Checklist for Setting Yourself Up For A Divorce

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

There are certain steps you must take before you tell your spouse you are seeing a divorce lawyer and getting ready to file for divorce.  These are cautionary, and you may not really need to protect yourself in this way, but it is better to be safe than sorry.  Here are my suggestions:

1.  Photograph everything in your house.  Include cars, boats, motorcylces and other assets, such as vacant land.

2.  Remove jewelry and small valuables.

3.  Photo copy important documents such as deeds, mortgages, tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, utility bills, pay check stubbs of both you and your spouse and deliver to your lawyer.

4.   Get a post office box, or arrange with a friend or neighbor to accept your mail from your lawyer so it remains confidential.  Or you can accept mail at your place of employment.

5.  Get your own cell phone account and your own email account in case your spouse cuts you off upon learning of your seeking counsel.

6.  Slowly stock pile things you never thought you would need like socks, new towels, luggage. 

For more advice on preparing for a divorce consult with one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Wha Happens To “Stuff” In the Marital Home?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

When you are getting a divorce, what happens to the things you have acquired in the marital home.  It depends upon their value.  If you have priceless artwork and antiques, an appraiser should be called in to value all of the valuable assets.  Then once a value is placed upon such things, it has to be agreed upon by the parties as to what is marital and what is not.  If there can be no such agreement, then a judge will decide.  Provided all the valuable assets are marital, then the parties can agree as to who gets what piece, or if they can’t agree then everything should be sold at fair market value and the net proceeds split 50/50.

In more modest homes, where there is only used furniture and a big screen TV, the parties need to decide who gets what.  If that is not possible, then a judge will divide stuff equally down the middle or by preference. 

Where one party is granted exclusive use and possession of the marital home, oftentimes all the contents stays with that spouse, and the other spouse is given other marital assets as an off set of the value.  Of course, each spouse is to receive their own personal effects such as clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, tools, bicycle and the like.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, PA at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Marital Settlement Agreements Can Reinforce Prenuptial Agreements.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The easiest divorce I ever did was for a client who came in with a prenuptial agreement that both the husband and the wife  wanted to enforce in their amicable divorce.   Nine years earlier, the prenuptial agreement was negotiated and executed (signed) well in advance of the wedding…both the future bride and future groom had attorneys representing their individual interests, there was full disclosure by both parties, and the agreement was fair under Florida law.    They got married and after 8 years they decided to divorce in a collaborative manner.

They each retained counsel just to be certain that everything would be taken care of.  I was to draft a marital settlement agreement which reaffirmed that the parties wanted to enforce all the terms of the prenuptial agreement.

The petition for dissolution of marriage announced that the parties had executed a marital settlement agreement of divorce and that the marital settlement agreement stated the prenuptial agreeement was to control.  All issues were dealt with in the prenuptial agreement.  The final judgment of divorce referenced these agreements and then all I had to do was set final hearing and attend with my client. 

One key element missing was the fact that this couple had no children between them.  That made upholding the prenuptial agreement and marital settlement agreement so much simpler.  Today, this couple is divorce and still best of friends.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

What The Courts Can Do For You.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

You have lived with your spouse for many years.  You are tired of a) being abused verbally b) being smacked around by a drunk c) living with a shopaholic  d) visiting your mother in law every Sunday.  You fill in the blank.

So what can the court/judge do to help if you are living in hell?  Your recourse, after marriage counseling, is to get divorced.  The court cannot make your husband sell his stamp collection or stop yelling at you.  The court cannot make your wife stop spending or prevent her from getting fat.  If you are not happy in the marriage,  get help or get out. 

I had a client whine to a judge that she had lived with a physically abusive husband for 23 years.  She was testifying, trying to make the point that the husband was a miserable person.  What does the judge care?  This wife lived with that husband all that time.  This is a no fault state.  Whining to a judge just does not help your divorce case.  Remember that a judge is a lawyer, there to uphold divorce court laws.  For more information about this or other divorce topics call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

DIVORCE CASE OF THE MONTH: What Is A Mediated Agreement?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

All parties to a divorce in Palm Beach County, Florida, have to attend a mediation session for purposes of attempting a settlement, prior to going before the Court on any disputed issues in a divorce.  This means that financial information must be exchanged persuant to Fl. Fam. Rule 12.285 Mandatory Disclosure prior to the mediation.  Then the parties and their counsel and CPAs can go forward with mediation.

I did just that with a client who came to agreement with her spouse after five hours of negotiations in mediation.  The terms of agreement were typed up into the document called a Marital Settlement Agreement.  This “MSA” was to become part of this couple’s final judgment of dissolution of marriage at the final hearing on the divorce.  But there was just one problem.  The husband fired his attorney on the spot and refused to sign the agreement after 5 hours of negotiations. 

If an agreement is reached, IT MUST BE SIGNEDBY THE PARTIES.  If there are no signatures, there is NO AGREEMENT.  Now this couple will have to turn to the Courts to resolve their disputed issues in divorce court.  For more informaiton about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Hire Your Divorce Lawyer In Secrecy!

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

You want to seek legal advice about your marriage…you are at the end of your rope and tired of giving second and third chances…marriage counseling is not working…you are unhappy all the time.  If you can relate to these emotions, your marriage is over.  But should you tell your husband or wife you hired a lawyer?

While every case is different, it is wise to get all your ducks in a row before confirming you are serious about divorce and have hired counsel.  I advise my clients to photograph the contents of the marital home; remove small itms like engagement rings, that can be “stolen”.  I advise my clients to photocopy tax returns, corporate books and ledgers, credit card bills, bank statements, loan documents and other EVIDENCE prior to divulging the fact that an attorney has been retained.

If your spouse does not know you have hired counsel, it is much easier for you to prepare your case.  Document bad behavior, such as drunkeness, drug use, failure to spend time with the kids…things that can magically change overnight once a divorce petition is filed with the courts.   The time between deciding to divorce and actually filing divorce papers is a very valuable time to gather documents, remove separate property, and generally take stock of the marriage without interference from your spouse. 

Let your divorce lawyer come up with a strategy your spouse can’t wiggle out of.  So generally it is best to hire your lawyer, decide what to do and then when you are ready, and only then, tell your spouse a divorce is imminent.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.

Taxes And Same Sex Couples

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

It’s tax time and refunds are not yet in the mail.  We are still doing our taxes or asking for extensions.  For same sex couples, the issues are a bit different because they are not viewed under the law as a traditional family. 

Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships give some couples the tax benefits of families, but they are tricky.  Health insurance issues, what is deductible and what is not, head of household deductions, dependent deductions, at state and federal levels all add to the murky waters of tax law. 

Also, when same sex relationships end, property division can have serious tax ramifications.  It is important to realize that same sex couples are not afforded the same discounts and advantages as married couples.  But they are benefitted by having a skilled lawyer and accountant in drafting cohabitation agreements at the beginning of a relationship and in drafting division of property and benefits at the end of a relationship.  For more information, call one of the lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.