What Are “Rosen” Fees in Florida Divorce Courts?

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

In divorce cases, because one side cannot control the actions of the other, divorce lawyers work on an hourly basis at a specified hourly rate.  The hourly rate itself can vary from attorney to attorney, but most divorce lawyers will work a case on an hourly basis.  There are certain normal procedures in the life of a divorce case.  Things like mandatory disclosure due dates, motions, mediations, and temporary relief hearings.  However, where one party intentionally, vindictively, and vexatiously either delays the case, files unnecessary pleadings, or stalls the matter by disobeying court orders, the offended party may request the court award him/her attorneys fees and costs from the offending party under Rosen v. Rosen and other cases that came after that case in time.  The language and meaning is clear:  Should one spouse cause a the other to incur unnecessary or unreasonable attorneys fees and costs due to vexatious litigation, the court should award attorneys fees and costs for that. 

This award of fees and costs is very different from the statutory award of fees and costs under the “need of one spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay” attorneys fees and costs due to a substantial difference in incomes or assets.  That is a different pleading with a different legal basis, even though an award of attorneys fees and costs is the same result, but for different purpose.   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 http://www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

All I Want For Christmas Is A Divorce. How Do I Get One?

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

You start by taking stock…of your situation, your family finances, your assets and your debts.  Educate yourself as to your spouse’ income, his/her spending, and whereabouts.  Then pick up the phone to a divorce lawyer.

Once you have a good idea of the value of your house, your stock accounts, your incomes, get your hands on your tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, mortgage papers, loan applications, insurance documents, estate planning instruments, and anything else that evidences money. 

Remember in Florida, there is no fault divorce; there is equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, and there is premarital property that may or may not have been comingled.  There is also permanent alimony, durational alimony, bridge the gap alimony, and no alimony.  There is child time sharing, child support, shared parental responsibility, or sole parental responsibility. 

There is money for attorneys fees and costs, or not.  There is mediation and settlement, or trial.  There are depositions, mandatory financial disclosure, and penalties for not producing financial disclosure.  Divorce is a process, but in certain circumstances, it is the best gift you could ever give yourself.  You don’t need his/her permission to get a divorce in this state.  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 for more information.  

How To Navigate The Deadlines In Divorce Litigation

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire

Divorce is a process.  It takes time to get from one point to the next.  First, when you file, your petition for dissolution of marriage, the other spouse must be served with divorce papers.  Once served, that spouse has 20 days to file a responsive pleading and/or a counter petition for divorce.  Should a counter petition be filed, you, the filing spouse, have 20 days to respond to that counter petition.  Then comes the discovery and disclosure of financial information.  A financial affidavit must be filed along with supporting documents given to the other side.  Motions to compel mandatory disclosure may have to be heard by the judge.  However, once all the disclosure requirements are met, the parties can set a mediation in an attempt to settle the matters in dispute.  At this point, you have already spent 3 to 6 months or longer to get to mediation.  At mediation, the divorce may fully settle, partially settle or there may be no settlement at all.  If there is no settlement, a temporary relief hearing will be scheduled before the judge.  Typical relief is child support, alimony and attorneys fees to finance the litigation of this pending divorce. 

This, of course, is an overly simplified discussion of the process and curve balls may get in the way, costing time and money.  The important thing to do is talk to your lawyer and understand the time lines, so you don’t have unrealistic expectations.  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 Do Divorce Paralegals Do?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The paralegal staff at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. are highly trained, experienced paralegals who have been with the Firm for more than 10 years.  They serve both the divorcing clients of the Firm, and the lawyers who advocate for those clients.  When a new client retains the Firm for legal representation in a divorce case, the client is assigned to a paralegal and attorney team, because that is the most cost effective way for the client to get through the process. 

The paralegal will handle all the administrative and ministerial tasks on a divorce matter.  She works at a much lower billable rate per hour than does a divorce lawyer.  She does things like assist the client with filling out financial affidavits or finding an accountant for the client to work with on this task.  She will issue to your spouse or the attorney representing your spouse, the standard requests for mandatory disclosure of financial information, standard interrogatories, requests to produce documents, and also schedule when these things are due back pursuant to the Family Law Rules.  She will remind the divorce lawyer when these documents are due back, so if they are not back timely, the lawyer will then do a motion to compel and for fees for having to do so.  The paralegal will organize and log in all this discovery, which could be boxes and boxes of documents.

Paralegals generally schedule and keep the attorneys calendar of conferences, meetings, mediations, depositions, court hearings; she will coordinate these with opposing counsel’s office and the judicial assistant to the judge assigned to the case.  She will hire translators, appraisers, private investigators, real estate agents, gather information about life insurance, credit cards, and perform other helpful services to the divorcing client.  She will notarize documents, send pleadings to opposing counsel, file documents in the courthouse, courier urgent deliveries of documents,  write letters, issue subpoenas, all in service of the client’s best interests during this pressing time.

Paralegals keep a divorce case moving from point to point to point with clarity, efficiency, accuracy, and diligence.  They are invaluable to the attorneys who they work for, and priceless to the divorcing clients they work with. 

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.

 

 

Why Divorce Lawyers Work Hourly

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

In Palm Beach County, there are some divorce lawyers who charge upwards of $600 per hour for their expertise; and there are others who are less experienced who charge $200 per hour.  There are also those in between.  What we all have in common is a Juris Doctor education, a Bar exam and license, and divorce clients who pay us based upon an hourly rate. 

This is because when a divorce lawyer takes a case, it is difficult to determine, let alone be certain, of the outcome.  While every case is different, there are, of course, common themes and common issues, like child support, alimony, division of assets and debts and attorneys fees.  But the main reason divorce lawyers work hourly, is because we have no control over the other side of the case.  We cannot control your spouse’ attorney, nor can we control your spouse.  We do not know if there is going to be an amicable settlement or if we have to litigate an issue, or all issues.  We do not know how much or how long we will have to work a divorce case.

We cannot insist upon a settlement, or predict settlement terms.  We cannot guarantee a good result, because we lawyers cannot get into the judge’s head.  We just don’t know what is going to happen.  What we do get to do is advocate for our client’s position.  We strategize in order to present our client in the best possible light.  We deal with either cooperative spouses and their lawyers, or uncooperative spouses and uncooperative lawyers.  Or even one of each.  All this takes time and skill, following the rules of procedure, and reading up on any applicable laws that may or even may not apply. 

At my Firm, for example, every new client is assigned to a paralegal and attorney team.  It is the paralegals who do the ministerial or administrative tasks on a case, to keep our clients’ bills within reason.  Paralegals, too, work hourly, but at a much lower rate than the attorneys rates.   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 for more information.   

 

How to “Work the System”…Imputation of Income

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

In my continuation of “working the system” in divorce court blogs, I must qualify that I am only licensed to practice law in the State of Florida.  Therefore, all my information is based upon Florida law.  Marriage and divorce laws change with each state.

In Florida divorces, there is such a thing as “imputation of income”.   Income of a husband or a wife is especially important when it comes to issues such as child support, alimony and any request for an award of attorneys fees.  PRESENT ability to pay is important for temporary relief hearings pending the actual divorce proceedings.

But at the end of the process, when it comes down to the actual trial, the divorce court judge may look at a party’s earning history over the last three to five years, not just the present day income.  As a result of that employment history, the court may “impute” an income to a spouse, and enter a ruling “as if” the spouse was in fact earning that income, even though in reality they are sitting on the beach waiting for this case to be over.

Often, to impute an income, in addition to any earnings history, the judge might also consider a vocation evaluation.  That is when a party is evaluated as to their age, health, education and marketable skills set, and the evaluator, as expert witness, testifies as to what that spouse could be earning if employed.  The divorce court judge then has the discretion to impute an income to that spouse as if he/she were employed earning that income and enter an order based upon that imputed income.

Vocational evaluations are granted by court order after a motion is made and a hearing is set.  They are helpful tools in imputing an income to an under employed or unemployed spouse for purposes of awarding alimony, child support and attorneys fees. 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.