Articles Posted in Divorce

If your divorce case goes wrong, you made need to appeal the judge’s decision. Judges don’t always get it right. I’ve witnessed this as a Jacksonville family and divorce lawyer. Whenever, cases have reached a final conclusion, our legal system allows a person to appeal the decision. In family cases, judges listen to evidence at trials and must decide what is in the best interest of a child when considering time-sharing or child custody issues.  Florida Statute 61.13(3) lists the factors that the judge should use. The trial judge has discretion to do what he or she sees fit and in accord with the facts and the law in each case.

system_failureWhen cases are appealed, the appeals court will look back at the decision made by the trial judge and decide whether the judge abused his or her discretion. In the recently decided case of Niekamp v. Niekamp, the Second District Court of Appeals overruled a Leon County, Florida judge regarding several issues.  The judge in the Niekamp case awarded no time-sharing to the Husband in the case, but did not implement a plan for reunification of the Husband and the children. The appeals court deemed the lack of a reunification plan as an abuse of discretion.  Although the trial judge found that no time-sharing was appropriate for the time, there was no evidence that it was in the children’s best interest to never be reunited with the Husband.

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Divorce is an unfortunate reality.  It happens to people of all walks of life from the average Joe to household names like celebrity couple Gwen Steffani and Gavin Rossdale.   According to TMZ.com, Gwen filed for divorce on Monday.  Gwen and Gavin are both successful musicians and have been married for over 13 years, but sources report that Gwen complained that Gavin was a cheater and was on tour with his band too often.  Gavin claims that Gwen spent time on the road, as well.  Reasons for divorce vary as much as the couples that get them, but there are a few reoccurring themes in divorce cases.  Financial issues, cheating, domestic violence, substance abuse, and simply growing apart are the ones I hear most often.  Whatever the reason, divorces are common, but knowledge about the process and rights each person has is not common.
imagesThe process of getting divorced is legally simple.  What is complicated at times, is accomplishing the task.  The emotions that go along with the process can make matters difficult, especially where one party is being spiteful or is suffering from emotional pain that enhances the legal battle.  Pushing aside the emotions that come along with a divorce, the major issues to be decided are:

  1. Child child custody and visitation (referred to as “time-sharing” in Florida)
  2. Child support
  3. Spousal support (alimony)
  4. Division of marital property (equitable distribution)

Time-sharing is based on what is in the best interest of children.  A list of factors to be considered can be found in Section 60.13(3), Fla. Stat.   Child support is determined by a formula and is based on the parents’ incomes and the children’s needs, amongst other factors.  Spousal support (or alimony) is based on the length of the marriage, the parties’ needs and ability to pay, and more.  MArital property (and marital debt too) is generally divided equally between the parties, but there can be a deviation from this scheme, depending on the circumstances.

For more information on your rights and responsibilities, and general information on divorce in Florida, contact the Jacksonville divorce lawyers at the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC at (904) 685-1200.  Initial consultations are free.  Our attorneys can help you navigate through the process, while protecting your rights.  Call us today to schedule an appointment.

money

“Why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it. “- Unknown

As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I can tell you that the average person that is thinking of divorce worries about the cost of  divorce.  The ugly truth is that divorce can be expensive, but divorce does not have to cost a lot.  There are things that you can do to help keep the costs down during your divorce.

1.  Be Reasonable

Some things in life are certain… like death and taxes.  Other things are mostly certain.  In divorce cases that involve minor children, child support is one of those things that will be mostly certain.  Each parent has a legal obligation to support children.  Florida has developed guidelines that are used to calculate child support.  The right of the child to be supported by parents cannot be negotiated away by husband and wife during divorce, since the right to receive support belongs to the child.  There are circumstances where child support could potentially be little to nothing, but they are not commonly present in my experience.  Therefore, be reasonable.  For example, fighting to pay no child support where there are three small children involved in a case is unreasonable and will be a waste of financial resources in most instances.  There are plenty of examples of unreasonable positions that can be held in a divorce case. Here, I only want to make the point that the more unreasonable you are– the more the fighting that takes place– the more fighting that takes places– the higher the attorney fees will be.

2.  Don’t Be Spiteful

Being angry at your soon-to-be ex-spouse is normal during a divorce.  People have hurt feelings.  People are sad for their lost. And for most divorcing couples, the decision to end the marriage is a big deal.  However, the time to be spiteful and do annoying things to get back at your spouse isn’t during the divorce.  Being spiteful leads to unreasonable decisions.  Tip number one above explains why this can be an expensive thing to do.

3.  Find a Close Friend or Family Member to Talk With

Although lawyers are commonly referred to as “Attorney and Counselor at law”, you don’t want to use your lawyer as your counselor.  Spending time explaining to your lawyer all of the things that make your spouse horrible should not happen often.  Your attorney should focus on addressing the legal issues that protect your interest.  Focusing on the issues at hand rather than talking about your feelings with your divorce lawyer is the ideal situation.  Lawyers understand the stress that comes during this time in your life.  Most will accommodate your request and talk with you when they are available, but keep in mind that this is considered as time dedicated to your case.  You will likely be billed for the counseling session.

These are just a few ways money can be saved.  For more information or for help with a divorce or other family law issue, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC at (904) 685-1200.  Our experienced family lawyers can help.

Separation and Bankruptcy in Florida: Can I file without my spouse if we are separated?

In addition to being emotionally draining for most people, divorces can cause a myriad of issues with the most substantial problems being financial issues.  Sometimes couples split, but don’t legally divorce.  Some states recognize legal separation, but Florida does not.  Living separately from your spouse while still being married is fine, but in Florida it does not have any special legal recognition.  When an individual who is simply living separate from his or her spouse (or is going through a divorce) considers bankruptcy, they often want to know if they can proceed with a bankruptcy without involving their spouse.

The current bankruptcy laws allow a debtor to file an individual bankruptcy regardless of whether he or she is married or in the process of getting a divorce. A debtor is allowed to file a joint or individual bankruptcy during a marriage or during an ongoing divorce.  Generally, when a person is married and filing bankruptcy, either individually or jointly, the income of both spouses determines what type of bankruptcy a debtor can file; either a Chapter 7, 13 or 11. This is known as household income in bankruptcy. Even if only one spouse is filing bankruptcy, the income of the other non-filing spouse will be taken into consideration and must be disclosed to the trustee and court.

Having the income of both parties included can create a huge problem when a married couple is separating and living apart and one spouse wants to file bankruptcy. They may be able to qualify for a Chapter 7 alone, but not when their non-filing spouse’s income is taken into consideration. When married couples are living separately, this means there are two houses and two sets of expenses.

Luckily, Florida has something called the “marital adjustment” in bankruptcy. The marital adjustment allows a spouse who is filing individually to subtract from their non-filing spouses income expenses that solely belong to the non-filing spouse. For example, if the non-filing spouse has a monthly car payment for a vehicle owned exclusively by the non-filing spouse, these type of expenses may be subtracted from the couples total income. This allows the filing spouse to not be penalized for expenses that are not for his or her benefit.

Call the Law Office of David Goldman PLLC today at 904-685-1200 for more information.  Our experience divorce lawyers and bankruptcy lawyers can help.

by Kendal Sander, Esq.

Can children choose what parent to live with after a divorce?  The short answer is probably “no”.  Most child custody lawyers would agree that custody and visitation are probably the most highly contested issues between people when relationships don’t work and the couple has had children.  Whether there is a genuine belief by a parent that children will be better off with him or her, or whether a parent is being spiteful when requesting majority timesharing, one argument that comes up is that the children prefer to live with one parent over the other.

Section 61.13, Florida Statutes states that a child’s reasonable preference about what parent to live with may be considered; however, the child’s choice will not control the court’s decision.  The court will weigh and relevant factors and decide what is in the child’s best interest.  A child’s desire to live with the “fun parent” won’t simply be taken at face value.  A child’s preference doesn’t always come into the equation, but when the preference is at issue, a child’s age, maturity level, and so on will be taken into account.  In practice, the child’s preference is likely to have little bearing on the court’s decision without there being more objective evidence that shows that the child’s preference is in line with the child’s best interest.  There are many things that come into play when the child’s best interest is being decided.  Typically, giving a child continuity and stability will be high on the priority list.  Things like whether one parent is likely to encourage a loving and nurturing relationship between the children and the other parent is important too.

For more information on child custody, visitation, divorce, and family law issues, called the experienced family lawyers at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation.

498955_holding_moneyAlimony Reduction and Termination: Alimony is often one of the most contested issues in divorce cases.  For many people, the idea of paying money to financially support an ex-spouse is a disgusting idea.  When the love and reverence turns to hate and disdain, making alimony payments to the ex-spouse is painful.  The pain is only magnified by a judge’s ruling that the payments are to be permanent.  An award of permanent alimony normally stays in place until the re-marriage of the recipient or the death of one of the parties.  However, under some circumstances, modification or termination of permanent alimony payments can be accomplished.

Florida Statute 61.14 authorizes the circuit court to reconsider alimony when the parties’ circumstances or financial ability change.  Courts interpret this by requiring three things: (1) a substantial change in circumstances; (2) the change was not anticipated at the time of the final judgment; and (3) the change is sufficient, material, permanent, and involuntary.  Applying this test, alimony can be either decreased or increased.

Florida courts have deemed that a former wife’s increased living expenses related to her condominium were enough to justify an increase in alimony.  It has also been determined that a former husband who voluntarily retires after reaching retirement age and has less income as a result should have that fact considered when the former husband asks for a reduction in alimony payments.  For more information, or for a free initial consultation regarding the specific facts in your case, call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC at (904) 685-1200.  Our experienced Jacksonville alimony lawyers and divorce lawyers can help you or a loved one work toward the best outcome in your case.

As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I am familiar with how messy things can get in a divorce case. People tend to have emotional responses during divorces that can sometimes cloud their judgement. For instance, the Florida Family Law Rules come right out and tell us what financial disclosures must be provided to the other side, yet there will still be disputes regarding what information has to be provided. Oftentimes, the motivation not to provide information as required under the Florida Family Law Rules stems from spite. Divorces are understandably very emotionally draining and tough events to endure for most people. It is your divorce lawyer’s role to help by being your legal counsel and help you make the best decisions in your case.

Thumbnail image for 150130_accounting-calculator-9-90373-m.jpgRule 12.285, entitled Mandatory Disclosure, lists the disclosures that must be made, such as pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and more. There can be sanctions for parties that refuse to comply with the rules. You could end up paying your spouse’s attorney fees associated with asking the court to compel you to comply. It is important to only refuse to produce the information if there is a valid objection to be made. Any objection must be timely. If your objection is not made five (5) days or more before the due date of the disclosure, your objection is considered waived.

Working with your attorney to quickly comply with the rules and time limits can save you time, money, and stress. At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville divorce and family lawyers that can help guide you through the divorce process with care and understanding. It is our pleasure to help with a stressful situation in your time of need. Call us today (904) 685-1200 to schedule a free consultation regarding your divorce case.

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There are numerous reasons that spouses cite when filing for divorce. These reasons vary greatly. However no matter what the reason, in recent years a new trend has developed on when spouses actually file for divorce- and it is right after New Years Day.

The most common time of year for filing for divorce is the month of January, which is now nicknamed divorce month. In the month of January, the most popular day to file is January 2nd and January 3rd, which is right after the New Years’s Day holiday.

There are probably many reasons why divorce filings double during this period of time. Many spouses report wanting to stick it through the holidays because they feel it will be easier on the family and/or the children. Some couples believe that the togetherness and emphasis on family that comes with the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas will solve all of the preceding year’s problems. Sometimes the stress of the holidays makes an already declining marriage much worse.

Since the New Year’s Holiday seems to bring with it a period of reflection and review of the previous year, it may be the last reflection that a spouse needs in order to get them to file. No matter what the reason for the split is, divorce filings double in January. Statistics show that approximately 10 percent of couples don’t make it to their fifth wedding anniversary and roughly 25 percent divorce before they make it to their tenth wedding anniversary.
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Dan Marino, probably the greatest quarterback the NFL ever produced, and champion of autism awareness, cheated on his wife of 28 years and fathered a child with an attractive television personality. Always seen as a clean cut family man and all around good guy, he’s had four children with his wife and adopted two children, and inspired by his autistic son developed the Dan Marino Autism Center with his fortune.

How could someone everyone sees as so good do something so bad? Generally 50 percent of men are assumed to cheat on their significant others and in a study of 400 women, 39 percent admitted to physically cheating on their husbands.

So why is cheating so rampant? It may be that we crave emotional connection. In study after study only around 7 percent of cheating men said all they were after was sex as compared to 48 percent who reported it was the desire to have an emotional connection. Eighty Eight percent of cheaters said the object of their carnal desires was not more attractive than their spouses. It seems that most cheating occurs after someone has formed some close friendship with the person they eventually have an affair with.

Americans don’t seem to protect their marriages. Chemistry is a powerful force and someone with seemingly everything can still be left feeling wanting companionship and love.

Since cheating is so common, it is a good idea to ask yourself before you contemplate a divorce, should I try to reconcile with my unfaithful spouse? We all make mistakes of some degree, and the longer one is married, the more difficult both emotionally and financially it can be to walk away from a relationship.

However, the other side of that coin reads, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. How can you ever trust again?

In order to make a decision to reconcile, it is important to separate emotion from logic. Infidelity is a highly emotional issue surrounded by feelings of betrayal and jealousy. Separate those emotions from the logic of the situation, no matter how hard that may be. It may be helpful to decide at this point to figure out what your dealbreakers are. It is also important to think about your safety and financial security.

It may also help to discuss your feelings with a family law attorney who is not just concerned with getting your divorce dollars. Such a lawyer can explain to yo the pros and cons of a divorce and reconciliation and what your options are to protect yourself in the future.

1. “I brought my ‘friend’ with me to the interview.”

You and I have an attorney client privilege. But once you bring in a third party, whether it’s a friend, a lover or whoever, the benefit of the attorney client privilege is gone. Unless that third party is named in the case or otherwise officially associated with the case, there is no attorney client privilege.. If a friend or a lover is in a meeting with attorney and the case goes sour, in the event of a trial or deposition, there is no privilege and all those secrets can spill out in a deposition or in court.

2. “I am so depressed over this.”

If you need to cry on someone’s shoulder, don’t use your attorney’s. He or she is billing you by the hour, and while they may sympathize with your problems, they have to bill you for the time you spend with them commiserating on the telephone or in person. If you tell all your troubles to your attorney, you’ll really be crying when you see the bill.

3. I know he or she is cheating on me because I’ve been following him/her everywhere.

If you say this to your attorney, one of the things you might be saying to your attorney in the near future is “get me out of jail.”

4. I just got into an altercation with my spouse and the police arrested me.

When going through a divorce, keep things civil. While things may have been stormy right before you decided on a divorce, now is the time to be on your very best behavior.

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