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.

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Short Term Marriages Usually Mean No Alimony In Divorce

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If you are in a short term marriage defined as five years or less by the case law in the state of Florida, chances are you will not be able to collect alimony from your spouse in divorce court.   Or if you qualify, alimony will be of the bridge the gap variety, if at all.

Alimony or spousal support is based upon the relative incomes of the parties or the relative access to independent funds.  One spouse has to prove a need, and the other spouse’ ability to pay.  If a spouse has the need, but the other has no ability to pay, there will be no alimony irregardless of the length of the marriage.  Also, a court cannot award an alimony for a time that is longer than the marriage, if at all, unless the marriage is 17 plus years and the spouse qualifies for permanent alimony.

Bottom line, if you are in a short term marriage, chances are the court will not grant you any alimony unless it is also short term, as in bridge the gap alimony.   An award of alimony is determined by 30 statutory factors, so consult with 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.  REMEMBER:  divorce cases are fact driven and every case is different.  Remember too that Florida is a no fault state and alimony is generally not a punishment but an entitlement.

What Is A Vocational Evaluation?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

A vocational evaluation is a tool…it is a way to intimidate a non working spouse, but more than that it is a tool to evaluate what a spouse’s income could be if they were fully employed.  The judge in Palm Beach County divorce court has the ability to impute an income to a person if the court makes certain findings:  that the spouse is voluntarily underemployed, that the spouse could earn at the least a minimum wage, that the spouse has an education and a great income work history.

Income is important in divorce matters because child support is based upon income, as well as an award of alimony and attorneys fees.  Both alimony and attorneys fees are based upon need and ability to pay.  Proving a spouse’s income is a very important issue for more than just one purpose.

A vocational evaluation is performed by a trained therapist/psychologist.  You have to motion the court so that your spouse is court ordered to submit to a vocational evaluation.  This is especially important where a spouse is asking the court to award a rehabilitative alimony.   If you are thinking about divorce in Palm Beach County, 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.

Common Mistakes About Divorce In Florida.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Many people who are going through a divorce for the first time,  do not understand Florida law.   I get questions like the following:

1.  REGARDING JEWELRY: husbands and wives think that because a piece of jewelry is a gift given during the marriage,  the jewelry belongs exclusively to them.  Not true… it is marital.  This can make a big difference if the jewelry is substantial.

2.  REGARDING PUNISHMENT:  couples often think that the one who files for divorce, or the one who leaves the marriage,  is the one who will be “punished” by the court in terms of receiving less assets from the marriage.  Not true, because Florida is a no fault state.

3.  REGARDING ADULTERY:  same premise as above.  If your husband or wife is cheating on you, the only recourse you have is to divorce the cheater.

4.  REGARDING MOVING OUT OF THE MARITAL HOME:  Floridians do not lose their property rights by “abandoning” the marital home.  If you have sweat equity in the house, or your name is on the deed, or have any other marital interest, you have an entitlement to your property whether or not you live there.

5.  REGARDING NAME CHANGES: if you want your name restored, you should do it now during the divorce proceedings.  If you wait, you will have to pay another filing fee for a new case in the courthouse.

6.  REGARDING YOUR SPOUSE SUPPORTING YOU:  you don’t have to get a divorce to get your spouse to support you.  If you have the need and your spouse has the ability to pay, you can get support without divorce.

7.  REGARDING CHILD SUPPORT:  the statutory child support guidelines have not changed in a generation.  The Florida legislature really needs to address this.

8.  REGARDING RESIDENCY: you have to be a Florida resident for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce.  That means having your “stuff” in the state, having a Florida driver’s license, owning property, or having a leasehold interest here.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce in Palm Beach County, Florida, 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 Is A Vocational Evaluation And When Is It Used In Court?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

I have a client whose wife has a college degree and a license to practice real estate sales.   However, the husband and wife agreed about 6 years ago, that the wife would stay home and raise the children as a stay at home mother.  The husband, my client, was and is the major breadwinner of the family. 

Now the children are in high school, and the wife is still a stay at home mom.  She has filed for divorce and wants a permanent alimony.  The wife wants to maintain the lifestyle of the marriage.  Except the husband is in the building industry and new home construction is down along with his income in this present economy.  The issue is does the wife have to go out to work now that she will be divorced?

So in order to prove that she is capable of earning a living, I motioned the court for a vocational study to determine her employability in today’s marketplace.   With her active license and her education level, the wife went off to the evaluator, who is a psychologist, for testing.   The testing most likely will result in the conclusion that the wife is employable at some salary.  Therefore my client’s (husband) obligation to pay a hefty alimony will be diminished because of the law of alimony, which is wife’s need in this case and husband’s ability to pay.  Her need will be lowered by my proving to the judge that she can work and earn something.   Her children are grown and I do believe the judge will take all of those findings into consideration in a lower alimony award than she expects. 

So what is the defense side?  If I were representing the wife, if I couldn’t prevent the motion for vocational evaluation by issuing a request for a protective order, then afterwards, I could negotiate a much larger piece of the marital estate instead of a 50/50 split in lieu of a permanent alimony.  That way my client (wife now) would get the money or assets up front and have the freedom to invest with her own control.  I would also focus on what she is capable of earning and the fact that she can’t find a job in real estate in this market.  Thereby I would have established her need for support even if albeit she gets only a small award of alimony.  She would have a larger portion of the marital estate and perhaps even remain in the marital home.

In conclusion, vocational evaluations are used in court to lower support obligations of the other party.  They are a very effective tool, but ultimately it is the judge who at his/her discretion decides what is going to be if the parties can’t come to some collaborative divorce resolution.  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.

In Marriage Or Divorce, Communication Is Key

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Whether you are entering a marriage or trying to leave one, it is important to communicate with your spouse.  It is where unreasonable expectations raise their ugly heads. 

That is when it is important to consult with advisors, whether they are financial, legal, or psychological. 

Regarding a marriage, there is alot to talk about: prenuptial agreements, family finances, children, extended families, who owns what property.  In divorce alot of the same issues apply, but add to those the issues that of  time sharing with children, attorneys fees, spousal support or alimony.   And of course the division of marital property and preservation of separate property or inheritences.  If there is no commingling during the course of the marriage, separate property remains non marital.

Marriage and divorce are life changing events as is deciding to have children.  The best advice is to seek professional help from lawyers, accountants, insurance professionals, finanacial planners, marriage counselors or therapists if you just can’t communicate effectively with your partner or if you are having touble sorting things out by yourself.

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.

Why Do I Have To Pay Alimony?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Alimony is spousal support granted to one spouse and paid by the other when certain circumstances exist in a marriage.  There are 30 statutory factors that go into an alimony award.

First, the petitioning spouse has to prove a need, and that the other party has the ability to pay.  Financial affidavits are very important to establish need and ability to pay.  Secondly, things like the length of the marriage are important.  In a short term marriage of up to 3 years, alimony is less likely to be granted.  Contribution to the marriage, age of the parties, health of the parties, relative incomes of the parties, education levels, these are all relevant in an alimony request. 

There are also several different types of alimony.  Bridge the gap is a short term award to get a party back on his/her feet.  Lump sum alimony is a windfall pay off and usually gives a discount to the payor.  Permanent alimony is until the recipient spouse dies or remarries.   Rehabilitative alimony is a short term alimony used for re education to allow a spouse to become self sufficient. 

For more information about alimony and YOUR rights, 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.