses who are bringing considerable assets into the union.

By the time many people reach the age of 50, they have already achieved a measure of success in their chosen career field. Many will have inherited assets from a parent, or been awarded real estate or other property as part of an earlier divorce. Some will have simply followed solid savings and investment advice, and will be sitting on a very nice nest egg by the time they walk down the aisle.

All of those assets deserve to be protected from loss. This is especially true in cases where one or both spouses will bring children into the marriage. Crafting a solid prenuptial agreement can help to clearly outline inheritance plans, which is important in blended families.

For those in Florida who are preparing for a new marriage after the age of 50, it may be well worth the time and effort to sit down with a family law attorney and discuss the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements. Doing so is not only a wise financial move, it is also a chance to discuss money matters and inheritance issues with one’s chosen life partner. Couples who enter into marriage with a clear understanding of these issues often have the communication skills needed to keep a marriage strong for many years to come. 

Source: Forbes, “6 Money Myths About Marrying After 50“, Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Feb. 13, 2017

Tips for setting up a visitation schedule in the best interest of the children

One of the top stressors in a divorce is sharing the children. When a judge must decide child custody because parents cannot work out the arrangements, it almost always fuels the conflict after the divorce. Working together to set up a visitation schedule is much more effective not only for the parents but also for the children. Still, it can be quite difficult to navigate this issue with someone you are divorcing. Here are some tips to help you find solutions.

Keep the children out of the middle

Children will adjust to different schedules better when parents work together to reduce conflict. It may not be ideal to live in two homes, but having access to both parents who are supportive and caring will be better for the child. Adults may need to learn new communication skills, but more importantly, you both will have to remember to keep your child out of the process. You should present a united front. Do not use children to send messages to each other.

Remember the child’s age and needs

Toddlers may benefit from shorter transitions, maybe two days at the maximum in each household. This is so the child feels secure that each parent will be available. However, by the time children reach their teenage years, having to transition too much will affect their security. A 14 or 15-year-old child might benefit from two weeks in one home, then two weeks with the other parent. Of course, the distance between homes will need to be evaluated. A long commute to school might be detrimental to the child if he or she has to lose sleep to get up earlier.

Encourage contact with the other parent

Parents who share 50/50 custody should remember two key things. First, it is going to be quite difficult to share time exactly at 50 percent. You both are going to need to be gracious and accommodate special plans and activities at times. Second, just because the child is with you does not mean they should forget about the other parent. As the parent, you are going to have make arrangements for telephone calls and contact when the child is with you.

Special Circumstances

Remember that these suggestions may not be appropriate in certain circumstances, such as where child abuse or domestic violence has occurred. If the child has special health needs, that will have to be taken into account. But finding an alternative to an adversarial divorce is almost always better for everyone involved. Talk to a lawyer who is interested in finding solutions.

Could a high asset divorce boost a career change?

For many spouses, ending a marriage is an overwhelmingly negative experience. People tend to focus solely on the negative aspects of a divorce and fail to recognize the opportunities that come with moving beyond an untenable relationship. In the case of those in Florida who are negotiating a high asset divorce, the end result could be a career change or the beginning of an new business venture.

Divorce shakes things up, and that is not always a bad thing. Having one’s life upended can spark creativity and change one’s perspective. Those changes are excellent motivation for starting a new business venture, or branching out and making a career shift. For many spouses, the wisdom gained during the course of the marriage can be easily put to use in a business context.

One benefit of divorce is the sudden opening up of one’s personal schedule. The elimination of another adult in the household often means more time to oneself. That time can be put to use in planning a new venture and putting those plans into action. Most people grow bolder and wiser as they age, and are primed for a change in lifestyle and career when they move beyond a divorce.

The best way for Florida spouses to make the most of a high asset divorce is to take some time to consider where they would like to go next. For those who have an interest in making a career change or pursuing entrepreneurship, divorce can be the perfect springboard. As they say, necessity is often the mother of invention, and the timeframe that follows the end of a marriage is one that will require numerous changes.

Source: entrepreneur.com, “7 Reasons Why Divorce Is the Perfect Excuse to Become an Entrepreneur“, Stacey Freeman, Feb. 6, 2017

This state changes how pets factor in property division

Most Florida spouses are aware that there are no laws in place to guide how pets are treated during a divorce. One state, however, recently passed legislation that will guide how judges approach the matter. In that state, pets will be treated more like children than property, and the best interests of the animals will be considered during property division.

This is a sharp departure from the manner in which courts have treated pet “custody” in recent years. For the most part, courts have declined to address the issue, and some couples have been turned away and directed to work the matter out on their own. In those cases where the court did look into the issue, the pets were largely treated as items of personal property. That meant that the party who initially purchased the animal or provided for its care was often granted the right to keep the pet after the divorce.

Now, however, couples in one state will be able to make a legal argument about what living arrangements would be best for their pets. Judges will examine what would be best for the pet’s well-being. When called for, judges could also rule that pets be shared between parties, in much the same way as child custody arrangements are laid out.

For some in Florida, the idea of pet “custody” would be a welcome change to the way that animals are currently treated in a divorce. While there are no similar laws on the books in Florida, that could change over time. There may come a day when pets are addressed differently than other matters during property division, and when legal arguments center more on what is better for Fluffy or Fido, and not on who paid more of the vet bills.

Source: The Huffington Post, “In Alaska, Divorce Courts Must Now Consider Pet Wellbeing“, Hilary Hanson, Jan. 26, 2017

Prepare for property division by taking a proactive approach

Many Florida spouses feel confident that their divorce will proceed smoothly. This assumption usually comes at the end of a marriage where both parties gave their best effort, and when both spouses agree that moving on is the best possible choice. In reality, however, it is not uncommon for things to take a turn for the worse once the paperwork is filed. That is why it is so important to be proactive in preparing for property division.

Gathering the proper documentation is the first step. This includes securing proof of all income, assets and debt. It can be helpful to determine which items are held as personal property and which are marital property. Be sure to gain access to paper statements for all accounts, and never rely on electronic statements.

Spouses sometimes react poorly when they realize that the marriage is actually coming to an end. It is not uncommon for one party to limit the other’s access to formerly shared accounts, including bank accounts and credit cards. That can make it difficult to secure the financial information that is needed to get the divorce process underway, and can lead to additional legal fees.

By taking a proactive stance, Florida spouses can protect against those unfortunate outcomes. If things do go as smoothly as anticipated, having financial documentation already assembled at the beginning of the divorce process can make property division far easier to accomplish. That is an outcome that can reduce stress and keep legal fees manageable for both spouses, which is a great outcome.

Source: finance.yahoo.com, “How to keep from losing everything in a divorce, in 6 steps“, Emmie Martin, Feb. 1, 2017