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Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Complex Divorce Blog

Collaborative law can take the bite out of divorce

Marriage is often treated as a life's moment of greatest joy. New spouses dress up in their finest, spend lavish amounts on entertainment and invite family from around the world to attend their nuptials. So, it is quite understandable that the end of a marriage can carry the same emotional weight. It is just not so positive.

Divorce, however, does not have to be a destructive and hateful process that tears two people apart. For one thing, some affection must have bound the pair together before. For another thing, life may be far more complicated now, possibly involving real estate and children. These details deserve better than to be simply thrown aside with the marriage.

What factors are considered in equitable property distribution?

Florida law, like that in the majority of states, provides for the "equitable distribution" of marital assets and debts -- those incurred during the marriage, either by one or both spouses -- in divorce. Unlike states that recognize marital assets as "community property" that is divided in half, "equitable" doesn't necessarily mean "equal."

Florida law starts with the assumption that marital assets and liabilities are divided equally "unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors." Therefore, if a couple is unable to reach a property division agreement on their own and relies on a court to do it, what "relevant factors" are considered? They include the following:

  • The economic circumstances of both spouses
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • How much each spouse contributed to the marriage, home and children
  • Whether one spouse helped the other pursue their education and/or career.
  • Whether one spouse delayed or gave up educational and/or career opportunities

What are the primary categories of a property division checklist?

Going through a divorce will complicate your life in many ways. While there's a lot to think about, matters of property division deserve a good amount of your attention.

One of the best ways to get organized and stay organized is through the creation of a property division checklist. This will help you define the assets that are subject to division, as well as those that you solely own.

What do divorce mediators do when couples reach impasses?

Many Florida couples are happy to learn that there's an alternative option for resolving a divorce aside from duking it out in a courtroom. When they learn about mediation, it often intrigues them. Many of them wonder if they'll be able to successfully reach a compromise with a spouse that they're on the outs with. Most mediators have a variety of techniques that they can employ should impasses arise though.

One of the many different techniques that mediators use when neither spouse seems to be willing to compromise is to ask each of them to reverse their roles. Often divorcing husbands and wives see things differently than they originally did when they put themselves in the other person's shoes and understand things from their perspective.

What should you look for when choosing a mediator?

A mediated divorce can save a couple considerable time, money and stress. If you have children, the mediation process can provide a good basis for a healthy, cooperative co-parenting relationship. While you can each have an attorney and other professionals advising you as you go through the process, you'll be responsible for working out your property, support and custody agreements with the guidance of a neutral third-party mediator.

If you and your spouse have decided that you can work together to have a mediated divorce, you'll need to choose a mediator. What traits should you look for as you consider whom to hire?

Ask your attorney how to make up for loss of 'alimony deduction'

Before U.S. tax-law changes took effect this year, the person who paid spousal support got to take advantage of the "alimony deduction." The payor of the alimony could deduct the amount paid, and the recipient had to claim it as taxable income.

The benefit of that was that the higher-earning spouse paying the alimony could reduce their taxable income, and the lower-earning spouse, who was in a lower tax bracket, would pay less in taxes. Divorce settlements took the tax breaks into account, and the two new households that resulted could share in that break.

Social Security benefits should be figured in divorce settlement

If you're a few years within retirement age, there's one more thing you have to think about as you ponder divorce: Social Security.

USA Today reported recently that 91 percent of Americans over age 50 aren't really sure of the Social Security benefits they will have coming to them, and divorce adds to the confusion. It's something to understand as you look to a financial settlement with your ex-spouse.

Try mediation if you're seeking a modification of spousal support

You, as the primary earner in your family, did everything right in your divorce.

You agreed to raise your children, allowing your ex the freedom to start over. You shared your joint assets, including the equity in your home and your retirement accounts. You funded the college educations of your children and even paid a very fair spousal support amount over the time you've been divorced.

Common misconceptions about alimony

There are several important aspects decided during the divorce process. Spousal support or alimony is one of those key aspects.

Some people find the divorce process, in general, to be a bit confusing, which can lead to misunderstanding and misconceptions. Take a look at a few of the main misconceptions in regards to alimony.

Seek advice from a divorce attorney in a 'gray' divorce

Divorcing later in life brings about a set of issues that younger people don't have.

Instead of settling issues about child custody or support, people over 50 typically are more concerned about different challenges.

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