How To Modify Divorce Final Judgments And Other Family Court Orders In Florida

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

In Palm Beach County, Florida, once the divorce is over and a final judgment is entered, there are certain aspects of the divorce that are literally carved in stone.  Equitable distribution of assets and debts, once decided, and unless taken up to the appellate court, are final.  If a judge made an error of fact or law in considering the equitable distribution of assets or debts of the marriage,  the flawed final judgment must go up on appeal rather quickly.  You have 10 days to file for a rehearing, and then 30 days to file a notice of appeal.  If there is no error of fact or law, then the equitable distribution scheme is set in stone.  The parties must follow the intent of the order by transferring assets, title, or rolling over retirement plans.  The parties must pay the debts assigned to each of them and hold the other party harmless from  creditors.  Enforcement and contempt proceedings are the recourse against a disobeying ex spouse.

However, certain parts of a final judgment of dissolution of marriage or a divorce decree are modifiable under the right set of circumstances.  This includes anything to do with children, and the award of alimony.   Things that can be modified by the court AFTER a final divorce decree is entered include: child support, time sharing, shared parental responsibility, health insurance for the children, uncovered medical bills, and alimony. 

The ex spouse wishing to modify the final judgment must allege a material, substantial, unanticipated, change of circumstances since the time of final judgment.  Typical changes of circumstances include a loss of employment, sickness, increased income of the ex spouse, change of work schedules, and other substantial changes in the lives of the parties.  These allegations of changed circumstances need to be set forth in a petition to modify and filed with the court.  The proceedings require the exchange of updated financial information by the parties, a mediation session where the matter may be settled by agreed order, or a visit to the judge with proof and evidence of the need for the modification.  Modifications can be tricky to achieve.  For more information, 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. 

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Can I Talk To My Spouse Directly During Divorce?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The answer is, it depends.  Technically, if a husband and a wife are in divorce court, and both are represented by divorce lawyers, there should be no direct communication between spouses.  This is because if the spouses are communicating directly with each other, leaving the lawyers out of the loop, then the lawyers are acting or continuing with the representation without the benefit of knowledge as to these discussions.

Certainly if there is animosity between spouses, direct communications need to be limited to just discussions about the children, to fulfill shared parental responsibility principles.  Otherwise, the conversations can be abusive and detrimental to the process.

Where one party is represented by a divorce lawyer, and the other party is not, it is obvious that the party who is unrepresented needs to be speaking directly to the other spouse’ attorney. 

In my experience, where the husband and wife are divorcing and amicable, sometimes I encourage communications between parties, provided they keep both lawyers informed of any substance of the conversation and of any pending agreements.  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.  

 

 

Working the System! Motion for Continuance

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

In my continuing series of blogs on how to “work the system” in divorce litigation, the first blog was about getting your name changed during divorce proceedings so you don’t have to pay extra to do it later.  The second blog was about imputation of income where a spouse is voluntarily under employed or unemployed but has a fruitful work history.  These strategies are perfectly legal and accepted among the Bench and the Bar.

This third blog is how to work the system by using motions for continuance.  Why and when would a divorce court judge in Palm Beach County postpone a legal proceeding?  Here are some examples:

1.  Motion for continuance of mediation.  Mediation is set by court order.  Your spouse and/or his or her attorney does not comply with mandatory disclosure of financial documents which are necessary to go to mediation with, if you are to attempt a settlement of your divorce case.   In addition to doing a motion to compel these documents and information, your divorce lawyer should do a motion to continue mediation to another date.

2.  Motion to continue a temporary relief hearing.  Your divorce lawyer wants to take the deposition of your spouse’ accountant.  The lawyer or your spouse play the “unavailable game”.  If your lawyer cannot schedule the depositions, he/she has to ask for a continuance of the temporary relief hearing in addition to a motion to compel the requested depositions.

3.  Motion to continue trial.  A trial date is set by the court.  A discovery cut off date has come and gone while trial is imminent.  If your side does not have the information you are entitled to, like a witness list for example, your divorce lawyer would want to file for a continuance to allow more time to get the other side’s witness list and perhaps even take depositions of those witnesses.

Those are just three examples of when your lawyer might work the system by asking the court to reschedule litigation events via a motion for continuance.  It is perfectly legal.  There are many others, in response to the other lawyer’s “working the system” too.  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.  

Exchanging Information In Divorce Cases

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

It is common knowledge that divorce is all about money.  Sometimes it is amazing at how two people can greatly differ in opinions at to what things are worth.  For example, a marital home, a piece of jewelry, a painting, a business…the parties can be worlds apart as to what the true value is of any marital asset. 

That is why parties in divorce cases employ appraisers.  And even appraisers can differ.  But in dividing marital assets and debts, no matter how you look at it, there has to be  an exchange of financial information.  This takes up most of the time in a case early on.  It is called the discovery phase of the case.  There is mandatory disclosure, and there are requests for documents to be produced. There are also interrogatories to be answered.  All this information has to be gathered, photocopied, logged and presented to the opposing side in the divorce case.  This is extremely tedious, time consuming and downright annoying for both parties involved but it is a necessary evil.  Upon the exchange of financial information, the lawyers will set a mediation in an attempt to settle the matter.  Any disputes will be presented at trial in a temporary relief hearing, and the divorce lawyers will then start preparing for trial.  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.  

Divorce Now, Settle Later…It is possible!

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

In Palm Beach County divorce cases, it is possible to file for and get a divorce decree, and then to settle all the property issues at another and later time.  This is done by a divorce lawyer by filing a motion to bifurcate the case and the court subsequently entering an order approving a bifurcation.

Why would someone want to divorce now and settle up later?  One reason would be to not have other divorce issues be held hostage by the divorce itself.  For example, if a party is going for full custody of a child, by bifurcating the matter to settle the custody issue first, the other party cannot “trade” custody for some other marital asset.  Another reason to bifurcate and get the divorce first, is to remarry.  If there is a baby on the way, for example, a party may want to be free to remarry before the birth.  Since division of assets and debts may take some time in litigation, and with evidence needed, at least the divorce is granted so the party is free to remarry.  

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.

 

Use A Shrink To Tell Your Spouse You Want A Divorce

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

In the state of Florida, you do not need “permission” from your spouse to be granted a divorce, even if your spouse does not want the divorce.  What you will need, however, is a way to express to your spouse that the marriage is over and you want out.

I often recommend to clients in my practice, to engage the help of a professional for this purpose of telling your spouse you want a divorce.  First, many couples are already seeing a marriage counselor or therapist.  It is easier to come to the divorce conclusion if you are already discussing your relationship with this counselor.  Using a therapist or marriage counselor or even clergy or other professional at the time, is helpful.  Inform your spouse of your final decision and discuss it right then and there with a third party present.

On the other end of the spectrum is simply to move out of the marital home the same day you have your spouse served with divorce papers.   If there is a history of domestic violence in the home, this is the way to go.  Do not be around, when your spouse gets those divorce papers.

In the middle ground, is to use a therapist to negotiate the divorce process.  Sometimes therapists and marriage counselors can keep the divorce amicable, thus avoiding nasty litigation and all that goes along with that.  I highly recommend bringing therapists into the divorce process to keep the peace.  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.

 

A Discussion About Divorce Attorneys Fees

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Friends, neighbors, co workers and family members are all well meaning in giving divorcing couples lots of advice.  But when it comes to attorneys fees, there are two schools of thought.  The first is, If you are the major breadwinner, not only will you pay for your own divorce lawyer, you may have to pay for your spouse’ divorce lawyer too.  The second opinion is, If the incomes are about the same, each party pays for their own divorce lawyer.  This is not totally true.

Where incomes are greatly divergent, the “have not” spouse can motion the court for the other spouse to pay his/her divorce lawyer.  The court may grant the entire amount or a fraction of the amount, depending upon one spouse’ need and the other’s ability to pay.

If the parties are relatively equal in assets and incomes, chances are each pays for their own divorce.  Where there is a catch, is in the Florida case of Rosen v. Rosen, which is based upon the premise of egregious litigation.  If one party causes vexatious litigation unnecessarily, that party will pay a portion or all of the divorce lawyers fees for the other party’s divorce lawyer for unreasonably prolonging the agony.  The operative word here is “unreasonably”.

If a party is merely exercising one’s right to documents, therapy or whatever, they are entitled to do that.  However, if the litigation draws long, due to UNREASONABLE actions, such as with holding information, judges will recognize this upon evidence presented, and grant attorneys fees to the wronged party.

If you would like 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.