separated couple

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated to Get a Divorce in Florida?

Coming to the decision that a divorce is what is best for you and your family is usually not an easy one. Once you have reached this decision, you may be more than ready to jump in and get the process started. There are, however, formalities that must be observed prior to this happening.

Is there a mandatory waiting period before filing for divorce? 

Some states have a mandatory waiting period in place when parties file for divorce. This waiting period varies between states, but it usually falls around 6 months to over a year. The intention behind this type of waiting period was to give the parties to the divorce time to reflect on whether or not divorce is truly something they wish to pursue. The same intention is behind some state requirements for spouses to go through a period of separation prior to being able to obtain a divorce.

Florida, however, has no required wait time or required period of separation prior to getting a divorce in the state. The only timing question that really will impact your ability to seek a Florida divorce comes from Florida Statute 61.021. This statute requires that one of the parties to a dissolution of marriage case must reside in the state of Florida for at least six months prior to filing the petition for divorce. Please be sure to note that only one spouse needs to fulfill the residency requirement. This means that the other spouse does not even necessarily have to live in Florida at all and the Florida resident spouse can successfully file a divorce petition.

In sum, the real issue in seeking a Florida divorce is not how long you need to be separated in order to seek a divorce, but how long you or your spouse have lived in the state. The overall length of time it takes to navigate the entire divorce process will largely rest on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested divorce. It will also depend on how many issues relating to the divorce you and your soon to be former spouse are at odds about and your ability to work with your former spouse on reaching mutually agreeable resolutions. Really, it will depend on just how contentious the divorce proves to be. The more central issues that you and your spouse disagree on, the longer the divorce process is likely to take. Other complicating factors in divorce can be children and high net worth as well as complex asset holdings.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Orlando Family Team is committed to providing our clients with divorce counsel they can count on. We are here not only to help ensure that the technical requirements of a Florida divorce are observed but to serve our clients by providing them with trusted legal counsel. We will always work to pursue and protect your best interests. Contact us today.

forensic accountant in a divorce

What Is the Role of a Forensic Accountant in a Divorce?

The complexities of divorce seem to touch on everything. There are emotional, legal, and financial implications of divorce and it can be a great deal to try and confront all at once. The financial impacts of divorce can be both substantial and far-reaching. It can be critical to your financial well-being to help ensure that assets are properly valued and accounted for during divorce proceedings. Without an accurate picture of your financial holdings during a marriage, it will be next to impossible for a court to be able to help ensure that you get your fair share. That is where forensic accountants come in. In a divorce, for several reasons, a forensic accountant can prove very valuable.

Forensic Accountant in a Divorce

Forensic accountants probably are most prominently thought of when considering divorces where one spouse fears that the other spouse may be less than forthcoming with accurate financial information or may be hiding assets, such as funneling expenses through a business to paint an inaccurate financial picture. Sometimes, a spouse will try and hide assets so they are not subject to division during divorce. Other times, parties may not remember assets or did not keep records of assets so they remain hidden even where there is no intent for them to be as such. A forensic accountant can find both intentionally and unintentionally hidden assets and income so that they are included in relevant divorce calculations. 

A forensic accountant is usually tasked with sifting through extensive amounts of financial records including:

  • Tax returns
  • Accounting records
  • Financial statements
  • Bank statements
  • Canceled checks
  • Sales invoices
  • Credit card statements

This includes both personal and business records relating to the parties to the divorce. With the skilled and knowledgeable eye that a forensic accountant can bring to the table, several things can be accomplished in addition to revealing hidden assets and income, such as:

  • Discovering inconsistencies in financial documentation
  • Corroborating financial and non-financial information
  • Assessing whether personal expenses were included as business expenses (which can impact the proper valuation of a business)
  • Determine the value of a business or a spouse’s business interests
  • Calculate cash flow for purposes of spousal and child support payments
  • Tracing to determine which property should be deemed separate and which should be considered marital or “community” property.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

In sum, a forensic accountant can be an asset in revealing essential information as you prepare for divorce. At Orlando Family Team, we are committed to using available resources to help protect the best interests of our clients. We know that the financial impacts of divorce cannot be understated. It is a big shift in anyone’s financial life and we are dedicated to helping ensure that you are set up for a successful financial future way beyond when your divorce is finalized. Contact us today.

divorced mom thinking about bills

Who Pays the Household Bills During a Florida Divorce?

If you are facing a divorce, you may feel overwhelmed with so many things seeming like they are up in the air. You may feel inundated by what can feel like a never-ending to-do list. This is all on top of the fact that you are going through what is often a very difficult emotional time for people and their families. With so much going on, it can be all too easy to forget about everyday things like, who will pay the household bills while your divorce is pending? While you may be at a loss as to this answer, it is an important one to find out. Divorces can take a substantial amount of time to resolve and the last thing you will need is for household bills to continue piling up unpaid.

Paying the Bills During a Florida Divorce

Divorce is really an untangling of a life that you have come to interweave with someone else. The untangling process can be complex and will require you to reevaluate many things, bill paying included. If you have been responsible for paying all or some household bills, will that continue throughout the divorce process? Should it change? These are the questions that will need to be answered.

You need to know that, while you and your spouse could and should try to reach an agreement on who will handle payment of household expenses and bills during the divorce, only a court can set this agreement to be legally binding. While you and your spouse are seeking a legal split through a divorce, you are still both jointly responsible for upholding your financial commitments. This will not change without a court order or a legally binding agreement. While an informal agreement between the two of you is a starting point, it will not be enforceable if one of you fails to uphold their end of the agreement. Get a court order determining who should be paying what household expenses during divorce proceedings.

While the court should make the agreement legally binding, reaching a collaborative solution to who will handle household expenses remains the ideal. If you can, work with your spouse on reaching a mutually agreeable solution to this. It can be good for both of you if you can work out an amicable solution to this on your own or perhaps with the assistance of your divorce attorney.

Speaking of financial issues with a pending divorce, did you know that you may be entitled to what is referred to as “pendente lite,” or “temporary alimony?” Florida law provides that a spouse at a financial disadvantage may be entitled to temporary alimony to provide them with financial divorce while divorce proceedings are pending. This type of spousal support is awarded on an individual case basis when the circumstances warrant it. Should it be awarded, the support payments will automatically end when the divorce has been finalized, although a different type of spousal support may then begin.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

If you are in the midst of divorce proceedings, the dedicated attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here to help. Contact us today.

divorce attorney answering questions

Questions to Ask Your Divorce Attorney

Approaching the divorce process can be emotional, intimidating, and anxiety-inducing all at the same time. To help calm some of your feelings of unease, it can be helpful to ask your divorce attorneys questions about the process. The more you know about what you are in store for, the more you can prepare yourself. Here, we have gathered some of those central questions you should ask your divorce attorney.

What should I ask my divorce attorney?

At your initial consultation with your divorce attorney or as soon as possible thereafter, you should be prepared to get the answers to several important questions. These questions should get you the information you need to help prepare yourself for the road ahead. With the information you gather from these questions, you should also be able to do your part to help the process go as smoothly as possible.

For instance, you should ask your divorce attorney what he or she will need from you. When you first meet with the attorney, you may find it difficult to know how to begin sharing your story. Instead, let the lawyer take the lead in guiding you through which points of the story you should begin with and what other relevant details are needed. Letting the lawyer guide you through the process of telling the story that led you to his or her office will allow the attorney to gather the information needed to assist him or her in evaluating your case.

You should also ask your attorney what the divorce process is going to be like and what it is going to involve. All divorces will have their own unique difficulties. Each process may look slightly different, however, most will follow a similar standard structure. For instance, all divorces will begin by notifying and serving the other party of the proceedings being initiated. There will likely be temporary orders needed to address things like child custody and support while the divorce is pending. 

Not only can divorce be expensive, but post-divorce life can seem like an uphill financial battle as you get your feet back on the ground going from a double income household to a single-income household. This is one of the reasons why you need to be upfront in asking your attorney how expensive the divorce is projected to be. The cost will hinge on several factors including the complexity of your case and whether there are children involved, as well as whether the divorce is contentious or amicable and how well you and your soon-to-be former spouse can cooperate during the process.

You should also ask your attorney about who else will be involved in the case. Most of the time, attorneys will have support staff such as legal assistants and paralegals to help process cases. Divorce involves some personal issues and you will want to be comfortable knowing who will be involved in your case at any level. You will also want to be clear as to who you will be communicating with and who is your point of contact.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

For trusted divorce representation, Orlando Family Team is here for you. We have the answers you need about the divorce process and are here to represent your best interests throughout the process. Contact us today.

divorcing military couple speaking to attorney

What Is the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA)?

Divorce presents a variety of potential complications. When one spouse is in the armed forces, there is an added layer of complexity. With a military spouse, there are things to consider such as whether the non-military spouse will be eligible to continue with commissary and exchange benefits. There are also unique health care benefits issues to address. On top of all of this, there is also the potential eligibility of the non-military spouse to receive a portion of the servicemember spouse’s military retirement pay. To address the unique issue of eligibility of a non-military spouse to receive part of a military spouse’s retirement pay in a divorce, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act (USFSPA) provides guidance.

Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) Overview

It is important to note that the USFSPA does not automatically entitle a former spouse to receive a portion of the military spouse’s retired pay. If the former non-military spouse was awarded part of the service member’s military retired pay as part of a final divorce decree, the USFSPA makes a provision for how to enforce this part of the divorce decree. It also provides a means of enforcing outstanding child support obligations as well as alimony awards pursuant to the final divorce decree.

The USFSPA grants state courts the authority to divide a service member’s disposable military retirement pay in a divorce. A court may only have this authority, however, if the court has jurisdiction over the service member based on either the residence of the service member (other than that due to military assignment), the service member’s domicile, or due to the fact that the servicemember consented to the court’s jurisdiction.

The USFSPA allows a former spouse to directly receive part of retired pay from the government. If there is a court order, or a property settlement ordered that was ratified or approved by the court, and there is a specific provision in the order that payment must be made from disposable retired pay for child support, alimony, or division of the property when the spouse was married to the servicemember for at least 10 years or more, among other requirements, then direct payment may occur from a military pay center. Should the terms of the court order be satisfied, the retired service member passes away, or the former spouse pass away (whichever occurs first), the direct payment of retired military pay will come to an end.

The USFSPA also allows some former spouses to continue to access health care at military treatment facilities. While the USFSPA provides for all of this, it in no way requires courts to divide military retired pay, it just makes it an available option. Should a court see fit to divide military retired pay, the USFSPA does not provide any type of formula for accomplishing this nor does it place a cap on the percentage of the disposable retired pay a court may award to a non-military spouse.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Are you going through a military divorce, consult with the knowledgeable divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team. We will not only offer you guidance on your rights, but we will also tirelessly pursue your rights and best interests throughout divorce proceedings. Contact us today.

older couple considering gray divorce

What Is a Gray Divorce?

People can get divorced at any age and at any phase of marriage. In fact, with people living longer, among other factors, many are getting divorced later on in life. The trend of those of the older population has gone up in years so much so that the term “gray divorce” has developed.

What is a Gray Divorce?

A “gray divorce” refers to a divorce involving spouses generally past the age of 50 or so. While divorce rates have seen some decline over the past decade, those over the age of 50 have seen a spike in divorce rates. The reasons for this have long been speculated upon.

One of the most common reasons supporting the increase in gray divorces is the fact that people are living longer. On top of this, both spouses are more likely to be working and, therefore, financially independent of each other. There is also the fact that any kind of stigma that used to surround divorce has dissipated greatly.

Other potential reasons for the increase in gray divorces is the fact that those who have once divorced are more likely to get divorced again. Multiple marriages and multiple divorces mean that some of those divorces are going to happen later in life. Also, it is pretty common for one spouse or both spouses to put off divorce until children are grown up and have moved off on their own. The spouse or spouses will choose to remain together until the children are raised and then divorce later in life. In some cases, however, divorce has not been postponed, but, when the kids leave the family home, a spouse or both spouses realize the marriage was built so much on being parents that it is not strong enough to survive the empty nest phase.

Divorcing later in life can present unique challenges that may not be as relevant to those divorcing when they are younger. Those who are considering a gray divorce should be prepared for these specific challenges and practical implications. For instance, each spouse should consider things like healthcare and insurance availability when divorcing later in life. Those who divorce later in life, but prior to the age in which they would qualify for Medicare, need to consider the costs associated with health insurance. After divorce, you are unable to remain on your former spouse’s insurance policy. This means that you will need to consider the affordability as well as the availability of health insurance coverage for yourself.

Another big consideration for divorcing later in life includes retirement savings. It costs more for two people to live apart than together. Retirement savings that may have supported the costs of living with your spouse may not suffice for you living on your own. Older couples who are divorcing need to take a good look at how it will impact retirement. The divorce could mean deferring retirement to later than planned for. It could also mean having to substantially reduce their standard of living.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

No matter what stage of life you are in, Orlando Family Team remains committed to providing you trusted divorce counsel that takes your individual circumstances into account. We are always here to represent and protect your best interests. Contact us today.

daughter and mother talking about divorce

What Questions Are Your Children Going to Ask About Your Divorce?

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally draining process. This is true even for the most amicable and straightforward divorce cases. It can represent a fundamental shift in your life that you may not even be fully prepared for. This all can be even more so true when there are children involved. Children have their own set of strong emotions that will come into play. They will most certainly have their own extensive list of questions to ask you. Some of these questions will be much tougher than others and you should prepare yourself accordingly.

What Questions Are Your Children Going to Ask About Your Divorce?

The specific questions your children will ask about your divorce will depend on a variety of factors including the age and maturity of the child as well as the specific circumstances surrounding the divorce. Most kids will probably end up asking you, at one point or another, why you are getting divorced. In fact, this may be the very first question that comes out of a child’s mouth when you deliver the news. It is important that you and your co-parent have answers prepared for questions like this, preferable answers that include not putting any blame on the children and avoiding or minimizing specific blame placed on one another.

Divorce is likely to be a big disruption to a child’s life. The child will likely have many logistical concerns as to how the divorce will impact things he or she cares about and what day to day and week to week life will look like. Some of these kinds of questions include:

  • Where will I live?
  • Will I have to move?
  • Will I go to the same school?
  • Where will you live?
  • Will I still be able to see my neighbors and friends?
  • Will I still be able to participate in my extracurricular activities?

The logistical questions can be difficult to deal with as you may not have answers to all of them and they can come in waves. Your child is looking for what will remain the same. Will he or she be able to keep on with things that are important to him or her? This is a great opportunity to put the child’s mind at ease with as many clear and set answers as you can.

Other questions may prove even more challenging to address. Explaining to a child the big complex emotions and issues that lead to divorce is a challenge. It can even be a challenge to explain these kinds of things to other adults. Be prepared for your child to ask why you are divorcing or why divorces happen.

Your child may even turn to you with a particularly heart-wrenching question by asking if he or she did anything wrong. Having your child feel at all responsible for a divorce can be a lot to handle. This is why it is critical that you make it clear to your child that parents divorce each other. They do not divorce their kids. The divorce is strictly between you and your co-parent.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Divorce can be difficult under the best of scenarios and being a parent can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Combine these two things and you may feel quickly overwhelmed. Let the dedicated divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team relieve you of some of the burdens you are carrying. We are here to provide you with support and trusted legal counsel throughout the process. Contact us today.

small businesses

How Is a Business Valued in a Florida Divorce?

One of the most complex and frustrating aspects of divorce can be the division of marital assets. In Florida, marital assets are subject to equitable distribution in divorce. This means that, while most of the time assets are evenly split, the priority is that the assets are divided in a manner that is fair. In other words, if there are factors at play that would merit an unequal division of the marital assets in order to help ensure that the split is fair, then the court will act accordingly.

In some cases, a business may be included in whole or in part as a marital asset and, thus, must be valued and may be subject to division or sale and the proceeds are split. Valuing a business can be challenging as there are so many layers and factors to take into account. Valuation of a marital business, however, must be done as part of the divorce process. There are a few different ways that the valuation of a business may occur.

How is a business valued in a divorce?

Before approaching the task of valuing a business in divorce proceedings, an expert, such as a business appraiser, is usually employed to conduct the valuation. The business appraiser will then determine what method of business valuation will be employed. There are three primary methods of business valuation that are used. They are:

  • The market approach: To reach the value of a business with this approach, the business appraiser will compare the business’ value to the baseline businesses that are comparable in size and nature. In other words, the marital business is compared to the value of other similarly situated businesses with similar interests that were recently sold. It is critical that the two businesses be as similar as possible in order to help ensure a more accurate valuation.
  • The income approach: This approach is one of the most commonly employed methods used by business appraisers valuing businesses incident to divorce proceedings. With this method, the appraiser utilizes the business’ current earnings or projected future earnings. If projected future earnings are used, then the future value will be determined through assumptions and different formulas in order to arrive at a value of the business presently.
  • The cost approach: This approach centers on the idea that a potential buyer will not pay more for the business than what is reasonably necessary to obtain the company’s assets when considering its liabilities.

There are other factors that a business appraiser may take into account when valuing a business. For instance, the intangible business asset of goodwill can be quite valuable. Goodwill includes things like how established a business is in a community and how dedicated its customer base is.

Florida Divorce Attorneys

The division of marital assets can have a profound impact on the financial future and wellbeing of the parties involved. When businesses are involved in this process, things can get very complicated very quickly. The dedicated divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team will help unravel the complexities involved in this critical stage in the divorce process. We will work to ensure that your best interests are always protected. Contact us today.

couple signing a prenuptial agreement

What Happens When You Divorce with a Prenuptial Agreement in Place?

A prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a “prenup,” is a contract put in place by a couple intending to marry. There are many things that can be accomplished by a prenup, including determining how the couple will divide marital property should the marriage end in divorce. Prenups can also hold vast amounts of important information, especially financial information, regarding the respective situations of each soon-to-be spouse prior to marriage. What exactly happens, should a marriage end in divorce, with a prenup in place?

Does a prenup simplify divorce proceedings?

When there is a prenup in place, the divorce process can substantially change. How it will change exactly will depend on the terms of the prenuptial agreement. In a prenup, the parties have the option to include a substantial amount of important information and terms of the marriage and what will happen in the event of divorce. For instance, a prenup can include:

  • A list of both party’s individual assets they intend to bring into the marriage
  • Designation as to which individual assets will be considered separate property in the event of divorce and, thus, not subject to division
  • Details regarding how the couple will divide what is considered to be marital property in the event of divorce
  • Details regarding who will take responsibility for debts incurred during the marriage
  • Limitations on spousal support, or “alimony,” in the event of divorce

The vast majority of prenups, at the very least, address how property should be divided in the event of divorce and which property should be considered marital and which should be considered separate. With these terms in place, the divorce process is often much simpler. Division of the assets and debt can be one of the most contentious and complicated aspects of the divorce process. A prenup can eliminate the need for the court to intervene in this matter. This is why a prenup can save both parties a great deal of time and money should a marriage end in divorce.

In some instances, which are generally the exception rather than the rule, a prenup can complicate a divorce rather than simplify it. This usually only happens should the prenup be contested during a divorce. Should one spouse request that the court reject a prenup, the divorce process can become more drawn out and, thus, take up more time and money to finalize. A party, however, must have a valid, or legitimate, reason for requesting that the court reject a premarital agreement. The judge will be tasked with determining whether the reason asserted is legitimate. Legitimate reasons for invalidating a prenup may include when a party can prove that the prenup was the result of coercion or duress or the prenup is unconscionable in its term and should be thrown out.

Florida Divorce Attorneys

At Orlando Family Team, we are here to work tirelessly on your behalf to help ensure that the divorce process is as smooth as possible and that your best interests are protected along the way. Should you have any questions, we are here with answers. Contact us today.

Mother and son on a train

What Happens If My Former Spouse Will Not Agree to My Relocation?

Co-parenting after divorce can be filled with challenges. It can seem like a constant struggle of trying to coordinate schedules, communicate and meet the needs of the child, and to maintain an amicable relationship with your former spouse amidst all of this and more. Sometimes, you and your former spouse will reach an impasse on a matter. For instance, what happens if you want to relocate with your child, but your former spouse will not agree? The relocation might be for a new job, or to move closer to family, or just because you need a change of scenery.  Regardless of the reason, you should learn more about your options should your former spouse refuse to agree to a relocation.

If My Former Spouse Does Not Agree to My Relocation, What Should I Do?

Under Florida law, a relocation is defined as a parent moving at least 50 miles from his or her current residence for at least 60 days. If you are seeking to relocate, your former spouse and co-parent may agree to the move. Should this be the case, you and your co-parent can sign a written agreement that outlines the terms of the move as well as new custody agreements. It should be clear in the agreement that both of you agree to the relocation. It should also be clear on the time-sharing schedule for the parent who is not relocating. Additionally, the agreement should include how both of you plan on handling transportation for visitation schedules.

A relocation can obviously have a dramatic impact on a visitation schedule. When one parent moves far away, it often becomes impractical to have the same visitation schedule as when they were closer by. It makes sense, although it can be extremely frustrating, when a co-parent objects to such a move. If you and your co-parent cannot reach an agreement about the relocation, you may file a petition to relocate with the court. The petition must be served on the other parent and must include:

  • The address and phone number of the location where you wish to relocate
  • The date of relocation
  • The reason(s) for relocation
  • The proposed post-relocation visitation schedule
  • Proposed post-relocation transportation plans for visitation

The non-relocating parent has 20 days from receiving notice of the petition to file a response. If no response is filed, the court is within its authority to grant the relocation petition without even having a hearing. If the other parent does file a response, it usually includes reasons why the relocation should not be permitted, including how active the non-relocating parent is in the life of the child.

The court will rule on the petition after weighing a number of different factors. The court’s goal is to render a decision that is in the child’s best interests. Factors to be considered may include:

  • The child’s relationship with both parents
  • The age and needs of the child
  • The non-relocating parent’s ability to maintain the relationship with the child post-relocation
  • The preference of the child
  • The reason for the relocation
  • The reasons against the relocation 
  • Any factor relevant to the best interests of the child

Florida Family Law Attorneys

If you or a co-parent are looking to relocate, the trusted family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here to help you navigate this often difficult and complicated matter. Contact us today.