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Alimony awards in Florida explained

Alimony is one of the top concerns likely on the minds of divorcing couples here. Alimony payments are payments one of the former spouses makes to the other following the divorce, which is why most divorcing couples will want to understand the ins-and-outs of how alimony is determined in our state.

Alimony may be awarded to either of the spouses and either spouse may request alimony as part of their divorce settlement. Alimony, also sometimes called spousal support, can be awarded in different ways and for different durations.

Bankruptcy myths you should not believe

Many Florida residents currently live paycheck to paycheck. It may not take much -- one emergency, one serious illness, one unexpected expense -- to cause them to lose everything. If you find yourself one of the many who are struggling to keep finances under control, know that various debt relief options may be open to you -- such as bankruptcy.

There are a lot of people who do what they can to avoid bankruptcy at all costs. They have heard so many negatives about it that they fail to consider the good this form of debt relief can do. A lot of what is said about bankruptcy are actually myths that you should not believe. What are a few of the most common bankruptcy myths?

Annulling a marriage in Florida

A divorce is the most common method of ending a Florida marriage. What many Floridians do not understand is that some marriages are void at the beginning and are never valid in the eyes of the law. These marriages can be ended by annulment instead of divorce, that is, a legal ruling that one or both of the spouses did not have the lawful capacity or give proper consent to marry the other.

Florida does not have a statute that governs the process of annulment. If a person wishes to annul a marriage, a lawsuit must be commenced in the county where one of the spouses resides. Florida courts generally follow the common law rules for annulling marriages that were never valid. Such marriages are often referred to as void ab initio, a Latin phrase meaning that the marriage was void at its beginning. Florida law bans marriages between persons related by lineal consanguinity, that is, Floridians may not marry either of their parents, their brother or sister, first cousin, nephew, niece, uncle or aunt. Bigamous marriages are also banned. These marriages are subject to termination by annulment.

Understanding visitation rights in Florida

When a couple in our state has one or minor children and then decide to end their marriage, they must arrange adequate and convenient times for each parent to spend time with the child. This is a serious and often complicated issue. Fortunately, Florida law provides very clear guidelines for visitation by the non-custodial parent.

Our state places the initial burden for determining a visitation schedule on the parents. Each couple is required to draft and submit to the court a joint plan for how they will participate in the child's care after the divorce becomes final and how they will spend time with the child. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, the court will draft and enforce its own plan. This is called visitation "time-sharing," but the concept is easy to understand: the time-sharing plan specifies the time that the child will spend with each parent.

Understanding the Florida adoption process

Many childless couples in our state turn to adoption to start a family. Adoptions entail many risks for both the adoptive parents and the child, but the process has brought enduring happiness to many people. Before embarking on the road to an adoption, a couple should understand the details of this family law process and the potential for both happiness and intense disappointment.

For couples who are taking their first steps toward an adoption, the adoption process begins with a one- or two-hour orientation that provides an opportunity for the prospective parents to talk with parents who have already successfully adopted a child. These parents will provide an overview of the process. Adoption counselors also participate in the orientation.

Court's interpretation of prenup costs wife $1,500,000

Drafting a prenuptial agreement requires attention to the smallest linguistic details. The misuse of a word or phrase can distort the meaning in favor of one spouse or the other, and for couples with significant assets, the distortion can result in losses in excess of $1 million. The decision of Florida's Second District Court of Appeals ruled that the meaning of a prenuptial agreement was significantly affected by the use of the article, "a" instead of a more specific article, such as "that" or "said."

Several weeks before their marriage, the couple in question signed a prenuptial agreement. One of the agreement's most significant terms was a paragraph that, if the marriage was ended by divorce, required the husband to make a lump-sum payment to the wife. The amount of the payment was determined by the length of the marriage "at the time a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed." Unfortunately, that term proved to be ambiguous.

How wedding debt can affect your marriage

Your wedding was amazing; it also cost you a fortune. Now, the party is over, married life is in full swing, and you have found yourself constantly fighting with your spouse about how you are going to pay down your wedding debt. Debt, of any kind, is a factor in many divorce cases. However, according to a recently published article, those with nuptial debt are more likely to consider ending their marriages than those without it.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a big celebration, but not all couples realize how taking on this debt will affect them down the line. A LendingTree survey found that 76% of newlyweds who took on wedding debt end up fighting about it. At the end of the day, going into debt to celebrate a special occasion may seem fine at the moment, but when it is over, and money is tight, it just adds stress on a relationship.

What is a "post-nuptial agreement" in Florida?

Most couples in Florida who are considering marriage have heard of prenuptial agreements. Once a rarity, these agreements are becoming more common as couples marrying for the second time, or more, want to protect their personal assets from an unfair property settlement in a divorce. Not surprisingly, a new kind of marital agreement is also becoming more popular - the "post-nuptial agreement."

As the name suggests, post-nuptial agreements are signed after the marriage becomes official. Like pre-nuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements are used to ensure that one or both spouses retains complete control over their personal assets. Post-nuptial agreements are essentially contracts and must therefore meet Florida's requirements for contracts to be enforceable. A post-nuptial agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties and witnessed by a notary public. Both parties must consent to the drafting and execution of the agreement, and the agreement must be fair and not the result of unfair influence by one spouse. Also, both spouses must make a complete and accurate disclosure of assets prior to the execution of the agreement.

Ignoring child support obligation in Florida has consequences

Some Florida residents wind up being deeply unhappy about the terms of their divorce decree. One of the issues that causes the most unhappiness is an order directing one spouse to pay child support to the other. Even though Florida laws are clear on which spouse should pay child support and on how much should be paid, many divorced parents who have been ordered to pay child support refuse to accept the effect of the court's order. Instead of complying with the order, they simply refuse to pay, or pay less than has been ordered or pay later than the order requires. Many parents who must pay child support to their former spouse underestimate the seriousness of ignoring the court's order.

Parents who are ordered to pay child support should first realize that they can ask the court to change the terms of the order if they can demonstrate substantially changed circumstances. Even though meeting this burden is not easy, courts do not take a kindly view of parents who ignore such relief. Moreover, the availability of a motion to modify an order for child support makes virtually all forms of "self-help," such as refusal to pay or paying less than the mandated amount, subject to the state's penalties for failing to pay support.

Understanding the advantages of an uncontested divorce

People who are facing the possibility of ending their marriages often worry about the emotional strain of the divorce process, especially if minor children are involved. One of the most certain methods of reducing this strain is to strive for an uncontested divorce. As the names imply, an uncontested divorce is one in which the divorcing parties have been able to negotiate a mutually satisfactory agreement on all issues, including alimony, property division, child custody and child support.

The principal benefit of an uncontested or no-fault divorce is the relative brevity of the proceeding and the elimination of the need to present evidence in open court. Uncontested divorces can usually be resolved by the parties negotiating face-to-face, sometimes with the assistance of attorneys. The process is usually much faster than a contested divorce, and the parties generally do not experience as much stress as parties to a contested divorce. The brevity of an uncontested divorce also produces another important benefit: the costs are generally reduced because attorneys are not required to put as much time into uncontested cases as they may put into a contested divorce.

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