Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Broader Protection for Domestic Violence Victims

I just stumbled across the following article that talks about different states' laws regarding leave for employees to deal with domestic violence issues. Some states, including Florida, recognize that an employee may need some time off in order to obtain an injunction, seek medical attention or even attend court after an incident of domestic violence. The fact that states are recognizing the need to provide domestic violence victims with time to "sort out their lives" is important. Victims of domestic violence are going through so many emotions and worries, and the last thing that they should have to worry about is losing their job because they have to attend court or be out of the office to obtain an injunction for protection.

If you would like to read more about the article that this blog is based, see the following:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Affect of Adultry on Dissolution in Florida

One of the hardest pills for some people to swallow when they are divorcing in Florida is that adultery has very little to do with the outcome of a person's divorce when you are speaking of division of assets, liabilities and alimony. The only time that adultery ever comes into play is if you can prove that one parties' adultery dissipated marital assets or created debt. Therefore, more often than not, you will not be financially compensated because your spouse cheated. Most people want to be compensated for the emotional trauma that they suffered at the hands of their adulterous spouse, but in Florida, which is a no fault state, you are out of luck. If you are looking for a good example of what is considered a creation of debt which is non-marital because of an affair, you can look to the most recent news article in the Greg Norman divorce. They are taking the deposition of Mr. Norman's alleged mistress, Chris Evert, because it is believed she used his jet during the marriage which created some tax liability that Mrs. Norman does not want to be responsible for. If it is determined that any of the tax liability was associated with Mr. Norman using the jet for non-marital purposes, Mrs. Norman would not be responsible for that debt.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Single Women Than Married Women

According to current census results, for the first time in U.S. history, single women outnumber married women with about 51.5% of the adult women population single. Many think that this is due to women delaying marriage and/or remarriage after a divorce until later on in life. Another hypothesis surrounding the growing population of single women is that it takes longer to become financially secure in today's day and age, and more women want to be financially secure before they enter into marriage. The fact that more women are thinking about being financially independent prior to getting marriage is a wonderful thing, especially because our divorce rate here in America is so high. With the average marriage lasting less than 7 years, its important for women to not only think more about the person whom they are choosing to marriage, but to make smart financial decisions, so if their marriage ends up in divorce, they can have a good financial footing.

To read the article about the rise of single women, see:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Announcing Divorce Via Email

I have found a few articles about announcing that you are going through a divorce and whether email was the appropriate outlet to do this. At first I didn't think that this topic was "blog worthy", but this morning, I stumbled across yet another article about a person who announced the finalization of his divorce via a mass email. The general revelation from this article is that divorce is such a common place thing these days that its no longer taboo to broadcast to the masses that you are going through a divorce. I, for one, am not a big fan of the mass email for any announcement of big news, including divorce, but I understand the inclination to send one email out to everyone you know in order to avoid telling your divorce story over and over again. I would just be careful who you send the email to and what you say in the email. Divorce, although no longer taboo, is still a sensitive subject.

To read the story upon which this blog is based, see:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dating After Divorce

Its hard for people going through a divorce to imagine that they will ever want to date, but the reality is that life does go on. After some one's divorce is final, I rarely see that person again, unless there are issues and problems post-divorce that need some legal expertise. However, dating after your divorce definitely comes up in conversation and I don't have any knowledge to pass onto my clients on how to deal with this sensitive and sometimes unnerving issue. I found the following article on that answers some questions and gives people advice on how to navigate the unknown waters of dating after divorce.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Father's Rights

Fathers are playing actives role in their children's lives, more so than they did even 10 years ago. Despite the fact that more and more fathers are the primary care givers for their minor children, some people believe that there is still a bias in the courts towards the mother when determining who should be the primary residential parent. A recent case here in Florida addresses father's rights.

To read the article, see the following:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How Will Divorce Affect Your Credit Score

Divorce, even in the most amicably of situations, can leave you in financial distress. This often times can affect your credit score in a negative way. I stumbled upon the following article about how to protect your credit before, during and after a divorce and thought it had some helpful information.

To read the article, see:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Grounds for Divorce in Florida

Under Florida law there are only two grounds for divorce and they are (1) that the marriage is irretrievably broken or (2) mental incapacity of one of the parties to the marriage. (Florida Statutes 61.052). Mental incapacity is fairly straightforward. Many people want to know what it means that your marriage is irretrievably broken. This simply means that one party no longer wants to married to the other party, and there is nothing that anyone can do, including the court, to salvage the marriage. Therefore, if you are contemplating divorce, and you don't believe that your marriage is irretrievably broken, and neither you nor your spouse is mentally incapacitated, you may want to seek some counseling to see whether your marriage can be saved before you seek a divorce.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sex Bias in Custody Disputes

I have a great deal of male clients and one of their common questions when they are in midst of a child custody dispute is whether or not the courts can take into consideration their sex in determining where their children should primarily reside. In Florida, the determination of child custody statute, Fl.Stat. 61.13(2)(b)1 specifically states that, after considering all relevant facts, the father of the child shall be given the same consideration as the mother in determining the primary residence of a child irrespective of the age or sex of the child. Therefore, the short answer to the question is no. Therefore, it is important for Judge's to look at the totality of the circumstances and the best interests of the children, regardless of whom is seeking primary residential care, in a custody determination. If it is clear that a Judge denies a father primary residential responsibility simply because he is a man, this is reversible error, and very much something that is open to appeal.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

From Bad to Worse......

What is going on with Britney Spears is a prime example of why you don't disobey a Judge's order. At first she lost physical custody, then she was awarded just supervised visitation, now the Judge assigned to her case has suspended all contact with her children for her failure to obey a court's order. No matter how unfair you think a Judicial Order is, it is very important that you obey them, because of the fact that the Judge presiding over your divorce or custody battle does have the ability to restrict your access to your children both on a temporary and permanent basis. If you follow the Court's order, its much more likely that the Judge will see that you are serious about doing what is best for your children.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Benefits of Shared Parenting

I definitely believe that shared parenting, meaning making decisions together about what is best for your children after a divorce, is beneficial in most circumstances. The following website is dedicated to the scientific study of the beneficial effects of shared parenting for children of divorce.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Helping Doctors Protect Their Assets and Practices

There is no question that the higher your income, and the greater your assets, the more difficult it is to protect your assets, and your income in the event of a divorce. This is certainly true for doctors. A new book has been published to help doctors learn how to protect their assets in the case of bankruptcy, frivolous lawsuits and divorce. I cannot speak to the content of the book, but it may have some helpful tips for doctors out there contemplating divorce and how to use tricks to protect their assets and practices.

To read about this new asset protection book, see:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Custody Wars!!

It seems that Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen still can't agree on what is best for their children, and Mr. Sheen's newest fiance is getting involved. My only question is aren't they done hurting each other yet? More often than not, when couples are involved in custody disputes that last years and years, the issues are much more about hurting your ex than doing right by your kid. While I do not have any first hand knowledge of what is going on between Sheen and Richards, it sounds like the same old story, just with a lot more scandal and public outings of personal emails.

To read the latest story about Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen's bitter custody battle, see:,2933,299543,00.html

Monday, October 15, 2007

I'm Rich, Should I Tell My Spouse?

Every now and then, I come across a story that is so bizarre that it really does seem like something that should be told on an afternoon soap opera. I read the following story about a Florida woman who won the lottery, and failed to disclosure this information to her husband prior to filing for divorce. After her divorce was finalized, she quietly claimed her $28.5 million jackpot, and a litigation has ensued which is still making papers. It seems that but for the eavesdropping of a bystander, the woman's ex-husband would never had known that his ex-wife had attempted to cheat him out of his fair share of the lottery winnings. The ex-wife now has to pay a certain amount of money to the ex-husband for a specific period of time. What can we learn from this?? In your divorce, its important to have full disclosure, because, sooner or later, the truth does come out and you will pay for trying to hide an asset which is legally a marital asset.

If you would like to read the story upon which this blog is based, see the following:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Affordable Legal Advice

There are with out a doubt certain situations when someone does not need the help of an attorney to assist them in obtaining a divorce, but because the paperwork is so confusing, they feel that they have no other choice. Some counties, like Pinellas County, are instituting "self-help" computers at the courthouse so people can file simple divorces, as well as small claim proceedings. In addition, they provide affordable legal advice so that people can get some simple legal questions answered prior to filing their paperwork. I think that this is a wonderful idea and may help people do something on their own, rather than pay an attorney when they really don't need one.

If you would like to read about the Pinellas County program, see the following article:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Britney Spears Request for Additional Visitations

The following article discusses Britney Spears' current attempts to have additional visitations after a Judge ordered for her joint custody to be revoked and that she should only have supervised visitation.

A week after Britney Spears lost the right to see her children unsupervised, she requested more visitation time. On Thursday (October 11), the singer's lawyer requested an emergency hearing to see if the judge in Spears' custody case would extend her visitation time with her two sons to include overnight stays, now that she's passed her first week of random drug tests. Federline opposed the request, but the judge, Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon, has asked the couple to try to work it out outside the court.
Federline's lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, opposed the request on the grounds that it was premature, as Spears' progress report is scheduled to be submitted to the court on October 22, with a hearing to follow on October 26 to reassess. "The fact that a party, one week after a full court hearing, attempts to change the orders of the court, in the absence of an emergency or without any new facts, suggests a continued lack of respect and understanding for what an order of the court actually means," Kaplan said in a statement.
Spears' attorney, Anne Kiley, argued that the singer's request was for the benefit of the children, because the current visitation schedule is disruptive to the boys' sleeping schedules and requires them to be woken up from their naps. Kiley called it "traumatizing" for Sean Preston and Jayden James to be without their mother, but Gordon countered that it could be just as traumatizing for the boys to be around a mother who has substance-abuse and emotional issues. The judge said on Thursday that he was not going to modify his previous order, and that Spears' and Federline's lawyers would have to work out a compromise, which, despite a 45-minute separate conference, doesn't appear to have had results as yet. Spears didn't attend the first half of the hearing but arrived midafternoon for the second half.
Just one week ago, Gordon had allowed Spears monitored visitation with her children several days a week, possibly as much as every other day (see "Britney Spears Allowed Supervised Visitation Of Children; Judge Warns Singer To Take Him Seriously"). Spears was also ordered to complete at least three individual counseling sessions and at least three joint parenting-counseling sessions with Federline by the next hearing.
"It's only been a week since the judge's last ruling, and Britney has yet to prove that she can follow those orders," celebrity-divorce attorney Raoul Felder said. "At this point, for her, it's a celebration of hope over reality. I don't think she has a chance."
Legal experts had predicted that the most Spears could hope for would be to slowly build back fuller visitation rights (see "Britney Spears, Legally Speaking: Top Lawyers Say She Can Get Kids Back, If She Follows Advice"). New York divorce lawyer Lois Liberman estimated that Spears would be allowed one- to two-hour supervised visits before she could build to longer stays, such as overnights or weekends, and it would take at least three months of clean drug-testing before the court would consider allowing Spears unsupervised visits with her children.
[This story was originally published at 3:08 pm E.T. on 10.11.2007]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Accounting of Child Support Payments

I had a recent comment on my blog asking me a question about whether or not Florida court's require a child support recipient to provide an accounting of how child support money is spent. The short answer to the question is yes, in certain circumstances. 2007->Ch0061->Section%2013#0061.13">Florida Statute Section 61.13(1)(a) states that "The court initially entering a child support order shall also have continuing jurisdiction to require the obligee to report to the court on terms prescribed by the court regarding the disposition of the child support payments". I've never actually requested for an accounting of how child support is spent, and it seems, based upon the case law that I have read, that the courts will only require an accounting when it is requested by a party if the custodial parent is squandering money that is intended for the support of the child. This is not something that happens automatically and I don't see a lot of courts encouraging the use of accounting of child support funds. Therefore, if you are fearful that your ex-spouse is not spending child support funds properly, you can request an accounting, but that doesn't mean you are going to get it. The courts will order this at their discretion, and absent compelling facts that a child is not being properly cared for, I find it unlikely that a court would grant a request for an accounting.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Social Security Survives Divorce

When a couple divorces, there are a lot of questions that are asked concerning retirement benefits, more specifically social security. Some of my clients want to know whether they are able to collect their ex-spouse's social security. The short answer is, yes, so long as you satisfy a number of different criteria. I found the following "Question and Answer" article on this very subject which sheds some light on this issue.

Social Security Survives Divorce
A divorced spouse is generally eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on the ex-spouse’s record of work and earnings, said Lita Epstein, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Security and Medicare.
But it’s not automatic; you should contact the Social Security Administration to see if you’re eligible, Epstein said in a telephone interview from her home in Florida.
To be eligible, you must clear some hurdles. Following is a summary of the general rules:
•Your marriage had to have lasted at least 10 years.
•You must be at least 62.
•You’re not married.
•The ex-spouse must be at least 62.
In general, you won’t automatically receive benefits, said Kurt Czarnowski, regional communications director for the Social Security Administration.
“We’re not at the point where you have automatic enrollment in Social Security” in such circumstances, Czarnowski said in an interview at the agency’s regional headquarters in Boston.
So visit your local Social Security office or call the agency toll-free at 1(800) 772-1213. In the interview process, you’ll be asked whether you’ve ever been married, which will lead the agency to see if you’re eligible for benefits based on another’s record of work and earnings, Czarnowski said.
Assuming you’re eligible, you’ll receive a monthly benefit based on your record, or on your ex-spouse’s record, whichever will pay you more, he said.
A few other points:
•If you have been married more than once, and each marriage lasted at least 10 years, you’re generally eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on either ex-spouse’s record of work and earnings — whichever will pay you more, Epstein said.
•If you’re divorced and your ex-spouse has died, you may be eligible to collect a survivor’s benefit based on that ex-spouse’s record of work and earnings, Czarnowski said. Contact the agency to check on the rules and to see if you’re eligible.
•There are lots of rules and other details regarding a divorced spouse and eligibility for Social Security benefits, too many to list here. For more information, read “Social Security: Understanding the Benefits” and “Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know.” (This booklet includes information that applies to men and women.) For a free copy, visit your local Social Security office, call the agency toll-free at 1 (800) 772-1213, or use the agency’s Web site:

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Marriage Classes Coming To Orange County

I am an advocate of any program or class requirement that gives couples the opportnity to learn more about each other, including future plans, visions and fighting styles before they get married. More and more states are requiring marriage education before a couple can obtain a marriage license, or they grant a discount on the marriage license fee for those couples who actually participate in a marriage class. Looks like these classes are coming to Florida. See the following article about marriage classes here in Orange County, Florida:,0,3949703.story

Friday, October 5, 2007

Observations from Seasoned Family Law Attorney

I recently found this article on the Georgia Family Law Blog. It gives some helpful advice to divorcing couples on how to conduct yourself during a divorce. Its helpful to get advice and thoughts from a seasoned family law attorney who has been "in the trenches" for many years. Here is the article in its entirety:
1. What behavior of clients still surprises you?That couples who did not get along during their marriage expect a divorce judge to suddenly make them cooperate with each other.
2. What determines how fast a divorce can be obtained?The psychological point the parties are at. Some are ready to end it, get on with their life. Others use the process as a catharsis to re-live their entire marriage, vent their frustration and assert blame.
3. What is the best advice to give to a non-custodial parent?Be polite and kind to the custodial parent. They control access to your children. Regardless of your visitation, the custodial parent has tremendous control. You may be rude behind their back but never to their face. It's a game you need to learn to play well or you could lose something greater than your pride.
4. What is the best advice to give a custodial parent?Let your ex have the children as much as they will take them. You need a break. They are the perfect babysitter. You know they will take care of them and if they are around the children alot, they will be more sensitive to their needs.
5. Does joint custody work?It can. Some people are naturals at it; others need a little help. A child psychologist can help those who don't realize they have damaging behavior. Putting the child in the middle and parental alienation are classic problems in joint custody.
6. What is the worst fear of most women?That their spouse will fight them for custody.
7. Do most men fight for custody?There are two categories of those who do: Men who honestly want custody. Men who want to scare their wives into accepting less child support provided they later relinquish the fight.
8. How can you tell the difference?From the obvious. Those who never spend any time with their children prior to the divorce being filed; those who travel and are never home; those who have girlfriends. These guys don't want custody.
9. Any way to control those who are insincere?For the ones who are just using custody as a fear factor, you should call their bluff. Offer them custody and watch them run.
10. Does guilt play a part in the outcome of a divorce?Yes. Usually the party that seeks the divorce is willing to take less. Men who want the divorce and have children are willing to pay more support and often give up the house to the wife and children.
11. Does mediation work?If you have an experienced mediator, you can usually resolve some of the issues. The mediator's experience should match the sophistication of the parties.
12. As an attorney, what do you learn from the mediation even if the divorce doesn't settle?It's a great way to evaluate opposing counsel and their client. Most clients and attorneys reveal the strength of their case at mediation because they are trying to influence the mediator. It's a great way to find out everything that is going to be presented against you at trial. It is also a good way to find out what the opposing counsel knows about your client.
13. As an attorney, can you influence a mediator?Usually, but you should do this when you are alone with your client and the mediator. You can ask the mediator to present issues a certain way. They will hold any information confidential that you ask them to. You can explore all types of settlement offers to find the give and take.
14. Is it advisable for the attorney to be aggressive at mediation?I think you should save your best arguments and evidence for the Judge. Their opinions are the only ones that matter. If the opposing side hears damaging evidence prior to the trial, you can bet they will have a good prepared response when they hear it at trial.
15. Does the personality of the parties influence the Judge?Yes. I like to find out what question I need to ask to make their spouse mad and that is the first one I ask.
16. How do you prepare your client for trial?I prepare and go over their questions and answers in advance. That way they know at least 50% of what is going to happen.
17. What is the best advice you can give your client in the courtroom?The judge determines everything. Although the judge doesn't ask the questions, you should look at the judge when you answer. It is his courtroom. Get him involved. Read the situation. If he looks bored or disinterested, make your answers short. Be respectful. Don't argue with the opposing attorney and never, never argue with the judge.
18. What practical considerations should a party consider when testifying?The judge makes a decision based on a very limited view of the situation. In doing so, perception becomes reality. If one witness is better organized, more articulate, the judge can understand their testimony. For someone to make a decision, they have to be able to understand the facts. Unorganized testimony is difficult to follow. Also. perception gives credibility. Witnesses who are neat and clean and speak in an even tone without anger or bitterness are received as more truthful. Arrogance is a certain loser. Create advantages. If no one believes you, your evidence and testimony loses its importance.
19. Can you tell us if there are any tactics opposing counsel use that in your opinion have been unnecessary?When they refuse to concede they are wrong and force the issue before the judge. These include filing a petition in the wrong county; asking for the non-custodial parent to pay for college when the law does not provide that they have to; denying their client had an affair when the client has had a child with their girlfriend/boyfriend; asking for support which exceeds the non-custodial parent's income; demanding personal property for their client which was the pre-marital property of the opposing party; asking for half of spouse's retirement when 75% was accumulated prior to the marriage; demanding visitation with their spouse's children by a prior relationship. The list can be endless.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: I am assisting people at a very difficult time in their life when they are called upon to make major decisions when they are not emotionally prepared to make them. I try to give them a sense of control over a situation that appears out of control. I try and give them feedback on how their behavior will be perceived to the Court and suggest directions which reflects more favorably on them. I strive to narrow the issues to the best settlement possible so they can determine if it's a settlement they can live with or whether they would rather take their chances with the decision of the Judge. Often times, a Judge will be more fair than the person you have been married to.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Staying Close To the Ex-Inlaws After Divorce

Divorcing couples often have to deal with the fallout from their respective families concerning how ex-in laws are going to fit into the new family dynamics. Often times, an ex-mother or father in-law can't divorce themselves from the parent role of their own child to realize that its important for them to maintain a good relationship with their former daughter or son in-law for the sake of the grandchildren. It makes every one's lives a bit easier, so long as the "'real" daughter or son doesn't feel that his/her own parents are choosing sides. The attached article discusses the dynamics of in laws who stay close after divorce:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Follow A Judge's Order

Once a couple decides to get a court and judge involved in a custody dispute, they must be prepared to suffer the consequences of a judge making decisions concerning what is best for their children. If a Judge signs an order that has anything to do with your children, it is extremely important that you comply with that Order. If you fail to comply, the Judge can decide to remove your children from your custody until you are able to show that you have the ability to comply with a Court Order. While I'm sure there is more going on with Britney Spears' case than her failure to comply with a Court Order, I'm also sure that her failing to act in accordance with a simple order regarding drug testing and obtaining a valid license gives the Court little confidence that she has the ability to make proper decisions regarding her children.

To read the latest story concerning Britney Spears' custody case, see:

Monday, October 1, 2007

New Judge in 10th Circuit

The following is a profile on a new judge in the 10th circuit who will be presiding over dependency cases. I think that this judge will do a wonderful job making decisions concerning cases which are notorious for their problems and high emotions. He was a former divorce practitioner who encouraged, and demanded, that his clients take the high road. Every now and then, we are given a glimpse at who some of our judges are as people, which helps us understand how they will run their court room. This information can be invaluable when you are trying to win an issue in their courtroom.