A collaborative law approach can make divorce more civil

When one hears the word divorce, it is likely that the images that come to mind involve warring spouses facing off in a courtroom. Unfortunately, when many Florida couples are headed for a divorce, both the spouses and their children often endure an emotionally exhausting ordeal. When possible, a collaborative law approach can help make the process as civil as possible.

In collaborative law divorce, the spouses obtain separate legal counsel who will then meet together to discuss the issues that will need to be addressed and resolved before the divorce can be granted. The first step in the process is to assess whether this approach will work for the divorcing couple. If the pair cannot work together in a calm manner or if there are extenuating circumstances, then a traditional divorce may be more appropriate.

Once this process is determined to be suitable, then the involved parties will sign an agreement that states that the parties will work together and will agree to share information and cooperate in reaching a suitable settlement. The parties also will agree on which professionals may be required in order to reach the best solutions. The spouses and their attorneys will meet outside of the courtroom until all of the matters have been successfully resolved.

Once the spouses have agreed to all of the settlement terms, the divorce agreement and all supporting documents will be submitted to the court. If at any point the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the process will be discontinued, and each spouse will need to consult with a new attorney to file for a traditional divorce. Florida residents who believe that a collaborative law divorce may be the best option for them can seek the assistance of an attorney who is well-versed in the process.

Family business in a divorce can complicate property division

A divorce can be an emotionally and financially exhausting process. For those who own a family business, decisions involving that company may complicate property division negotiations. Florida residents who own a business are likely concerned about the best approach to dividing their assets when a marriage ends.

Operating a business requires a significant investment of time, energy and assets to ensure its success. When a divorce becomes the best option for a troubled relationship, the question of how to handle that business may be a difficult one to resolve. The first step is obtaining an accurate assessment of the value of the company. After that, there are three options that may be considered — the first being that one spouse will retain the company by buying out the former partner’s share. This option is the most popular, as it is usually tax neutral and allows the company to continue.

If one spouse lacks the liquidity to purchase the shares outright, an agreement for settlement payments can be drawn up that will avoid the possibility of capital gains tax consequences. A second option for couples who remain cordial is to continue operating the company together after the divorce. This may not be an attractive option for the majority of owners, as it is often difficult to work with a former spouse.

The final solution is to sell the business outright. While this may be best for many owners, it can lengthen the divorce process, as selling a business takes time. Once the company is sold, the spouses can split the profits and use them as they see fit. One of the most important considerations for Florida residents who are seeking a divorce is the property division, because this may help determine their financial stability in the future. An experienced attorney can help ensure that a settlement agreement allows one to reach future financial goals.

Years-long divorce reopened to seek revised alimony

The end of a marriage is often a tumultuous time that can quickly degrade into fighting and protracted court battles over finances. One of the most contentious disputes during a Florida divorce often involves the matter of alimony. Recently, there have been efforts to reform the alimony laws.

One of the biggest proponents of the reform is a former candidate for Congress whose divorce case took five years to resolve and has been recently re-opened. When the case was settled in 2013, he was ordered to make monthly support payments to his former wife in the amount of $1,500. She had reportedly refused an offer of $5,400 monthly in addition to a $50,000 lump sum. A judge ruled that the amount she would need to cover her expenses was approximately $2,900, but the former husband’s ability to pay was capped at $1,500.

When the former wife noticed how much the man was spending on his campaign, she decided to file for a revised alimony payment as well as seeking arrears payments and attorney fees. A judge recently ordered her former husband to pay her fees in the amount of $20,000 as well as increased alimony payments. He refused and was found in contempt of court.

In an effort to avoid arrest on the contempt charges, he fled to another state, though he has informed the court of his current address and has participated in hearings by phone.  He has stated that he has no intention of returning to Florida as long as the laws remain the same. Lawmakers are trying to institute reforms that would eliminate life-time alimony and would order support to be based on only half of the length of the marriage. In addition, payments would end at retirement. Florida residents who are concerned about their financial well-being in the wake of a divorce may seek the guidance of an attorney who can arrange a settlement that may provide financial stability.

Items to look out for in a gray divorce

For years, the general population associated divorce with younger couples. People assumed couples that were together for decades had figured out a way to make it work. However, there has been a sharp increase in the number of older couples who have passed the age of 50 divorcing, a phenomenon known as gray divorce.

Numerous issues come into play when couples who are 50 or older divorce. It comes with numerous health risks, and many older individuals who divorce end up suffering from insomnia and other issues. That is only the beginning. Here are some of the most common issues older people face in gray divorce: 

Determining the standards of alimony

In practically all divorces, one spouse will need to pay the other alimony. The spouse who earns more money will need to be completely upfront about how much money he or she makes. For older individuals, there may be many more sources of income than for people in their 20s. Older couples need to consider bonuses, stock options, executive compensation packages, ownership stakes, travel perks and car allowances in addition to their base salary. 

Dividing retirement accounts and pension plans

One of the most difficult items a couple can divide is a pension plan. Many state and federal governmental agencies still offer pensions, but far more companies these days provide 401(k)s. It can be difficult to determine the overall value of a pension plan because it does not have a set value. Both spouses and their legal teams will need to work together to come up with an equitable division of assets. 

Figuring out how to pay for children’s college funds

Your kids may be out of the house, but they may still work toward their college degrees. Both parents need to reach a consensus regarding who will pay for the kids’ education. This may involve one or both spouses dipping into their retirement accounts. 

A collaborative law divorce may help reduce the pain for children

The decision to end a faltering marriage is not without its own difficulties. Though many may think that the hardest part is behind them, for some Florida couples, the process of divorcing may expose both spouses and children to even more conflict and discord. For those situations where its appropriate, a collaborative law dissolution may enable spouses to find a more peaceful resolution for all involved.

A divorce will often the follow the same patterns of behavior that lead to the unhappy marriage. Those topics that lead to discord in the marriage will often be magnified during a traditional divorce. Couples who are searching for a less-stressful process may benefit from choosing an alternative method of divorcing. In the process, it may help to pay close attention to the cues that their former spouses are delivering whenever they are involved in settlement negotiations. Triggers that started heated arguments during a marriage may escalate during settlement discussions.

If a spouse instigates a conflict, it may be better to step away rather than feed an argument. Conflicts only increase the pain, time and cost of reaching a suitable agreement. If one feels that he or she has initiated a dispute, it may be appropriate to apologize in order to proceed. If one finds that he or she is becoming agitated, it is preferable to take a break to regroup rather than enter into a heated exchange.

One helpful approach to the divorce proceedings may be to change the vocabulary involved. Rather than entering into a war over a future settlement and proposed parenting plans, spouses may fare better if they focus on solutions that will facilitate a more positive outcome for themselves and their children. Florida residents who are interested in reducing the animosity that often accompanies a traditional divorce may wish to consult with an attorney who is skilled in the collaborative law approach.