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Sarasota Family Law Blog

Your family business will be front and center in the divorce

When you and your spouse are facing divorce, property division will be much on your mind. Outside of your marital home, the family business may be your most important asset. If you are both involved with the business, there will be an emotional as well as a financial attachment. You and your soon-to-be-ex may have put a great deal of time, money and brainpower into building the family business.

There are pros and cons about each of the options for keeping it or letting it go, and you will want to weigh them carefully so that the fate of this particular property will be acceptable to both of you.

Will you have to pay manimony when you divorce?

If you have never run across the word “manimony” before, be advised that this is the new nickname for the spousal support payments that an ex-wife pays to an ex-husband after a divorce. It could impact your life if you and your husband obtain a Florida divorce and you earn more than he does.

As Wife.org explains, only about 20 percent of men receive manimony awards today, but the trend continues to grow as women continue to work their way up the corporate ladder and also establish businesses of their own. It may surprise you to learn that 40 percent of today’s American households are supported by women, either solely or in a major way. In addition, over 2 million husbands assume the role of stay-home childcare provider while their wives bring home the only paycheck.

Can your ex cohabitate with another and still receive alimony?

You may understand the court's decision to award your ex-spouse alimony following your divorce in Sarasota, especially if you were the primary wage-earner during your marriage. Helping out financially until they are able to support themselves may be no problem; what could frustrate you, however, is them purposely trying to prolong you having to pay alimony. In such a case, your payments go from being a needed means of support to almost a form of punishment. 

The law reflects your frustration in such cases, which is why guidelines have been enacted that can impact your alimony obligation if it is shown that your ex-spouse no longer needs it. Say that they enter into a relationship with a new romantic partner, yet avoid getting married in order to keep receiving alimony. If this happens, the court will review the relationship to see if it is indeed supportive. According to Section 61.14 of Florida's state statutes, factors that it considers include: 

  • The extent to which your ex-spouse and their new partner present themselves as a married couple
  • How long the two have cohabitated
  • If the two have pooled their resources to support each other
  • If your ex-spouse's new partner is also providing support for your children
  • If the two have purchased property together
  • If the two have worked together to enhance something of value

Are there benefits to co-parenting?

Once you and your spouse have settled on getting a divorce as the only way to remedy ongoing conflict in your relationship, your attention may be turned to your children and how you can continue to give them a stable childhood despite the coming changes in your family dynamic. If you and your spouse are able to maintain some level of mutual respect in regards to parenting, your children may have a much easier time transitioning to your divorce in Florida. 

While it may be incredibly difficult to overlook the reasons why you and your spouse are separating in the first place, putting your judgments aside and seeing your former spouse as the loyal and loving parent that they still are, is imperative to maintaining respect and giving your children a chance to continue to develop healthy relationships with both of their parents. 

Physical and legal custody: What you should know

Whether you are currently going through the divorce process or you are simply considering filing papers, it is important to understand everything entailed in terminating a marriage. If you have children, you will be forced to deal with the subject of child custody and parenting plans. Not only is it crucial to consider the best interests of the child when determining what type of custody to impose, but it helps to think about how you will interact and co-parent with your former spouse.

Physical custody refers to which parent the child physically resides. Sole physical custody means one parent has the child the majority of the time and the other parent has visitation, while joint custody involves the child living with both parents for equal amounts of time. Studies show that children who are raised in joint custody homes have academic, social, behavioral and developmental advantages when compared to kids who grow up in a sole custody arrangement.

Social media as evidence during a divorce

Americans cannot seem to distance themselves from social media, whether they are posting a selfie while attending a concert or tweeting a status update regarding a special moment in their lives. Many people do not realize, however, that certain social media posts can be used as evidence for or against them in a divorce case.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a number of spouses and attorneys are gathering evidence from social media posts to use against their spouses during divorce proceedings. They found that 97 percent of Lawyers in the AAML reported an increase in the amount of evidence gathered from apps. Approximately 17 percent of evidence was gathered from Twitter and 41 percent from Facebook.  Other apps were used, including Instagram, Google Maps, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Tinder.

In divorce, what happens to any frozen embryos?

Many couples decide to pursue in vitro fertilization where they create an embryo, freeze it and wait to implant until the couple is ready. It can be years until the couple decides to pursue implantation, and during that time, it is entirely possible that the married couple will end up divorcing. This leads to a big question legal professionals are still trying to figure out: What happens to the frozen embryos?

This is somewhat uncharted territory, but it has become a legitimate concern for many couples divorcing in Florida in recent years. Legal professionals still have much to ponder when it comes to custody of unborn children, but there are factors the parents should consider.

How can child custody affect child support payments?

If you have recently filed for divorce in Florida, you may be dealing with strong emotions as you negotiate the terms of child custody and child support. Whether you receive sole physical custody of your child or you are working out a joint-custody arrangement, the amount of child support you receive or pay may be directly affected by the amount of time you spend with your child.

When calculating child support, the parenting plan, made by the court or by the parents through mediation, is taken into account. If the child spends less than 20 percent of nights with the non-custodial parent, the amount of child support will be calculated according to traditional methods of sole physical custody. If, however, the child has more than 20 percent of overnight visits with the non-custodial parent, the child support amount may decrease, depending on the discretion of the judge.

Are there different types of alimony?

If you are going through a divorce in Florida, you may be eligible to receive alimony as a source of financial assistance. Alimony is designed to help you get back on your feet, provide a consistent quality of life and assist you with medical bills and other expenses after the divorce is finalized. In Florida, there are six types of alimony, including bridge the gap, lump sum, durational, temporary, rehabilitative and permanent periodic.

Bridge the gap alimony is given to spouses while they transition into becoming independent following a divorce. This is usually short in duration, similar to lump sum alimony, which is determined in court to be paid in one payment or in several installments. Lump sum alimony is not modifiable, unlike other types of alimony. Durational alimony can be awarded for an amount of time equal to the duration of the marriage. For example, if the marriage lasted for 12 years, durational alimony payments could not exceed 12 years. Temporary alimony is given while you are going through the divorce process to help pay bills and keep up with routine expenses. Furthermore, rehabilitative alimony is awarded to you while you further your education, gain work experience or get the skills necessary to become financially independent. Finally, permanent periodic alimony provides more permanent financial support, and lasts until either spouse dies or the spouse receiving the alimony gets remarried.

What happens to your family business when you divorce?

If you and your spouse own a Florida business, it likely is your pride and joy as well as your major, if not only, source of family income. How to divide this business between you should you divorce therefore can become a huge issue. Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that all marital assets must be divided fairly and equitably between divorcing spouses. However, “fair and equitable” does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. You have the following three basic options when it comes to deciding what to do with your family business:

  1. Sell it and divide the proceeds between you
  2. One of you buy out the other’s share
  3. Continue to own and operate it together

Since each option has its own inherent advantages and disadvantages, your ultimate decision may hinge not only on the value of your business, but also the emotional attachment that each of you has to it.

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Law Office of Philip J. Schipani
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Sarasota, FL 34236

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