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Sarasota Family Law Blog

Is mediation the best same-sex divorce option?

If you and your Florida same-sex spouse have decided to call it quits, you may face some difficulties if you seek a regular litigated divorce. Why? Because although Florida recognizes same-sex marriages, our divorce laws may not adequately address your particular divorce issues.

As the Arbitration Law Review explains, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in its landmark 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case. The Court did not, however, require the states to update their divorce laws accordingly. Consequently, your best divorce option may well be a mediated divorce.

Can my ex take my child out of the country?

After a divorce, especially if the divorce is between spouses from different countries, travel can become a particularly thorny issue. Your ex may wish to travel internationally with your child or children, but this is an area that you must approach with caution.

Before you authorize your ex to travel internationally with your children, be sure you understand all the potential risks and ramifications of this decision. Here is some information for you to consider to help you make the most informed choice.

Escape from domestic violence requires help and caution

Many marriages are miserable to exist in, but for some Florida residents, their marriages can be unbearable and even dangerous. It is not always easy to escape an abusive marriage, either. Getting away from an abusive spouse usually requires a plan of escape, as well as numerous allies to assist.

It can be difficult for some people to recognize the signs of abuse. Domestic violence is not limited to being physically harmed. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an abuser may use verbal, emotional, financial and sexual tactics to keep their victims under their control. They may shout and threaten to harm their spouse or the children without actually striking out physically. They might damage or destroy personal property or hurt pets. It is also possible for a previously non-violent abuser to turn violent without warning.

Customizing a child visitation schedule

When parents in Florida file for divorce, there are a host of issues that must be settled and written in the divorce decree. One of the most difficult may be that of child custody and child visitation. There is no question that, in most cases, children do best when they spend a significant amount of time with both parents. However, a child visitation schedule is put in place to determine which parent is allowed time with the child and when. While some parents allow the court-appointed judge to make the final decision when determining the child visitation schedule, other parents create their own visitation schedule through mediation and negotiation.

One important thing to keep in mind when creating a visitation schedule is accommodating the child’s school schedule, as well as any extra-curricular activities he or she may be involved in. If the child has practice on certain days, it may be logical to have the parent that is available to help them on that day take care of them. Parents should always put their children’s’ needs ahead of their own. Think of what would be best for them and continue along that path. Parents should put aside their emotions and avoid using their children as go-betweens when creating a schedule.

When should people file for a divorce modification?

If you have terminated your marriage in Florida, you more than likely have a settlement that explains the terms of the divorce. Divorce settlements involve factors, such as child support and alimony. Although the terms included in the divorce settlement are set and may be enforced by law, there are circumstances that may allow the settlement to be modified. According to Florida Statutes, if one of the parties experiences a significant life change, it may constitute a settlement modification.

There are some specific situations in which you may want to begin a divorce modification. For instance, if either party has a change in finances, they may file to decrease or increase the amount of alimony or child support they pay. If medical insurance becomes available, the settlement may be modified to show this change. Furthermore, if the person receiving alimony gets married or becomes involved in a relationship where they live with their partner, a modification may be issued to terminate or decrease the amount of alimony paid to that person.

What is gray divorce?

If you are married, over the age of 50 and are considering legal separation or divorce, you may become part of the trend known as ‘gray divorce.’ The number of people who have filed for divorce later on in life has grown considerably over time, leaving some researchers to look at why older Americans have decided to terminate their marriage after decades of being together. A study conducted by researchers at Bowling Green State University have found that while one in 10 people over the age of 50 filed for divorce in 1990, one in four people of this age divorced in 2009. That number is predicted to grow to over 800,000 gray divorces by the year 2030.

One reason why you may be likely to file for divorce during this period of your life is empty nest syndrome. Couples who have spent their lives involved in their children may find that they have become disconnected once the children move out of the house. This holds true if you have recently retired as well. If you and your spouse have focused on your careers during the entire marriage, it may feel different once retired and forced to spend long amounts of time with one another. In some cases, you may find that you no longer have anything in common. Rather than waste the remaining years of your lives in an unhappy relationship, you and your spouse may choose to divorce and seek out another relationship.

How Florida determines the “best interests of the child”

If you are a parent and have ever gone through, or are currently going through, a divorce, custody battle or similar legal matter, you may have heard the term “best interests of the child” thrown around quite a bit. When Florida courts make decisions regarding custody, visitation, parental rights and so on, they typically weigh what they consider to be the “best interests of the child” before making their final determinations.

As a Florida parent, you may be wondering exactly what goes into deciding what constitutes the “best interests of the child.” While there is no single, all-encompassing answer to this question, there are certain areas you can expect the legal system to consider when making their determinations. More specifically, you can anticipate that the court system will consider the following:

How is property divided in Florida?

When you file for divorce or legal separation in Florida, you may be forced to negotiate a wide-range of topics with your spouse. One of the most difficult may be that of property division. It can be hard separating all of the marital property and assets that you have accumulated during the time you were married. Florida is an equitable distribution of property state, meaning that the judge presiding over the case will determine who is entitled to what based on what he or she deems fair and equitable. You may want to try to negotiate the terms of the divorce settlement before the case is given to a judge.

Only marital property is eligible for division in a divorce case. This includes basic items, such as the family home, cars, furniture and shared assets. It also includes less common items, such as lottery winnings, income tax refunds, intellectual property, expensive collections, travel miles, golf and country club memberships and term life insurance policies. If you or your spouse lent money to a third-party during the course of the marriage, both are entitled to half once that money is paid back.

Splitting up the retirement accounts in a divorce

At the Law Office of Philip J. Schipani in Florida, we know how difficult your life becomes when you begin going through a divorce. In addition to whatever issues you and your spouse may have with regard to your children, you may also have issues with regard to your property division. This is especially true if both of you have retirement accounts that make up a large portion of your overall assets.

Reuters reports that splitting up retirement accounts, particularly pensions, is a tricky undertaking at best. At worst, it can cost you and/or your spouse thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties if you do it wrong.

3 tips for raising healthy children during divorce

When you are getting a divorce, one of your worst fears is how it will impact your kids. You may think it will emotionally scar them forever. While a divorce is often difficult for children to experience, they can grow up to be happy and healthy individuals. 

Your breakup does not need to cause irreparable psychological damage to your children. Believe it or not, raising happy children during and after divorce is possible. Here is some advice for being a positive parent throughout the end of your marriage.

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Law Office of Philip J. Schipani
1605 Main Street, Suite 608
Sarasota, FL 34236

Phone: 941-549-8981
Fax: 941-366-7331