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.

How does relocation after a divorce with children work?



After parties divorce, especially in this day and age, at least one spouse may relocate. It is almost inevitable if one party is military. The factors that the Court will consider are statutory in Florida. However, there is no rhyme or reason at times to be able to with certainty to advise a client that they will be able to move. Before the removal of standard parenting time for one parent, if the Primary Residential Parent (no longer called that as of 2008), wanted to move, it was typically granted. Since 2008, Florida has removed the term Primary Residential parent and now establishes parenting time. The parties are simply called Parents.

A parent, if there is a 50/50 timeshare schedule, is in my opinion going to have a more difficult time moving. That is not to say impossible. I have had cases where the Court allowed the moving parent, despite having 50/50 move out of the country with the child. The Court looks at the big picture. The Court if it allows the party to relocate with the child(ren), must establish an alternative parenting plan that will ensure the child’s relationship is maintained with the parent who is left behind. The Court will look at whether the parent who wants to move is flexible. It is subjective as to whether a party is being flexible.

There  is a requirement that if you relocate more than 50 miles (as the crow flies) from your residence held at the time of the final judgment, you must follow the relocation statute. Failure to do so, may result in your loss of parenting time.

Do I have to get off Facebook if I’m in a divorce?

social_media_no-nosIf you are about to embark on a family law matter that will end with a court appearance, get off social media. Make your Facebook in active, refrain from using Twitter. If you want to keep the accounts, make sure that you avoid commenting on your case. Do not use social media to lash out at the other side or advertise your own bad behavior. I read one post the other day where the person commented how they had gone to work drunk from the night before. People who do not take this advice, will see their posts up close and personal in a court room, I promise. Before you type it, ask yourself, “What would the judge think if he/she read it?” Written correspondence is much more compelling than  “a he said-she said.”


What is the single most important thing I can do in a child custody case?


In my opinion, keeping a journal which details the parenting time each parent spends with the children including times as well as events that occur is the number 1 thing a parent can do to help themselves. Make notes as the events happen.

Now keep in mind that Florida, despite the vetoing of the equal time share bill, is moving in that direction. Gone are the days where the stay at home mother automatically gets custody of the children. The family law judges in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are more and more frequently ordering equal time sharing.  The case, if it is a divorce, begins with the Pretrial Standing Order.  (Look in the For Clients Tab to review it). The PTSO requires that unless the parties agree otherwise, equal time with the children is granted on a weekly rotating basis. There is thankfully an exception that allows the parent who believes there is a strong risk of neglect to the minor child, to file a verified petition to abrogate the order.


Can a grandparent be arrested for interfering with custody of their grandchild?

Absolutely! In Florida, Section 787.03 provides that whoever, without lawful authority, knowingly or recklessly takes or keeps a minor child from their lawful guardian, even if in foster care, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. This can also apply to parents.

Grandparents who may have  rocky relationship with their own child or the other parent of the grandchild, should have something in writing which allows you to have possession of the child, even if it is a handwritten note signed by the parent. Take that extra step to protect yourself.


What exactly does no-fault mean in a divorce?

ostrichFlorida is one of the states where you can get a divorce without proving that either party did something wrong, like adultery or abandonment. If one party wants a divorce, then they can have it. It prevents a spouse from being forced to hire a private detective to spy on the other just so they can get out of the marriage. The no-fault provision in Florida’s divorce law actually works to somewhat heal the parties rather than throwing gasoline on the fire. I’ve had clients before say, “I’m not signing anything.” And I reply, it doesn’t matter if you sign or don’t.  One party cannot stop a divorce from happening, maybe slow it down a bit, not stop. Don’t be an ostrich

Spyware, to spy or not to spy!

Can a husband or wife install spyware on the other spouse’s phone or computer? You can certainly keep and use text messages or voicemails or even Facebook posts from the other party, but intercepting and saving communications that were intended for the other party is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida for the first offense, and a 3rd degree felony for subsequent offenses if for commercial gain or destruction. In other cases, it is a second degree misdemeanor. Read the statute below for thinking about planting spyware.

Can my husband take my dog in our divorce?

If the dog was bought during the marriage, he is considered personal property just like any other. Until a Court rules one way or another, your husband should not remove any personal property from the home unless it is agreed upon. Unfortunately, without the benefit of having filed for divorce, he or you can do whatever you want with marital property. You can seek relief by filing for divorce. Once the divorce is filed the courts normally issue a pretrial standing order that would prevent him from removing personal property, to include the dog. Until then, you both have equal rights to the dog. I would say the only exception may be if you were given the dog by a third party. If that is the case, the dog would be your separate property.

Who goes to jail if the child refuses to visit a parent?

Well, if you are before Judge Lisa Gorcyca in Oakland County, Michigan, the kids go to jail.  In a highly contentious divorce between Omer and Maya Tsimhoni involving their three children, ages 9, 10, and 14, the children refused to have a relationship with their dad. The 14 year old child stated he had seen the father hit the mom and that formed the basis for his refusal.  Judge Gorcyca put the children in the Oakland Children’s Village on June 24, 2015, where they could potentially have stayed until they were 18 years of age.  Subsequently, she then sent them to summer camp.  The link below shows the initial order that incarcerated the children.

In Florida, the courts are governed by the best interests of the minor children when trying to determine what parenting plan is best. Normally in Florida, it is not the child that is punished, it is the parent. The parent who is found to have caused a child to refuse to visit with the other parent or to alienate that parent, can very well be held in contempt.  If the Court makes certain findings and rules that a parent is in direct criminal contempt, then that parent may be sent to jail. At least in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, the judges tend to order counseling from the very beginning of a situation like the one in Michigan. It appears from the contempt order that she had just done so after 5 years of litigation.

Being stood up at the alter

Being stood up a the alter does still happen. The thought though that the bride should trash the dress doesn’t ring true for me. It is possibly because I loved my dress. The legal issues that can arise from a wedding being called off are many. The bride can keep the engagement ring. Even if the parties married and subsequently divorced, the engagement ring is still hers unless it was given after the wedding. The wedding bands however would be marital property and subject to division. Some spouses have even sued the other party for the wedding expenses incurred such as the deposit for the location, band and caterer.