Parenting coordinators can play a role in collaborative law

For many Florida parents, moving through the details of a divorce does not have to resemble a battle. Plenty of couples prefer to take a collaborative law approach, which allows them the opportunity to work through their divorce outside of a courtroom. For those who share children, a parenting coordinator can assist in working through various child custody options and can be a valuable addition to one’s divorce team.

A parenting coordinator is trained in conflict resolution as well as matters of child psychology. He or she will begin by sitting down with each parent and listening to their questions and concerns. From that point forward, the coordinator will help parents decide how to divide parenting time and responsibilities.

As a neutral third party, the parenting coordinator can help parents focus on the matters at hand, rather than delving back into old tensions and resentments from their marriage. This can make a world of difference and can give parents a model of how their co-parenting relationship can be built. A parenting coordinator can also ensure that a family has covered all the bases and has not overlooked a minor, yet important, aspect of their parenting agreement.

For those in Florida who would like to learn more, a great place to begin is by sitting down for a consultation with a collaborative law attorney. Such a professional can help guide spouses toward other resources, including a parenting coordinator. Having that additional level of support can make it far easier to navigate divorce and child custody matters.

Source: Babble, “How “Parenting Coordinators” Are Helping Divorced Parents Settle Issues Outside the Courtroom“, Breanne Randall, March 20, 2017

Can you reach an alimony settlement outside of court?

Your spouse may agree that you made the sacrifices that supported his or her career success and may have expressed gratitude over this fact. However, now that you are divorcing, sharing that significantly higher earning potential with you in the form of alimony may have lessened the appreciation of your contribution. Understanding the ins and outs of spousal support may help both of you to approach the table with reasonable expectations so you can come to an agreement without a court battle.

What kind of support do you need?

One thing the court considers, and which you should, too, is whether you actually need the financial support in order to maintain the standard of living you enjoyed during your marriage and whether your spouse has the ability to pay it. If you can answer both of these questions with a “yes,” then you may think about what type of alimony is necessary. For example, in Florida, alimony may fall into categories such as:

  • Bridge-the-gap: helps you with short-term needs as you transition to single life. Does not last more than two years.
  • Durational: may last for the same amount of time as the marriage.
  • Permanent: is usually considered if you will be unable to meet your own needs.
  • Rehabilitative: supports you while you learn the skills you need to become self-sufficient.

The payments may be monthly but could also come in a single lump sum, depending on the type that is appropriate.

How long were you married?

The number of years you were married can make a big difference in the outcome of an alimony discussion. If you are filing for divorce after 17 years or more, there is a greater chance that a court would consider long-term or even permanent support. After a short-term marriage of seven years or less, your circumstances or earning potential may not have been affected much – a factor that the court finds important when awarding alimony. A moderate-term marriage of seven to 17 years may warrant any of the above types of support, depending on your situation.

What else does the court consider?

Relevant topics to your discussion include whether you have children, how extensive your marital assets are and what the tax consequences of alimony will be for each of you. While alimony is not punitive, the court does weigh factors that contributed to the end of your relationship, including adultery. Discussing this and other emotional topics with your spouse as you work toward an agreement may be difficult. However, if you choose an attorney who offers cooperative or collaborative divorce options, he or she may be able to help you focus on the logistics and realistic ideas of the outcome so that you and your spouse are able to handle the process amicably.

 

Prenuptial agreements critical for older spouses

Finding love again after the age of 50 is a wonderful thing. For those in Florida who are fortunate enough to find their perfect counterpart later in life, taking the plunge to get married is exciting. In preparation for a late-life marriage, couples should consider drafting prenuptial agreements. Doing so can ease the minds of other relatives who are concerned about what the future might hold.

By creating a carefully considered prenuptial agreement, spouses can address a number of concerns. Prenups and estate planning share many of the same goals. Those who have children and grandchildren from previous unions can provide for an inheritance for those loved ones. Those plans can be as detailed or as general as the individual desires.

It is also possible to create a prenuptial agreement that is flexible. Some couples will choose to alter the amount that will be left to a surviving spouse, based on the age of the spouse at the time his or her partner dies. Prenups also address debt, which is a serious matter for many families. Without proper planning, an inheritance can end up going to pay the debts of the deceased person, rather than to loved ones as was intended.

Florida couples who are preparing to wed later in life should schedule a time to sit down and discuss these matters with a family law attorney. Having prenuptial agreements and estate planning documents in place prior to walking down the aisle can make things far easier for everyone involved. It also allows the extended family to focus on this joyful time, rather than worrying about whether the proper paperwork is in place.

Source: marketwatch.com, “Busting myths about marrying after 50“, Lisa Rabasca Roepe, March 16, 2017

Deciding what to do with property division proceeds

Once the dust has settled and the ink has dried, many Florida spouses will emerge from a divorce with a nice nest egg. The wealth gained from the property division process can and should be used to create financial security for the years to come. That is why it is so important for divorcing spouses to have a comprehensive budget for the years that follow a divorce.

The budgeting process begins by making a full list of all expenses. This includes basic living expenses, costs related to employment, entertainment and other niceties. Be sure to include savings in the list, both for short term needs such as an emergency fund, and for long term goals like retirement. Once a spouse has a clear idea of where they will need to be in the months and years after a divorce, it becomes far easier to structure a plan that will get them there.

When making property division decisions, spouses should have their long term financial goals in mind. Certain assets are more attractive than others in terms of liquidity, appreciation potential and tax ramifications. Those spouses who understand the full scope of their post-divorce financial needs will have the information needed to create the best possible property division outcome.

Divorce is a relatively brief experience, but one that has lasting ramifications. Florida spouses will live with the outcomes of their divorce for many years to come. For those who made wise choices in regard to property division, the years that follow the end of a marriage will be far more secure than if they had made hasty or poorly informed choices. Then they can focus on the next step: determining what to do with their wealth.  

Source: wotv4women.com, “How to assess your finances post-divorce“, Gail Saukas, March 15, 2017

Can a divorce financial planner improve property division?

For many Florida residents who are going through a divorce, the sheer number of financial decisions that must be made is overwhelming. Making matters worse, most people know that the outcome of those decisions will have a lasting impact on their personal bottom line for many years to come. One way to handle property division is to employ the services of a financial professional who is skilled at managing all of the money matters related to divorce.

These professionals are known as divorce financial planners, and they are trained to assist clients in navigating the many decisions that accompany a divorce. They can help determine the tax ramifications for various property division options, which can make it easier to decide how to divide marital wealth. They can also help clients build a post-divorce budget, and understand how income and expenses will shift once the divorce is made final.

A divorce financial planner can also help with many of the more mundane, and often overlooked, details of a divorce. They can remind clients to change passwords on certain accounts and to make alterations to their designated beneficiaries. Some will even help with the creation of a new estate plan.

Having professional guidance throughout the divorce process is vital to obtaining the best possible outcome. A family law attorney can be a trusted ally and advisor, but when it comes to making property division decisions during a divorce, some Florida spouses can benefit from including a divorce financial planner to their team. That is especially true in cases where the base of marital wealth is complicated, or when a spouse has not actively participated in family finances for a lengthy period of time.

Source: startribune.com, “Specialists help to navigate financial split in divorce“, Brad Allen, Feb. 25, 2017

Collaborative law can help parents with timing issues

The process of bringing a marriage to a close requires a great of individual decisions. For Florida spouses who share children, this process is even more complicated. Most parents strive to make divorce decisions that are in the best interests of their children, but reaching that shared goal can be something of a challenge. Collaborative law offers a means through which both sides can work together to maintain stability for their kids.

Timing is everything when it comes to divorce and custody. Even couples who are committed to taking a collaborative approach still struggle with issues related to timing. One example lies in determining the best time to file for divorce and to discuss the matter with the kids.

Some parents feel that summer vacation is the ideal time to broach the subject, as there may be more time to spend one-on-one, working through a child’s emotional reaction to the change in family structure. Others, however, feel that the school year provides more structure and increased time for parents to handle legal matters. No matter when parents decide to sit down with their children, the most important thing is that they are both on the same page prior to beginning that process.

At the heart of collaborative law lies a shared commitment to working through these and other issues as a team. For parents in Florida who are preparing to divorce, timing issues should be addressed early in that process. Collaborative law is a great way for both sides to sit down together and discuss various options, with the shared goal of placing the best interests of their children at the center of the divorce process.

Source: The Huffington Post, “7 Secrets For A Child-Centered Divorce“, Bari Zell Weinberger, Feb. 24, 2017