Orlando Florida Family Law Blog

High-asset couples may want to divorce before the end of the year

Couples in Florida with significant wealth whose marriage is failing may want to consider finalizing their divorce by the end of 2018. This is because, starting in 2019, new federal tax laws affecting alimony will take effect. These changes could have a significant impact on those paying alimony and those receiving alimony. However, these changes will only affect couples filing for divorce in 2019 and after.

Currently, those who pay alimony are able to deduct these payments from their federal income taxes. This means that those paying alimony can subtract these payments, no matter how large, from their taxable income. This is extremely beneficial to high-asset individuals who have a tax rate of 37 percent. But, under the new law, alimony payments are no longer deductible. According to the Internal Revenue Service, approximately 600,000 people each year take advantage of the alimony tax deduction.

Keeping that inheritance out of the marital estate

Sometimes, a person in Florida receives a financial windfall from an inheritance. If that person is happily married, they may think nothing of placing their inheritance in a joint bank account or use it to make purchases while married. However, this could be problematic, should the couple decide to divorce.

First, it helps to understand that Florida is an "equitable distribution" state for divorce property division. This means that when it comes to property division, the court will make a decision that is "fair and equitable," even if this does not mean an even 50/50 split. Marital property will be subject to division in a divorce, but separate property will not. Therefore, spouses who have separate assets will likely want to ensure they retain these assets post-divorce.

Is your pension at risk during divorce?

As a married person with a pension, you're in a positive position. You have money for your retirement, and you're in a secure relationship. If that relationship fails, then you could find your entire life's plan in disarray.

That pension that you worked so hard to earn may be at risk when you get a divorce, and it's something you need to address quickly. If it's your pension at risk, you want to do all you can to reduce the other party's right to it. If it's the other person's pension that you want, you might be able to receive a portion of it.

Assisting parents with child custody and relocation issues

After a child custody order is issued, it cannot be modified unless one of the child's parents experiences a drastic change in their life. One of these changes may be if the parent wishes to move to another state with the child. Parents might want to relocate for a better job, to be closer to family or for many other reasons. However, modifying a child custody order in Orlando can be complex. There are many legal procedures that must be completed in order for the child's parent to lawfully relocate with the child.

And, on the other hand, if a parent opposes the other parent's relocation with the child, they can challenge that relocation. However, this too is a complex proceeding and timing is important. In the end, the best interests of the child must prevail.

Alternatives to splitting pensions in half in a divorce

In general, a pension earned during the course of one's marriage will be considered a marital asset, and thus will be part of the divisible estate. This may be of concern to those who are divorcing later in life, and are relying on their pension assets to fund their retirement. Florida is a community property state, meaning both spouses have equal ownership interests in marital assets. However, there may be alternatives to simply splitting the pension in half that may be worth considering.

For example, the pensioner could offer another asset to their ex, who would then waive their right to the pension. This way, the spouse that keeps the pension and the spouse that is granted other assets of an equal value walk away from the divorce on even footing.

Florida parents must follow the rules when time-sharing

Not every divorce in Florida ends amicably. Ex-spouses may have very bitter feelings toward one another that last well after the ink has dried on the divorce decree. This may especially be true if the couple has children and are having a hard time dealing with the fact that they each will have times when the child is not in their care.

In fact, even though a time-sharing schedule may be in place, one parent may not follow it. They may, out of spite, anger or jealousy, keep the child from spending time in the care of their ex when it is their ex's turn for parenting time. However, making such a move can be detrimental to the parent that refuses to follow the time-sharing schedule.

How is student loan debt treated during property division?

The student loan debt crisis has hit many people in Orlando and across the nation. Many people went to institutes of higher education in hopes of obtaining a degree that would land them a lucrative job once they graduated. However, the cost of higher education is not cheap, and many people had to take out thousands in student loans in order to finance their education.

Therefore, paying back student loan debt is simply part of life for many people. This is true whether they are single or married. In fact, sometimes spouses who are married will rely on both their incomes to pay back student loans. Of course, these days not every marriage is meant to last, and sometimes couples will decide they are best off divorcing. If so, they will need to determine whether their student loans will be considered marital debt to be divided between both spouses, or whether their student loans will only be the responsibility of one spouse or the other.

How will you answer these divorce questions from your child?

When you and your spouse decide to divorce, it won't be long before you begin to consider the impact it will have on your life in the days, weeks and months to come.

Since there is nothing more important than the well-being of your child, you'll want to discuss your divorce with him or her as soon as possible.

Addressing divorce issues when family wealth is on the line

Whether it is through an inheritance, trust fund, high-paying job or other means, some people in Florida are relatively wealthy. While they may be generous and charitable, in the end many of these people want to pass their wealth down to their children someday. However, a wrinkle in that plan can come up if their child marries without a premarital agreement (also referred to as a prenuptial agreement).

When a child who grew up with wealthy parent decides to get married, they may not initially think they need a premarital agreement, unless their parents have had one or are encouraging their child to get one. Parents may have a vested interest in having their adult children execute a premarital agreement before walking down the aisle, as it is a means for keeping the family wealth in the hands of the family, rather than a former spouse.

When can a temporary property division order be sought?

Part of getting a divorce is determining who should get what in the way of marital assets and debts. This can be an especially monumental task if a couple has been married for a long time and has accumulated a lot of property along the way. Of course, parties to a divorce can negotiate a property division settlement out-of-court, or the court can order one in a dissolution proceeding. However, there may be times when one party or the other wishes to seek a temporary distribution of marital assets or debts while these negotiations are ongoing or before the final divorce decree is approved by the court.

Under Florida law, if there is "good cause" to issue a temporary partial distribution of property and debts, both separate and marital, then the court will determine what these items of property and debts are, assign a value to them and then issue an order dividing them while the divorce proceedings are pending. There must be a specific factual basis for a court to issue such an order.

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