Love may be blind, but prenuptial agreements offer protection

Sometimes, people find themselves in a relationship with someone who is caught in financial or legal difficulties. As tempting as it may be to dismiss these serious problems, they could have a negative financial impact. Florida residents who want to protect themselves from a negative fallout in the event of a divorce may benefit from prenuptial agreements.

The decision to marry is not one that is usually made in haste. However, there are times when it pays to be even more cautious before entering into a marital relationship. If one of the intended spouses is facing serious problems, it is worth the time to discuss the issues and seek professional advice before exchanging marriage vows. It is recommended that partners share such financial information in credit reports in order to gauge the financial decision-making of an intended spouse.

If a marriage is a viable option, partners are encouraged to consult with legal professionals who can assess the risk that each could face in the future. Openly discussing the matter helps in making informed decisions. Likewise, knowledge of the possible ramifications can enable the parties to draft a prenuptial agreement that will provide the best protection in a divorce. 

Florida is an equitable division state, meaning if the parties cannot agree on a settlement, the court will decide what each spouse will receive. If there are legal problems, this may further complicate the division of assets and debt. Obtaining legal advice is one way of ensuring that one partner’s problem does not become a major financial headache for both parties.

While an estate planning professional can draft valid prenuptial agreements, it is beneficial to have one prepared by an experienced family law attorney. An attorney who is skilled in understanding how legal and financial issues complicate a divorce may be the best individual to prepare a contract that affords the best protection. Though love can be blind, a well-constructed prenup helps prevent tunnel vision.

Collaborative law divorce is one option that may fit many couples

When a marriage is no longer sustainable, the next logical step is to file for a divorce. Depending on the particular circumstances, there is a divorce path that will best meet one’s needs. Florida residents have several options, including a collaborative law approach.

There are approximately nine categories when filing for a divorce. For couples who were married for a relatively short amount of time, have no children, and own few assets or debts, there is a summary divorce. This expedited divorce is filed jointly and should be resolved fairly quickly. Couples who agree to a divorce and have no sticking points to disagree over may file for an uncontested divorce. Another possibility in situations where one spouse has either abandoned the marriage or refuses to respond to a divorce petition is a default divorce.

Several years ago, the only way to seek a divorce was through proving fault. Now, most states permit the no-fault divorce in which spouses claim that the relationship is irretrievably broken. Other possible avenues is arbitration. For those spouses who cannot come to any agreements or have other serious issues involved, a traditional trial may be sought to settle a contested divorce.

Couples who are able to work together with the assistance of individual attorneys may seek a collaborative law approach. The parties each assist their attorneys in working out an agreement that meets their needs with the information that each side presents. If the spouses cannot reach a suitable agreement, then the process is scrapped and each side finds new counsel to represent them in court. Florida residents who are seeking an end to an unhappy marriage and are concerned about their future financial well-being may be best served by consulting with a family law attorney who can provide experienced guidance throughout the process.

Terms of prenuptial agreements can be disputed in some divorces

Celebrities may try to protect both their privacy and their financial well-being through marital contracts and other means, though these may both be under attack in the event of a divorce trial. Prenuptial agreements are intended to establish property division if a relationship ends, and to that end, each party is urged to obtain separate legal counsel to ensure they are protected. Florida residents who enter a prenuptial contract are encouraged to ensure that all terms are carefully spelled out and agreed to by both partners.

Actor Robert DeNiro and his wife, Grace Hightower, are battling through their second divorce. When they decided to give marriage another try, they signed a prenuptial agreement in 2004. It  detailed how Hightower would be compensated in a divorce. In spite of this agreement, she and her attorneys are now disputing the fairness of the terms.

Purportedly, DeNiro has an approximate net worth of $500,000,000, which was generated from his film career and his various business holdings. The prenup dictated that Hightower would be entitled to a cash settlement of $500,000, an apartment valued at $6 million and alimony totalling $1 million annually. In addition, she would split the value of a second apartment. Her attorneys are arguing that, based on DeNiro’s net worth, his former wife is entitled to half of the actor’s earnings since their marriage commenced in 2004.

DeNiro’s lawyer has asked the court to affirm the terms of the couple’s existing prenup. Along with the battle over the actor’s wealth, they are fighting over custody of their youngest child. Florida residents may have concerns about the possibility their prenuptial agreements would be challenged during a heated divorce. In order to ensure that these contracts are validated by a court, the assistance of a skilled attorney may be invaluable in ensuring that the terms are clearly stated and comply with state laws, and that both parties fully understand and agree to the terms.

Breaking the divorce news to the kids

There is no easy way to deliver news of divorce to a spouse, children and loved ones. As unpleasant as the news may seem, it is important to determine a feasible way to communicate the separation with everyone who may directly feel its impact. Parents willing to work together can achieve a cooperative/amicable divorce

Spouses are not always receptive to hearing from their partners that the relationship is over. Children do not always understand what divorce in the Fort Myers area means. To help eliminate potential issues that can lead to conflict and confusion, here are a few key pointers to keep in mind when bringing up the topic of divorce. 

Be considerate 

Carefully consider what to tell your partner and your children. Information that you may reveal or share with your spouse is not necessarily suitable for kids. Even if it seems like your relationship with your spouse ran its course long ago, delivering the news tactfully can help soften the impact and minimize hurt resentful feelings. 

When informing children about the separation, keep in mind their ages and personalities. Try to remain as open and honest as possible without misleading them or providing false hope. Stress the fact that the separation does not change how you and their other parent feel about them and that you will both continue to work together to provide them with the best upbringing possible. Timing is important too. Ideally, you want to deliver the news when there is less stress and fewer activities going on. 

Prepare for questions 

Due to the serious and complicated nature of divorce, you should expect your kids to have questions. Do not ignore or brush their concerns aside. You are under no obligation to address their questions. However, it is very beneficial that you address the most relevant and important questions. Your kids deserve to know what is going on, about the changes to come and what to expect. Keep all personal and adult matters about the divorce between you and your spouse. 

Divorce is not always pleasant, and matters may arise where you and your partner feel like mistreating and badmouthing each other. Just remember, you set an example for your children. They watch, learn and use you and their other parent as a mirror for their current and future interactions with you and others. Show them by example that divorce does not have to be full of conflict.

Gray divorce and property division require skillful negotiation

The divorce rate among younger couples has decreased over recent years. The same is not true for the older generations, as the so-called “gray” divorce rates have climbed significantly since 1990. Though there are many reasons why these older spouses are calling it quits, what is common to most is the importance of property division for older individuals. Florida residents who are divorcing at a later age may benefit from consulting with financial professionals.

At this stage in life, many unhappily married spouses are choosing to seek more enjoyment by divorcing rather than remaining with a partner who no longer provides the companionship they desire. However, due to age and possibly limited options for financing retirement goals, the need for negotiating a suitable settlement becomes the focus. If either spouse has retirement savings or plans that were financed during the marriage, they will likely be split as evenly as possible. Other assets, such as stocks or other holdings may require more skill to determine how they can be divided. 

If one spouse has a lower income, or did not have outside employment, the negotiations may include a provision for alimony, though the paying spouse may object based on a fixed income in the near-future. Social Security will likely be an integral component within the discussions over assets. If the assets include a small business, the negotiations may become more complex, unless there is a pre-existing agreement covering how it will be handled in the event of a divorce. 

Those who own separate assets may also encounter difficulty, especially when both parties are worried about planning for their financial future. Every divorce requires careful consideration, no matter the circumstances. Florida residents who are planning for a new future after their divorce may benefit from the guidance of skilled professionals, especially a divorce attorney who can ensure that the property division will provide for a secure financial foundation.