Alimony IssuesEvery person in the state of Florida, who is either thinking about getting married, engaged, or already married is concerned about the battle over the state’s alimony laws. WJHG.com recently reported about a man, who wished to remain anonymous, that was required to continue to pay his ex-wife $2000 in alimony payment even though he had been injured in an accident and could not even pay his medical bills. Despite his obvious change in financial circumstances, he is still required by law to meet his alimony obligations because Florida is one of the few states in the nation that allows for permanent alimony.

Because of these laws, the Florida Alimony Reform Group has surfaced and has made the reformation of Florida’s alimony laws its primary purpose. Their website states their legislative and political goals. One of the goals is to limit the amount of discretion that judges have in awarding alimony in divorce cases. The group believes that antiquated attitudes regarding gender roles and stereotypes have influenced the way that Florida adjudicates alimony claims. The group expresses its concerns in the following way: “While divorces in Florida are technically ‘no-fault,’ they reflect attitudes and realities from America in the 1950s, when the divorcing husband was the sole breadwinner and always considered ‘the bad guy’ in divorce, while the wife was considered ‘the helpless victim.’ These antiquated stereotypes still drive much of what happens in the state’s family courts. Because of these laws and attitudes, it is common for healthy, employed women in their 30s and 40s to receive permanent alimony.”

This year, the Florida Alimony Reform Group suffered a major setback when it proposed legislation that would drastically reform the state’s alimony provisions, but the bill failed to pass the Senate. Now the group must wait for at least one year before it hopes to see any changes in the alimony laws. The family law section of the Florida Bar is prepared to fight to support the law as it is now.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney to assist you in the matter, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC today at (904) 685-1200.

Source: “Alimony Battle Continues in Florida,” by Bryan Anderson, published at WJHG.com.

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Social Media Pressures Get Jewish DivorceSome creative Boca Raton residents are using social media pressure to get one woman’s husband to sign their divorce papers. A Jewish woman has found out the hard way that her husband is not willing to grant her a Jewish divorce. Although she has received a civil divorce, Jewish divorce laws require that the husband sign a Get, a Jewish divorce decree, which would allow his ex-wife to remarry.

Yomin Postelnik and Leah Postelnik went through a tumultuous divorce and Yomin refused to grant his wife a Get, even though a host of rabbinical courts handed down orders for him to sign the document. A rabbi in Boca Raton heard about the case and mounted a social media campaign against Yomin to pressure him into signing the document. He urged several in the South Florida Jewish community to blackball Yomin until he granted Leah the divorce.

The Postelnik’s are not the only Jewish couple going through a divorce and who have experienced social media pressure. Tara Epstein and Aharon Friedman had a similar experience to the Poselniks. Friedman refused to grant Epstien a religious divorce. The social media campaign against Friedman was so aggressive that some were even demanding that he be fired from his job with United States Representative Dave Champ, R-Mich.

While this case involves Jewish litigants, it is possible that social media could be used to harass and pressure divorce litigants regardless of their faith. It is not advisable that anyone engage in such an aggressive campaign. When going through a divorce proceeding, it is important that litigants be careful what they post on social media websites. If that information is available to the public, it can be used against the poster in future legal proceedings.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a Jacksonville divorce attorney to assist you in the matter by email or by calling today at (904) 685-1200.

Source: “Desperate for a divorce,” by Lois K. Solomon, published at Sun-Sentinel.com.

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Yulee Divorce Attorney: Divorce Concerns

Most Jacksonville, Florida residents thinking of filing their own divorce haven’t heard the phrase, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Unfortunately the court system is complicated, but it’s complicated because our lives are complicated. Some people say that their divorce is a “simple” one, some attorney’s say that there’s no such thing as a “simple divorce”. Just as I don’t dare to do simple mechanic work such as an oil change because I’m not a mechanic, a non-lawyer has to remember that a case that might be considered simple by an attorney isn’t necessarily simple for them.

There are complex pleadings that are required to make a divorce judgment final. Just because it says “Final” in the title doesn’t make it so. You can’t depend on a judge to tell you if you’ve made a mistake either, they’re not allowed to give you legal advice and are often so busy with their heavy case loads that they’ll sign almost anything you agree to.

A recent case I saw was that of a woman who had become pregnant from an adulterous affair while living with her husband. Under Florida law, the only people who have the right to contest the parentage of a baby born during a marriage while the couple is cohabitation is the wife and husband. This is because Florida values the interest of preserving the marriage above the rights of unmarried fornicators to raise their own children.

In my case, the husband allowed himself to be named on the birth certificate but a year later when they divorced, he had a DNA test done and submitted it to the court so that the former-wife could execute a name change for her son. The court denied the name change as they hadn’t done their pleading correctly. What the former-husband didn’t realize is that by providing a DNA test showing that he was not the father he started the clock on his ability to disestablish his paternity. He failed to bring an action to disestablish his paternity within one year of submitting that DNA test and is now the legal father of that child, liable for child support etc., until the child becomes an adult. By trying to save money and taking matters into his own hands, he instead made himself liable for child support (a debt not discharged in a bankruptcy) for eighteen years.

If you or a friend are attempting to take legal matters into their own hands, you should know the risks. Contact a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney or call us at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation.

gay_divorce_2006_thumb.jpgSame-sex marriage is only legally recognized in a few states. However, many gay and lesbian couples reside in Florida. As a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Issues Lawyer, I receive numerous calls from same-sex couples that live in Jacksonville, Florida seeking a divorce.

Florida, like the majority of states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage, does not recognize same-sex divorce. This is because granting a same-sex couple a divorce is basically a legal recognition that the couple was married in the first place. If you live in Florida and have been married in a state which allows for same-sex marriages, getting a divorce in Florida is not possible. Obtaining a divorce might require, among other conditions, that you establish residency in the state in which you were married. Generally speaking, most states require residency in their state for six months, a year, or even more.

If you were married in California, however, you may have a new option. California’s governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that allows couples who were married in California to file for divorce in California — even if the couple no longer lives there. For example, if you were married in California’s Orange County, moved to Florida’s Orange County, and are now seeking a divorce, the California County that married you still has jurisdiction to grant your divorce.

While this is good news for couples that were married in California, couples married in other states will still have trouble securing a divorce. If you and your partner have decided to draw your relationship to a close, talk with a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Issues Lawyer to discuss some of your options.

gay rights button.jpgAs a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Estate Planning Lawyer it is satisfying to report positive actions that benefit the LGBT communities in Florida. The Volusia County Council just approved Central Florida’a first countywide domestic partnership registry. This registry will take effect July 1, 2012, and will extend legal protections to gay and lesbian families who reside in Volusia County.

Days ago, the City of Gulfport in Pinellas County also passed a domestic partnership registry. Domestic partnership registries give protections to same-sex couples and non-married couples that most heterosexual couples take for granted. Among these safeguards are: making medical decisions for an incapacitated partner, being notified in a life threatening emergency, hospital visitation rights and participating in the care of your “non-legal” children.

Bringing it closer to home, there will be Jacksonville City Council public hearing on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 5:00 to discuss the inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation in the Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance.

To learn more about how you can look after your family with estate planning and other legal documents designed to protect you and your loved ones, contact a Jacksonville Attorney who focuses on gay and lesbian issues.

Thumbnail image for money.jpgA recent study showed that a total of $35 billion in child support is owed all across the US, but only 41% is actually paid. This is down from about 60% in 2009, largely due to the economic downturn over the past several years.

One thing many parents behind on child support don’t realize is that the court can, and will, alter your child support requirements if you legitimately cannot pay them. If you had a well-paying job when the court first established the numbers, it is not fair that you have to pay that same amount if you lost your job and cannot find another one.

The key is speaking with a Jacksonville Florida Family Law Attorney as soon as you can to help negotiate your payments. The court often will only lower your payments, but not reduce any outstanding amount you already owe. If your income drop is only temporary, this might not be an issue; however, if you cannot find new work, you are simply adding more and more money to what you will eventually have to pay.

Courts consider other factors when determining the level of support to pay. For example, the court may consider how often you have custody of the child — more time means you likely have higher expenses. But the court needs help in making this calculation, and a Jacksonville Florida Family Law Attorney can help you in that court proceeding. If you have a custodial issue and would like to speak with an attorney, contact a Florida Family Law Attorney here in Jacksonville.

Retirement Plan.jpgBecause the beneficiary designation was never updated post divorce finalization, the Supreme Court of Florida has ruled a former spouse still entitled to death benefits payable from a retirement plan. Unambiguous language in the Marital Settlement Agreement can avoid a beneficiary designation even where a spouse has neglected to remove their now ex-spouse.

However, some designations can be revised prior to a divorce, but Federal law does not allow the changing of a beneficiary designation on some financial plans without written spousal consent, which is difficult to get when something like a 401(k) is in dispute. This spousal consent rule can create a small hurdle; most beneficiary designations can be changed and should be as soon as possible after a divorce.

An experienced Jacksonville Family Law Attorney should be sure to ask you about beneficiary designations before finalizing a divorce. Be sure to ask the attorney working on your divorce if you are unsure about certain designations. If you are not currently working with an attorney, the most advisable practice is to secure an experienced Jacksonville Family Law Attorney as soon as possible.

baby.jpgMany parents in the Jacksonville, Florida area are under the impression that child support is paid throughout a child’s college eduction or until a child reaches the age of 21. Although this is true in other states across the country, it is simple not the case in Florida. In Florida, child support terminates when a child reaches the legal age of majority, 18. There is no statute or case law in Florida stating that a Parent has a duty to pay child support or help with a child’s college expenses.

However, there are always exceptions to any rule. For example, in Florida if a child becomes incapacitated or otherwise disabled and thus remains a dependent child, child support will more than likely continue. Conversely, if a child becomes emancipated through court proceedings or joins the military child support will terminate.

Whether child support was determined via a divorce action or a paternity action the termination date should be set out in the final judgment. If there is no termination date specified the law will dictate and the child support will terminate upon the child’s eighteenth birthday, unless, of course, the above mentioned exceptions apply.

However, it is important to take into consideration that parents can agree to a different termination date. Parents can agree to what ever terms they desire in a contract as long as it is legal.

To learn more about child support termination, child support guidelines and child support in general contact a Jacksonville Family Lawyer today!

ed.jpgWhether or not an asset is “marital” or “nonmarital” is often a key issue in a divorce. Marital assets are generally considered jointly owned by both husband and wife, and it is usually up to the court to decide how those assets will be distributed. Nonmarital assets, however, are considered owned by only one of the spouses and are generally free from distribution in a divorce. You should be aware that liabilities –debts– are treated the same way as assets.

Florida Statute 61.075 addresses this issue and defines marital and nonmarital assets. Marital assets include assets acquired during the marriage, the increase in value of nonmarital assets (if the increase is the result of contribution from both spouses), interspousal gifts during the marriage, and all benefits accrued during the marriage, such as retirement funds, pension, profit sharing, and insurance plans.

Nonmarital assets include assets acquired prior to the marriage, assets acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, assets excluded from being considered marital by written agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement), and income derived from nonmarital assets, unless the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.”

This last nonmarital asset is often the case of litigation. As an example, let’s say prior to your marriage, you had $200,000 in the bank. That would be considered “nonmarital” and therefore would likely not go to your spouse in the event of a divorce. Of course, real world situations are not so simple. In reality, your spouse would likely claim that the income was “treated, used, or relied upon by the parties as a marital asset.” If you are the spouse claiming the $200,000 is nonmarital, you will bear the burden in court of proving that it is, in fact, not a marital asset. Alternatively, you might split up the money; i.e., you could agree that $50,000 is marital, but argue that the remaining $150,000 is not.

A disagreement over assets is only one part of an already complicated and draining divorce proceeding. You should contact an Orange Park Divorce Lawyer to ensure you are aware of all your rights and options during your divorce.

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