Tag Archive for: alimony

Can I Get A Discount For Virtual Divorce Legal Services?

If you are facing divorce and have done your research, you probably realize how expensive divorce can be.  Not only are you charged for your attorney’s time spent engaging in the actual legal work, but it is also common practice for you to be charged for travel time to go to hearings, mediation sessions, or Collaborative Divorce meetings at the lawyer’s regular hourly rate.  Further, firms that practice mainly in person incur additional expenses including leasing larger office space, renting additional equipment, and purchasing additional office snacks, drinks, and supplies.  And, of course, those expenses get passed on to you, the client.

But what if you were comfortable working with your lawyer through Zoom, telephone calls, e-mails, and other virtual means, and you did not feel the need to meet in person?  Since it ends up costing less for the law firm, shouldn’t you get a discount for virtual divorce legal services?

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How to Smartly Negotiate Your Divorce

Divorce is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging experiences, requiring emotional resilience and practical decision-making. When navigating the complex terrain of divorce negotiations, a strategic and smart approach can make all the difference. In this blog post, we’ll explore three key principles to help you smartly negotiate your divorce and pave the way for a more amicable and satisfactory resolution.

Focus on the Big Things, Not the Small Things

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of divorce proceedings, arguing over every detail from who gets the newly purchased air fryer to who keeps the television. However, a smart negotiator knows the importance of focusing on the big picture. Prioritize the key issues that will significantly impact your post-divorce life, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Consider the division of larger assets, child support, alimony, and child custody as primary areas of focus. By concentrating on these critical aspects, you’ll streamline the negotiation process and avoid unnecessary emotional turmoil over trivial matters. Remember that keeping your eye on the big picture is key, and being willing to let go of smaller items can lead to a more expedient and less emotionally taxing divorce.

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Florida Alimony Reform 2023

Florida Alimony Reform 2023: What is is and what does it mean?

INTRODUCTION ON FLORIDA ALIMONY REFORM 2023

Florida alimony reform is here.  Our legislature passed, and the governor signed, a transformative overhaul to §61.08, Florida Statutes, commonly referred to as the Alimony Statute.  As of July 1, 2023, Florida has virtually eliminated new awards of permanent alimony, codified temporary alimony, and implemented limits to the length and amount of alimony a court could order.  The Alimony Statute now only refers to the following types of alimony (also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance): Temporary, Bridge-the-Gap, Rehabilitative, and Durational, each of which can be paid over time or in a lump sum. In this blog post, we explore each and highlight some of the recent significant changes.

Keep in mind that, though this is now the default law and limits what courts can order, spouses can always agree to do things differently through a private process such as Collaborative Divorce or mediation.

NEED AND ABILITY TO PAY

Before alimony can be awarded, a court must first determine whether one spouse has an actual financial need, and whether the other spouse has the ability to pay and meet that need. The burden is on the party requesting alimony to show both their need and the other party’s ability to pay.  Though determining need and ability to pay may seem straight forward, the issue becomes a lot murkier when one of the spouses has inconsistent income because they are a small business owner, executive with a unique compensation package, or a seasonal worker.

Additionally, though seemingly obvious, many people seeking alimony do not realize that the household income that once supported one home may now have to stretch and support two, and there may or may not be sufficient funds to cover both. It is with this in mind that the new statute considers an additional factor in analyzing need and ability to pay: the anticipated financial needs and necessities of life for each party after the divorce is over.

LENGTH OF MARRIAGE

There are many factors a court may take into consideration when determining an alimony award. However, one of the major changes is how the court measures the length of the marriage. Now, the Alimony Statute defines a short-term marriage as one that last less than 10 years, a moderate length marriage as 10 to 20 years, and a long-term marriage as exceeding 20 years. Traditionally, the length of marriage is measured from the date of marriage until the date of filing for divorce or another date as agreed upon by the spouses.  In a Collaborative Process, where many cases do not get filed until after a full resolution is reached, we tend to use a date listed in a Collaborative Participation Agreement in place of the date of filing.

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Top 3 Tips To Prepare For Divorce

Now may be a tough time if you are considering divorce.  Your mind is racing, your future is unsettled, and your questions are unanswered.  But rest assured, there are things that you can do to prepare for divorce.

Here are the top 3 tips for you to consider when you are preparing for divorce.

1.  Gather Your Financial Documents

As part of any divorce process, you and your spouse are going to need to divide your marital assets and debts.  These could include funds in checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and other accounts.  These would also include liabilities such as mortgages, credit cards, charge cards, and loans.  Your marital assets might also include cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or Ethereum.  You should make sure that you have access to (or make copies of) documents, statements, and/or screenshots reflecting all of these so you and your lawyer know what there is to divide.

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Alimony Tax Deduction: Is It Too Late To Divorce in 2018?

Have you heard the news about the alimony tax deduction?  It is going away for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018.  But fear not!  If you and your spouse act smartly and quickly, you can still lock in your alimony tax deduction.

What is the Alimony Tax Deduction?

The alimony tax deduction is currently enshrined in 26 U.S. Code section 215.  It states that alimony (as opposed to child support or distribution of property) can be tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the payee.  This means that the person who pays alimony will pay less in taxes, and the person who receives alimony will pay taxes on it as if it were regular income.

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What is a Collaborative Facilitator?

If you are looking at your divorce options (from traditional divorce to collaborative divorce to mediation), you may have come across the term “Collaborative Facilitator.”  What is a Collaborative Facilitator?

A Collaborative Facilitator is a neutral professional in a collaborative divorce.  He or she is oftentimes utilized as a team leader and communication specialist within the collaborative family law process.  He or she generally has a background in family dynamics, childhood development, and/or  conflict management.  A Collaborative Facilitator will have credentials and a license.  These will be in the area of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, social work, psychology,  or psychiatry.  However, the Collaborative Facilitator is not engaging in therapy as part of the collaborative process.

Author, psychologist, and collaborative trainer Jeremy S. Gaies, in A Clear and Easy Guide to Collaborative Divorce, discusses the role of the Collaborative Facilitator (which he describes as “coach,” using the nomenclature of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals) in the following excerpt:

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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.

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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.

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Divorce Without Lawyers – A Mediation Option in Tampa Bay

If you are going through divorce, you should have a lawyer.  Divorce is one of life’s traumatic moments, and it is smart to have a steady hand to advise you during uncertain times.

However, you don’t need to have a lawyer to get divorced.

Florida Supreme Court Mediator

You have the option of going through pro se mediation (mediation without legal representation).

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