Family Law…the laws of love and hate

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

The Florida Legislature in all its wisdom has developed many laws between people that fall into the category of family law.  What is family law?  It is the legal effects of these relationships, so I have listed each of them for you.  As you know, we can’t pick our families, so in certain instances it might be a love relationship, and in other circumstances, it could be a hate relationship.  Here’s the list of “loved” ones in the family that Florida family laws protect:

  1. blood relatives
  2. dead relatives
  3. intimate relationships of unrelated persons
  4. siblings
  5. parents
  6. children
  7. step children
  8. adopted children
  9. minor children
  10. children with special needs
  11. same sex couples
  12. husbands
  13. wives
  14. ex spouses
  15. the elderly
  16. the unborn
  17. adoptive parents
  18. grandparents
  19. guardians
  20. custodians
  21. health care surrogates

How these relationships are dealt with in the legal sense is what family law is all about.

For additional information on any of these, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or view the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.

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Wedding plans? Don’t forget the legalities.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

Congratulations!  You’re engaged.  After the adrenaline rush quiets down, it’s time to start planning your wedding.   But what about your legal future?  Men AND women need to follow my free legal advice: the first thing to do is TAKE STOCK OF YOUR OWN ASSETS AND DEBTS…MAKE A LIST.  Should the marriage fail down the road, you want to exit with all the stuff you entered with.  This includes your piano, your coin collection, real estate, or real estate values, retirement accounts, stocks and bond accounts, your grandmother’s sterling silver.  Very often in divorce in Florida, the wedding day starts the time tolling and the filing for divorce date stops it. 

For example, in Florida, if you have an IRA account that has $50,000 in it on the wedding day, and the marriage lasts five years, and during that time the account appreciated $10,000, your spouse may be entitled to one half of the appreciated value from the date of the wedding to the date of any filing for divorce.  Valuations of businesses, investments, real estate are also figured from the date of the wedding to the date of filing for divorce.  These dates are critical and can make a big difference in a spouse’s entitlement of assets in a divorce situation.

If this is a first time marriage and you have substantial assets, or if this is subsequent marriage and there are assets and children, then the second thing to do is to HIRE A LAWYER FOR A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT.  In Palm Beach County, attorneys fees run around $5,000 to $15,000 for a prenup retainer, but it is more than worth it.  This is no time to be penny wise and pound foolish.  A prenuptial agreement will provide divorce terms and death terms should the marriage fail or stay in tact.  This is especially important to protect children from a former marriage. 

The third thing to do is CHECK YOUR CREDIT.  Keep some credit cards and car loans in your own good name. 

DON’T COMMINGLE YOUR INHERITENCE.  If you have funds left to you in a will or trust, don’t use those funds for marital purpose.  Also, don’t put them in joint names.  If you do, and the marriage fails, your spouse may lay claim to a one half interest. 

DON’T CHANGE YOUR WILL to include your spouse if you have a prenuptial agreement.  You need to coordinate the prenup with estate planning documents.  A prenup is not a will.  Consult an attorney who knows about these things. 

In conclusion, planning a wedding may be the fun part, but don’t ignore your legal future.  Give yourself the most important wedding gift of all, peace of mind.

For additional information, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or visit the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.

Legal Fees and Divorce: What is reasonable?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

Many people call my office and the first question they ask is “How much will my divorce cost?”  The answer is, IT DEPENDS.  Let me explain:

When one spouse wants to settle the matter and the other does not, this type of divorce becomes expensive because it involves preparation for a full blown trial.  You or I cannot control the other party’s attorney or spouse.  That is why most divorce lawyers work hourly using hourly rates. 

On the other hand, where both parties agree to stay out of court and settle their disputes like adult business men and women, without the anger, without the vindictiveness, and without emotional complications, these types of divorces are certainly less expensive.  And less stressful. 

So what is reasonable?  In my divorce practice, I have settled cases for $3,500 up to $15,000.  The range is due to how long it takes to negotiate, how many times we go to mediation, and how many offers and counter offers are proposed until an agreement is reached.  If a marital settlement agreement is signed by both parties after going back and forth only once or twice, this will take less time and cost less than an agreement that goes back and forth four or five times until a settlement is reached. 

Going to trial is a different animal all together.  Preparation for trial includes depositions, subpeonas of people and records, much more extensive document production and discovery, testimony of witness, accountants’ fees, pychologist reports, employability studies of a non-working spouse, custody evaluations, business valuations, appraisals of real and personal property and the list could go on and on.  In my experience, fees and costs for trial preparation can run from $15,000 on upward into the six figures.   

The other factors that go into a determination of what a divorce will cost is the complexity of the case.  For example, a divorce with children usually costs more than one without.  A divorce where there are numerous homes and other real estate will cost more than one for a couple with only one marital home.  Generally the more “stuff” in a marriage, the more there is to fight over, the higher the cost of the divorce. 

Then there are the emotional issues.  Where a husband or wife leaves the marriage for another, this type of divorce can certainly costs more than if two people just decide together to call it quits.  Fighting over children gets expensive.  Hiding money or keeping control of marital funds while keeping the other party in the dark can cause the price of a divorce to skyrocket.

In conclusion, the price of your divorce depends upon the complexity of the case and the mindset of the spouses.  Hourly rates for attorneys in Palm Beach County, Florida, generally average from $300 per hour to $550 per hour. 

The experienced family law attorneys at my firm all work at $350 per hour (we accept all major credit cards).  For additional information, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or visit the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.

There IS life after divorce

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

When the divorce becomes final, and after the sadness/gladness sets in, there are certain things one must do at this moment in time.  Here is a suggested checklist for after the divorce:

  1. Follow the terms of the marital settlement agreement or the judge’s order.
  2. Make sure your ex does the same.  If not, you can file a motion for enforcement or contempt of court.
  3. Pay off your lawyer and pick up your file.  You probably have some original documents there.
  4. Purge yourself of all signs and memories of him/her.
  5. Get out of town for a rest and a change of scenery.
  6. While on vacation, focus on your future and set new goals.
  7. Learn a new sport, take up a new hobby, get a massage at a spa and be good to yourself.
  8. Pay attention to your children.  Remember they are going through adjustments as well.
  9. Meet new people…you are free!

For additional information, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or visit the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.

Divorce mistakes that you will pay for

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

In my last article, I gave readers a check list of many things to consider when comtemplating a divorce or when going through the process.  Now, here is my check list of mistakes that could cost you bigtime, with reasons that are obvious:

  1. Never flaunt a lover or new relationship. 
  2. Never profess happiness even if you are.
  3. Don’t use the children as messengers.
  4. Don’t use the children as pawns.
  5. Don’t disparage the spouse to the children.
  6. Don’t take the children outside of the jurisdiction without knowledge and permission of the spouse, or without a court order.   
  7. Don’t make the children your parent or give them the role of your new spouse.
  8. Don’t hire a combative lawyer unless you really, really need that.
  9. Don’t listen to well meaning family and friends.  They don’t know the law.
  10. Don’t sign anything without counsel.
  11. Don’t have sex with your ex.
  12. Don’t make side agreements outside of legal documents.
  13. Don’t try to win your spouse back.  He or she will just abuse the situation some more.
  14. Don’t ignore tax ramifications of settlement terms.
  15. Don’t go in to a mediation or trial unprepared.
  16. Don’t put off the inevitable.  This just gives your spouse more time to 1) run up bills, 2) hide money, 3) leave the country.

When divorcing, DO prepare for your future. 

For more information about divorce and the process, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or view the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.  Serving husbands, wives and children of Palm Beach County, Florida.

A Divorce Checklist…all things considered

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

Divorce and taxes, divorce and health insurance, divorce and the marital home, divorce and credit, divorce and sex, divorce and children, divorce and child support, divorce and the computer, divorce and your cell phone, credit cards, bank accounts…the list can go on and on and on!  There is so much to think about when you decide to divorce that it is overwhelming for the lay person.  So here is my own check list to help you get through it:

  1. Tax ramifications.  Before signing any marital settlement, seek an independent tax advisor.  Most divorce attorneys, myself included, are not tax experts. 
  2. Attorneys fees and costs.  Who is going to pay?
  3. Children’s issues.  These include time sharing, where and with whom the child will live, child support, vacations, travel to and from the other parent, schooling, extracurricular activities, clothing and personal effects.  Parents need to collaborate on these issues for the well being of the child. 
  4. Marital home.  Is one spouse going to buy out the other?  Should the home be listed for sale to a third party?  Do you need to refinance or do a short sale?  Should one spouse stay in the home until the children are grown?   Divorcing parties need to agree, or a judge will micro manage this issue.  It is the same for any other real estate investment property, time shares, vacation homes, rental income.
  5. Stuff.  Who is going to get what stuff…did the spouse bring the antique silver into the marriage?
  6. Family pets.  Pets are not people and under the law they are viewed the same way that “stuff” is.
  7. Joint accounts.  Bank accounts, credit cards, car insurance, cell phone accounts, utility accounts…these all need to be separated.  Discuss the timing with your attorney.
  8. Gifts.  Gifts between spouses, such as jewelry or the big screen TV.  These need to be “assigned”.
  9. Debt.  Mortgages, car loans, credit cards, IRS, lines of credit…these need to be “assigned” also.
  10. Marital waste…on drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, a paramour.  This issue is referred to in Florida as dissipation of marital assets.  It is a serious issue and could cost you.  Consult with your attorney.
  11. Alimony…there are all kinds: bridge the gap, rehabilitative, lump sum, permanent periodic, temporary.  Alimony is statutory and is serious business, so consult with your attorney.
  12. Relocation with children.  This causes many problems within the family.  It is very often left to the judge to decide.
  13. Name change…usually the wife has the option of restoring her former name during divorce proceedings.
  14. More stuff.  Cars, boats, trucks, tools, equipment, computers.  Decide who gets what or a judge will do that for you.
  15. The business or businesses.  If it was formed during the marriage, it needs to be addressed.
  16. Paper trails.  Emails, photos and other paper trails.  Consider this:  they could be good for you or bad for you.  Be careful.
  17. Friends and family…same as above, good or bad.  But you need to follow the advice of your experts such as lawyers, CPAs, shrinks, doctors, financial planners and the like.  That’s what you pay us for!   

For additional information on any of these, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or visit the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.

Why divorce litigation when you can mediate?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

With gas prices up and housing prices down, many couples are thinking twice about leaving the marriage even though they are living as mere sexless, unhappy roommates.  Husbands and wives may be miserable, but they think they cannot afford to get a divorce.  Think again.

In my law firm in West Palm Beach, Florida, Robin Roshkind, P.A., one of our experienced family law attorneys, Catherine Eaton, is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator.  She has received special training and can be retained by both parties to conduct a mediation, whereby a marital settlement can be reached.   In this way, couples can avoid the high costs of litigation and lawyers fees.   

As a Mediator, Attorney Eaton must be neutral.  She cannot represent the best interests of one party at the expense of the other, as she would do in a litigated divorce.  But she is trained to assist parties who agree to stay out of court.  She can recite the law for the benefit of both the husband and the wife; she can discuss the effects divorce has upon children; she can advise as to procedure in obtaining the actual divorce.  By mediating a divorce, instead of litigating, the divorcing couple can cut down the time, the stress level, and the expense of getting a divorce. 

For additional information, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or visit the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.