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.

Protect Yourself With Divorce Planning

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If you are thinking about getting divorced, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself.   The very first thing is to educate yourself about the family finances.  Then start a photocopying and photographing campaign. 

When you eliminate the emotional baggage, divorce is about money….dividing assets and debts of a marriage, as well as determining income for purposes of alimony, child support, and attorneys fees. 

In terms of being able to prove the incomes of the spouses, it is important to have things like tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements showing any direct deposits of income.  Incomes of the parties are key to any divorce.   Employment history is important too.  A spouse should not be able to voluntarily under employ himself or herself and get away with it. Remember, income can be passive as well, resulting from investments, sale of real estate and the like.  Think about what you need to PROVE these things.

Valuing of assets are a necessary must in terms of who gets what.  For example, appraisals of jewelry, art, antiques, cars, even the family business will help the parties or the court divide the assets fairly.  Determining debt is the other side of the coin.  Things like mortgages, lines of credit, credit card bills, car loans need to be addressed, so it is important to have these papers organized and ready to present.

Photographs speak volumes when it comes to valuable cars, boats, and household items of substantial worth.  When you have finished gathering all these documents, deliver the boxes of evidence to your divorce attorney for safekeeping.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, see http://www.familylawwpb.com, or call for a consultation appointment 561 835 9091.

 

What To Do About Interspousal Theft?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If you are thinking about divorce, you just never know if things will turn out amicable or nasty.  To protect yourself, I advise my clients to start photocopying every document they can get their hands on which shows money coming into the marriage or money going out.   This includes credit card bills, bank statements, income streams, pay stubs, tax returns, receipts and the like.

But sometimes divorces turn very nasty, and involve the theft or destruction of one’s property.  Yes, just like in the movies.   I advise my clients to remove all small valuable items from the home, like diamond engagement rings, which have nothing to do with the divorce, inherited jewelry, any small items of value that are separate property.

To protect expensive handbags, shoes, clothing, furs, artwork, silverware, fine china, antique furniture, cars, pianos, etc. , I recommend photos or videos to document what was there and in what condition.  That way, if your husband or wife were to go into the nasty zone, you have proof of what was there along with its condition for trial or for settlement.

Don’t take anything for granted.  It is easy enough to protect yourself and your property.  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.

PLANNING YOUR DIVORCE for the new year.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If you are unhappy in your marriage, but are not sure what to do, chances are you will stick it out as a family until after the holidays.  BUT NOW is a good time to plan your exit strategy.  While your spouse is out shopping with the kids, or visiting Mom’s house, start photocopying everything you can get your hands on:  income statements, pay stubs, credit card bills, bank statements, loan documents, mortgage papers, retirement accounts, real estate listing agreements, titles to cars, boats, trucks, household expense accounts, investment statements, everything that will show ASSETS, DEBTS, OR INCOME.

Divorce planning is important because it helps you sort out the details of your marriage…this is useful when you go to the lawyer for the consultation.  It gives everyone a better idea of what is at stake and what the issues are to be addressed.

Job changes, job loss, sale of property, Christmas bonuses, year end commissions, relocation, new school districts, are all considerations that need to be looked upon by your lawyer.  You can help your lawyer to better serve you if you have all the right information going into the consultation.  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 www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

What To Bring With You To The First Meeting With A Divorce Lawyer

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Some divorce lawyers in Palm Beach County, Florida, give free consultations.  I do not.  That is because I conduct an in depth interview, I look over documents and most importantly, I give legal advice for which I am liable.  I want my clients to know that I take the time and care required before I open my mouth.

Think about what you are paying for when you go to see a lawyer…his/her time, and expertise.  Why other lawyers give their services away is a mystery to me.  Maybe they don’t value what they are doing.  Why should the client?   So instead of doing free consultations, I give of my time and expertise, which I value. 

That being said, here is what I like to see and discuss at our first consultation meeting:

1.  Some knowledge of the family finances.  You would be surprised how may wives don’t know what their husbands earn.   Copies of  pay stubs and tax returns are welcomed.

2.  Information about the marital home, such as purchase price and year, amount owed, monthly payments, back taxes, HOA fees, and a general idea of what the house would sell for in today’s marketplace.  You can get this casually from a realtor who works your neighborhood.

3.  What the couple would like to see arranged as far as any children are concerned.  They must have had discussions and I would like to know the direction of those talks, if any.

4.  Who the spouse’s lawyer is by name if applicable.  I can often tell if a case is going to settle or going to trial by the name of the lawyer representing the other party. 

5.  Information on other real estate owned by the parties. 

6.  Business documentation if a business was founded during the marriage.

7.  A list of marital and non marital stuff.

This information gets me off to a good start toward creating some possible scenarios for my client.  The purpose of my consultation is to educate the client, calm the fears, determine the potential disputes, and discuss rights and options.   If you are thinking about divorce in Palm Beach County, Florida, call for a consultation at 561 835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

Legal documents and divorce.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Patience, patience, patience is required to fill out or gather all the forms and documents necessary to comply with the Florida family law rules of court.  The following documents are necessary evils and you should be prepared to cooperate with your attorney and comply by producing the needed information.  If you do not comply, opposing counsel will most definitely file a motion to compel you to produce and unless you file and WIN a motion for protective order, you will also be taxed with your spouse’s attorneys fees!

So be ready to produce the following:

1.  Financial affidavit   2. answers to opposing party interrogatories and requests for production   3.  personal and corporate tax returns  4. credit card statements  5. bank account statements  6. mortgages, deeds and any other title instruments    7. stock and bond account statements  8. retirement account statements   9. pay stubs  or any other evidence of ANY income   10.  loan applications   11.  insurance policies  12. health insurance cards  13. pre nuptial or post nuptial agreements  14.  Court orders from previous marriages .

Divorce is paper intensive.  At my law firm, our paralegals are highly trained to assist clients to carefully produce evidence.  For more information about this divorce topic or other subjects, click on the Robin Roshkind, P.A. website at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of the attorneys at the Firm by calling for an appointment at 561-835-9091.

Divorce and full disclosure. It’s part of the process.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach

When anyone files for divorce in the state of Florida procedurally,, one must follow the rules of mandatory disclosure.  This rule is 12.285 in the Florida Rules of Court.

What is says is if any party is seeking financial relief, or if child support is involved in the case, one must disclose all his/her financial information.  This includes filing a sworn financial affidavit, accompanied by supporting documents.  A financial affidavit includes one’s income, assets, debts, deductions, financial obligations to a prior family, and the like.  Documents required to be produced to the other party include pay stubs, tax returns, bonuses, deeds, mortgages, car payments, health insurance costs, child support paid to another family, if any, loan documents title documents, credit card statements, bank statements, stock account or other financial instruments.  In other words, all documentation that is evidence of one’s financial resources and obligation must be provided. 

Once both sides exchange these items, then in Palm Beach County divorce court, all parties and their counsel must attend mediation prior to going to court.  This is a court mandate, becu\ause most cases settle without a judge.  Mediation is where the parties andtheir attorneys can try to come up with a marital settlement agreement.  If that should fail, then a temporary relief hearing, a mini trial, is set before the judge.  The case at this point then turns from settlement to litigation, which is very costly. 

For more information about financial discovery in divorce cases, please click on the Robin Roshkind, P.A. website at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of the attorneys at the Firm by calling 561-835-9091.