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Sarasota Family Law Blog

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.

Factors to consider in a high-asset divorce

While any type of divorce can be potentially complicated and overwhelming, high-asset divorces can be especially daunting. Not only are there often high stakes involved, but some cases may be very complex, making it hard to reach a settlement. It is important for people in Florida who are going through a divorce to understand the process to ensure they get everything they are entitled to when the divorce is finalized.

Couples should keep in mind the cost and value of their lifestyle, and work toward maintaining that after they go different ways. Whether one party earned a larger share of the family funds, or both parties involved had productive careers, mediation and planning will help both parties maintain the quality of life that they were used to living while they were married.

Is your spouse hiding marital assets?

When you file for divorce, you and your spouse are required to disclose all of your property and assets. This marital property is then divided in a way that the judge presiding over the case deems fair and equitable. There are some instances, however, where one spouse attempts to hide some of the property or assets so that it does not have to be divided and can remain in the sole possession of one person. This type of asset hiding occurs more often than you may think. It is crucial that you understand how to keep an eye out for these types of behaviors, so you can ensure you receive everything that you are entitled to in the divorce settlement.

First, ask questions regarding your spouse’s financial accounts. Does your spouse have separate accounts? Does he or she maintain control of the family bank account and have sole possession of the passwords? This is information that must be provided to the court during the divorce. The court will then evaluate all accounts for marital assets and divide the findings appropriately.

What steps can you take to prevent international child abduction?

If you are a Florida resident, you have a child with someone who comes from another country and the relationship between you two has soured, you may have valid concerns about co-parenting. More specifically, you may have serious fears that your child’s other parent may attempt to take your child back to his or her home country. While it is unlikely that you will be able to keep an eye on your child every second of every day, there are certain steps you can take to reduce the chances of an international child abduction occurring.

If you are fearful that your former partner may attempt to abduct your child, consider the following:

Adoption revisited

Many Florida couples consider adoption when they cannot have children of their own. Others see little ones in need of homes and reach out from a sense of compassion and empathy. Whether you belong in the first category or the second, you may have a lot of questions as you wrestle with the idea of adding to your family through adoption.

The Florida Bar addresses many concerns for you, if you are a family pursuing adoption. First, the Bar defines who is eligible to adopt, and it may surprise you to learn that singles qualify just as well as married couples. Since the qualifications do not depend on a specific marital status, what else does the State of Florida mandate?

Understanding the different types of alimony

When people in Florida file for divorce, they may be entitled to alimony payments from their former spouse. While there are some types of alimony that are temporary in nature, others are long-term. The judge presiding over the case will look at the circumstances involved in the divorce case and determine which type of alimony best fits the situation. Before going into divorce, people should know what types of alimony are available so they can ensure they get the support they are entitled to in the divorce settlement.

According to Florida statutes, alimony may be bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, permanent or durational. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to provide financial support to divorced spouses as they transition into a more independent way of living. Since this type of alimony is short-term, it is awarded for a maximum of two years. Rehabilitative alimony, on the other hand, assists people as they develop essential life skills, so they are able to support themselves. This may mean that one spouse pays alimony while the other finishes school, work training or gain other employment skills. Once these skills are achieved, the alimony payments may be modified or terminated.

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

Phone: 941-549-8981
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