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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?

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Bird Custody: What Happens To Our Pet In Divorce?

When a couple has children, and they are getting divorced, they set up a child custody schedule to determine where their children will sleep at night.  But what happens when spouses have a bird?  Will a Tampa Bay divorce judge set up a “bird custody” schedule?

Bird Custody

Bird Custody

No, a judge will not create a bird custody schedule, but a couple can agree to such a schedule through a private form of dispute resolution such as collaborative divorce.

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Need To Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill? Consider Consumer Cellular

Spouses going through divorce usually come to a realization pretty quickly:  two spouses living in two homes costs more than two spouses living in one home.  And with this realization comes a reality check:  it is time to reduce living expenses.

One way to reduce living expenses is to reduce your cell phone bill.  And, based on personal experience, I recommend reducing your cell phone bill by switching to Consumer Cellular.

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Video: Tampa Real Estate Agent Discusses Collaborative Divorce

Tampa real estate agent Rande Friedman was recently interviewed on the topic of collaborative divorce.  Rande, of White Glove House, has lived in the Tampa Bay area for the past 30 years, and he has been in the real estate industry for around ten years.

Rande is also a member of Next Generation Divorce, one of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice groups with professionals helping families in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties.  Rande became involved in Next Generation Divorce after he helped a family who used the collaborative process in their divorce.  Rande found them in a better state of mind to agree upon their real estate needs and move on with their lives compared to clients who had litigated their divorce.

You can find a video and partial transcript of Rande Friedman discussing his experience with families transitioning via collaborative divorce after the jump:

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Collaborative Divorce and Small Businesses

Divorce is one of life’s most difficult tests.  The stress that the traditional adversarial litigation divorce can have on employees cost business owners countless dollars every year.  Further, a private business is seen by Florida law as a potential marital asset, to be divided in divorce just like 401(k)’s, jewelry, or furniture.  When a business is put in the spotlight of a traditional courtroom divorce, Florida’s sunshine laws dictate that the remains of the business can be picked apart in detail by competitors sifting through a public court file.

Small Business & Collaborative Divorce Graphic

Collaborative family law (also known as collaborative divorce), by contrast, is non-adversarial.  The spouses’ attorneys are not seen as “opposing counsel,” but rather as teammates.  The clients themselves are not seen as “opposing parties,” but rather as co-parents or simply people looking to transition to the next stage of their lives.

Collaborative attorneys can only help the spouses reach an out-of-court settlement, so no time, money, or energy is spent on opposition research, dirty litigation tactics, or preparing for a costly trial.  This greatly reduces the stress on spouses and mitigates productivity losses.

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2016 Collaborative Law Process Act Making Progress in Florida Legislature

Senate Bill 972, the “Collaborative Law Process Act,” is making its way through the Florida Senate and will hopefully become law this summer.

[UPDATE 2: Governor Scott signed the Collaborative Law Process Act on 3/24/16]

[UPDATE: The Collaborative Law Process Act Passed the Florida Legislature on 3/4/16.  Learn more about it in the following Article: Collaborative Law Process Act Protects Families’ Privacy]

The Collaborative Law Process Act creates a legal framework for families to resolve disputes outside of court.  The bill specifies that family law matters under chapters 61 or 742 of the Florida Statutes may be resolved via the collaborative process.  These family law matters include the following:

  • Divorce;
  • Alimony and child support;
  • Marital property and debt distribution;
  • Child custody and visitation (also known as time-sharing and parental responsibility);
  • Parental relocation with a child;
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements; and
  • Paternity.

Families in Tampa Bay, Greater Sarasota, and throughout the state of Florida are already utilizing the collaborative process to resolve divorce and other matters privately and respectfully, but a big improvement with this bill is that there will be a statutory framework to ensure discussions had in the collaborative process can be enforced as confidential.   Read more

Florida Family Law: Mandatory Disclosure

When you file and serve a petition in a Florida family law case that involves financial issues such as child support, alimony, or the division of property in debts, a clock starts ticking.  Within 45 days of the initial pleadings being served on the respondent, each party is required to provide the other party with a whole host of financial documents and information.

This is what is known as Mandatory Disclosure, and it is governed by Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

The following are a list of documents that are required to be exchanged:

(1) A financial affidavit in substantial conformity with Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b) if the party’s gross annual income is less than $50,000, or Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(c) if the party’s gross annual income is equal to or more than $50,000, which requirement cannot be waived by the parties. The financial affidavits must also be filed with the court. A party may request, by using the Standard Family Law Interrogatories, or the court on its own motion may order, a party whose gross annual income is less than $50,000 to complete Florida Family Law Rules of
Procedure Form 12.902(c).

(2) All federal and state income tax returns, gift tax returns, and intangible personal property tax returns filed by the party or on the party’s behalf for the past 3 years.

(3) IRS forms W-2, 1099, and K-1 for the past year, if the income tax return for that year has not been prepared. Read more

The Military, Florida Divorce, and Residency Requirements

Florida Statutes Section 61.021 imposes a residency requirement for divorce cases:  One of the parties must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.  This generally means that a spouse will have to be physically present in Florida fort six months and have the intent to remain a permanent resident of Florida.

However, Florida does provide exceptions for members of the military.

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Collaborative Divorce Video: A True Life Story Part 2

Just as more divorcing spouses in Tampa are seeking an alternative to the usual courtroom battles, the use of the collaborative family law process is growing around the country.  Collaborative Practice California has produced a video which follows an actual couple going through a collaborative divorce.

I previously posted Part 1 of the video.  After the jump, Part 2 of the video shows how the couple handles difficult emotional and financial issues in the collaborative process:

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Mandatory Disclosure in Florida Family Law Cases

The Florida Supreme Court provides the following commentary on Mandatory Disclosure in Florida family law cases:

Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, requires each party in a dissolution of marriage to exchange certain information and documents, and file a Family Law Financial Affidavit, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b) or (c). Failure to make this required disclosure within the time required by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure may allow the court to dismiss the case or to refuse to consider the pleadings of the party failing to comply. This requirement also must be met in other family law cases, except adoptions, simplified dissolutions of marriage, enforcement proceedings, contempt proceedings, and proceedings for injunctions for domestic or repeat violence. The Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.932, lists the documents that must be given to the other party. For more information see rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, and the instructions to the Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.932.

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