attorney consulting woman about her business and divorce

Is My Spouse Entitled to Half My Business in a Divorce?

Under Florida law, there should be an equitable distribution of marital assets during a divorce. An equitable split means that the property should be fairly divided which is determined through evaluating several relevant factors. While an equitable distribution does not necessarily mean an equal split, it is common for marital assets to come close to a 50/50 split.

Marital assets, generally speaking, are those assets acquired during the marriage. Marital assets may include securities, tangible property, real property, and other property types. Even a business can be considered to be marital property. Because of this, many business owners have concerns that their spouse will get half their business in the event of divorce. While this may be a possibility, it is not actually what ends up happening.

Is My Spouse Entitled to Half My Business in a Divorce?

During divorce proceedings, all property of the divorcing parties will be categorized as separate or marital. Property that is deemed to be marital will be subject to equitable division. Some property can even be categorized as a combination of marital and separate. For instance, a business may be categorized as separate, marital, or both. This is due to the fact that a business may have been established prior to marriage but increased in value during the course of the marriage. Alternatively, one spouse may have contributed to the business in the form of time or other resources over the marriage and, therefore, at least a portion of the business may then be considered marital.

In order to be divided in whole or in part, a business must be valued during divorce proceedings. This is usually done through employing a professional such as a CPA or a larger organization like the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analyst. In order to value a business, there are various methods that may be applied. For instance, many valuation methods will use an ongoing value estimate. This means that the business will be valued in a way that assumes that it would continue to operate at a profit for a longer period of time. Alternatively, the liquidation method of estimation places a business’s value as being the total value of its liquid assets.

Once the business has been deemed to be a marital asset, separate asset, or both, and it has been valued, the court will determine how it should be distributed. Depending on how all of the other marital assets are distributed, among other factors, a court may divide business interests between the two divorcing spouses. This does not mean a 50/50 split and it is not very common to see a 50/50 split in regards to a business as a marital asset. Additionally, a spouse who founded a business will generally buy out the other spouse of any shares he or she may have received in a divorce.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

To learn more about how assets can be divided during divorce proceedings, talk to the knowledgeable attorneys at Orlando Family Team. We understand that distribution of the marital assets can have a substantial impact on your life and your financial future. Contact us today.

divorcing couple

Does a Divorce Have to Be Filed in the Same State as the Marriage?

There are certain formalities that must be observed in order to successfully file for divorce. Jurisdictional requirements, for instance, will dictate where you are actually able to file a petition for divorce. In order to establish jurisdiction over a divorce, meaning establishing the authority to hear and decide the case, most states have requirements, such as those relating to residency, that must be met before a divorce petition can be filed.

Does a Divorce Have to Be Filed in the Same State as the Marriage?

While there may be requirements that must be fulfilled prior to filing for divorce, Florida does not require that marriage have taken place in the state in order for a divorce to be filed. In fact, most states only have residency requirements in order for a person to seek a divorce in that state. These residency requirements can greatly vary between states. Texas, for example, requires that one spouse establish residency in the state for at least six months and residency in a particular county for a minimum of 90 days prior to filing for divorce. The State of Washington, on the other hand, has no such residency requirements. A person could move to Washington and file for divorce the next day.

Florida Statute Section 61.021 requires a spouse to have resided in the state for a minimum of six months before filing for divorce. The petitioner must be prepared to prove residency before a court will hear the case. Residency can be established by proving actual, physical presence in the State of Florida and proving an intention during that presence to make Florida your primary residence. Proof of making Florida your permanent home may come in the form of:

  • Your own testimony to this fact
  • Signing a lease or buying a home
  • Obtaining permanent employment in the state
  • Joining a church or other community organization
  • Getting a Florida driver’s license
  • Registering your vehicle with the state

Things may get complicated if two spouses live in different states. Hypothetically, either one of you could file for divorce if you meet state residency requirements. You may want to consider being proactive in filing in your state of residence before your spouse can so you can hopefully avoid having to travel out of state for any divorce proceedings. You may also, however, want to consider divorce laws of each state and how they may impact divorce proceedings and the outcome of the divorce.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

When you are looking to get a divorce, jurisdictional issues and other legal complexities are probably some of the last things you want to think about. For trusted legal counsel pertaining to divorce and divorce-related matters and logistics, talk to the dedicated team at Orlando Family Team. We know the weight our clients carry as they approach a new chapter of their lives and we are here to help lighten that load. Contact us today.

two wedding rings on gavel

What Common Financial Mistakes Are Made During Divorce?

Divorce may mark the end of a marriage, but it also marks the start of a new future. During divorce, there will be many issues decided which can have a significant impact on this new future. In particular, be on the lookout for things that will impact your financial security. During the divorce process, there are decisions being made that can have far-reaching consequences on your financial well-being. Prepare yourself for the road ahead. Here we will discuss some of the more common financial mistakes that are made during divorce in the hopes that you can take steps to avoid them.

What Common Financial Mistakes Are Made During Divorce?

First and foremost, one of the most common financial mistakes made during divorce is failing to address or failing to properly account for your expenses. During the divorce process, it is essential to take stock of your expenses and develop a budget based on this calculation. Build out your budget for as far into the future as possible. Figuring out where your money is going every month and what your estimated future expenses may look like will help you develop a realistic plan for how you are going to adjust going from what may be a double income household to a single-income household.

Many going through a divorce also fail to account for tax consequences. There will be a variety of tax consequences for you to consider as a result of a divorce. You may see a shift in your tax bracket and make the move to filing as single. Get a firm understanding of things like how spousal support may impact your taxes. You will also want to consider how distribution of the marital assets will impact your taxes.

Another potentially huge mistake people make during a divorce is failing to understand the continued liability attached to unsecured debt. Unsecured debt usually refers to consumer credit card debt. Should such debt be incurred during marriage, it is most often considered to be a shared liability even if the credit card was only in one spouse’s name. During divorce, debts, including credit card debt, will be divided between spouses. Understand, however, that a credit card company can still come after you or your spouse for collection of this outstanding debt, regardless of how the debt was divided during a divorce. That is why it is often best to pay off all or as many debts as possible prior to the finalization of a divorce.

Last of all, do not fall victim to unrealistic expectations regarding your financial future. Take steps to plan out what financial resources you may and may not have in the long term. For instance, make a plan about what you are going to do when spousal support payments or child support payments end. Consider retaining a financial planner to help you with this as well as help you review any proposed divorce settlement agreement.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

At Orlando Family Team, we want to help set you up for a successful post-divorce life by protecting your best interests during divorce proceedings. Contact us today.

child custody

What Is Joint Custody?

One of the most complicated aspects of divorce, emotionally, mentally, and logistically, is the issue of child custody. Custody will significantly contribute to defining your post-divorce family time and structure. The laws surrounding child custody can be complex and confusing, but understanding them can be critical to helping you understand this part of divorce and what your rights are during the process and beyond.

Overview of Joint Custody

Child custody actually refers to both legal and physical custody, which are two different, but related things. Legal custody is that authority granted by the court for a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including decisions pertaining to the child’s health and education. Legal custody can also involve the right to determine what religion the child will be raised under in addition to what schools he or she will attend and what medical treatment he or she will receive or not receive.

Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the right granted by the court for a parent to have his or her child live in his or her home. In other words, it is the right of a parent to have the child stay with him or her as well as including visitation rights. Physical and legal custody are both addressed by the court. In Florida, the courts tend to significantly favor joint custody, in the absence of extenuating circumstances such as a history of abuse, so that the child can benefit from both parents playing an active role in his or her life and upbringing.

Joint custody, in the legal custody sense, will mean that both parents will have the right to input regarding decisions impacting the child’s development. In other words, joint custody will essentially mean that the parents will have to cooperate and work together in order to make choices regarding decisions impacting the child’s development. It is in the interest of both spouses to try and make this collaboration successful. If one parent should violate joint legal custody by circumventing the other parent and making a decision without his or her input, the other parent may take the problem to court, which could be time consuming as well as expensive.

With regard to joint physical custody, physical parenting time with the child will be determined by the court depending on a number of different factors. At the center of joint physical custody is the parenting schedule which will set forth when each parent will have the child with him or her. The parenting schedule will develop based on factors such as the child’s school and activity schedule as well as the work schedules of both parents. With joint physical custody, both parents will have a significant amount of in-person parenting time. Commonly, a court will have a child split the week in half between the households of the two parents.

It is important to note that in Florida, the Court no longer generally refers to these types of issues with the terms legal or physical custody. Instead, over time, legal custody has now developed into what the courts now refer to as Parental Responsibility and physical custody is now referred to as timesharing. This is an important distinction to understand when going through a “custody” case.

Orlando Child Custody Attorney

Do you have questions about child custody? Talk to the knowledgeable attorneys at Orlando Family Team. Contact us today.

grounds for divorce

What Are the Legal Grounds for Obtaining a Divorce?

In order to be able to file for divorce in Florida, at least one of the two spouses must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months prior to filing with the court. There is one exception to this if you are a member of the armed forces who lives in Florida but are currently stationed outside of the state. Furthermore, the divorce must be filed in the county where either of the two spouses resides. While there is a residency requirement to obtaining a Florida divorce, there may be other requirements that divorcing couples should be aware of.  

Legal Grounds for a Florida Divorce

Some states still permit a party to a divorce to assert “grounds” for divorce. This can often include things such as adultery and abandonment, among other reasons. When grounds are asserted the party asserting the grounds must be prepared to support the allegations. In Florida, however, the only reason you have to provide in order to file for divorce is that your marriage is broken beyond repair, or “irretrievably broken.” This is because Florida is a no-fault divorce state. There is no need for a person to explain why the marriage has reached its end. All a party needs to assert is that the relationship and the marriage are damaged to the point that neither spouse wishes to keep living together as spouses and feel that this will not change at some future point in time.

Should there be minor children resulting from the marriage or should one spouse disagree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and wants to try to save the marriage, the court may take steps to provide the spouses with an opportunity to reconcile. For instance, the court may order the spouses to attend marriage counseling led by a psychologist or religious figure, such as a minister, priest, or rabbi prior to issuing the final divorce decree. Furthermore, the court may opt to pause the divorce proceedings if the spouses agree. This is called an abatement. The court may wish to do this if there is potential for reconciliation. In fact, the court has some discretion in taking other actions it may deem necessary in the best interest of the spouses or children.

There is, in fact, another reason beyond the marriage being irretrievably broken that may be asserted in order to obtain a Florida divorce. The law provides a spouse to assert that the other spouse is mentally incapacitated and use this as grounds for divorce. It should be noted, however, that there are strict requirements for this type of allegation. The spouse must have been mentally incapacitated for three years. The spouse asserting this in his or her request for divorce must prove that the mentally incapacitated spouse underwent a court hearing that resulted in him or her being classified as mentally incapacitated at least three years before the filing of the divorce petition and the petitioning spouse must also have sent notice of the divorce proceedings to the nearest blood relative or guardian of the other spouse.

Orlando Divorce Attorney

Are you considering seeking a divorce in Florida? Now is the time to consult with the knowledgeable divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team about what you should expect along the way and how to protect your best interests going forward. Contact us today.

divorce

Who Determines How Assets Are Divided in a Divorce?

If you are considering divorce, you very likely have a lot on your mind. Divorce can be a fresh start for many, but there are logistics involved that can have a significant impact on the new path you face. For instance, how assets are divided in the divorce process can have far-reaching impacts on all parties involved. You may then be wondering, who determines how assets are divided in a divorce?

Asset Division in a Florida Divorce

There are a few different parties that may determine how assets are divided in a divorce. It largely rests on the specific circumstances of a couple. For instance, the property may be divided according to the terms of a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement the parties previously put in place. In the alternative, the spouses themselves may reach an agreement on how the marital property will be divided. While division of assets can be a hotly contested subject in divorce proceedings, there is still the possibility that a divorcing couple may be able to reach a mutually acceptable agreement on the issue for themselves. In that case, they would bring the agreement to a judge to have it approved.

If a couple cannot agree upon division of the assets on their own, the court will do so for them. When it comes to dividing assets in a divorce, Florida is in the majority of states as it follows rules for equitable distribution. It is important to note that equitable division does not mean equal. Instead, equitable division means that the court will attempt to fairly divide the assets. This may or may not result in a 50/50 split of the assets.

How are assets divided?

The first task of the court in dividing the property in a divorce is to determine which property is to be categorized as marital and which should be considered separate. Only marital property will be divided in the divorce as it is considered to be owned by both spouses. Separate property, on the other hand, is considered to be owned by one spouse. That spouse will receive it in the divorce property settlement. Generally speaking, separate property is owned by a spouse before marriage and marital property is property acquired during the marriage. There are, of course, some prominent exceptions and amendments to this general rule of thumb.

When attempting to equitably divide the marital assets, a court will consider several factors, including:

  • The income and earning potential of each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • The number of dependents
  • The debts and assets of each spouse
  • The physical and mental health of each spouse
  • Any contribution a spouse made to support the education and promotion of the other spouse’s career
  • Any other factor deemed relevant

The court will consider these factors in rendering a decision on how the marital property should be divided to see equity served.

Orlando Divorce Attorney

Divorce can have more impacts on your life than you may even have initially realized. The dedicated divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here to protect your best interests and set you up for a successful post-divorce life. Let us help you find your fresh start. Contact us today.

divorce attorney

Do I Need an Attorney If I’m Getting Divorced?

Getting divorced is a big step and can be an overwhelming experience. You may also feel rather isolated and alone as this is a significant and personal thing to sit with. It can have far-reaching impacts on a person emotionally, mentally, logistically, and financially. While you may be intimidated by reaching out to a divorce attorney, having a knowledgeable, trustworthy attorney by your side as you approach a divorce can prove invaluable for a number of reasons.

I’m Getting Divorced; Do I Need an Attorney?

While you are not obligated to retain an attorney to file a divorce, you may still want to hire a divorce attorney should you be facing the dissolution of marriage proceedings. Many people choose to proceed with divorce pro se because the two spouses think that they are amicable enough and have agreed upon the central issues of divorce on their own. These issues include:

  • Child custody (if there are minor children resulting from the marriage)
  • Child support (if there are minor children resulting from the marriage)
  • Alimony (spousal support or maintenance)
  • Division of property

When divorcing spouses can work together and reach an agreement on these often highly contested issues, it can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. For instance, coming together on their own can give them more control over the issues and avoid leaving things up for a court to decide for them. It can also lead to significant savings in both time and money. Furthermore, if there are minor children from the marriage, the children can reap the benefits of not having to go through a contentious divorce process and can also receive the benefits associated with seeing their parents continue to work through complex issues even as the marriage comes to an end.

Even in the most amicable of divorce scenarios, however, it can be important to have an attorney by your side. First of all, an attorney can work with you as you and your spouse come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce. The attorney can make sure all terms have been properly addressed and memorialized in an agreement. Furthermore, an attorney can discuss the wider implications of what you are actually agreeing to. These are important issues that will affect your parenting time, your finances, and more. Checking in with an attorney on what you are actually agreeing to can help protect your best interests.

Furthermore, it is critical to note that amicable divorces do not always end up being so amicable. Divorce can get heated all too quickly. The issues to address are often emotionally charged and very personal. What could start out as two spouses working together can quickly turn into them butting heads. An attorney can not only help prevent this from happening, but can remain in a position of representing your best interests even after things have gone from agreeable to contested.

Contact Our Orlando Divorce Attorney

The issues that arise in a divorce can change the rest of your life. Help make sure that you are protecting yourself and your family by reaching out to the trusted divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team. Contact us today.

financial impacts

Financial Impacts of Divorce

Divorce can be the best option for a person or a family. While it can be the best course of action, it is certainly not without its challenges. For instance, there can be significant financial impacts to navigate after divorce. The sooner you are aware of these potential impacts, the sooner you can start working to weather the rough financial winds that may soon be blowing your way.

Financial Impacts of Divorce

The costs associated with divorce run at several levels. First, there can be substantial costs of obtaining a divorce. These costs will, of course, vary based on things such as the complexity of your case as well as whether the divorce is contentious or amicable. On top of fees and costs incurred to get divorced, there is also the fact that two people paying for living expenses under one roof is often much less expensive than two people paying for living expenses under two roofs. Divorce will upend any type of budget you have established and you will need to start seriously reevaluating your financial situation.

On top of the costs of getting a divorce and the fact that it will likely be more expensive to live away from your former spouse, there is also the division of marital assets and debts that can impact you financially. The way that you and your spouse agree, or the court decides to, divide marital assets and debts can set the tone for your initial financial footing after a divorce has been granted. You may find yourself taking on debt payments that your spouse mainly handled while married.

There is also the financial impact associated with child support and spousal support (sometimes referred to as “alimony”). If you have been ordered to pay child support as part of the divorce decree, you have a legal obligation to pay it. The same is true of spousal support. While support payments will not last forever and may be adjusted and reviewed periodically, you should budget accordingly for the foreseeable future.

On the other side of things, if you are to be the recipient of child support and/or spousal support payments, you should budget for the receipt of these payments. Be mindful, however, that these payments will likely have specific end dates and you should plan accordingly for when these payments will come to an end. Evaluate whether you have the income to meet your cost of living expenses without these support payments. If not, you will need to develop a plan to increase your income and/or decrease your cost of living expenses. You may even want to go back to school or enter into other training programs to increase your earning capacity. If this is part of the plan, you will also need to plan to cover the expenses associated with seeking this type of training and education.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

At Orlando Family Team, we are here to provide trusted legal counsel to you before the divorce, during divorce, and after divorce. Please feel free to reach out to us with any of your questions or concerns. Contact us today.

settlement agreement

What Is the Difference Between a Separation Agreement and a Settlement Agreement?

Did you know that some states allow for formal legal separation while others do not? It’s true. Florida is, in fact, one of only a few states that do not allow for formal legal separation. While the State may not recognize the validity of a legal separation, there are still agreements that may be used should you wish to separate from your spouse. It is important to remember, however, that a separation agreement is different from a settlement agreement. We will review the differences more in-depth here.

Separation Agreement vs. Settlement Agreement

Couples can enter into an informal separation agreement and make a goodwill agreement to comply with the terms of the separation. Because Florida does not recognize formal legal separation, however, a separation agreement will not be approved by a court and will not be enforceable should any disputes arise from such an agreement. It is merely an informal tool that a separating couple may wish to voluntarily enter into to provide themselves with some guidance on how the separation should be navigated.

While there is no such thing really as an official separation agreement, there are official, legally binding agreements that may be established when a couple chooses to separate in Florida. For instance, one spouse may file a Petition for Support with the court seeking alimony and/or child support payments from the spouse who has moved out of the marital home while filing for formal divorce proceedings has not yet occurred. 

Furthermore, a separating couple may wish to enter into a postnuptial agreement. The agreement can outline specific terms and conditions regarding payment of the marital debt and alimony payments, as well as how the marital assets will be divided and distributed.

A settlement agreement differs from a separation agreement as it sets the terms for the divorce, not the separation. A settlement agreement should address all central issues of the divorce. This can include things like division of marital assets and debts, child custody, and child support, as well as spousal support. Sometimes, a couple may not be able to reach an agreement on these issues and, if that is the case, the court will decide these issues for them. If, however, a couple can reach a settlement agreement, the judge will likely hold a hearing and verify that both parties understand the terms of the agreement. The judge can then approve the settlement agreement and incorporate it into the final divorce decree. This is an important distinction. The settlement agreement, when approved by the judge, outlines the terms of the divorce. The final divorce decree actually grants the divorce.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Are you considering separating from your spouse? Are you considering divorcing your spouse? In either case, there are unique, complex, and important legal issues that you should address to help ensure that you are protecting yourself. The dedicated family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team will work to protect your best interests. Contact us today.

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.