Articles Posted in Divorce Discovery

Child support is essentially a payment from the higher income parent to the lower income parent.  Child support and timesharing have an interesting relationship.  The law values the child and parent relationship.  A parent’s right to timesharing is not dependent upon being current in child support.  It is a frequent mistake among individuals to assume that timesharing can be denied if an Obligor parent fails to keep up with his or her child support.  Such has no such relationship to Florida law.

Another misconception is that child support must go to the child specifically.  However, it is a general purpose reimbursement which covers the cost of living in a household with children.  The amount of child support paid by each parent is dependent upon the amount the Florida child support guidelines determine.  The number of overnights the child or children spend with each parent is one of the factors used to decide a parent’s child support under Florida’s guidelines.  There is a chart that is published within the Florida Statutes that shows the amount of child support a child is entitled to.

Florida law requires that generally, where there are minor children then child support should be paid.  The principle behind this general rule is that entitlement to support belongs to the children and parents cannot decide not to pay support.  There are situations in which a parent does not have a child support obligation.  In Florida, this must either be because the amount of support owed is very minimal, as determined by the guidelines, or the specific reasons must be enumerated in the child support order.  The law allows up to a 5% deviation from the guidelines without further enumeration.  Florida has a form known as a Child Support Guideline Worksheet which is required to be filed in every divorce and paternity case where child support is determined.  The guidelines account for some of the specific costs of supporting a child, such as health insurance and uncovered medical expenses.  As long as a parent is awarded at least 20 percent of the overnights, overnights are a specific factor used to determine a parent’s support.  Items like rent, electricity, water, and food are essential items that are not specifically accounted for in the guidelines.  Other items that are specifically accounted for under the guidelines are taxes, daycare, and medical costs.

Unwed fathers may believe that it is unlikely or impossible to gain custody of their child when they were never married to the child’s mother.  Fathers with this attitude should think again, as the courts and society have realized that fathers can be every bit as responsible as mothers in rearing a child.  The court system may still have a few vestiges of what was known as “The tender years doctrine”.  Such is the idea that a young child should primarily be cared for by their mother.  However, most judges today that I have encountered no longer display any indication that this philosophy still exists.  The reality is that a caring father can be every bit as nurturing and responsible as a caring mother.

In Florida, paternity is established by filing an action in the Circuit Court.  The action is known as a paternity action.  The petition should be titled a Petition for Paternity and Related Relief or a similar name.  There is no legal presumption for or against a father obtaining what used to be called primary custody.  The court’s have changed from using the term custody to using the term timesharing.  It is supposed to promote the idea of the children being shared between parents.  I personally do not believe that much has changed because of the change in terminology.  That said, the law has changed regarding child support in that the non primary residential parent (the parent that has minority timesharing) can now receive a reduction in child support if he or she has the child for at least 20 percent of the overnights.  The prior rule required the non majority parent to exercise at least 40 percent of the overnights to get a reduction in child support.

In a paternity suit, a father attempting to obtain timesharing must request either shared parental responsibility or sole parental responsibility.  Sole parental responsibility is exactly what it sounds like and so is shared parental responsibility.  Even people with serious criminal histories frequently are awarded shared parental responsibility.  Florida has enumerated the factors that it considers important and that a judge must take into account in deciding custody issues between parents.  They can be found in Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes.  In short, they equate to the best interests of the child.

Family law clients always ask me, “What is a QDRO?”  (pronounced informally “Quad-Row”) QDRO is an acronym for Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which is a court order that grants a party a right to a portion of the retirement benefits his or her former spouse has earned through participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Federal law states that a retirement benefit can only be divided between former spouses if there is a QDRO.  Retirement plans can be a huge asset in a marriage that may be forgotten in a divorce, so its key for clients to educate themselves on division of this marital asset.

QDRO divorceIn a divorce, a family law attorney needs to determine what retirement plan each party owns through mandatory disclosure by the formal, legal plan name.  It is important to know the value of each plan, the valuation date used to value the plan, what ancillary benefits are associated with the plan (for example, market fluctuations, survivor benefits, subsidies/supplements, and interest credits), the correct method of division for the plan, and will the retirement plan accept a QDRO.  Disclosure is important in obtaining this information and the plan’s summary description. It is also important to obtain the plan’s divorce transfer and QDRO guidelines, if available.  Obtaining a statement for the plan as of your desired valuation date will assist you in a smooth QDRO process.  For federal government employees, retirement plans are divided by a COAP, which stands for Court Order Acceptable for Processing.

Your divorce decree will not be enough to divide a retirement benefit in most cases.  A QDRO is a separate document from the divorce decree. It is always better to file a QDRO with the retirement plan as soon as possible.  If the former spouse retires after the divorce is final, and the QDRO has not been filed with the plan, the plan will begin paying out the benefit to the former spouse and only future payments will be affected.

Divorces in Florida typically split the parties’ assets and liabilities down the middle as much as possible.  Determining what is a marital asset or liability or a non-marital asset or liability can be key to whether an asset or liability will be considered in the calculations.  Before filing for divorce, you should consider the following items when thinking about equitable distribution:

  • Previous Inheritance
  • Marital Home

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his third wife, Judith, are currently involved in a heated divorce.  A day after filing for divorce on April 4, 2018, the parties filed for each other to produce a statement of net worth to determine assets.  The Giulianis have been married for 15 years and they do not have a prenuptial agreement.

prenupIn 2007, when Rudy Giuliani submitted his financial disclosure to the Federal Election Commission while running for president, he was worth an estimated $30 million.  The couple own properties in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida.  It is estimated that there is currently an estimated $60 million in assets at stake. When he married Judith, Rudy was pretty much insolvent and the money he has now was earned while he was married to Judith.  New York is a separate property state, but her participation in his success could be a factor for the assets to be split 50/50.

In Florida, mandatory disclosure applies so the Giulianis would not need to file for a statement of net worth.  Mandatory Disclosure is the procedure where financial information is automatically disclosed by the parties upon the filing of a divorce.  The parties must exchange financial information in the form of a financial affidavit and additional documents such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, deeds, vehicle titles, insurance policies, etc. Mandatory disclosure must be completed within 45 days after service on the respondent.

The Florida Supreme Court, on March 30, 2017, issued an opinion in Hooker v. Hooker, 220 So.3d 397 (Fla. 2017) finding a Florida horse farm and a New York summer home interspousal gifts and, therefore, subject to equitable distribution as marital property despite a prenuptial agreement in existence.  The prenuptial agreement provided that, upon divorce, each party would retain his or her premarital assets and any appreciation of those assets. Both parties had independent sources of income from family inheritances and they maintained separate finances throughout the marriage.  The parties were married for 23 years.

giftThe Florida horse farm, “Hickstead,” was purchased in 1989 and the Hickstead deed listed “Alice I. Hooker Trust FBO, for the benefit of, Timothy I. Hooker” as the grantee.  Husband and Wife signed the mortgage on Hickstead.  When Hickstead was purchased, it was vacant land and it later became through the course of the marriage a working horse farm with 16 stalls, etc. and the marital home in one wing upstairs and the other wing was the staff apartment.  Wife was “extremely and directly involved in all aspects of the Hickstead residence which was the family’s primary home for approximately 20 years,” according to the findings of the trial court.  Wife was not limited or restricted in any way from incurring the costs and expenses of maintaining and operating a family home at Hickstead, from the Husband’s assets. Wife was provided unfettered access to the stables and horses to pursue her lifelong passion.

The New York summer home, “Lake George,” was purchased in 1997 and was titled only in the Husband’s name and only Husband signed the mortgage.  It was purchased, built and maintained as a summer residence for the family.  The Husband paid the expenses for Lake George with his independent funds and Wife was never a signatory on that account and never had access to that account. However, the Husband sent Wife a card for their tenth wedding anniversary with a picture of the property after the Wife had expressed a desire to have a home up north and both parties searched for a suitable property.

Have you ever had the urge to be sneaky and record a phone call or a conversation between yourself and another person?  You just want to prove that the other person is a liar or otherwise full of it, and you decided that recording the call is the best way to get that done.  It is a perfectly normal and human thing to want to do. Well, doing that could get you into trouble in Florida and other states, if you do not let the other person know that you’re recording.  As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I have on occasion enlightened clients that wanted to gain evidence against a spouse during divorce proceedings that this is not a good idea.

recording callsHave you ever wondered why the first thing you hear when you call a 1-800 number is, “This call may be recorded for training and quality assurance purpose.”?  Some states, such as Florida, have laws that make it a crime to record a conversation without the knowledge and consent of the people taking part in the conversation.  When you are told that the phone call is being recorded, but continue the call, you are consenting to being recorded.  The rule against recording or “intercepting” communication  applies to live conversations in person and conversations transmitted by wire or electronic means, basically over pretty all of the ways people communicate. Continue reading

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.

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