Orlando Office: (407) 422-2411
Orlando Office: (407) 333-1382

Seminole County Florida Divorce Law Blog

During property division, consider downsizing

During the course of a Florida divorce, some spouses refuse to accept the reality that many aspects of their lives are about to change. One of the most difficult realities to come to terms with is the fact that it is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain the exact same lifestyle on one income that was possible with two. This is especially true in regard to home size. For those who can accept the many benefits of downsizing, this property division transition can be far easier to manage.

One of the most obvious benefits of moving into a smaller or less elaborate home involves cost. A smaller and simpler home will be far less expensive to maintain, leaving more money for savings or investments. In most cases, individuals who go through divorce require far less space in their new homes. It can be helpful to look for new living arrangements that offer benefits other than size, including an attractive neighborhood, proximity to friends and family or reduced commute time.

Covering all of the details during property division

As a couple in Florida nears the end of the divorce process, there is often an urge to get things signed, sealed and delivered as quickly as possible, so that both parties are able to move on with their lives. This is an understandable approach, but it is important to avoid rushing through the final stage of divorce without ensuring that all of the details have been addressed. Once those papers are signed, it is difficult to go back and address things that were not completed prior to the legal end of the marriage, especially when it comes to matters of property division.

Dividing marital wealth often involves the division of retirement or investment accounts. That process requires a number of phone calls and several types of forms. In the case of retirement savings, a QDRO, or qualified domestic relations order, outlines how the asset is to be divided. It is important to make sure that all of those terms have been met prior to signing the final divorce papers.

Property division can extend beyond divorce

Many Florida spouses assume that once their divorce papers are signed, the process is complete and both parties can go their separate ways. In reality, however, there are multiple property division issues that can extend well beyond the timeframe of divorce. Understanding how those matters can impact the months and years that follow a divorce is essential to avoiding complications.

As an example, many couples will divide retirement investments as part of the divorce process. Attorneys for both sides will usually handle the details of that division. However, the division itself might not occur until after the divorce has been made final. This is a busy period of time that is full of change, and it is all too easy to let some things slip through the cracks. 

Could embryos be subject to property division?

When a Florida couple goes through divorce, a great deal of focus is placed on dividing their marital assets. In some cases, however, the assets in question fall outside the bounds of what the law is equipped to handle. An example is found in a high profile legal dispute between actress Sophia Vergara and her former partner. While not married, the two are embroiled in an unusual property division dispute regarding their frozen embryos.

In an attempt to have a child, the couple went through the process of creating multiple embryos, and even tried the surrogacy process two separate times. Those attempts failed, and the couple decided to part ways. The agreement that they signed at the time the embryos were created states that the embryos would remain frozen in the event that the couple could not agree on how to move forward.

What if I quit paying alimony?

Alimony payments in the 21st century are a contentious issue. The work environment has changed since the laws went on the books, with women making up roughly half of the work force today and dual income households becoming the norm.

The Florida legislature is working to change current terms, but it remains a work in progress. Many of Florida's alimony settlements are higher and more permanent than other states that have enacted formulas and payment caps.

If you're fed up, what happens if you simply quit making your payments?

How domestic violence can impact child custody

When it comes to matters of child custody, acts of abuse between family members can have a great deal of impact on the eventual outcome. Many in Florida believe that the party who has been subjected to acts of domestic violence will automatically have the upper hand in a custody case. In reality, however, the courts take a very careful approach to all child custody matters, including those that contain allegations of domestic violence.

This means that simply being a victim of domestic violence may not sway the court to award primary or full custody to the abused party. In some cases, the courts feel that domestic violence claims are a matter of "he said, she said" and cannot be adequately documented. In other cases, the courts simply feel that the relationship between parents, even if violent, does not necessarily extend to how each parent relates to his or her child.

Addressing child custody matters during divorce mediation

Many Florida families choose mediation to work through the details of their divorce. When it comes to child custody matters, some families struggle to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. It is important to make every effort to set aside feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger or spite in favor of working together to reach a child custody outcome that places the needs of shared children at the forefront.

One common roadblock to mediation involves a spouse who seems dead set against compromise. In some cases, this approach is not really indicative of a passionate desire to maintain the bulk of parenting duties. Instead, it is simply a tactic employed to try and make the divorce as uncomfortable as possible so that the other party might just decide to move away from the divorce process and reconcile.

How to handle college savings during property division

Many Florida families have taken steps to ensure that their children will be able to afford a quality college education. One of the most popular savings options for funding higher education is a 529 account. When a couple is facing divorce and property division, however, a 529 plan becomes just another asset that should be included in negotiations.

In most cases, the parent who will retain primary custody will also become the "owner" of that child's 529 account. The presumption is that the custodial parent will be the one handling the majority of tasks associated with sending the child off to school, and should therefore have the ability to direct the accumulated funds from the 529 account to cover the cost of an education. However, there are cases in which those plans do not ultimately come to fruition.

How social medial use may impact your marriage

Divorce lawyers are seeing more marriages terminate due to social media and the way it affects lives of partners. Many things about social media usage can change the way people think of each other and act toward each other, making relationships more complicated than ever before. 

Don't neglect property division during Social Security divorce

While most Florida spouses look forward to parting ways with their spouse after their marriage comes to an end, this is not always the case. For some couples, divorce is a strategic financial planning move, albeit an unconventional one. For example, many spouses consider a divorce on paper that will allow one spouse to collect Social Security benefits based on his or her former partner's work record. While a valid strategy, this type of divorce still requires a thoughtful property division approach.

If an individual is nearing retirement age, he or she may wish to collect on a former spouse's Social Security record in order to allow his or her own benefits to continue to grow. In order to do so, the claiming party must be single, and also must have been married to the former spouse for a period of at least 10 years. In addition, the claiming spouse's own benefit amount must be less than that of the former spouse.