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Divorce can happen to parents with children of all ages. If your children are quite young, your focus when it comes to parental responsibility issues, beyond the basics of custody, timesharing and child support, may focus on immediate concerns like choosing your child’s pre-school and making decisions about early extracurricular activities. As you go through the process, however, it is often wise to consider other issues that may still be a few years down the road. For example, one common item is the issue of orthodontia. Who will decide whether or not your child gets braces? If your child receives orthodontic care, who will pay for it? These are things you may want to consider extensively as you go through the process of crafting a marital settlement agreement as part of your divorce, especially if your children are already of school age. As with any divorce-related decision, it often helps to have a skilled Miami family law attorney in your corner.

A case that originated in the panhandle shows some issues that parents should carefully take note of when it comes to orthodontic care, marital settlement agreements and divorce. In the case, which was recently decided by the First District Court of Appeal, the spouses had a marital settlement agreement and it clearly stated that the father had the obligation to pay “one-half of the children’s uncovered medical and dental expenses.” However, when the father did not pay for half of the child’s orthodontic expenses, the mother went back to court seeking to hold the father in contempt.

While the agreement was clear about dental expenses, the expense about which the mother was litigating arguably wasn’t a “dental” expense. Unfortunately, the spouses’ settlement agreement did not expressly define the term “dental expenses” to clarify whether it included or excluded orthodontic care. However, the agreement did contain one section, which was left blank, in which medical expenses, dental expenses and orthodontic expenses were split out into three separate categories.

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For most any parent, the best interest of their child is paramount in their mind. This concern can take on a whole other level of intensity if your child’s other parent is experiencing problems with alcohol or drug abuse. If your ex is having difficulty with drinking or drugs and you think that it is impacting her/his parenting of your child, you have options in Florida. These options may include, among other things, suspended timesharing, supervised visitation or substance use monitoring. The key is to make sure that your have amassed the evidence you need and then develop the sort legal arguments required to obtain the modification that will help your family. To make sure you have a persuasive case for modification, be sure to consult an experienced Miami family law attorney.

An example of this type of scenario was the recent case of two Miami-Dade parents, J.N.R. and T.R. Originally, as part of the divorce, the mother, J.N.R., had received unsupervised visitation with the couple’s four-year-old daughter. However, the mother allegedly had ongoing problems with drug and alcohol use. Based on that alleged problem, the father went back to court and obtained what’s called a “post-judgment order.” That order from the judge said that the mother’s unsupervised visitation was suspended. The judge also ordered the mother to undergo substance abuse evaluation and treatment, as well as to obtain and wear an ankle monitoring device that electronically reported if the mother used alcohol. The judge ordered that the mother pay for all of this on her own.

The mother appealed that order, arguing that the trial judge made legal errors both in suspending unsupervised visitation and making her pay for the substance treatment and monitoring expenses.

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You may think that your family law case is simple and straightforward, so much so that you don’t believe you need an experienced Miami family law attorney to provide you with legal representation. The truth is, though, that any case can come with profoundly unexpected twists and turns and, if that happens to you, you need someone who knows exactly what to do. If, for example, your trial judge oversteps his/her legal bounds, your knowledgeable Miami family law attorney can guide you through your options to get you to the outcome you deserve.

A recent case originating from outside Jacksonville was an example of this. Former spouses M.W. and R.S. engaged in years of protracted litigation. In early 2017, the couple attended court-ordered mediation. The mediation took nine hours but, at the end of it, the spouses had come to a resolution on all of the disputed issues they had. The agreement that the spouses negotiated was put down on paper, which spanned 16 pages. It included terms related to parental responsibility, timesharing, child support, property division, insurance and tax exemptions. Both spouses initialed each and every page of the agreement

This sounds exactly like the way that the process should work, and the reaching of an appropriate endpoint, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, cases are not always as straightforward as they should be. During what was supposed to have been a five-minute status conference, the husband’s attorney allegedly presented the agreement to the judge for approval. (Neither the wife nor her attorney attended this hearing.) Instead of merely signing off, the judge made substantial changes. The parties had agreed that the wife would have sole parental responsibility of the pair’s two children; the judge awarded shared parental responsibility. The spouses agreed that the wife would be entitled to take tax exemptions for both children; the judge awarded one exemption to each spouse.

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In any type of binding agreement, it is very important be sure that you understand all of the terms of the agreement and that you are sure that you’re willing to follow those terms. That includes family law-related matters like custody agreements. Ensuring that you understand and truly agree with your arrangement is so important because there are only a very few scenarios in which you can get out of the agreement if you change your mind after you sign. Generally, you have to prove that there was fraud or certain other misconduct; otherwise, you’re required to honor the deal you signed. This also demonstrates the importance of having a South Florida family law attorney on your side for reliable advice and representation.

A dispute from the panhandle was an example of this. M.G. V. filed for divorce after eight years of marriage. She and her husband, T.V., had one daughter together. Initially, the trial court entered a temporary order that put into force the couple’s stipulated temporary timesharing agreement. That set up a 50-50 split in timesharing with the daughter. Several months later, the two parents (each of whom had his/her own attorney) worked out an agreement on timesharing. The agreement called for the mother to have timesharing with the daughter during summer break, every other Thanksgiving break, half of each Christmas break and every “three-day” or “four-day” weekend during the school year.

The wife’s attorney asked her if she understood what the terms of the agreement were. The mother said yes. The mother’s attorney asked if she was in agreement with those terms. She said yes.

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One of the most dramatically altered areas of family law in Florida in the last few years is the area related to same-sex committed relationships. Of course, same-sex couples only obtained the right to marry in Florida with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling striking down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional. Before that time, these couples’ relationships had no recognition in Florida. Since that time, same-sex couples have been able both to marry and divorce in the Sunshine State. One thing that is true, whether you’re in an opposite- or same-sex relationship, is that if your non-spouse partner makes a promise to support you it helps to get it in writing. A knowledgeable Miami divorce attorney can help you as you address these and other family law issues.

The divorce of L.M. and P.C. was an example of a dispute over an alleged oral contract. The women lived together for a period of years before they married. Over the course of the relationship, each of the women executed estate planning documents that named the other as the beneficiary of her assets. According to P.C., though, the two partners generally kept their assets separate. While L.M. allegedly opened joint accounts, P.C. asserted that she was unaware of these accounts prior to the divorce. P.C.’s name was added to the deed and the mortgage on L.M.’s home, but that was done because the couple needed P.C.’s high credit score to get a better rate in refinancing the mortgage on that home.

The main point of contention in the women’s divorce was P.C.’s retirement. In the litigation, L.M. asked for one-half of P.C.’s pre-marital retirement earnings. L.M.’s arguments were that (contrary to P.C.’s assertion) they did pool their assets and that P.C. had promised that the couple would use her retirement “to fund their golden years.”

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One of the positive evolutions in the field of family law is the increase of alternate dispute resolution means and their utilization for resolving a divorce case. Many of these means may allow for spouses to work in a more collaborative and less adversarial fashion toward achieving closure and moving forward productively. Engaging a mature and non-adversarial process may be particularly important and beneficial if there are young children from the marriage.

Sometimes, one may read about Hollywood celebrities who have made this commitment to work together for the benefit of their child/children. According to a People report, the divorce of acting stars Chris Pratt and Anna Faris is one example of this type of effort toward collaboration. It is important to remember, however, that, no matter how cooperative each of you seeks to be and how amicable your relationship is (even after the breakdown of the marriage), there are certain legal requirements that your divorce documents must satisfy. To make sure that your amicable divorce is not slowed down by procedural or legal errors, as well to ensure that your rights are properly protected, always make sure you have consulted an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

According to the People report, Pratt and Faris, who share a 6-year-old son, separated in August 2017. For the benefit of the son, the parents worked to achieve a divorce arrangement and post-divorce living situation in their home state of California that was geared toward being “unusually tension-free.”

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When people think of equitable distribution in a divorce, they may associate it with a fairly simple and straightforward process in which each spouse gets 50% of the marital assets. Of course, achieving this outcome can involve some technical matters, such as determining values of assets and deciding what is or is not a marital asset. Then there are other potential complexities such as dividing a property where the value was (or is) less than the balance of the outstanding mortgages. Achieving an equitable distribution that fairly protects your interests, then, involves a detailed understanding of the law in Florida, which is why it pays to have representation from a knowledgeable Miami family law attorney.

The divorce of A.M. and K.M. was a case with an equitable distribution dispute. The couple married in the fall of 2011. Prior to the marriage, the wife had purchased a home that was worth $126,000 on the couple’s wedding day. The home had two mortgages on it. The first mortgage alone had a balance of $166,000. During the marriage, the couple lived in that home. They used marital assets to make payments on the first mortgage, but they paid nothing on the second mortgage. The husband also made renovations to the home during the marriage.

Three and a one-half years after the couple married, the wife filed for divorce. During that litigation process, the home was assigned a market value of $170,000. The first mortgage had a balance of $143,000 and the second mortgage had a balance of $57,000.

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Certainly, some divorcing spouses end their marriage under highly amicable and collegial circumstances. They may choose, even after divorcing, to live close to each other, or to maintain a friendship and an active role in each other’s lives. They may even choose to remain in business together. However, the law generally does not support forcing two divorcing spouses to remain in business together. Instead, a business that is a marital asset typically should be assessed a value and distributed as part of equitable distribution. Valuing and distributing a business is just one of many potentially complex elements of equitable distribution and a place where your case may benefit greatly from the knowledge and skill of an experienced Miami divorce attorney.

One less-than-amicable divorce that involved a business asset was the case of K.G. and C.G. At the end of the trial, the court entered a final judgment of dissolution that, among other things, declared the husband’s closely held business, a Miami Beach-based prosthetics company, to be a marital asset and gave each spouse a 50% ownership stake in the business. In making that ruling, the trial judge expressly stated that he was declining to assign a value to the prosthetics business.

The husband appealed that decision and he was able to get it reversed. The judge’s decision to make the divorcing spouses co-owners together of the prosthetics business was a legal error that was “apparent on the face” of the ruling. That’s because Florida law is very clear that “compelling former spouses to remain in business together ‘creates [an] intolerable situation’.” That’s because divorce should be about an opportunity for closure. Forcing two divorcing spouses to co-own a business is potentially bad for them personally, bad for their business and bad for something called “judicial economy,” as it raises one more circumstance under which the parties might decide to bring their disputes back into court (perhaps multiple times).

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Recently, ET Online broke the news that former Playboy model and reality television star Holly Madison and her husband were divorcing after five years of marriage. While the couple, who are parents of two children, will have to work through some issues within the divorce litigation (such as parental responsibility, timesharing and a parenting plan), other issues are already resolved. That’s because the couple created a prenuptial agreement back in 2013. When properly negotiated, written and executed, a prenuptial agreement can be a very helpful part of the pre-marriage process. A prenuptial agreement can give both spouses the peace of mind that, if something should go wrong, issues like alimony and division of some or all assets have already been decided at a time when there was less stress and potentially less acrimony.  Whether you are seeking to create a prenuptial agreement or are facing divorce litigation, make sure you have the legal representation you need by hiring an experienced South Florida divorce attorney.

Madison is arguably best known to the public for her time as a star of E! reality TV show, The Girls Next Door, while Rotella is a highly successful promoter of electronic dance music concerts (or “raves”). The couple met in 2011 and married in 2013. They have two children, a five-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son.

Reports of the divorce from Radar Online indicated that the husband’s petition asked the court to award the couple joint custody of the two children. Several other aspects of the couple’s Nevada divorce were resolved before any divorce filing was begun. Just days before the couple’s September wedding at Disneyland, the pair signed a prenuptial agreement. Madison and Rotella’s agreement apparently stated that each spouse would keep her/his separate assets and debts as her/his own, and the agreement also stated that neither spouse was entitled to receive alimony from the other one, according to the Radar Online report.

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In a divorce case, there are generally several issues that must be worked through. One of those issues is equitable distribution. While it may be easy to think of equitable distribution as the process that distributes marital assets, it is important to remember that marital debts must also be divided in equitable distribution. Keep in mind that, just because a piece of real estate is a non-marital asset, that does not automatically mean that the mortgage on that property is non-marital. You must be prepared to prove that the facts of your case demonstrate that the mortgage was non-marital and that the obligation for paying it back should not be included in your equitable distribution. To help in getting a truly fair equitable distribution, make sure that you have retained the services of a skilled South Florida divorce attorney who can help you get the distribution you deserve.

The divorce case of S.F. and T.F. was one that involved this type of dispute over the correct categorization of a mortgage. The spouses were married for nine years. During the divorce litigation, each spouse acknowledged the house located in an area of Pasco County called Mitchell Ranch was the husband’s separate property. The husband had purchased the home prior to the marriage and there was no mortgage on the property when he and S.F. wed.

While the spouses were married, they took out a $73,000 mortgage on the Mitchell Ranch property. According to the wife, all of the money was used to make improvements to the Mitchell Ranch house. The wife’s name never appeared on the note or on the property deed. At the end of the divorce trial, however, the judge concluded that the house was the husband’s separate property but that the mortgage was marital debt subject to equitable distribution.