Jacksonville Family Law And Estate Planning Blog

What spouses don't anticipate about divorce

Florida women who are considering divorce could be in for some financial surprises. In a recent survey, 46 percent of divorced women said that their splits resulted in unexpected money-related issues. The survey polled 1,785 adult women who were in three different stages -- seriously considering divorce, in the process of divorce and already completed divorce. Of those surveyed, 22 percent were over the age of 55.

Some of the most common surprises described included not being aware of certain marital debts or the high cost of getting health insurance as a single person. Furthermore, many thought that they would receive more spousal or child support. Understanding the financial implications of a divorce may be more difficult for those who let their husbands make the decisions related to money.

Money problems and divorce

The divorce rate for couples in Florida and the rest of the country has been near 50 percent for many years. There are several reasons why people choose to seek a divorce. According to some studies, however, issues with money are the main cause.

One money-related issue that can impact a marriage is inadequate communication. If there are no discussions about the family finances, it is nearly inevitable that a couple will encounter difficulties in the future. In some relationships, one partner will assume control of the financial decisions, but this can result in complications if that partner dies and the other spouse is left with having to tackle an unfamiliar task.

3 reasons people may lie about paternity

Why is it so important to establish the paternity of a child? If the father's name is on the birth certificate—or if the mother claims that he is, in fact, the father—why is further research sometimes necessary? It is sad but true that mothers and fathers alike are sometimes dishonest about paternity. There are a number of reasons why this might be true, and it poses a legal challenge for parents. 

According to the Florida Department of Revenue, establishing paternity entitles you to information about a child's medical care, and it benefits the child by providing her or him with a legal father. The following are some of the reasons why parents may be dishonest about the identity of their child's father:

Divorce and dividing retirement assets

When it comes to dividing financial assets in a divorce, it's important to apply due diligence. Florida residents who are getting a divorce should be aware that the manner in which a retirement account is divided will depend on the type of retirement account in question. If the wrong method is used to divide retirement assets like 401(k)s, individuals could be subject to costly penalties and taxes.

A qualified domestic relations order should be used to divide workplace retirement plans, including traditional pension plans and 401(k)s. While it is based on the information in a divorce agreement, the QDRO considered to be a separate document and is the only way individuals can legally obtain a share of their spouse's workplace retirement plan.

Tax law changes coming to divorce after 2018

For couples who have decided to divorce in Florida, there may be good financial reasons to ensure that their agreements are finalized before the end of 2018. There are several changes to federal tax laws that will go into effect with the dawn of the new year in 2019. These changes could significantly impact the way that divorce will affect both parties' pocketbooks, and by acting quickly, people may be able to finalize their divorces under more favorable current tax regulations.

One of the most well-known, major changes to the tax code that affects divorcing spouses is the way that alimony and spousal support is treated. Under the current tax regime, spousal support payments are tax-deductible for the payer. For people with high incomes and wealth, the value of this tax deduction can be significant. Indeed, it can help people save almost 50 percent of their tax burden due to spousal support expenses. At the same time, alimony has been taxable as it is considered part of the recipient's income. In general, these taxes were paid in a lower bracket. Since it was taxable income, it could also be funneled to IRAs for retirement.

How the divorce process may come with some restrictions

Some people in Florida may not be aware of some restrictions on finances and parenting that might exist during the divorce process. These vary across jurisdictions. However, when a divorce is in progress, it is best to avoid using marital funds for any expenses above and beyond the usual ones. A person cannot clean out a shared account or remove a spouse from it, run up debts on credit cards or sell assets.

People are also prohibited from removing a spouse from a health insurance policy. Courts recognize that an illness or accident could be disastrous for a person who does not have insurance, so a spouse should be given time to make other arrangements. This applies to other types of insurance as well such as auto insurance.

Valuable collectibles and estate planning

It may be important for some people in Florida to include valuable collectibles in their estate plan such as art, stamps, antiques and even some alcoholic beverages. There could be several complications associated with these items in an estate plan including valuation and the fact that family members may be unable or uninterested in keeping some items.

A person may want to get the items appraised while making the estate plan to avoid family conflicts about their value. It might also be useful to list the names of dealers or auction houses that specialize in these items so that the executor has some guidance as to how to obtain a reliable valuation

Why parents agree to temporary custody orders

When parents in Florida choose to divorce or separate, it can have a significant impact on the children involved. Therefore, it's necessary to think about the kids' best interests throughout the separation process. In some cases, it isn't possible to determine immediately who should have permanent custody of a child. In these scenarios, a temporary custody order may be created.

However, the temporary order could become permanent in time. Parents may choose to give temporary custody to an outside family member if they are unable to do so in the midst of a separation or divorce. Custody could also be granted to another party if a parent has an unusual work schedule or some other commitment that would make it difficult to provide proper care.

Mediation: a more amicable way to divorce

If you and your spouse have decided to divorce in Florida, you undoubtedly have good reasons for making that difficult and painful decision. Whatever those reasons are, and whatever issues now confront you regarding your children, your house, your division of property and other areas of your respective lives, it is quite likely, however, that neither of you wishes to undertake a long, expensive and exceedingly acrimonious divorce. In fact, each of you may wish, secretly or openly, that you could have a “friendly” divorce rather than a traditional litigious one.

You can. An ever-growing number of today’s divorcing couples are discovering mediation, the more amicable way to divorce. Instead of “slugging it out” in court and leaving life-changing decisions up to a judge, mediation allows you and your spouse to be your own de facto judge. The two of you get to make your own divorce decisions by negotiating your issues and reaching mutually workable, if not completely satisfying, agreements. Since you arrived at these compromise agreements yourselves, you will be more likely to abide by them after your divorce.

Developing an estate plan for the future

When it comes to planning for the future of assets, estate planning is a key tool in achieving the desired outcome. Developing a plan can be important whether one's assets are large or small. By doing so, an estate owner can help to protect their privacy and security while establishing a greater sense of control. When Florida residents don't have an estate plan of their own or even a will, their assets are left to be distributed according to state law. Despite the fact that many people envision what they would like to see happen with their affairs, 55 percent of Americans do not have a will.

Estate planning is a process that helps to manage how a person's assets will be distributed after death and during their life. It can also include important future planning for health care and financial decisions in case of incapacity. By developing a plan, an estate owner can also help to minimize the impact of gift, income and estate taxes. An estate planning lawyer can work with a client to help develop a plan that best fits their vision for their assets.

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Rachel Rall, Attorney at Law, P.A.
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Jacksonville, FL 32210

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