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.  

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What Is Marital Waste In Florida Divorces?

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

My clients often ask me why something that happened 20 or 30 years ago in their marriage matters in today’s divorce court.   The reason is the divorce court judge in Palm Beach County cases can look back to see if there was any marital waste.  What exactly does that mean and why is it significant.

It can mean the following:  marital funds spent on a gambling habit; drugs; alcoholism; prostitutes; mistresses; extended family members; relatives overseas.  Marital waste is anything that marital monies are spent on that does not further the marital purpose. 

Some might consider marital waste as a dissipation of marital assets.  But dissipation can also encompass bad investments, or other waste of marital funds done in good faith in trying to maintain the marriage.  Selling a marital asset to pay marital bills is dissipation, but it is in furtherance of the marriage.  That is the nuance difference between the two concepts. 

The reason that dissipation of marital assets and marital waste are both important, is because the judge has to divide marital assets and debts between the husband and the wife.  It is not always a 50/50 split.  For example, if one spouse financed a gambling problem over the last 30 years, today in divorce court, that spouse is going to pay by getting less than his/her half of the marital assets.  Of course, marital waste or dissipation of marital assets has to be proven.  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.

 

Can A Divorce Decree Be Changed?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The lawyerly answer is…it depends.  Certain things in a divorce decree or divorce court order may be modified by the parties or by a judge, and certain other things, once agreed to, adjudicated, and court ordered, are set in stone.

Anything that addresses the best interests of the children of the divorce can be modified, either by agreement of the parties or by a court order.  This would require the moving parent to petition the court for a modification of, for example, child support, time sharing arrangements, shared parenting, or a relocation.  The moving party would have to prove there is a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the original court order, which is enough of a change to warrant the modification asked for.   

Other divorce issues, like the division of marital assets and/or debts, once decided or agreed to by the parties, or adjudicated by the judge, become the law of the case, never to be adjudicated again…that is, unless a spouse can prove fraud. This principle of divorce law is called equitable distribution of marital assets and debts.

Sometimes alimony obligations can be modified upward or downward, provided the agreement between the parties, does not specifically state that alimony is unmodifiable.  Again, to modify, this would require the moving party to file a petition for modification of alimony, and allege a substantial change of circumstances from the time of the original court order… said circumstances would have to warrant a modification in the court’s opinion, or by agreement of the parties.  Since the law on alimony is based upon one spouse’ need, and the other spouse’ ability to pay, alimony modifications are quite common.

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.

 

 

Refinancing The Home BEFORE The Divorce?!

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

One of my clients, the Wife, had the most daring request posed to her by her “amicable” Husband late one afternoon recently.  The couple is getting divorced and are participating in settlement negotiations with their respective CPAs and divorce attorneys.  Both the Husband’s name and Wife’s name are on the deed and the mortgage to the marital home which is here in Florida.  Another vacation home is up north in New York’s Hamptons communities. 

In the settlement negotiations, the Husband was to keep the marital home here in Florida in his name only by Wife quit claim deeding the home to him, and the Wife was to keep the vacation home in the Hamptons by him quit claim deeding that home to her.  He actually asked his wife to refinance the marital home WITH HIM, so that he could get the cash out, live there, have the home solely in his name, and pay her over time her equitable distribution from the marital assets!  In other words, her own money!  That takes balls.

Yes, I stopped her!  If she would have done that in the interest of being “amicable”, she would have further encumbered herself (read DEBT) in a property she no longer would have a legal interest in, and he would have the cash!  Then he would pay out over time, her own money. That is why divorcing couples need  divorce lawyers.  For more information 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.

 

Can You Change A Marital Settlement Agreement Once It Becomes A Court Order?

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Yes.  A marital settlement agreement and court order of divorce can be changed by AGREEMENT OF THE PARTIES or by COURT ORDER.  A court order will be the result of a PETITION FOR MODIFICATION OF FINAL JUDGMENT.  It has to be based upon a substantial, material change of circumstances.  You would have to prove such a change requires a modification at the POST DISSOLUTION TRIAL.

However, there is an EXCEPTION…once property and debts are divided in divorce court, or even by agreement of the parties, that part of the final judgment is a done deal.  Spousal support (alimony) and children’s issues (time sharing, child support) can be modified.  Division of assets and debts cannot.

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.

Can A Cheating Spouse Be Punished By Florida Divorce Courts?

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Sitting in my office, listening to potential divorce clients, it seems like no one is having sex within their marriage.  They are either sex deprived, or they or their spouse are cheating on the side.

To some extent, the Florida law protects cheaters, directing the “cheated upon” spouse to simply divorce the cheater.   That’s what is meant when we divorce lawyers say Florida is a “no fault” state.    However, the law does protect an innocent spouse from dissipation of marital assets.   What that means is if a cheater is spending significant sums of marital monies on the affair, that so called dissipation of marital assets can be considered in the financial scheme of the divorce.  There may be an unequal equitable distribution given in favor of the innocent spouse by the divorce court judge.

Case law defines significant sums as: buying a girl friend an expensive car, paying her rent, buying a condo for the paramour, taking numerous expensive vacations or shopping trips, all the usual but expensive trappings of keeping a lover.   A casual dinner out does not qualify.

If you suspect your spouse is the cheating kind, 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 for more information.  We may want to put a private eye on your spouse and use that testimony and evidence in court to get you the better part of the marital estate.

What Happens If You Reconcile After Signing A Marital Settlement Agreement?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

You have filed for divorce.  You and your spouse both have hired divorce lawyers.  You have produced documents.  You have gone to mediation and settled your divorce case.  Both of you have signed the marital settlement agreement dividing up the property and debt.  What happens if you both want to reconcile and stay married?

You can abate the proceedings, meaning putting the case on hold for a short time certain.   You can totally dismiss your divorce case, as if it never existed.  BUT the terms of the marital settlement agreement stay in place and are enforceable in court under contract.

We divorce lawyers sometimes use this as a tactic for a spouse who is controlled by the other spouse through money.  In this way, the assets and debts are divided, and alimony support is in place.  If you choose to stay married and reconcile, the “have not” spouse now has.

For more information about this or other divorce tactics, 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.