Divorce is difficult enough without going into it unprepared. Our slogan is “This may be your first divorce, but it’s not ours” is the truest statement that we can offer. Our attorney’s have gone through the dissolution of marriage process with hundreds of clients. All divorces are not the same but if you think a divorce is in your future, there are several things you can do in Florida to protect your financial interests and your family relationships.
The lawyers at DANIELS & HANNAN, have a vast experience in divorcee litigation, prenuptial or antenuptial agreements, simple divorce cases and modification of Final Judgments. Our office negotiates cases daily that involve complex marital settlement agreements that provide for the equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, alimony, co-parenting agreements that include time sharing with minor children and support, so here are a few of the things we suggest to our clients:
Make a list of the important issues and what you would like to achieve in your divorce proceeding. If you have a child(ren) the list should include what you would like for your child(ren) along with your financial objectives.
Obtain reliable legal and financial advice.
- Collect your last years tax returns, insurance policies, benefit programs, last three months of bank statements, salary information and investment accounts.
- You should immediately open a bank account in only your name at a bank where your spouse does not do business.
- If you receive an inheritance, do not place it into a joint account or joint ownership with your spouse.
If you receive any gift, keep documents that show the gift was given to you personally and not to you and your spouse jointly.
Make sure all of your important documents are in a safe and secure place.
Do not sign any new contracts, loans, mortgages, deeds or other documents without consulting a lawyer.
Avoid saying anything negative about your spouse, especially if you have children.
Attempt to keep the lines of communication open with your spouse. Open lines of communication allow negotiating a divorce settlement with your spouse without going to court, allow you the opportunity to make decision about your life that affect your future and can ultimately save you money.
Finally, avoid making any drastic or life-changing decisions until you are thinking clearly about your situation. The State of Florida will not grant you a divorce unless your marriage is irretrievably broken. If you can fix your marriage, make the attempt because you can save yourself a lot of time, anguish and money.
Often when a long-term marriage ends in divorce, Florida Family Law courts may grant alimony to either party if there is an economic need. In the alternative, the parties can also agree to an unequal division of marital assets or property instead of seeking alimony. Alimony is designed to facilitate or continue the standard of living established during the marriage. Alimony is intended to aid the lower earning spouse in making the transition from married life to life as a single person. Alimony provides income to them after the marriage is dissolved.
DANIELS & HANNAN has experience in guiding people through the financial issues of divorce, including alimony and child support and marital property division.
The individual financial situation of each party will strictly determine the type and amount of Alimony received. The factors used to determine Alimony are fact sensitive. The following are a few of the many factors that go into alimony award determinations: the number of years of marriage, the history of the marriage, the age of the parties, education of the parties, the employment history and skills of the economically weaker spouse.
Alimony is designed to facilitate or continue the standard of living established during the marriage. Alimony is intended to aid the lower earning spouse in making the transition from married life to life as a single person. Alimony provides income to them after the marriage is dissolved.
Types of Alimony / Spousal Support
There are three primary forms of Alimony in Florida:
- Temporary Alimony: This form of alimony is most often awarded while the divorce is in process. It can include the use and possession of the marital home, temporary payments of the mortgage, household bills and can also include a court order that one party pay the other side’s attorney’s fees and costs.
- Rehabilitative Alimony or Bridge-The-Gap Alimony: This is alimony provided while a spouse obtains the education or training necessary to become self-sufficient.
- Permanent Alimony: Fixed long term payments from one spouse to the other, ongoing monthly payments until the death or remarriage of recipient. Recent changes in the law allow modifications in cases of “cohabitation in a financially supportive relationship,” even without remarriage.
- Lump-Sum Alimony: is awarded by a Court when ongoing monthly payments aren’t a solution.
Alimony, also known as spousal support, may be granted as periodic payments (over time) or in one lump-sum payment. Alimony is taxable income for the recipient and tax-deductible for the payer. Our office will assist you in locating a professional tax consultant to assist you with these decisions.
Florida allows for the modification of alimony if one party can show a significant change in your financial circumstances. Contact our office today to for an appointment discuss the factors associated with modification of an existing order.
Factors in awarding alimony
Florida courts consider a array of aspects when determining if an award of alimony is warranted. These factors are also used in the determining the amount of the award as well.
- Then length of the marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The age and the health of each party
- The financial resources available to each party
- The contributions each party made to the marriage
- Behavioral issues such as adultery
The courts have the ability to order the alimony paying spouse to purchase a life insurance policy or a bond so that future alimony payments are secured. We take a creative approach to find ways to resolve issues surrounding Alimony and work hard to obtain you the best settlement possible.
Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Liabilities:
Our goal in any divorce is to minimize the harm to your financial security and help you keep the assets that belong to you or you desire to retain. Strong advocacy is important in divorce and without it there can be a disastrous effect on your financial future.
DANIELS & HANNAN has the experience in guiding people through issues such as the preservation of separate property along with the equitable division of marital property and debts in Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, and Charlotte counties.
Here are a few definitions that will assist you as you prepare to undergo a divorce proceeding:
Separate property: Any and all of the property you brought to your marriage. This can include real estate holdings, stock, money and a variety of other financial assets. Separate property is yours to keep if you divorce, so long as you do not commingle those assets with marital property.
Marital property: Any and all assets acquired during the marriage, This category is the most expansive and includes items such as the marital residence, furniture, vehicles, stock options, 401(k) plans, IRA accounts and pension plans. In addition to assets, debts and liabilities must be divided equitably.
An antenuptual or prenuptial agreement provide for the determination of how assets will be divided if there parties eventually separate. These agreements are signed before the parties officiate their marriage. If there is no antenuptual or prenuptial agreement to determine how marital property should be divided, Florida Family Law courts will consider the contributions each spouse made to the marriage. The contributions include, but are not limited to, providing support for a spouse’s career or education, caring and raising for a child(ren), homemaking and any disruption of career or educational opportunities that may have occurred.
Identifying marital assets
You will be required to file a financial affidavit providing a full disclosure of all earning statements, bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, tax returns, loan applications, deeds, promissory notes and other assets and liabilities.
If necessary, I will use business valuation experts and forensic accountants to ensure that your spouse provides a full and fair disclosure of assets.
Child Custody & Support
DANIELS & HANNAN provides comprehensive child custody, child support, and visitation rights representation. Attorneys at DANIELS & HANNAN know that child custody often leads to emotional disputes during which both parents can forget what is best for the children. We offer legal advice and representation during the entire process of negotiation and settlement, or through court litigation, if necessary. We recommend, when possible alternative methods of dispute resolution such as mediation, instead of litigation. In matters related to the custody of minor children, living arrangements, financial considerations, alimony, and spousal maintenance, mediation can be a helpful alternative. DANIELS & HANNAN will help guide and assist you through this tough period in time.
The concept of child custody has been changed in recent years. The Primary Residential Care Provider (“Primary”) and Secondary Residential Care Provider (“Secondary”) terminology have been replaced with Parenting Plans and Time-Sharing Agreements. The Parenting Plan is a document that governs the way the parties relate to one another about the decisions made regarding children, and includes a time-sharing schedule. The Time-Sharing Schedule specifies the time; including overnights, weekends and holidays that children will spend with each parent. Also included is how often and the method of technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the children. If developed and agreed to by the parents, it must be approved by the Court. If the parents cannot agree, the schedule will be established by the Court.
Child Custody and Support are two of the most challenging and difficult aspects of any divorce case that involve minor children. The parents must work through or litigate who the children will live with most of the time; and it can be a terrifying, frustrating and demanding process. Our office has represented many clients through the difficult process of custody litigation. Our office understands what you are experiencing, what you are feeling, and what you want for you and your children. We understand the way judges make decisions and that gives us the unique ability to structure the facts, evidence and testimony. We utilize our experience so that it gives our clients the best possible opportunity to obtain the outcome they desire.
In the State of Florida, there is a concept referred to as Shared Parental Responsibility. This legal presumption is founded upon the belief that both parents should be actively involved in their children’s lives, education, health, welfare and religious upbringing. The Court’s will grant both parents the Shared Parental Responsibility of raising their children unless one parent is shown to be unfit. Unless there is evidence of one parent’s inability to raise their child(ren) both parents must work together, jointly raising their child(ren). The Best Interest of the Child(ren) is the foundational standard that the Courts consider in making parenting plan determinations. The Court has flexibility in making a decision as to what is in the best interest of the minor child(ren). The Courts will look at the totality of all of the factors present in any case, then make a determination based upon it’s belief of what would be in the Child(ren)’s best interests, not necessarily in the parents. The state of Florida determines both child custody and support based on a variety of complex factors, including the finances of both parents, violence in the relationship, and the more subjective notion of the “best interest” of the child. Our attorneys are skilled in the effective negotiation of fair and reasonable custody and support agreements. We can help clearly identify your legal goals, draft fair financial arrangements, and ensure that your child is not used punitively by a former spouse during a dispute. We can also assertively represent your interests in court if the need presents itself.
It is important to understand that Child Support is for the benefit of the child(ren) and cannot be waived by the Parents. Child Support is statutory obligation in the State of Florida. This means that the statute itself determines the amount of child support based on the combined net monthly income of the parents. Parents have an obligation to support their children financially in the State of Florida. If you or your loved one is having difficulty with unpaid child support, our office can help you through the legal procedures to try and enforce your award, collect past due child support and ensure that future child support is collected promptly. Similarly, if you are still paying child support for a child who is an adult, then call our office to discuss what we can do to assists you with this problem.
Child custody and support decrees need to be revisited to account for new family circumstances like remarriage and changing financial or living arrangements. Our attorneys have helped Florida families review, negotiate, or litigate post judgment issues. Divorce issues related to the care and custody of minor children are stressful and difficult to negotiate. The Daniels Law Firm is committed to fair, reasonable, and cost-effective resolutions, in keeping with our clients’ goals, according to the state law and the facts.
If you are considering a divorce in which child custody, child support, and visitation rights might become a contentious concern, contact DANIELS & HANNAN to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.
Do you own your own business, have a substantial ownership interest in someone else’s business, or own several parcels of real estate. Have you received an inheritance, a pension, or are the beneficiary or owner of an annuity. Do you have extensive investments? Do you have pre-marital assets? DANIELS & HANNAN can help, let us guide you through the complex financial issues associated with your divorce.
Many of our client’s have either complicated financial situation, significant pre-marital or marital asset issues, or a high level of assets to protect. At DANIELS & HANNAN we have developed relationships with forensic accountants, property appraisers, tax consultants, and financial planners to assist in handling cases of this nature.
Our attorneys have the ability to understand your complicated financial matters that can develop in family law cases and help provide you with asset preservation planning.
Bankruptcy & Divorce FAQ
If you are going through a divorce it can impact bankruptcy in the division of marital property and the division of marital debt. In the state of Florida, any assets or property acquired over the course of a marriage must be equitably divided, including retirement funds, equity in a home, bank accounts, and other assets. In the case of debt, the terms of a divorce settlement do not affect the agreement you and/or your spouse may have with creditors.
Are you a co-signer on a loan with your spouse?
If your name is on a loan or credit account, you can be held responsible its debt even if you never used a credit card or drove your spouse’s car. Your creditors can hold you responsible for the payment of the debt even if your divorce settlement indicates your spouse will pay it off. For these reasons, it’s essential to determine how assets and debts will be assigned since this will impact whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The Daniels Law Firm will work closely with CPAs, forensic accountants, and business evaluators when necessary in representing clients filing for divorce and bankruptcy. To schedule an appointment and learn how we can help you, contact the divorce and bankruptcy attorneys at DANIELS & HANNAN today.
What are the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy essentially wipes out certain kinds of non-secured debt, like credit card debt. Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a restructuring or reorganization of your debt according to a payment schedule agreed upon by you and your creditors. Because of this restructuring under Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, it is possible to keep your home and car as long as you are able to continue making the monthly payments.
The Impact of Marital Debt on Bankruptcy
How will bankruptcy filing affect our martial debt? If you or your spouse declares bankruptcy, during or after your divorce, the creditors involved may decide to try and collect unpaid debt from the non-filing spouse. For instance, if your spouse agreed to pay off jointly held credit cards or a car loan you signed your name to, a creditor will likely demand payment from you when it becomes evident they won’t be able to collect from your former spouse. Because your divorce settlement cannot modify your current legal contractual obligations to your creditors, you may be left with very little choice but to pay off the debt in full or even declare bankruptcy yourself. You may ultimately have the option of suing your former spouse for violating the terms of the divorce agreement but that will not help you when the creditors are calling.
Child Support, Spousal Support and Bankruptcy
If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, this will not release you from maintaining your current child support or spousal support obligations. If you face a situation where you can no longer afford the current child support of spousal support payments, you may need a post-divorce modification(hyperlink to my other page) in order to modify payments without facing wage garnishment, asset seizure, or even jail time.
Contact the Divorce and Bankruptcy Attorneys at DANIELS & HANNAN Today
There are a number of financial and legal issues that must be considered before, during and after your divorce regarding bankruptcy. If you have questions and would like to discuss the legal options available to you, contact the divorce and bankruptcy attorneys at The Daniels Law Firm today for a free 30 minute consultation.
At DANIELS & HANNAN our Attorneys are able to handle the unigue challenges of Bankruptcy and Family Law. We will address the apecific concerns that you have and we will offer you the personal attention you deserve. Our office staff and Attorneys are able to walk you through the best options to protect your assets, your rights, and explain how it will work from beginning to end.
DANIELS & HANNAN Attorneys at Law provide experienced legal services in Criminal Defense, Family Law, Divorce Law, DUI Defense, Personal Injury, and Business Law. Providing full service legal representation throughout Southwest Florida with primary offices located in Lakewood Ranch Florida representing clients’ in Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, and Charlotte counties. DANIELS & HANNAN has the experience needed to manage legal matters before Florida State, County, and Federal Courts in Clearwater, Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Venice, Fort Meyers, Naples, and others throughout Southwest Florida.