Divorce and the holidays…what is right for you?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Shoud you file for divorce before the year is out?  There are two ways to look at that question.  First, if your marriage is on the rocks, are you able to stick it out as an intact family until after the holidays?  Staying together for the sake of the kids plays heavily in this decision.  But obviously, if domestic violence, alcoholism, and drug abuse is part of the marriage, why suffer through the holidays, why wait any longer? 

Or, the other way to look at that question is as follows:  if you file for divorce before the holidays, you get somewhat of a fresh start to the New Year even if the divorce won’t be final for several months. 

The choice is a very personal one.  It also depends upon the circumstances, the family entanglement, finances. and one’s tolerance level during the holidays, which is normally a stressful time for anyone anyway.  Add that together with the current economic conditions, and the answer may come clear to you.

As a divorce lawyer, I never encourage anyone to divorce without seriously thinking the matter through.   If you want to know your rights, options and alternatives, click on the law firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of the attorneys at Robin Roshkind, P.A. by calling for an appointment at 561-835-9091.

Divorcing before the end of the year…why and why not?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Timing of a divorce often includes many customized factors.  People may wait until the marital home sells before they divorce.  They may wait to divorce when the youngest child goes off to college and is out of the house.  They may wait until just after Christmas???  Yes, often couples decide to divorce at this time of year for tax reasons…or a fresh start to the new year.   It makes life a little simpler for marrieds and singles.

If you are married until December 31, 2008, you must file your 2008 taxes as a married person.  You spent the year married.  You can still file as a couple or as a married filing separately, but you are married in the eyes of the IRS.  If you divorce before the year is out, you must file as a married for 2008, but the good news is in 2009 you can file as a single.  You may also have head of household deductions for children living with you.  And you can tap the child tax exemptions for 2009 if you are the custodial parent, that is the parent with whom the children live for a majority of time. 

Oftentimes, couples rush to divorce court to execute the divorce papers before the year is out.  This also gives a fresh start for the new year.  On the other hand, many couples wait it out…hoping to stay together for the holidays to celebrate as a family, and for the sake of the children.  This puts the marriage into the next year, and couples must file as marrieds even if they are only married for a small portion of the new year.  There are many reasons to divorce before the year is out.  Talk to your tax advisor before you call in the lawyers.  For more information, click on the website of Robin Roshkind, P.A. at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of the attorneys at the Firm by calling 561-835-9091.

Sex and money and marriage… Do something about it to save a failing marriage.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Marriages break up mainly because of two reasons:  sex and money.  Let’s discuss these one at a time. 

Either there is too much sex outside the marriage, and/or not enough sex within the marriage.  Marriages can be of the roommate kind as in a roommate marriage with your best friend, a sham marriage (simply a business deal for say immigration purposes or money), sexless marriages that are true marriages in every way except in the bedroom, or open marriages which encompasses sex in and out of the marriage bed.   Sex outside the marriage falls into several categories:  an affair with someone other than your spouse; multiple sex partners, sex addiciton, pornography;  sex chat rooms, use of prostitutes and escort services.  However it happens, one of the spouses is getting it, and the other is not.  The result?  Both spouses are not happy within the marriage.

Regarding money issues, it is obvious that in today’s economic climate, everyone, even the rich, have money problems.  Marital discussions lead to disagreements which lead to arguments which lead to contempt, disrespect, even sometimes domestic violence.  Some marital issues involve paying the bills, keeping or selling the marital home, cancelling the credit cards, taking out a survival loan, getting a job, moving out of state to get a better job, selling a car, the list is endless. 

How to resolve marital problems that are causing stress and sleepless nights?  First, I tell clients who need it to seek professional help.  Either go to marriage counseling with a psychologist or get medication with a psychiatrist.  For stress, coping skills, and anger management there are classes available to take and books you and your spouse can read.  For more serious ailments like bi polar disorder or depression, a medical doctor can prescribe drugs to control these illnesses.  Alcohol and drug abuse or addiction can also cause a marriage to fail.  There are treatment centers for both. 

The point is if your marriage is breaking or broken do something!  Get immediate help.  Then if all else fails, the ultimate recourse is a divorce for your own survival.  For more information click on the Robin Roshkind, P.A. website at www.familylawwpb.com or call for a consultation with one of our attorneys at 561-835-9091.

About Robin Roshkind, P.A. Divorce Lawyers, West Palm Beach, Florida

Robin Roshkind, Esquire, founded the Firm on May 17, 1998, the day she was admitted into The Florida Bar.  She was 43 years old when she went back to law school.  Her children were 10 and 12 years old.  Her marriage was over, and a nasty divorce was about to begin.   Her divorce and her law school education took the same three years.  In 1998, she founded the Firm as a solo practitioner at the age of 46.  She had never worked in a law firm before.  So she hired really good people. 

Today, Attorney Maria Patullo has been with the Firm for more than 9 years.  Certified Family Law Paralegal, Laura “Charlie” Petrich, has been with the Firm for more than 9 years.  Attorney Catherine Eaton has been with the Firm for 8 years, and Certified Family Law Paralegal Darlene Hayes, 5 1/2 years.   The staff also includes Tracy Von Schmittou, a Certified Family Law Paralegal, who does all the Firm’s document discovery, and Legal Assistant, Jennifer Perez, who is bilingual.  

The Firm has an excellent reputation among the bar and the bench in Palm Beach County, Florida.  Its area of concentration is divorce, collaborative divorce, mediation, paternity, custody disputes, prenuptial agreements, relocation with children, child support, alimony disputes, name changes, same sex couples issues, including cohabitation agreements.   For more information, contact one of the Firm’s attorneys at 561-835-9091 or visit our web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Custody, Child Support and other Children’s Issues in Divorce.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Many issues in divorce situations can be settled by the husband and wife, who agree to split assets and debts of the marriage.  But one issue that almost never settles, and therefore, has to be litigated, is CUSTODY.  The question becomes, “Where are the children going to live?” “Which parent is going to have day to day responsibility for the children?”  What about parenting styles?  If there are two good parents, this becomes a very difficult question.  In other cases, where one of the parents is an alcoholic, drug addict, neglects the children, or otherwise is an inferior parent for mental health reasons, or whatever, these cases are clearer.  But in cases where there are two decent parents fighting for custody of the children, it is the job of the judge to decide where the best interests of the children best lie.   Custody, as a term of art, is being replaced in new laws using the term “parental time sharing” or “parenting plan”.  However, the children must live somewhere, and that is usually where the custodial parent resides, for all intents and purposes.

Aside from custody, child support is paid to that custodial parent by the other parent. The amount is statutory, calculated in Florida by using the combined monthly incomes of the husband and the wife.  Florida Statute Chapter 61.30 is for your reference, the child support statute. Lawyers have special softward to determine the amount of child support in a case, taking into consideration all other deductions.

Speaking of deductions, here are the other issues in a divorce case involving children.  Who gets the head of household tax deduction yearly?  Who takes the dependency exemptions on their tax returns?  Which parent gets the child care tax credit?  Which parent covers the children’s health insurance for a credit?  What about uncovered medical expenses for the children?  Who pays for private school or sleepaway summer camp?  What about other activties like tennis lessons or piano lessons?  What happens if one parent wants to move far away?  What if the “custodial parent” wants to move away WITH the children?

If the husband and wife cannot agree to these ongoing concerns of the children, then the judge will decide the family’s future.  For more information about children’s issues in divorce, call the law firm of Robin Roshkind, P.A. for a consultation with one of our attorneys at 561-835-9091.  Or view the web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Why is going to trial so expensive?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The divorce petition is filed with the court and the spouse is served.  The spouse has 20 calendar days to file and answer and a counter petition for dissolution of marriage.  Over the next month or so, mandatory disclosure is produced by both husband and wife.  This may include the following: pay stubs, tax returns, credit card receipts, bank statements, stock portfolios, deeds, titles, and any other evidence of income, assets or debts of the marriage or separate property of the parties.  Armed with all this paper, this “discovery”, both spouses and their lawyers attend mediation in an attempt to settle the divorce case and any disputed issues between the parties.  If a settlement occurs, the marital settlement agreement becomes part of a court order, the final divorce decree.

Should mediation not result in a partial or global marital settlement, the next step involves divorce litigation. Going to divorce court means taking the case to the judge so he or she can decide what is going to be for the future of the family.   A temporary relief hearing is set, which essentially is a mini trial.  The court order resulting from a temporary relief hearing sets forth the terms of the separation on a temporary basis pending the divorce proceedings.  Now the fun begins.

Issues such as a valuation of a business formed during the marriage can complicate the divorce.  Issues involving the employability of a stay at home spouse can complicate the divorce.  Issues regarding an unfit parent and who is to have custody can complicate a divorce.  Issues about relocation with children out of the state can complicate a divorce.  Hidden monies offshore can complicate a divorce. Money spent on paramours can complicate a divorce.  What is marital property versus what is non marital property can complicate a divorce.  Drugs and alcohol use along with domestic violence and general health issues can complicate a divorce.  Appraisals of jewelry and property can complicate a divorce.

Along with these divorce complications, come the expert witnesses to testify on behalf of each of their clients.  These include child psychologists, marriage counselors, forensic CPAs, appraisers, real estate agents, good mommy or good daddy friends, doctors, relatives.  Sometimes all these witnesses need to be deposed prior to trial.  And paid for their time and expertise.  Or testimony at trial.  Documents that can fill libraries are generated as evidence.  Each exhibit has to be marked for admissibility into evidence.  And your divorce lawyer has to know what is on every piece of paper and where to find it in the boxes and boxes of documents.

Trial preparation, from the point of strategizing the case, to obtaining necessary information and organizing the file, to speaking in the courtroom is time consuming, stressful, and very expensive.  The more complex issues there are in dispute between the spouses, the more expensive the trial will be.  By way of example, a straightforward half day trial can cost between $15,000 – $20,000 to prepare.  At Robin Roshkind, P.A., the lawyers always attempt settlement prior to switching gears toward litigation.   For more information, visit the web site of Robin Roshkind, P.A. Divorce Lawyers at www.familylawwpb.com or call for a consultation with one of the Firm’s experienced divorce lawyers at 561-835-9091.

Divorce Settlement or Divorce Trial? How to Know When to Settle.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The threshold question is as follows:  do you and your spouse want someone else deciding the outcome of your divorce?   Your finances?  Your family arrangements?   That someone else, of course, is the judge.  Someone who is totally unfamiliar with the family dynamics.  Oftentimes judges believe that if both parties leave the courtroom feeling cheated, the judge has done a good job. 

So under the best of circumstances, it is in the best interests of everyone involved, including the children, if any, for husbands and wives to come to a marital settlement agreement.  In fact, in Palm Beach County, Florida, where I practice, ALL parties to a divorce must attend mediation prior to taking the case to the courtroom.  This is a court administrative order.  Mediation talks are strictly confidential, and nothing said there is admissible if the case should get to the judge.

So how do you know when and if you should settle?  That is what we divorce attorneys are for.  Attorneys can predict what a reasonable outcome might be under the law.  We don’t have crystal balls on our desks, but within range and reason, we can discuss how the chips may fall.  Ultimately, the decision is the client’s, but with good counsel. 

Oftentimes, clients can waive their rights to some entitlement, just to get the deal done quickly and less costly.  This takes cooperation and compromise.  In order to waive one’s rights, let’s say, for example, to rehabilitative alimony, you have to know your entitlement.  If you are willing to effect a compromise, then settlement is more likely.   Collaborative divorce is less stressful, less expensive and takes less time and attorneys fees than does preparation for trial.

So trust the advice of counsel, and trust your instincts.  Finally, pick your battles wisely.  For more information about divorce settlements or trial information, go to our Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of our experienced divorce lawyers at Robin Roshkind, P.A. by calling 561-835-9091.