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Broward County Divorce Law Blog

Prenuptials add order to marriage expectations

Many couples in Florida approach their wedding day with a sense of anticipation and vigor. While the number of people marrying who have a prenuptial agreement in place is unknown, using one to delineate ordered expectations before, during and at the end of marriage is growing.

The reasons people favor prenuptial agreements vary but are often related to asset protection. Prenuptials may deal with what happens to homes owned separately before marriage and upgraded during marriage. Another area is inheritance. A spouse who expects to come into an inheritance may want to strategize about what will happen to it if the marriage fails.

International marriages and divorce in the United States

With cultural diversity becoming more common in the U.S., divorce may require an international approach. Florida residents may have questions about how divorce in this country affects their marital status in their native country. Property division in the divorce settlement may involve assets they own as a couple in another country. Whether those assets are able to be divided in Florida and be subject to division elsewhere may be complicated.

A couple legally married in another country may divorce in the U.S., provided that the court that handles their divorce has jurisdiction over such matters. Jurisdiction over such issues varies depending on the state. In Florida, one of the parties to a divorce must live within the state for a period of six months before they are able to file. Having a valid divorce decree in the U.S. may not void the marriage in some countries. It might be a good idea to consult with an attorney who may provide clarification on such issues.

Alimony payments governed by Florida law

In a Florida divorce proceeding, alimony payments may be granted to either spouse. Payments could be temporary or permanent, and they may consist of period payments, a lump sum payment or a combination of both. In order to award alimony, the court will consider an ex-spouse's ability to supply it and whether the individual receiving alimony actually needs it.

A court will take into account factors such as the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, financial resources of each spouse and the non-financial contributions to the marriage to determine alimony. Marriage lengths are generally broken down into durations of less than seven years, seven to 17 years and more than 17 years.

The rules of premarital agreements in Florida

In Florida, couples who are contemplating getting married may enter into a premarital agreement that will become effective as soon as the couple gets married and for which the marriage serves as sufficient consideration. Premarital agreements generally allow the couple to determine on its own how property will be divided if the couple is to get divorced. While such an agreement may not cover the amount of support a child may receive in the event of a divorce, it may be possible to waive the responsibility of either party to provide spousal support.

The state defines property as anything that is real or personal, tangible or intangible or anything that may produce income whether that income is passively or actively earned. The law provides that an agreement may cover the right of either party to protect either a current or future interest in any property covered in the agreement.

Actor Terrence Howard claims inability to pay spousal support

Florida fans of actor Terrence Howard may not be aware that despite the actor's blockbuster resume, his take-home pay is less than $6,000 per month. This is his claim in the request he has filed to have changes made in his spousal support arrangement for his ex-wife, Michelle Ghent.

According to Howard, his entire income goes to his first wife, who takes out expenses for herself and the couple's children. Then, she sends Howard the remaining $5,878 per month. As a result, Howard is unable to pay the $325,000 he promised to Ghent as part of their divorce settlement.

Assemble financial documents before proceeding with divorce

Individuals in Florida who are thinking about divorce may wish to start by organizing financial paperwork. Having a complete picture of debts and assets is an important first step in understanding how those assets will need to be divided. Furthermore, an individual who is able to gather as much financial information as possible at the outset will be better equipped to determine whether a spouse may be trying to conceal assets during a divorce.

Even when a split is amicable, organizing finances first will make the entire process run more smoothly. This process may take some time, as it may be necessary to obtain documents from sources as diverse as employers, banks, accountants and more.

Dividing the family home after divorce

Florida couples who are planning to legally separate might need to consider obligations to standing mortgage agreements and ownership of the family home during and after proceedings. In addition, according to a recent article, certain actions, such as purchasing a new house to live in after the marriage is dissolved, might be complicated by property ownership interests.

Dealing with the family home during property division can be complicated by a standing mortgage agreement. For example, if the couple signed onto the loan together, both parties might still be considered liable for outstanding debt even though the property was awarded to one party in a divorce agreement. This leaves the credit score individual who moved out of the home open to the influence of the other party's payment history. For example, if the person staying in the home is unable to make payments, the other person's credit score might suffer as a result. In addition, the individual who moved out of the home might seek reimbursement for investment he or she might have made to the property, which might include a portion of the down payment on the property.

Basketball player's custody fight hinges on paternity test

Florida basketball fans may be aware of Indiana Pacers player Paul George and his recent paternity issues. A female child has been born to a former paramour of his, and a prenatal paternity test showed a high probability that he is the father. Although reports indicate that George has requested a new paternity test, if the test indicates that he is the father, then he has announced his intention to ask for sole custody of the child.

The mother of the child in question, a woman who currently lives with her family in New York, has also filed suit for sole custody, citing the hardships inherent in George's NBA travel schedule as being detrimental to the best interests of the child. George and his attorneys have responded with a detailed list of reasons why he should be the one to be granted sole custody.

Former Dodgers owner favored in divorce issue

Florida baseball fans may remember the start of a recent lawsuit involving Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a man was attacked in a Dodger Stadium parking lot, he filed suit against McCourt and the team for upwards of $36 million. As that lawsuit was coming to a close, however, McCourt remained involved in his 2012 divorce from his wife of nearly three decades, Jamie McCourt. The McCourts had entered into a divorce settlement agreement that stated that, if either member of the couple chose later to contest the terms of divorce, he or she would be responsible for the other's court costs.

In the divorce, Jamie McCourt was awarded $131 million tax-free. She was also given ownership of several luxury homes that the couple owned together. However, she chose to challenge the divorce settlement, claiming that Frank had misrepresented the Dodgers' value and thus shortchanged her in the division of assets. A judge denied her claims, and Jamie McCourt was ordered to reimburse Frank for the money he spent on attorney's fees. The total cost amounted to $1.9 million.

Pet issues during the divorce process

A beloved pet can bring many years of joy to a Florida household, and months of disputes if the owners divorce. For one well-known Hollywood couple going through a breakup, issues related to their three dogs became more contentious than the division of property or the custody of their daughter. Many attorneys are seeing pet custody as a new wrinkle in the often-messy legal tangles of divorce and marital settlements.

Pets are normally viewed as personal property in divorce proceedings. For many family court judges, pets are simply marital assets, to be divided among the spouses in the same way as household goods, cars and jewelry. Other courts see pets as worthy of a different approach, in which the judge considers a pet's sentimental value and the contribution of each spouse to the pet's care.

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