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Broward County Family Law Blog

Hooker v. Hooker and Prenuptial Agreements in Florida

Prenuptial Agreements in Florida recently changed when the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the decision of a lower court that has attorneys baffled and scrambling to modify their standard pre-nuptial agreement language. In the case of Hooker v Hooker, the parties were married and prior to marrying they drafted and executed a pre-nup. Neither party says that the prenup was invalid for any reason - it was a good and proper pre-nup. It said that each would retain their own premarital property as non-marital assets including appreciation on those properties. There existed 2 properties purchased by the Husband. After a 23 year marriage while divorcing the Wife argued that both properties were marital because the Husband had intended them to be gift made to her as his Wife during the marriage. One of them the couple lived in together as a family in FL and it was deeded in Trust for the Husband. The other was titled in Husband's name alone and the family used it as a summer home in NY. The Husband paid for this home out of his separate money and upkeep of the property as well. The court found that despite titles and despite the pre-nup the family treated the properties as marital and therefore they were marital. The argument also included allegations that husband displayed the intent to gift the properties to the Wife druing the marriage.

Will you have to pay alimony when you get divorced?

Will I owe alimony? This is a question on the mind of many people who are considering making the decision to move forward with a divorce. Today, I had a call from a man who has been married for 20 years in a very unhappy marriage. Can he afford a divorce? That was his question. My answer was, the decision to get divorced or not, is not really a financial question.

Step Parent Adoptions in Florida

Our firm handles many step-parent adoptions each year. There are a surprising number of circumstances which make a Step-Parent Adoption the right decision for your family. Most of the time a step parent adoption occurs between the Step-Father of the child and the child, but not always, we do handle step-mother adoptions too. When a step-parent has played a significant role in a child's life and the other parent has had limited or no involvement then a step-parent adoption may be the right choice for you. Depending upon the legal relationship the other parent has with the child, they may need to be significantly involved in the process or not involved at all. Having the other parent's consent is helpful and will certainly make for an easier, quicker and cheaper process. One reason a parent my chose to consent to the Adoption is child support, if their involvement with the child is limited already allowing a step-parent to adopt the child will terminate their child support obligation. There are other reasons as well, mostly centered around the well-being of the child. While consent makes things easier, it is not required in many circumstances. If the other parent has been largely absent from the child's life then it is possible to terminate their rights and have a step parent adopt through a Court Order without the parent's consent. Consulting with an experienced attorney is critical in evaluating your adoption options. We are happy chat for free on a free phone consultation.

Name Changes in Florida

Whether you are looking to change your own name or your child's name, unless you are getting married or divorced, you are going to need to file Petition for a Name Change in Florida. While the forms are not overly difficult to find or to fill out, there are several of them and it is imperative that they be completed correctly. The complete process of changing your name from drafting the forms, to filing them, to background checks, setting hearings and drafting Final Judgement and getting certified copies can be more complicated than it appears. We are frequently hired by those who attempted a DIY name change to step in an assist in completing the process.

Child Support after a reduction in income or unemployment

If you lose your job in Florida and there is a child support order in place ordering you to pay child support, you MUST file for a modification of child support. If you do not file for a modification you will likely be held in contempt of Court for failure to pay and you will still owe the FULL amount due even if you were unemployed or earning less during that time. Child support is largely based on the income of the 2 parents, see our previous article for more information. So, by way of example, let's say you, as the Father are paying $800 / month in child support and that figure was Ordered by a Court at a time that you were earning $4000 / month. In November you lose your job - involuntarily, for now fault of your own.

Pet Law and Protecting your Pet

Pet Law is evolving in Florida but for now, pets are considered property in Florida. Because of this they are treated like any other property. Which means, if you are married, they will be allocated to one of you in the divorce just like the couch, or TV. If you are not married and you are living together and split you are going to have a whole lot of problems when you split because there is no real standard for splitting ANY assets, particularly pets. In the end we have no current pet law in place that allows for "shared custody", "visitation" or "pet support". There is no equivilant of child support for pets. But these are all things that you can contract with your partner for. You can enter into an agreement that determines a schedule for joint ownership, or that determines one owner to be the sole owner and also make provisions for payments of bills and costs if you are going to "share custody". It becomes an enforceable contract, like any other that you can pursue in Court if not followed. These are thing that Judges lack the ability to do in divorce court or civil court (in the event you are not married). Even if the dog is registered, or was purchased with papers, if you are married, and you purchased the pet during the marriage the pet is likely considered a marital asset and will be treated as joint property whether you are the "true" owner or not. Also, many people who treat their pets as family set up pet trust to provide for their pets needs after their death. This is critical as we see so many instances where pets end up in shelters after an owners death because relatives are unable to care for them. Solaris law group can help with Pet Law issue,  including pet pre-nups and pet trusts. Call us for a free consult.

Pets and Couples

Pets are considered property in Florida. Because of this they are treated like any other property. Which means, if you are married, they will be allocated to one of you in the divorce just like the couch, or TV. If you are not married and you are living together and split you are going to have a whole lot of problems when you split because there is no real standard for splitting ANY assets, particularly pets. In the end we have no current laws in place that allow for "shared custody", "visitation" or "pet support". But these are all things that you can contract with your partner for. You can enter into an agreement that determines a schedule for joint ownership, or that determines one owner to be the sole owner and also make provisions for payments of bills and costs if you are going to "share custody". It becomes an enforceable contract, like any other that you can pursue in Court if not followed. These are thing that Judges lack the ability to do in divorce court or civil court (in the event you are not married). Even if the dog is registered, or was purchased with papers, if you are married, and you purchased the pet during the marriage the pet is likely considered a marital asset and will be treated as joint property whether you are the "true" owner or not. Also, many people who treat their pets as family set up pet trust to provide for their pets needs after their death. This is critical as we see so many instances where pets end up in shelters after an owners death because relatives are unable to care for them. Solaris law group can help with pet pre-nups and pet trusts. Call us for a free consult.

Child Support& Social Security Benefits

We discussed in other blog articles how child-support is calculated in Florida. Basically, Child SUpport is an algebra formula that takes into consideration both parents and, childcare costs, healthcare costs, and the number of overnights that each parent legally has pursuant to a court order. One of the elements that gets litigated, or comes into question when we are trying to figure out child-support is what exactly each person's income is. When people own their own business, work multiple jobs, or have sources of income that are not standard W-2 employee salaries or hourly wages, figuring out what someone's income is to get challenging. One of the places that gets confusing is one of the parents is receiving SSI or SSDI.

Is mediation right for my divorce?

Many people recently are thinking mediation when they begin to think about getting divorced. I find this exciting; it means more and more people are thinking about moving on from their marriage without the destruction and drama of litigation. However, mediation is for a specific purpose and does not meet every divorcing couple's needs. If you're thinking about amicably ending your marriage the first thing to ask yourself is: Do my partner and I both agree to end our marriage amicably? If the answer is yes, then you have a new set of questions to ask:

What is an uncontested divorce?

There are many ways to get divorced in Florida. To get divorced you need a marital settlement agreement (MSA) and a parenting plan or you need a final judgment (an Order from a judge which rules on all of the various aspects of a divorce). An MSA and parenting plan (if there are minor children) are the two documents that will need to be drafted and signed by the parties if they want agree to the terms of their divorce rather than making a Judge decide.

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