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.

 

 

Advertisements

Most popular divorce disputes.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

There are some issues in divorce cases that are typical problems common to many cases.  The biggest fight issue of all is custody, which, incidentally, is now called “parenting plan” or “time sharing”.  

Fighting over the kids is not always on its face about the children.  But rather it is often about the child support check which goes to the parent who has the children most of the time.  This is “free” money as in the recipient spouse does not have to pay taxes on it as income.

Another often disputed issue is alimony.  Husbands (usually) don’t want to pay any alimony on a monthly basis.  They would rather give the wife a bigger portion of the marital assets, or incur a greater portion of the marital debt to avoid writing that monthly alimony check.  It is psychological.

A third highly disputed divorce issue is relocation with the children.  Again often this is about the money, not the kids.  As in time sharing disputes, these hardly ever settle.  Divorcing couples leave it up to the judge to decide which parent is more correct, the one moving away or the one staying.  What it really boils down to is the best intersts of the child.

Valuation of a business or one’s income if self employed are also hotly disputed issues.  If you or your spouse encounter these specific issues in your divorce, chances are you need independent divorce attorneys to help and advise you. For questions, call  the lawyers at Robin Roshkind, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. website at www.familylawwpb.com.

Preparing your divorce case.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If you are going through a divorce, the most important thing you can do is to cooperate with your divorce lawyer.  He or she has done this before, even if you have not.  Or maybe you have gone through this process before.  It is important to find a divorce lawyer you are comfortable with and then to follow his or her advice.

Discuss the issues of your case with your attorney.   If it is a divorce involving mostly financial issues, prepare the documents you will need to present as evidence.  If there is an issue of relocating with minor children, document the relationship of the other parent by keeping a calendar.  Take photos of the prospective schools in the new location, housing, the neighborhood.  If there is marital property to be divided, take photos or get appraisals.   There is much you can do as a party to a divorce that will save time, preserve evidence and set up your case.

Of course, it is recommended that you clear everything with your attorney first, and follow directives.  For more information about preparing your divorce case or other divorce proceedings, click on the Robin Roshkind, P.A. website at www.familylawwpb.com or call for a consultation appointment with one of the attorneys at the Firm at 561-835-9091.

About Robin Roshkind, P.A. Divorce Lawyers, West Palm Beach, Florida

Robin Roshkind, Esquire, founded the Firm on May 17, 1998, the day she was admitted into The Florida Bar.  She was 43 years old when she went back to law school.  Her children were 10 and 12 years old.  Her marriage was over, and a nasty divorce was about to begin.   Her divorce and her law school education took the same three years.  In 1998, she founded the Firm as a solo practitioner at the age of 46.  She had never worked in a law firm before.  So she hired really good people. 

Today, Attorney Maria Patullo has been with the Firm for more than 9 years.  Certified Family Law Paralegal, Laura “Charlie” Petrich, has been with the Firm for more than 9 years.  Attorney Catherine Eaton has been with the Firm for 8 years, and Certified Family Law Paralegal Darlene Hayes, 5 1/2 years.   The staff also includes Tracy Von Schmittou, a Certified Family Law Paralegal, who does all the Firm’s document discovery, and Legal Assistant, Jennifer Perez, who is bilingual.  

The Firm has an excellent reputation among the bar and the bench in Palm Beach County, Florida.  Its area of concentration is divorce, collaborative divorce, mediation, paternity, custody disputes, prenuptial agreements, relocation with children, child support, alimony disputes, name changes, same sex couples issues, including cohabitation agreements.   For more information, contact one of the Firm’s attorneys at 561-835-9091 or visit our web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Custody, Child Support and other Children’s Issues in Divorce.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Many issues in divorce situations can be settled by the husband and wife, who agree to split assets and debts of the marriage.  But one issue that almost never settles, and therefore, has to be litigated, is CUSTODY.  The question becomes, “Where are the children going to live?” “Which parent is going to have day to day responsibility for the children?”  What about parenting styles?  If there are two good parents, this becomes a very difficult question.  In other cases, where one of the parents is an alcoholic, drug addict, neglects the children, or otherwise is an inferior parent for mental health reasons, or whatever, these cases are clearer.  But in cases where there are two decent parents fighting for custody of the children, it is the job of the judge to decide where the best interests of the children best lie.   Custody, as a term of art, is being replaced in new laws using the term “parental time sharing” or “parenting plan”.  However, the children must live somewhere, and that is usually where the custodial parent resides, for all intents and purposes.

Aside from custody, child support is paid to that custodial parent by the other parent. The amount is statutory, calculated in Florida by using the combined monthly incomes of the husband and the wife.  Florida Statute Chapter 61.30 is for your reference, the child support statute. Lawyers have special softward to determine the amount of child support in a case, taking into consideration all other deductions.

Speaking of deductions, here are the other issues in a divorce case involving children.  Who gets the head of household tax deduction yearly?  Who takes the dependency exemptions on their tax returns?  Which parent gets the child care tax credit?  Which parent covers the children’s health insurance for a credit?  What about uncovered medical expenses for the children?  Who pays for private school or sleepaway summer camp?  What about other activties like tennis lessons or piano lessons?  What happens if one parent wants to move far away?  What if the “custodial parent” wants to move away WITH the children?

If the husband and wife cannot agree to these ongoing concerns of the children, then the judge will decide the family’s future.  For more information about children’s issues in divorce, call the law firm of Robin Roshkind, P.A. for a consultation with one of our attorneys at 561-835-9091.  Or view the web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Why is going to trial so expensive?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The divorce petition is filed with the court and the spouse is served.  The spouse has 20 calendar days to file and answer and a counter petition for dissolution of marriage.  Over the next month or so, mandatory disclosure is produced by both husband and wife.  This may include the following: pay stubs, tax returns, credit card receipts, bank statements, stock portfolios, deeds, titles, and any other evidence of income, assets or debts of the marriage or separate property of the parties.  Armed with all this paper, this “discovery”, both spouses and their lawyers attend mediation in an attempt to settle the divorce case and any disputed issues between the parties.  If a settlement occurs, the marital settlement agreement becomes part of a court order, the final divorce decree.

Should mediation not result in a partial or global marital settlement, the next step involves divorce litigation. Going to divorce court means taking the case to the judge so he or she can decide what is going to be for the future of the family.   A temporary relief hearing is set, which essentially is a mini trial.  The court order resulting from a temporary relief hearing sets forth the terms of the separation on a temporary basis pending the divorce proceedings.  Now the fun begins.

Issues such as a valuation of a business formed during the marriage can complicate the divorce.  Issues involving the employability of a stay at home spouse can complicate the divorce.  Issues regarding an unfit parent and who is to have custody can complicate a divorce.  Issues about relocation with children out of the state can complicate a divorce.  Hidden monies offshore can complicate a divorce. Money spent on paramours can complicate a divorce.  What is marital property versus what is non marital property can complicate a divorce.  Drugs and alcohol use along with domestic violence and general health issues can complicate a divorce.  Appraisals of jewelry and property can complicate a divorce.

Along with these divorce complications, come the expert witnesses to testify on behalf of each of their clients.  These include child psychologists, marriage counselors, forensic CPAs, appraisers, real estate agents, good mommy or good daddy friends, doctors, relatives.  Sometimes all these witnesses need to be deposed prior to trial.  And paid for their time and expertise.  Or testimony at trial.  Documents that can fill libraries are generated as evidence.  Each exhibit has to be marked for admissibility into evidence.  And your divorce lawyer has to know what is on every piece of paper and where to find it in the boxes and boxes of documents.

Trial preparation, from the point of strategizing the case, to obtaining necessary information and organizing the file, to speaking in the courtroom is time consuming, stressful, and very expensive.  The more complex issues there are in dispute between the spouses, the more expensive the trial will be.  By way of example, a straightforward half day trial can cost between $15,000 – $20,000 to prepare.  At Robin Roshkind, P.A., the lawyers always attempt settlement prior to switching gears toward litigation.   For more information, visit the web site of Robin Roshkind, P.A. Divorce Lawyers at www.familylawwpb.com or call for a consultation with one of the Firm’s experienced divorce lawyers at 561-835-9091.

Relocation with Children: Where are my kids?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

With the economy in trouble and husbands and wives fighting over money, a common wifely threat is “I am going just leave you and take the children to my mother’s house!”  Ladies, unless you are under a threat of domestic violence, this is potentially grounds for losing your children, according to Florida law.  

So, if you just can’t take it anymore, and wish to relocate with children out of state, you must petition the local court for the move IF your husband does not agree to the move.   A judge will enter an order allowing the move only if it is proven to be in the best interests of the children.

What hurdles do you need to jump to prove best interests of the children?  First, the move can’t be for the purpose of removing the children from the parent.  Even if your opinion of your spouse is less than flattering, the children still have rights to a relationship with that parent, unless the parent is a drunk, drug addict, in some other way harms the child, or is generally an unfit parent.  Secondly, the move must improve the condition of the children, i.e. better schools, closer to grandparents or other relatives, a better job for the mother, a better home environment, a remarriage, new siblings.

So be forewarned that to remove children from a Florida jurisdiction, you either need permission from the other parent (get it in writing), or a court order.  To get a court order, you need to file a case, and litigate to prove that the move is in the best interests of the children.   If you don’t do either and just pack up and go, you stand to lose custody down the road in the proceedings.  Another important note:  you must inform the other parent of where the children are.  Non custodial parents are entitled to know the whereabouts of their children and to have unfettered telephone or internet access to communicate with them.  For more information, visit the Firm website at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of our experienced family law attorneys at Robin Roshkind, P.A. by calling 561-835-9091.