Collaborative law can ease divorce process for all parties

The decision to end a marriage is usually only made after serious consideration. The process to obtain that divorce is often an emotionally and financially draining experience for the entire family. Florida residents who have decided that a divorce is the best choice for their current circumstances may seek more information on how a collaborative law approach could ease the process.

The majority of couples likely believe that a divorce will require litigation or possibly mediation in order to arrive at a suitable settlement agreement. However, a collaborative approach could enable the parties to reach a peaceful accord while ensuring that civil communication is preserved for the sake of any children. In this type of divorce, each party is represented by his or her own attorney who then works with a team of professionals to resolve every aspect of a settlement. This may entail the participation of financial advisors, counselors and specially trained child advocates.

These professionals will work with the team to establish financial goals while helping to arrive at the most suitable division of assets. They also provide emotional support as well as help the spouses learn effective communication strategies in order to co-parent without acrimony. The child advocates work with the children in order to assess their emotional and mental well-being and provide information to the parents so that the children’s needs are protected throughout the divorce.

This approach to a divorce is vastly different in that the team works together to prevent the contentiousness and stalemates that can accompany a courtroom battle. Collaborative law is proving to be a peaceable way for spouses to end a marriage. It enables the two sides to work together for the sake of the children and mitigates some of the emotional harm that divorce can inflict. Florida residents may benefit from considering whether this approach could work in their particular situation.

Source: pilotonline.com, “Collaborative divorce aims to preserve family harmony”, Dale Truitt Berrett and Lawrence E. Luck, Accessed on Feb. 25, 2018

Pre- and postnuptial agreements can be asset in property division

When one hears the term pre- or post nuptial agreement, he or she may assume that these documents are intended as a safeguard for the wealthy. In reality, these tools can be an asset to anyone when it comes to the property division aspect of an impending divorce. Even those Florida residents who do not believe they own enough assets can benefit from implementing these agreements — whether or not they ever seek a divorce.

Planning for an eventuality is a prudent measure, and having a secure plan in place in case a marriage ends in divorce can also provide peace of mind for even the most happily married couples. Pre- or post-nuptial agreements may allow spouses to circumnavigate some state laws provided the agreement is executed properly. There are also steps that need to be implemented to ensure that these contracts are valid at the time of a divorce or after the death of a spouse.

The protection of separate property is the goal when these contracts are drafted. In order to ensure that the properties or assets are indeed separate, spouses will benefit from maintaining separate accounts for those assets that are solely owned. In addition, if any of these funds or assets are co-mingled in a joint account, then it will become more difficult to ensure that they are not counted as joint property in the event of a divorce.

Other measures spouses can take is to keep detailed records of separate property and ensure that those records are kept current. These agreements can also provide a measure of protection from creditors as well as help with certain aspects of estate planning. Every state has its own laws when it comes to divorce and property division. Therefore, Florida residents who are interested in protecting privately owned assets in the event of a divorce may seek the advice of an experienced family lawyer attorney who can guide them in taking proactive measures.

Source: timesleader.com, “Their view: You’re married, but your assets don’t have to be“, Liz Weston, Feb. 15, 2018

You want a divorce, but how do you tell your husband?

For a while now, you have known that the relationship you have with your husband is not working for you. He seems content to let things drift along the way they are, though, and you may worry about all the negative emotions he will feel when you tell him you are done. 

How can you make it easier for him and improve your chances of an amicable divorce?

Choose the right time

The middle of an argument may seem like an easy moment to introduce the idea that you want to split up. Actually, it is better to choose a time when you can bring it up calmly and rationally. If possible, choose a weekend or another day off so he does not have to deal with his emotions while on the job. 

Choose the right words

Talking around the subject of divorce or trying to drop hints can cause more harm than good. Instead, state your intention and your feelings directly. Setting boundaries is also important. Let him know exactly where you stand. Before you compromise and agree to counseling or a trial separation, make sure that you are open to reviving the relationship; otherwise, you are just prolonging the inevitable and may be making things more difficult.

Expect a reaction

If he truly does not have a clue that you are about to end things, he may lash out in anger. As long as there is no threat to your safety, allow him to say what he needs to say, even if it is hurtful. Getting defensive is likely to lead to blaming and shaming, which will only escalate the hard feelings and reduce the chances that the two of you will be able to work things out amicably. 

Avoid litigation

Seeking the services of a mediator increases the likelihood of a peaceful divorce, as well. Having a neutral third party present to guide your negotiations for property division, alimony and child custody and support can keep your expectations reasonable and your discussions focused. 

Here’s how prenuptial agreements can actually strengthen bonds

Most Florida couples know that financial matters are a leading cause of marital turmoil and could even lead to divorce. For those who have yet to tie the knot, deciding how to navigate financial disparities can be a challenge. When the right approach is taken, talks about prenuptial agreements can actually serve to strengthen a couple’s bond. 

That’s because prenups are inherently flexible and can be drafted to suit any number of preferences. For example, if one party feels that the prenup is only meant to protect the moneyed spouse from loss, provisions can be written in to transfer a portion of wealth to the other party as the years pass. Another way to address concerns is to create ways for the non-moneyed spouse to have access to financial resources throughout the marriage. That prevents a scenario in which only the wealthy spouse controls the purse strings in the union. 

Another benefit of drafting a prenup is that the process forces a couple to focus on their relationship as the central aspect of their lives. That can be a departure for parties who work in the family business or who are burdened by a heavy sense of responsibility to their family of origin. It’s normal to feel close connections to one’s family, but marriage marks a transition into a new family structure that should take center stage. 

Working together to create prenuptial agreements is a great way for Florida couples to start their marriage. Long gone are the days when a prenup was only intended to protect the more moneyed spouse. Today’s documents can do more to bind a couple together than to tear them apart. 

Source: wealthmanagement.com, “Prenuptial Agreements: Beyond the Necessary Evil“, Keith Michaelson, Feb. 7, 2018

Prenuptial agreements can help preserve family wealth

An individual who wishes to protect his or her own assets and family wealth has a choice to make as a marriage approaches. Prenuptial agreements are one tool that many people choose to use to help them protect income and inheritance, as well as set some nonfinancial guidelines. In Florida, some wealthy families choose to make the prenuptial agreement part of a family estate plan so all children participate, and also to avoid the awkwardness that can sometimes come with bringing up a conversation about prenups with an adult child’s future spouse. 

The experts seem to agree on certain best practices for these type of premarital agreements. Those guidelines include that both individual parties would have independent legal representation, that the conversation about the agreement begin well before the wedding day and that a full disclosure (or an explicit agreement not to disclose) of all liabilities and assets of both parties take place. The backbone of a prenup will begin with the specific state laws on marital property. From there, the individual can choose to include many types of considerations.

Some common nonfinancial considerations typically deal with children’s upbringing, education and religion. Financial considerations include, but are not limited to, a full disclosure of assets and debts each party will bring to the marriage, how income tax filing will be handled, how assets will be distributed after death, assigning certain financial responsibilities and future spousal support. For certain high-asset individuals concerned about passing the family wealth, making an estate plan with a contingency that the child use a prenup can make the situation less awkward for the engaged child.

Prenuptial agreements can be a useful tool, and probably shouldn’t be associated with such stigma. Used properly, the document can potentially strengthen a family and preserve wealth. In Florida, a person attempting to draft a prenuptial agreement may choose to do so with the aid of an experienced attorney.

Source: wealthmanagement.com, “So Your Client Is Getting Married…“, Marvin Blum, Feb. 5, 2018

Losing the alimony deduction will be a financial hit for many

Many Florida spouses have grown used to the tax deduction that comes with paying spousal support. It can certainly take some of the sting out of those payments and is a welcome relief at tax time. The newly signed tax reform package, however, eliminates the alimony tax deduction. That will change the financial landscape for many divorced spouses and could also lead some married folks to seriously consider filing for divorce. 

The change won’t go into effect until 2019, so couples in rocky relationships have nearly a year to determine if staying the course is the wise thing to do. If they file now, the alimony tax deduction will be grandfathered in. If they wait until this time next year, the paying spouse will lose the tax deduction entirely. 

The change helps the IRS collect more in tax revenue. Under the current rules, the party-paying spousal support gets a dollar-for-dollar tax deduction. The spouse receiving spousal support has to pay taxes on the amount received. However, because of the different tax rates of a higher-earning spouse and a lower-earning spouse, the IRS loses out. 

For Florida couples who are considering divorce, it might be a good idea to buckle down and determine if the marriage is salvageable. If the end result is going to be a divorce, it might make more sense to pull the plug in 2018 and retain the alimony deduction. It is also entirely possible that divorce attorneys will become inundated with new divorce filings as the year progresses. 

Source: fa-mag.com, “Tax Law Brings Big Tax Changes For Alimony Payers“, Jeff Stimpson, Jan. 22, 2018