Monday, March 30, 2009

Illegal Filing Fees in Divorce

Last summer there was an increase in court filing fees that occurred state wide here in Florida. What was more shocking for most of us was not that the courts were charging $408.00 rather than $363.00 for a new divorce filing, but that there would be a $295.00 charge for all counter-petitions. Seems like many people around the state are in an uproar over the charge for a counter-petition for dissolution of marriage. Some county clerks are continuing to charge this fee even after the Attorney General issued a formal opinion that stated that the filing fee for counter-petitions was not authorized in family law cases. Now the clerks of the court are subject to a class action suit which has been filed in Hillsborough County about the wrongful charging of these filing fees. It'll be interesting to see how this all pans out, but I would hope that the clerks would have to return these fees to the people who have already paid them and to stop collecting the fees from future counter-petitioners.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Much Money Does One Person Need?

I'm always shocked and appalled when I hear about people who ask the courts to provide them with unreasonably large divorce settlements, especially in what I consider to be a short term marriage. For most people, if you haven't been married for at least ten (10) years, alimony is the exception and not the rule and settlements are based strictly on what assets the marriage has obtained during the marital period. I was forwarded a story by one of my employees about a woman who was married in 2002 and is seeking to obtain a settlement that would support her need to have $53,000.00 per week for her living expenses. Her list of weekly expenses she has, among other things, $8,000.00 for travel expenses and $4,500.00 for clothing. The issue is that she signed a Post-Nuptial Agreement whereby she would get $43 Million and she wants to set that agreement aside. Some lawyers seem to think that she would get far less than $43 million if the agreement were to be set aside, and given the length of the marriage, I would tend to think that would be the case. Now I'm sure that this woman believes that she cannot live off of less than $53,000.00 per month and that she has a major concern about burning through her divorce settlement in 16 years. However, the real question is whether there are enough marital assets that entitle her to a $43 million settlement in the first place. If there are only $50 million worth of marital assets, she is arguably only entitled to $25 million in a settlement. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but I have a suspicion that Marie Douglas-David is going to wish that she had taken the first offer of settlement, because it is usually the best one in divorce. Be careful what you wish is a mantra that holds true often, especially in a divorce.

To read the article that this blog is based upon, see:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Key To A Happy Relationship

I may be a divorce attorney, but believe it or not, I am not an advocate for divorce. In fact, I wish that more people were able to make their marriages work and I am always on the look out for helpful advice for people who are in healthy relationships and are looking for ways to continue to stay happy. While I don't agree with all the advice that is in the article to follow, I do believe that this atricle has some good advice and tips for staying on the right track in your relationship.