Prenuptial agreements can be an inheritance requirement

For many Florida couples who are preparing to wed, negotiating a prenup is not a step that the parties set out to take, but a requirement for one party in order to secure his or her inheritance. While “forced” prenuptial agreements can seem like a harsh family approach to wedded bliss, there is little debate about the fact that many marriages will eventually end in divorce. Viewed from a different angle, a prenuptial agreement can be seen as a savvy financial planning tool, and not a cruel or heartless statement about the strength of a couple’s commitment.

Consider the essence of an inheritance. This is wealth that is passed down from one generation to the next, or the one beyond that. It is not money that the recipient earned; it is money that was earned by others and is being gifted to the recipient. In some cases, the base of wealth was earned many generations ago, creating an even greater separation between the source of the wealth and the person who is expected to receive a share of that wealth.

This means that the family has every right to place conditions on how and when that wealth is passed down. Prenuptial agreements are just one way that these assets can be protected. Another approach is to set up a trust that prevents the intended heir from accessing any financial benefit when his or her behaviors or choices do not fall within clearly established guidelines, such as sobriety or avoiding excessive risk-taking behaviors.

Very few people enjoy being told what to do, and resistance to a prenup that is a prerequisite for receiving an inheritance is not uncommon. However, viewed from the perspective of the family, prenuptial agreements are simply a tool that can be used to protect from serious financial loss. After all, a long and happy marriage is the goal for all involved, and when that is the outcome, then both Florida spouses have the ability to enjoy the benefits of inherited wealth, which can be managed and preserved for future generations.

Source:, “Managing Sibling Wealth Disparity: Part 2“, Doug Baumoel and Blair Trippe, June 29, 2017

Father of 2 tennis stars facing high asset divorce battle

Florida residents who follow tennis will recognize the names Venus and Serena Williams. Both women have created astounding careers for themselves, and have become some of the most recognizable names and faces in the world of sports. Many tennis fans are aware that their father, Richard Williams, was instrumental in pushing them to achieve and surpass their goals at early ages. Richard Williams is currently in the news not in relation to his superstar daughters, however, but based on his upcoming high asset divorce.

Williams divorced his first wife (mother of Venus and Serena) in 2002 and married his second wife, Lakeisha Williams, in 2010. The couple welcomed a child in 2012. Last month, Richard Williams filed for divorce, claiming that his wife had abandoned himself and their child. He also made a number of claims related to the dissipation of marital wealth.

According to Richard Williams, his wife removed money from both their joint account and a bank account that was solely in his name. He also claims that she forged his name on multiple documents for the purpose of transferring ownership of vehicles and real property from his mane and into her own. He is asking the court to award him custody of their child, claiming that his wife has moved in with a man who is facing serious felony criminal charges and poses a risk to their child.

As this high asset divorce case moves forward, additional details will likely become available. For now, an attorney for Lakeisha Williams claims that the assertions made by her husband are nothing more than fabricated stories intended to help him avoid making alimony or child support payments as a result of the divorce. It is unclear whether assets received from his superstar daughters will factor into the case, but Florida residents may get a glimpse into Williams’ financial matters if a settlement is not reached outside of court.

Source:, “Father of Venus, Serena Williams seeks divorce from second wife“, Eliot Kleinberg, June 15, 2017

More research that supports the benefits of collaborative law

Few Florida residents relish the thought of a highly contentious or bitter divorce. That is especially true for parents, who must also consider the effect that a nasty divorce might have on their shared children. Researchers have looked at the impact that divorce can have on children, and have concluded that it is not the divorce itself that causes hardship for kids, but the manner in which the parents handle the divorce. That is yet another reason why parents should consider a collaborative law approach as they prepare to part ways.

Researchers have long known that divorce can increase a child’s risk of depression, anxiety, trouble with grades and difficulty trusting others. However, a closer look at the data reveals that children whose parents have found a way to communicate and work together to place their kids at the forefront of the divorce process experience lower rates of those troublesome outcomes. It appears that kids are able to weather the changes in their family structure when their parents are able to forge a new type of relationship after the divorce is made final.

What this means for parents is that every effort should be made to find a path toward divorce that is as collaborative as possible. That process is often made easier when both parents are able to see the value of taking a collaborative approach, versus digging in and preparing to fight things out to the bitter end. It should be noted that collaboration is not possible in every case, such as when there are issues of physical or emotional abuse at play. However, most couples can work to resolve their divorce in a collaborative manner.

That means setting aside differences and looking for mutually agreeable solutions. It means putting the best interests of the children at the center of each significant decision. It also means being open to structuring a new relationship as co-parents, rather than viewing the end of the marriage as a severing of all ties between parents. When Florida families are able to use  collaborative law to their advantage, everyone benefits.

Source: Newsweek, “Divorce Effects: Kids Whose Parents Have Bitter Relationships More Likely to be Sickly Adults, Study Finds“, Janice Williams, June 6, 2017

Supreme Court weighs in on military divorce property division

For Florida servicemembers, going through a divorce is a challenging time. Determining how to divide marital wealth is one of the most difficult aspects of the process, and the outcome will shape the financial futures of both parties. A recent case that went before the United States Supreme Court has led to clarification on property division issues that affect military families.

The case centered on a man who retired from the Air Force and his former wife. The two had reached an agreement under which the wife was entitled to receive half of her former husband’s retirement pay. Once he retired the following year, both parties began receiving a share of his retirement pay. In 2005, he filed for disability, claiming that he became disabled due to his military service. He was approved, and began receiving monthly disability compensation.

That triggered a reduction in his monthly retirement pay, to match the amount he received in disability. The reduction also applied to his wife, which was the basis of her lawsuit. She asked the court to order her former husband to replace her lost income, in the amount of $131 per month. A ruling at the lower court level allowed those payments. 

Although that ruling compelled the former husband to “make up” for the lost monthly income, the Supreme Court ruled that no such compensation was required. That means that the former servicemember will be able to make use of his monthly retirement and disability income as he sees fit, without having to write a check to his former wife. That outcome may be of interest to Florida spouses who are facing their own property division negotiations.

Source:, “Court decision could change military divorce settlements“, Tom Philpott, June 2, 2017

Making the most out of property division proceeds

Once a divorce is concluded, most Florida spouses will walk away with a share of the wealth that was accumulated during their marriage. The proceeds of the property division process should be dealt with very carefully, so that the wealth is preserved and available for use for many years to come. In order to reach those goals, it may be necessary to make financial adjustments in the months or years following a divorce.

When it comes to preserving wealth, there are two basic options that are available to most individuals. People can either spend less or make more. In the best outcomes, they choose a path that accomplishes both of those objectives. In terms of spending less, the same rules apply to newly divorced spouses as to individuals coming out of bankruptcy. Adjust discretionary spending while also maintaining a positive quality of life.

This might mean preparing meals at home rather than eating out, or heading to the park rather than going to a matinee. In terms of making more money, options include taking on more hours at work, picking up a side job, or bettering one’s employment prospects. Some people choose to sell items of personal property that are no longer needed, which can bring in a considerable amount of cash.

No matter what approach works best, the most important thing is to take action. Making financial adjustments after a Florida divorce can help individuals make the most of their property division proceeds. That can mean increased stability in the years to come, which is a great goal to set.

Source: USA TODAY, “Divorce wiped me out financially. Here’s how I bounced back.“, Tamara Holmes, May 25, 2017