Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Financial Issues in Divorce

Properly planning your financial future when you are deciding to divorce and during the divorce process may be the most important key to financial security when your marriage is dissolved. Many people make emotional decisions in a divorce which effect their finances. This is not smart. Do not let emotions rule you when you are trying to determine your financial future. The following article gives some helpful advice on how to deal with your finances in a divorce:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Are Personal Injury Awards Considered Marital Asset?

Many people want to know whether contingent personal injury claims are considered marital property, subject to equitable distribution in Florida. The following article explains the "yes, but" answer to this question.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Should You Apologize?

There are many reasons for divorce, and sometimes the blame for the divorce falls more on one party than the other. I've said in other blogs that there are two "divorces" when a party legally terminates their marriage, the legal divorce and the emotional divorce. The legal divorce is sometimes the easier part. I've always thought that in order to get through the emotional divorce you have to accept accountability for your actions, and apologize when you have been the person who has committed some wrong doing. It is the only way that you and your ex-spouse can move on. I know that this is easier said than done, but accepting accountability and apologizing can help you let go of your own anger and help you heal. I hope that the Normans can do that, because it appears there are still some bitter feelings.

To read the latest about Greg Norman, his affair with Chris Evert and his divorce, see:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cohabitation and Alimony Payments

When one party is awarded permanent alimony, generally speaking those alimony payments will continue until death of either party or remarriage. Some people put language in their marital settlement agreements that states that alimony will conclude when the recipient of the alimony cohabits with a member of the opposite sex. The question then becomes what is the definition of "cohabitation". In Florida, I believe that most of the courts have stated that cohabitation would have to include a sharing of finances. The New York courts are dealing with this issue, and I'm sure its just a matter of time before all courts in all states set forth a clear definition of "cohabitation" so that people are not litigating this issue in the future.

To read about New York's take on this issue, see:,0,5977746.story

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Refinancing Mortgages in Divorce

In a divorce, its usually the case that the parties' major asset, or in many circumstances right now, their biggest liability is their home. If one party is keeping the home, the other party may request that the party keeping the home refinance the property and get the mortgage in their own name. More often than not, this is easier said than done. Its a misnomer to state that you want them to refinance, because what you are actually requiring them to do is qualify for a new loan, and with the market the way it is today, this is harder to do and the new loan terms may not be as favorable as the existing mortgage terms. I'm a fan of putting into marital settlement agreements the requirement to refinance a mortgage to get the other party's name off the debt, but unfortunately this is sometimes an impossibility. Therefore, you have to plan for this contingency and realize that your only remedy may be to force a sale, which could take months or even years. When it comes to divorce settlements, you have to make sure what you are asking someone to do is actually possible. If its not possible, you should look for other options to resolve that particular issue.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Divorce & ADHD

Whenever a couple has a special needs child, it can put a strain on a marriage, sometimes such a strain that the couple ends up in divorce. A new study links couples who have an ADHD child to divorce. The following article explains the link and the possible causes of marital stress when a couple has an ADHD child:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Virtual Divorce

I've heard about marriages breaking up over one spouse's addiction to certain online games, but when I ran across the following article, it was the first time that I heard of anyone getting divorced IN a video game. The game that I am talking about is a game called Maple Story where players create and manipulate avatars that represent themselves in relationships, social activities and fighting monsters and other obstacles. A woman became enraged when she was divorced in this game. What she did in retaliation may cause her to have to pay over $5,000.00 in fines. Yes, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.

This blog is based on the following story:,25197,24544795-12377,00.html

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Forced to be a Father?

I have been reading a lot about father's rights, in the context of custody and adoption. While searching on the web for articles about father's rights, I came across what is going to be on the Dr. Phil show tonight which is "forced to be a father". The premise of the show is whether or not a father can sign away his paternity rights and therefore escape any responsibility to a child born out of wedlock. Some people believe that engaging in sex puts you on notice that you could be fathering a child and therefore you have knowledge that you could potentially be responsible for that child. Men who don't want that child often feel like victims because they are being forced to be responsible for a child that they didn't want. Perhaps its the child that is the victim in this circumstance. Attached to all of this is the notion that men don't have any rights in the abortion debate. Generally speaking if a woman becomes pregnant and does not want that child, there is absolutely nothing that the father can do to legally stop the woman from having the abortion. The woman actually is under no obligation to even tell the father that she is pregnant. Is this fair? Some people would argue that it is, some people would argue that it isn't. Either way it adds one more element to the paternity and abortion debate. I'm interested in anyone's thoughts on this subject and/or comments on the Dr. Phil show on this issue.

Dr. Phil Show:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Better After Divorce?

One of the polls on my blog spot is a question about whether you believe that your life is better after divorce. I think that most people's lives are better after divorce, but they are saddened by the affect their divorce has on their children and finances. The following article is about one person's personal journey and what their decision to divorce did for their life. Please feel free to post your own personal stories about life after divorce here on this blog.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Divorce and Adoption

Everyone who is tuned into entertainment tabloids right now is aware that Madonna and her husband, Guy Richie are in divorce court. Many of you may remember that about two years ago, the couple adopted a little boy from Malawi. What does Madonna's divorce have in common with other less high profile divorces? Well, one thing comes to mind is what happens when a divorce happens shortly after an adoption of a child? Should the divorce help annul the adoption? From a legal perspective, I believe that once an adoption is final, there is nothing that can overturn the adoption absent fraud, however, there begs the question, if you are aware that your marriage is unstable at the time that you are adopting a child, and you divorce shortly after the adoption is finalized, is this something that should help determine whether the adoption should be overturned? Its an interesting question, and one that I'm sure many people have dealt with. My suggestion is that if your marriage is unstable, you should not bring a child, adopted or biological, into the marriage. It is unfair to the child and certainly unfair to the consenting biological mother or father who thought their child was being adopted by a stable, happy couple.

To read about the issues surrounding Madonna's adopted child and her divorce, see:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Helping Teenagers with Divorce

Teenagers, especially teenage girls, definitely have a tough time with their parents' divorce. They often act out and may have a difficult time understanding what went wrong and some teenagers will place blame on one parent which can cause a breakdown in their relationship with that parent. How you deal with your teenager during your divorce can very well set the tone for the relationship that you will have with your child when they become an adult. The following "Dear Amy" question and answer addresses this very issue:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Healing After Divorce

Many people who continue to live in the marital home after a divorce are concerned about whether or not they can cope emotionally with living in the same home that was the "scene of the crime". Redecorating can be one way that you can turn your home back into a positive place that you love coming home to, but often times redecorating becomes a question of money. The following article gives some helpful suggestions on how to redecorate on a budget after a divorce.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Service Heads Up

Contested divorce litigation can be one of the most animosity filled procedures that a person can go through in their life, and sometimes how you start off your divorce case can help dictate the tone of your divorce case. Here are some does and don'ts to follow when you are about to service your spouse with divorce paperwork to insure your divorce case is set with the most positive tone possible.

1. Do give your a spouse the heads up that you are filing for divorce and that they will be served with papers.

2. Don't serve your spouse at work, unless absolutely necessary to effectuate service.

3. Do give your spouse a general idea of what is in the paperwork.

4. Don't serve your spouse in front of your children.

5. Don't serve your spouse at a counseling session (I've actually seen this happen).

6. Do expect your spouse to have a negative reaction to being served with divorce papers.

7. Do leave your home if you are fearful that your spouse will have a hostile reaction to being served with papers.

If you follow these simple rules, you can insure that your spouse will be prepared when they are served with divorce papers and may insure that they appreciated that you respected them enough to give them the heads up that it was happening and that you used your best efforts to insure that the service is effectuated in a private fashion.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gay Rights to Adoption in Florida

The Florida Adoption Statute precludes people from adopting if they are gay. This statute has been on the Florida books for 31 years and has not been overturned. There is currently a case in Miami, Florida where a gay man is attempting to adopt two boys who are in his custody as the boys' foster parent. One month ago, a Key West Judge declared the statute which disallows a gay man or woman from adopting unconstitutional. This case is unlikely to carry any weight because it has not been appealed to a higher court. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out and whether there will be any cases before the Florida Supreme Court that will assist this man in his plight to adopt or whether his case will be the one that gets there. Many states allow people who are gay to adopt and there are now a handful of states that allow gay marriage or civil unions. It is just a matter of time before this issue gets before the Supreme Court and we have a ruling on it one way or another.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Protecting Father's Rights

Every now and then I have a man come into my office who is aware that there is a woman who may be pregnant with his child and he wants to know how to protect his parental rights. In order for an un-wed father to protect his parental rights, he needs to do the following:

1. Register with the Florida Putative Father Registry ; (
2. Assist the mother as much as he can emotionally and financially during her pregnancy; and
3. When the child is born attempt to enter into a Shared Parenting Agreement so that he can insure contact and each parties obligations to the child financially. If that fails, he should file a Paternity Action.

In the State of Florida, if you do not register with the Putative Father Registry, your child can be put up for adoption without your consent, therefore it is essential that you register with this entity in order to protect your rights. However, even if you properly register, you still need to make efforts to assist the mother, so it is important that you do what you can to stay involved. Unwed fathers are at a disadvantage in the State of Florida so it is important to know how to protect your interests. The good thing about the Putative Father registry is that you can register with it prior to the birth of the child, and it is cheap to do it. Knowing how to protect your rights is the best way to insure that your child is not adopted without your consent or knowledge and that if the mother is attempting to block you from having contact with the child after it is born, it insures that the courts will see that you are serious about wanting to establish a relationship with your child.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Normally I look through all the headline to find Florida family law stories to blog about. I attempted to find a new story, but unfortunately, today in Orlando, the big news surrounds Casey Anthony's arrest for 1st degree murder, among other things, in connection with the disappearance of her 3 year old daughter. This case has gotten more exposure on a local and national level and I loathe being anywhere near the courthouse when there is breaking news on this story. My schedule precludes me from avoiding the courthouse tomorrow morning, so I will wind my way through security and attempt to avoid all the press that is there to catch a glimpse of Casey Anthony. I wonder as we are focusing on this case whether anything could have been done to avoid this whole tragedy in the first place. Ms. Anthony was a young mother who obviously had trouble looking after the best interests of her daughter. I pose the question to you now, when is the appropriate time for the state to step in to insure that children are being properly cared for? Why didn't the grandparents call the authorities when they went weeks without seeing their grandchild? There are so many questions that surround this case and we can only hope that all of these questions will be answered now that Ms. Anthony will be facing a trial.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Housing Market Affecting Divorce

Everyone is aware that the housing market right now is terrible and people are having a tremendous amount of difficulty selling homes. People are upside down on their mortgages and foreclosures are happening at a more rapid rate than any other period of time in history. These facts are having an affect on people's divorces, and also hindering people from starting the divorce process, despite the fact that they are in an unhappy marriage. The following article addresses how the housing market is affecting divorces here in Florida:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Constitutional Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage

I like many other Americans, received my sample ballot in the mail a few days ago in preparation for this year's election. While I am interested in the Presidential election, there are many other things on the ballot that will affect Floridians. There are, of course, the election of various government officials, judges and legislators, but there are also amendments to the Florida Constitution and County Charters. This year, we are voting whether or not to ban gay marriage. More specifically, ...."protect marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized". As a Northerner by birth, I don't remember ever voting for Constitutional Amendments and I'm always shocked how often an amendment to the Constitution of Florida shows up on a ballot. It'll be interesting to see whether this amendment to "protect" marriage will pass. If it doesn't pass, I'm sure it won't be long until we have a vote on whether or not gay marriage should be recognized in Florida. If there ever comes a time when gay marriage is recognized in Florida, this will affect divorce laws here in Florida and may open up a brand new area of expertise which does not currently exist.