General information on dissolution of marriage

Diana Mercer: 10 Best Ways to Screw Up Your Divorce

The Huffington Post offers an intriguing read entitled 10 Best Ways to Screw Up Your Divorce.  This article, authored by a mediator and former family law attorney, explains how to waste money and minimize your opportunity for a successful outcome.  It includes the following tidbits:

  • “Be Disorganized…Either bring none of your financial records to your attorney’s office or court hearing, or bring all your financial records in a paper sack overflowing with miscellaneous papers.”

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Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (known as the “UCCJEA”) is the body of law that provides Florida courts with authority to rule on issues of child custody.  In virtually every family law proceeding that involves child custody–including divorce, paternity, and relocation–each party is required to file an affidavit that contains certain information and demonstrates to the court that it has jurisdiction over the child. This UCCJEA affidavit must include the following information:

  • The current address of the child;
  • Each address at which the child has lived during the past five years;

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A Lesson in Incivility

As family law litigants should always treat the opposing party with respect, so should attorneys treat opposing counsel.  In fact, under Florida Bar Rule 4-8.4(d), attorneys are prohibited from “disparag[ing]…litigants, jurors, witnesses, court personnel, or other lawyers on any basis.”  However, some attorneys are just not keen on getting along.

Recently, two attorneys were reprimanded by the Florida Bar for hostile and unprofessional behavior.  Below are excerpts from emails they exchanged (as published in the January newsletter of the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Family Law Section):

“I do not think I deserve the jerk comment.  I was actually on the internet trying to find out what type of retardism you have by checking your symptoms, e.g. closely spaced eyes, dull blank stare, bulbous head, lying and inability to tell fiction from reality, so I could donate money for research for a cure.  However, apparently those symptoms are indicative of numerous types of retardism and so my search was unsuccessful.  Have a great day Corky.  I mean; Mr. Mooney.”

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The Consequences of Financial Infidelity

An interesting clip from Tantao News on a poll concerning financial dishonesty in marriage:

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

Under certain circumstances, spouses may jointly file for divorce and schedule their case for a final hearing within thirty days or less.  Pursuant to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.105, this is known as a simplified dissolution of marriage.

Eligibility for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

To be eligible for a simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida, the following must be true:

  • The parties have no minor or dependent children;
  • The wife is not pregnant;

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Section 61.538, Florida Statutes

Role of state attorney.—

(1)In a case arising under this part or involving the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the state attorney may take any lawful action, including resort to a proceeding under ss. 61.524-61.540 or any other available civil proceeding, to locate a child, obtain the return of a child, or enforce a child custody determination, if there is:

(a)An existing child custody determination;

(b)A request to do so from a court in a pending child custody proceeding;

(c)A reasonable belief that a criminal statute has been violated; or

(d)A reasonable belief that the child has been wrongfully removed or retained in violation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

(2)A state attorney acting under this section acts on behalf of the court and may not represent any party.

History.—s. 5, ch. 2002-65.

Downward Modification of Alimony: What is a “Supportive Relationship?”

Section 61.14, Florida Statutes, contains a provision that allows a court to modify or terminate an order for alimony if the obligee (the person receiving alimony) is in a “supportive relationship.” So what is a supportive relationship?

Downward Modification of Alimony

What is a "supportive relationship?"

Fortunately, the statute provides guidelines to identify such a relationship.  Considerations include the following:

  • Whether and the extent to which the obligee and other person have acted as husband and wife, such as by referring to one another as spouses;
  • Whether the obligee and other person have used the same last name;

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Do I Need to Purchase Life Insurance to Secure My Child Support Obligation?

Under section 61.13(1)(c), Florida Statutes, a judge may require a party to purchase life insurance to cover his or her child support obligation in the event of a tragedy.  However, an order to purchase life insurance is discretionary and will depend on the specific facts in your case.

To help you determine whether you will likely be required to purchase life insurance to secure your obligation, you should consult with a family law attorney.

Anger in Harmony: Do Not Interrupt A Judge

As I wrote in a previous post, it is important that parties in a family law matter (or any matter) act in a civil manner while in a courtroom.  Please do not follow the example of the wife in this Divorce Court clip:

You should never interrupt an opposing party–and you should especially not interrupt a presiding judge–even if that interruption comes in the form of song.

Enforcement: Support Awards From Different Florida Counties

If a circuit court in Miami-Dade county ordered a parent to pay child support, that order may be enforced in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Hernando, Manatee, or any other county in Florida (so long as one party lives in that county). Along the same lines, alimony awards entered in one Florida county may be enforced in another Florida county.

Section 61.17, Florida Statutes, provides the basis for such enforcement.