General information on dissolution of marriage

Next Generation Divorce

Sample Collaborative Participation Agreement

Is divorce on your horizon?  If so, are you fearing entering a public adversarial system where husband is pitted against wife, and mother is pitted against father?  Fortunately, there are alternatives.  One alternative is the collaborative divorce process, where you and your spouse sign a participation agreement that states, among other things, that your attorneys can only be used to help you reach an agreement outside of court.  This means that none of you or your attorneys’ time, energy, or billable time goes towards opposition research, motion practice, or costly trial preparation.

The collaborative participation agreement spells out the rules of the collaborative process.  Below you will find a sample participation agreement that I oftentimes use in my cases here in Florida.  Please note that different professionals and different communities use different participation agreements.  Further, the same professional may have different participation agreements depending on the type of matter or the complexity of the matter.

As I have had the fortune to model my participation agreement based on the work of others, I welcome other professionals to modify and adapt the collaborative participation agreement below as their own:

Read more

The Truth: Alimony is Arbitrary

I recently came across an article on how alimony is awarded in different states.  The article, titled “A Survey of Lawyers’ Observations About the Principles Governing the Award of Spousal Support Throughout the United States,” was written by J. Thomas Oldham of the University of Houston Law Center.  Here is the abstract:

Abstract

At the beginning of this project, I distributed 5000 questionnaires to family lawyers around the country. I asked the lawyers to respond by estimating the spousal support award, if any, that would result for six hypothetical divorcing couples in their jurisdiction. While the response rate was not great, the responses received suggest that there are three different types of spousal support systems in the U. S. today. In some states, spousal support is rarely awarded, and then only to prevent severe hardship. In others, spousal support is frequently awarded when the spouses’ incomes are substantially different at divorce. In most states, however, it appears that there is no clear spousal support policy, and the award, if any, in any given case is the result of which judge is assigned to hear the matter. In these states, spousal support determinations appear to be arbitrary. I have included as an appendix to my article a summary of the responses.

Some states have responded to this lack of clarity regarding spousal support standards by adopting guidelines. These guidelines attempt to provide more uniformity in terms of award amounts and award duration. To date, they have not attempted to provide guidance regarding when a spousal support award is warranted. In this article, I discuss how spousal support standards could be clarified in those states where there appears to be no clearly accepted policy.

I would say that Florida falls into the last category:  there are no alimony guidelines, and the amount you might receive or pay is highly dependent on the whims of the judge you are in front of.

That is, if you let the judge decide the amount of alimony.

You Can Be Your Own Judge

More and more families are coming to realize that going through a court battle is, in most cases, the worst possible way to divorce.  If you choose a private form of dispute resolution, such as the Collaborative Process, you and your spouse will have the final say on the amount of any alimony.

In the Collaborative Process, you and your spouse each have separate attorneys to guide you.  However, the attorneys are not there for opposition research or to prepare for trial; rather, they are there solely for the purpose of helping you reach an out-of-court agreement.  This means that no time, energy, or money is spent fighting in court.

Oftentimes, a neutral financial professional will help you and your spouse develop and analyze financial options that work best for your family.  The financial neutral can do a lifestyle analysis to determine what has been spent in the past and where there might be efficiencies that can be created in a spouse’s cash flow.   The financial professional will oftentimes also look into whether there are tax loopholes that might allow the family to enlarge their proverbial pie.

So do your family and your future a favor and consider the Collaborative Family Law Process.


Adam B. Cordover is co-author of an upcoming American Bar Association book on Collaborative Divorce.  Further, Adam trains attorneys, mental health professional, financial professionals, and mediators in the Collaborative Process throughout Florida and the U.S.

Alimony Tax Deduction Repeal Delayed

As part of the U.S. Congress’ drive to reform the tax system, one issue that kept on arising was whether the alimony tax deduction would be repealed.  The House of Representatives passed a version of the tax bill that included a repeal for divorces finalized after December 31, 2017, while the Senate version of the bill included no alimony tax deduction repeal.

In conference, both houses agreed on a final bill that includes the repeal.  However, it will only take effect for divorces that occur after December 31, 2018.

Read more

The Walking Dead: Who Is Judith’s Legal Father?

AMC’s The Walking Dead recently premiered its season 8 debut.  For the uninitiated, The Walking Dead follows former deputy sheriff Rick Grimes and others as they navigate a post-apocalyptic world of zombies (which they call “walkers”).

The Human Element of The Walking Dead

Even more interesting than interactions with the walkers, the show focuses in on the interaction between people.  Rick and the gang have fought off a host of bad guys.  A one-eyed psychotic governor.  Bar-B-Que loving cannibals.  Most recently, a baseball bat-wielding sadist with a sophomoric sense of humor.

But the most fascinating part of the show may just be its human drama surrounding relationships between Rick and his family.  Last season, Rick made a startling admission to Michone.  Michone is a samurai sword brandishing badass and Rick’s current love interest.  The admission concerned Rick’s daughter, Judith.

When the apocalypse started, Rick had been separated from his wife, Lori.  Lori escaped the initial chaos with Rick’s best friend, Shane.  Shane and Lori thought Rick had died with the initial wave of walkers, and Shane and Lori became romantically involved.

Lori and Shane’s relationship ended when they learned Rick was still alive.  Inevitably, tensions rose between Shane and Rick, which lead to Rick killing Shane.  Eventually, Lori gave birth to a child, Judith, though Lori did not survive the birth.

Which brings us back to Rick’s admission to Michone.  Rick tells Michone he knows that Shane is Judith’s biological father.

So who is Judith’s legal father?

Read more

Need Help With A Simplified Dissolution of Marriage?

Are you and your spouse in agreement on how to divide your assets and debts?  Do you not have any minor or dependent children in common?  Are you both willing to attend a final hearing for dissolution of marriage together?  Then you and your spouse may qualify for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.

Simplified Dissolution of MarriageAdvantages of a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

Florida has created a special type of divorce procedure with the hope of simplifying the process.  In most actions for dissolution of marriage, court rules require you to exchange what is known as “mandatory disclosure.”  These are financial and other documents with sensitive and private information.  So, in most divorces, you would exchange several years’ worth of tax returns, along with checking and savings account statements, credit card statements, and summary plan descriptions for retirement accounts.

In Simplified Dissolution of Marriage proceedings, you are not expected to exchange these documents unless specifically requested to by one of the spouses.

Read more

You Already Have A Prenup

Congratulations, you are getting married!  You found the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, and now you have a big, bright future ahead!  But now the P-word has come up: Prenup.

You and your fiance may be wondering whether to get a prenuptial agreement, also referred to as a premarital agreement.  It may be that one of you has significantly more assets than the other.  Perhaps there is a family business in play.  Maybe you have children from a prior relationship that you want to protect or you have other estate-planning needs.  Or maybe you just want to plan for all possible contingencies.

Prenup

So if you are considering a premarital agreement, there is something you should keep in mind:  You already have a prenup.

Read more

Bitcoin and Divorce

Bitcoin and Divorce

Bitcoin is a relatively new type of currency that is not controlled by any government but rather is decentralized.  It is oftentimes referred to as a “cryptocurrency” as it is not physical.  Bitcoins are maintained in virtual “wallets” and can be transferred via QR codes.

The video below from the Wall Street Journal further explains Bitcoin:

As Bitcoin is becoming more popular, it should not be surprising that is showing up in divorce cases.  So what happens to Bitcoins in divorce?

Read more

Cordover Letter on Collaborative Divorce Published in Tampa Bay Times

In February, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Charlie Crist, former governor of the State of Florida, filed a petition for divorce in which he stated that he anticipated that he and his wife will go through a “collaborative law process.”  On February 27, 2017, the Tampa Bay Times published a letter written by Family Diplomacy attorney Adam B. Cordover explaining what a collaborative divorce is.

You can find the letter reproduced below:

Crist filed for divorce from wife of 8 years Feb. 25

Collaborative divorce: what it is, how it works

On Feb. 24, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg, filed for divorce. In his petition, Crist states that he anticipates that he and his wife will go through a “collaborative law process.” What is a collaborative divorce?

Read more

Co-Mediation Divorce Without Lawyers

Can I Divorce Without Lawyers?

Do you want to divorce without lawyers?  Are you and your spouse able to sit down together, but you need some help to figure out what you even need to address?  Are you okay going without legal advice, and you just want to get through the divorce as quickly, painlessly, and cost-effectively as possible?

Well, then, co-mediation can help you divorce without lawyers.

Co-Mediation Divorce Without Lawyers

In co-mediation, you and your spouse sit down face-to-face with two mediators: one with a legal background and one with a child and family dynamics background.

Read more

Divorce: What Happens to My Small Business?

You have worked hard to build your small business in Tampa Bay or Greater Sarasota.  Your dreams and future are intertwined with your company.  But, now, you are facing divorce, and you are worried about how this will affect your small business.  You know there are quite a few issues that you will have to deal with.  Child custody, division of property and debts, and child and spousal support all need to be addressed.

Small Business and Collaborative Divorce

Small Business & Collaborative Divorce

But what happens to your small business?

Read more