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Broward County Divorce Law Blog

Cliches people say about a divorce

There are many things people say over and over again as they move toward a divorce. Though they may not realize it -- especially if they have never been divorced before -- a lot of these things are cliches. Below are a few examples.

1. The divorce doesn't center only around money.

Prenuptial agreements and lifestyle clauses

As prenuptial agreements continue to be a popular tool for those considering marriage, their contents continue to evolve into the modern era. While once only the rich and famous bothered with a prenup, people of all incomes and all lifestyles are incorporating these contracts into their wedding plans. Most prenuptial agreements detail the asset division process should a marriage fail, but "lifestyle clauses" are changing the face of today's premarital agreements.

Many Fort Lauderdale residents have taken notice of the trend toward prenups with lifestyle clauses, which can include restrictions on weight gain and other fine points. While these clauses might actually support a healthy relationship in many cases, engaged parties should be aware that a court must approve the final agreement. Many of the clauses people want to include may render the contract invalid in the eyes of the law.

The impact of divorce on spouses' credit

Most people would agree that dealing with property division and other financial elements make a divorce quite complex. There are many reasons for this, such as commingling funds into joint accounts. Credit accounts in particular can really complicate the property division process. If the couple is not well prepared, liability for these credit accounts can pass on unbeknownst to one or the other spouse.

For example, say a divorce decree specifies which spouse will be responsible for paying the balance on the couple's joint credit card accounts. If the spouse fails to pay the account, the creditors will likely contact the other spouse demanding payment. When any account is jointly owned, final responsibility for making payments will fall to both spouses.

Florida couple leaves child outside of bar, loses custody

Negative parental behaviors can have a dramatic effect on the custody of a child. It is fair to say that most parents try to do what is best for the children at all times. However, sometimes the behavior of parents is called into question so severely that they risk losing custody on a permanent or temporary basis. When allegations of neglect surface, authority figures in Florida might decide a child is better off in protective custody than with either parent.

A recent incident in South Florida highlights the consequences that can occur when parents engage in behaviors considered neglectful. According to news reports, a couple entered a bar with a 3-month-old child, but the manager of the facility told the parents that children were not allowed. At that point, the parents took the baby outside and left it unattended on the sidewalk in the hours after midnight. The report indicates that the baby's mother went outside periodically to check on the child and would then come back inside to continue drinking.

Do I have to report alimony payments I've received on my taxes?

As with most legal questions, there is a short and simple answer to this question and a longer, more in-depth answer. The short answer is yes. Like other funds, alimony must be reported on federal tax returns as a source of income regardless of how spousal support is determined. The longer part of the answer is simply a clarification of requirements that make these payments alimony for tax purposes.

-- You and your ex file separate tax returns-- Your divorce, maintenance decree or separation agreement does not contain language indicating that the payments are not alimony-- You receive the payments from a spouse or a former spouse-- You and your spouse do not share the same household at the time the payments are received-- The funds you receive have not been earmarked as a property settlement or as child support

Help your attorney help you with a high asset divorce

When attorneys take on a high asset Florida divorce, they need access to many documents in order to make forward progress through the case. Depending on the complexity of case and the unique issues involved, attorneys typically ask their clients to provide these documents for reference throughout the divorce process. There are many standard documents necessary in a Florida divorce, but attorneys may request others when a high net worth is at stake.

In Florida, it is especially important for attorneys to have access to financial documents as well as business documents when the divorce involves high assets. You can get the ball rolling and help your attorney to help you by gathering this documentation as early as possible. Doing so can prevent painful delays and also help you make your case before the court.

The psychological elements of property division

Most Broward County residents facing the end of a marriage would probably agree that divvying up marital property is an important divorce issue. At the same time, it can also be a highly contentious matter for both spouses. Resolving property division in an amicable way benefits the divorcing couple as it prevents a judge from stepping in and dividing the property in way that might be unsuitable for either spouse.

One study published on the American Psychological Association website offers divorcing couples some insight about divorce, including information about the property division process. The study talks about communication and psychological elements that appear in the process of dividing marital property. Further, the study discusses why divorcing spouses should gain an understanding of spoken language, body language and negotiating tactics.

Virtual visitation and child custody in Florida

Florida is one of several states that have created laws allowing parents to engage in virtual visitation with their children. This type of visitation enables non-custodial parents to utilize technology to maintain and preserve their parent/child relationships. Types of virtual visitation include video conferencing, e-mail, video chatting, instant messaging and most any other electronic means of communication.

Non-custodial parents may choose to request the addition of virtual visitation while negotiating a child custody agreement or parenting plan. Not intended to replace traditional custody or visitation, virtual options can supplement parenting and custody arrangements. This is particularly valuable in situations where one parent lives or works in a different city or state than the child. Virtual visitation empowers the non-custodial parent to build and maintain a stronger, healthier relationship with the child while virtually participating in many aspects of the child's life.

Can I waive my alimony rights in a Florida prenuptial agreement?

A disclaimer before answering: Neither spouse should waive any of their basic rights in a prenuptial agreement. Even though the hearts of prospective newlyweds are full of contentment and bliss, it is a dangerous practice to begin a marriage by disregarding one's own rights. Giving up one's rights could invite a lasting pattern of inequality and in most cases cause an unbalanced approach to starting a life together.

With that out of the way, the simple answer to your question is no. Alimony rights cannot be relinquished with a prenuptial agreement. In fact, in nearly all states, courts frown upon prenuptial agreements in which one spouse attempts to waive his or her alimony rights. Taking it one step further, prenuptial agreements cannot include any language that might represent a financial incentive encouraging divorce. A poorly prepared prenuptial agreement may make it seem beneficial for one spouse to seek divorce knowing he or she will not have to pay alimony.

Ensuring your prenuptial agreement is as airtight as possible

Family law contractual agreements can be complicated and include issues that could turn contentious. Prenuptial agreements are no exception, often causing bitter disputes in the event of a breakup. These disputes can go on and on, straining your finances and your emotional stability. While the principles upon which a prenuptial agreement is based are typically pretty simple, a savvy, soon-to-be ex might be able to punch a few holes in what you thought was an airtight contract.

So, how can one be certain his or her prenuptial agreement will hold up under the scrutiny of a courtroom? There is no simple answer, but the best way to make sure the document is valid is to use an attorney.