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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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Florida Divorce – Time to Respond to a Petition

It is important for every person who is served with a Florida petition for dissolution of marriage to respond to the petition in a timely manner.

The petition, which sets out what a person wants a judge to do (such as dissolve the marriage, rule on custody, order child support, and divide marital property and debt), is generally personally served by a sheriff’s deputy or other authorized process server.  Once served, the respondent has 20 days to provide an answer to the petition and agree or disagree with the petitioner’s requests and allegations.

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Does Florida Recognize Common Law Marriage?

You may have heard about common law marriages. Generally speaking, they are unions in which the couple has not been licensed for marriage by the state but have lived with one another for a certain period of time and have voluntary held one another out to others as being a married couple.

Prior to 1968, couples could enter into a common law marriage in Florida and have all the rights and responsibilities that come with a state-licensed marriage. However, with the passage of section 741.211 of the Florida Statutes, couples could no longer enter into common law marriages in Florida. The current iteration of section 741.211 reads as follows:

Common-law marriages void.—No common-law marriage entered into after January 1, 1968, shall be valid, except that nothing contained in this section shall affect any marriage which, though otherwise defective, was entered into by the party asserting such marriage in good faith and in substantial compliance with this chapter.

However, this statute does not abolish Florida’s recognition of all common law marriages.

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Prenuptial Agreements: Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

No matter the reason that parties enter into a prenuptial agreement, there are certain issues that may be agreed upon and other issues that Florida public policy prohibit parties from agreeing on prior to marriage.

For example, a clause in a prenuptial agreement defining a visitation or time-sharing schedule with respect to the parties’ unborn children would not be enforceable.  This is because a time-sharing schedule must be based on the best interests of a child, and it is difficult to define and anticipate those best interests before the child is born.  Similarly, a prenuptial agreement may not restrict a child’s right to financial support.

So, what may be agreed upon in a prenuptial agreement?  Section 61.079 of the Florida Statutes, known as the “Uniform Premarital Agreement Act,” specifically states that the following may be settled in a prenuptial agreement:

1. The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;

2. The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;

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Video: Divorce Sale

After a spouse gets a divorce, he or she may find it therapeutic on the mind and wallet to purge many of the items equitably distributed to him or her:

Keep in mind that (unless you are in agreement with the other spouse or have an order from the court) you should wait until the divorce is final prior to selling your items.  Otherwise, you may be accused of wasting or attempting to hide assets that would otherwise be eligible for the judge to split up during the equitable distribution phase of your case.

If you have questions regarding the division of assets and liabilities and you are seeking to hire a Tampa Bay divorce lawyer, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our online form.

New York Recognizes Gay Marriage. Do Floridians Have Options?

Beginning July 24, 2011, gay couples in New York will be able to apply for a marriage license.  This will make New York the sixth and largest state to recognize gay marriage.

Florida, unlike New York, does not permit gay marriage, nor does it recognize civil unions.  But there are things that partners can do to symbolize their love for one another and create certain rights and responsibilities.  You just have to be creative.

Let me give you an example.  One of the services that my firm offers is that we represent clients in name change matters.  I have heard all different reasons why a client wants a name change, including that he or she (a) has done some things he or she is not proud of and wants to turn a new leaf, (b) wants to take on the qualities of a religious or historical figure by taking on part of that figure’s name, and (c) simply does not like his or her name.

One day, a young woman came in for a consultation, and she had a touching story to tell me.  She said that she had been dating her partner for several years, and that they wanted to get married.  But, of course, Florida does not permit gay marriage.  However, this woman decided to declare her love and commitment by legally taking on her partner’s last name.  I was able to guide her through the judicial process of symbolically affirming her dedication to her partner through a name change.

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Word Cloud: Mandatory Disclosure

In my continued quest to literally visualize statutes and rules related to Florida family law, I created the following word cloud of Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.285 (Mandatory Disclosure) using Wordle:

Mandatory Disclosure Word CloudThough this word cloud makes Mandatory Disclosure seem like it belongs in discussion held at a TexMex-themed cocktail party, the fact is that the exchange of certain financial information is crucial to move along most family law matters (including divorce, paternity, child support, alimony, support unconnected with divorce, and modification of financial issues).  To that point, a court will not grant a final judgment in most cases unless financial affidavits have been exchanged and each party has filed and exchanged a certificate of compliance with mandatory disclosure.

What do you think of the mandatory disclosure word cloud?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Otherwise, if you would like to schedule a consultation with a Florida Family Law Lawyer, call The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A. at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form at http://www.familydiplomacy.com/contact-us.

Equitable Distribution: How to Divide My IRA?

In a divorce proceeding, the court will divide the parties’ marital property and debts in a process called “equitable distribution.”  The court starts with the presumption that property should be divided equally, but it may adjust the distribution based on various factors including (i) the relative economic circumstances of the parties, (ii) any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities, and (iii) the intentional waste or destruction of assets.

Retirement accounts require special attention during the equitable distribution process.  George Saenz at Fox Business News discusses this:

Not only are you getting separated from your spouse, but also your money. An individual retirement account, or IRA, belongs to the spouse that established it. You generally cannot transfer money from one spouse’s IRA to the other spouse’s account. An exception exists in the case of a divorce.

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