Where can I find divorce support groups?

 

In the Pensacola area there are at least three different churches who host Divorce recovery groups.

Marcus Pointe Baptist Church 6205 North “W” Street Pensacola, FL on Tuesdays, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm; 
Aug 15, 2017 – Nov 7, 2017

Myrtle Grove Baptist Church
5920 Lillian Higway
Pensacola, FL Sundays, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Sep 10, 2017 – Dec 10, 2017

Olive Baptist Church 836 E. Olive Rd. Pensacola, FL
850-476-1932
Wednesdays Starting August 23 | 6:00p-8:00p | Room 4103.

What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

If you try to open a Florida statute volume, you will not find a provision for annulments. However, you can still obtain one. Judges over time have created different causes of action via case law. Florida Courts have recognized reasons why a couple can get an annulment. They are: one participant is less than 18 years of age at the time of the marriage, if one is incapable of having sexual relations, related too closely (brother, sister, aunt, uncle), or mental impairment.  The downside to filing an annulment is that you can spend the money to hire an attorney but the judge can still say no. Annulments are unlike a divorce proceeding. When you file for divorce, you may not know the specific details when you begin, but you are for sure certain that you will be single! A judge, even if your spouse doesn’t want a divorce, will grant it.

Annulments tend to be an exit route for celebrities who failed to get a pre-nup before getting hitched, i.e., Britney Spears’ 55 hour marriage. There are certain benefits. Annulments have previously been a route to avoid the declaration that one was “divorced”  There is  no stigma associated with divorce in our day and age. The advantage to obtaining an annulment however, can be huge if granted. For instance if one spouse has extensive assets and income, an annulment would necessarily disallow alimony claims. You have to have been married in Florida to claim alimony.

If you are considering an exit from your marriage, contact our firm for options.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/britney-spears-jason-alexander-reflects-55-hour-marriage/story?id=15506535

 

What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine?

In Florida, assets that you bring into the marriage are yours. The status of the asset can change however. If you for instance, had a house prior to your marriage, but added your husband to the deed, he is now entitled to it just as much as you. If you at the time of your marriage have a retirement account and continue to contribute to it, the portion and growth from the date of your marriage is 1/2 your spouse’s. Your salary is a marital asset. If during your marriage you put your salary into a banking account, whatever the name, it is a marital asset.
If you are contemplating marriage and have assets, you should contact an attorney to determine whether you would benefit from a prenuptial agreement. A prenup can streamline your assets if you ever divorce and give you peace of mind for your future, no matter if the marriage is successful. Hopefully, it is successful.

Can text messages be admissible into evidence at a hearing?

Absolutely! If you are in a family law case, emotions can run high. People say things they later regret. But, when you do it either in a text message or email, the likelihood that you will see it in print at a hearing, is almost 100%! Bad behavior can be punished by a judge.  It can reduce your parenting time. If your spouse isn’t paying the child support as ordered, and you text, “I’m not letting you see our son until you pay your child support,” the Judge is no longer looking at a he said she said. It is in black and white. Rant and rave all day long to your family or your best friend, out of the earshot of your kids. DO NOT vent without a filter via text, email or social media.

Does it matter who files for divorce first?

Often, clients will ask, “Does it matter who files for divorce first?” Technically, no, it doesn’t matter. However, strategically it can.  The person who files first, named the Petitioner, will set the tone. If adultery  or misuse of money is alleged, then we know the divorce is going to be contested and perhaps hostile.

It is actually about $100 cheaper to file second. However, I find that if you are the Respondent, you are behind the 8 ball. When a divorce is filed, there are certain time deadlines that can cause stress. Within 45 days from the date of service of process, parties must give a lengthy amount of documents to the other side. Honestly, just compiling all of the documents can be stressful. If you are first to file, then in theory, you have already gotten those items together. At our firm, we do not generally file a Dissolution (divorce) unless the client has obtained all of the Mandatory Disclosure documents. (http://www.ferryandferry.com/for-clients-2/mandatory-disclosure-checklist/)

Filing first also gives you more time to plan your future, rather than being blindsided. Women are 2/3 more likely to file first. White women  are at the top of that number. This is most likely attributable to increased wages that women are now capable of earning.

If divorce is certainly on your horizon, contact us to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jefflanders/2013/06/20/not-your-mothers-divorce-three-21st-century-trends/#ff722dd54292

 

My husband cheated on me and I am angry. Will the judge give me my pound of flesh?

 

While I would like to say that a Judge can punish the cheater like in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the answer is no. In the state of Florida, it is no-fault. So if one says there are “irreconcilable differences” between you, a Judge doesn’t have to go any further to grant the divorce. The Judge doesn’t have to see private investigator footage, hotel receipts, or illicit text messages. HOWEVER, if that spouse spent money on the other person, or gave you a STD as a result of the cheating, the answer is  different. The Judge can award damages for the STD. If the money was spent, the Judge can require those funds to go into marital assets to be distributed.

Getting Through It:

If you are going through a divorce, my best advice is to exercise. Buy a sparring bag and hit it hard. Go for a long run. Divorce feels like you are going crazy. You have to stay grounded, especially if you have children that will be impacted. The last thing you want is for them to feel the crazy.

Can I expunge my arrest for criminal mischief?

Most crimes with few exceptions are eligible for expungement if the case was subsequently dismissed or nol prossed. The majority of any sexual related offense is not subject to expungement,  nor a drug trafficking offense.

Many first time defendants are given a diversionary program option. If you complete the program, the state attorney will then dismiss the case. It could also be if the Judge dismisses the case based on for instance a suppression issue. Keep in mind that you only get this option ONE time. If your case is not dismissed but the Court withheld adjudication (did not convict you), you may be eligible to have the case sealed. A sealing will prevent the average person from being able to discover it. Keep in mind though that military, law enforcement and academia can still see it even if it is sealed. With an expungement, the records are actually destroyed. The link below is the statute itself with links to the offenses that prohibit expungement or sealing.

Our office does handle expungements and sealing. Sometimes the process is 2-3 months, sometimes as much as 6 dependent upon how backlogged FDLE is at the time of application.

 

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0900-0999/0943/Sections/0943.0585.htm

 

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How is my business divided in a divorce?

smith-family-business-cubes-5landingHow is my business divided in a divorce? When someone gets divorced, their assets can be subject to different rules in order to divide them. If  one of the spouses began a business before the parties married, only the increase in value from the date of marriage until date of filing the divorce is considered marital. If the business began after the marriage but before one of them filed for divorce, the business’ entire value is marital.  There is also the hiccup that if one spouse has personal goodwill.  Personal Good will, like their name for instance, is not marital. We must know the business’ value at the time of marriage and then at the end of the marriage.

It is absolutely necessary to hire a Certified Public Accountant who has achieved a Business Valuation (ABV) by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. CPA’s who are also a ABV are considered experts by the Court. The CPA works well with the attorney to make sure the client receives a fair amount of the value.

What can entitle a parent to sole custody?

Well if you believe Angelina Jolie, it is when the other parent yells at the children.  Sole custody or sole parental responsibility as Florida calls it, is normally reserved for those parents who are bad parents. I don’t mean just a parent who doesn’t come to every ball game or recital, but a parent who is violent or completely absent, as in one who does not have either the desire or ability to make decisions about their children. The saga that is unraveling between the Pitt’s is one that is all too common. One parent alleges abuse and the Department of Children and Families steps in to investigate. While I have seen abuse cases, I have also seen bogus attempts by a parent to use the system to their advantage unnecessarily.

The standard in Florida, at least, allows shared parental responsibility for most parents. It provides the ability for each parent to be informed about major issues in the child’s life, and to have input into the major decisions affect them. One myth, shared parental responsibility has no bearing on timesharing. One parent can have timesharing every every other weekend, but still have shared parental responsibility.

Can a parent put a tracker on their child’s car?

 

 

tracker

Trackerks are notorious for being used, I think, to follow the alleged unfaithful spouse. It is legal to do that if the car is marital property, until one of the parties either files a Domestic Violence Injunction (restraining order) or a Petition for divorce. Once either of those two happen, a spouse’s assumed consent is revoked. It is also very tempting to put a tracker on a wayward teenager’s car,  but you can only do so legally in certain situations. If the child’s name is not on the car and only the parents, then there is no question you can put a tracker on it. If the car is in the minor child’s name, you can still place the tracker but with certain limitations. Those limitations are as follows:

1.     The parents or legal guardians are lawfully married to each other and are not separated or otherwise living apart, and either parent or legal guardian consents to the installation of the tracking device or tracking application;
2. The parent or legal guardian is the sole surviving parent or legal guardian of the minor child;
3. The parent or legal guardian has sole custody of the minor child; or
4. The parents or legal guardians are divorced, separated, or otherwise living apart and both consent to the installation of the tracking device or tracking application.
Violation of this statute is a second degree misdemeanor in the state of Florida, punishable by either 60 days in the county jail or 6 months probation.