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Fort Myers Florida Family Law Legal Blog

Make the most of retirement benefits in divorce

It's a myth that 50% of married couples in America wind up getting divorced. In fact, current trends indicate that fewer couples are divorcing overall.

However, one demographic group is experiencing an uptick in divorce filings — couples age 50 and older. Bowling Green State University's National Center for Family & Marriage Research reports that the rise in so-called "gray divorces" is responsible for divorce rates that are now twice as high as those in 1990 for that demographic group.

A wife's income may affect her chance of a high net worth divorce

The gender wage gap may be closing at least for some people in Florida, and this may be seen by many as a good thing. However, does the amount of income a wife contributes to the household affect the relationship she has with her partner? One study examined this issue, and its findings may be especially significant when it comes to a high net worth divorce.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 38% of married women in the U.S. have a higher income than their spouses. In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that of cohabitating couples in the U.S., in approximately one-third of those couples, women contribute 50% or more of the household earnings. This is significant, as it may a sign that women are increasingly being treated equally in the workplace.

How can Floridians divide the family business in a divorce?

Building a business from the ground up with your spouse can be a highly satisfying endeavor. However, even if a married couple's business flourishes, their marriage may not, and they may decide it is best to divorce.

In Florida, the family business, like other marital assets, is subject to equitable distribution in the property division process.

Can a high-conflict, high-asset divorce be mediated?

There are many benefits to mediating a high-asset divorce. For instance, couples in Florida with significant assets have a major stake in the outcome of the property division process. Mediation allows the parties to retain control over the outcome of the property division process, and they may also be able to keep the details of the settlement private. This may make the parties more satisfied with the outcome of their divorce.

However, not every divorce is amicable, especially when a couple has a significant amount of wealth that they both feel entitled to. They may find it impossible to even be in the same room as one another, much less engage in civil negotiations. In situations like this, is divorce mediation even an option?

Experienced help for equitable distribution

Couples who are pursuing a divorce in Fort Myers may naturally have concerns about what possessions and finances they will have once their dissolution is finalized and they move forward into their newly-single lives. After all, many of their marital assets may have a great deal of financial or sentimental value, especially if a couple had been married a long time. It is important that the property division process is fair to both spouses, so they can walk away from the marriage on even footing.

In Florida, marital assets are divided equitably. However, each party must be completely open and honest about all their marital assets and debts, along with any premarital assets that may have commingled with marital assets and thus became part of the marital estate. It may be tempting to try to hide assets in a divorce, to keep them for yourself. However, not only is this unlawful, but it is most likely that these efforts will fail, especially when attorneys have experience working with experts such as forensic accountants.

Collaborative law involves more than just attorneys

Florida residents going through a divorce may want to try to make it as stress-free as possible. After all, going through a trial is an emotionally and financially draining experience. Plus, the winner-takes-all nature of litigation can lead to an unsatisfactory resolution to your divorce. However, there are other ways to settle a divorce that may be more attractive than litigation.

One way to settle a divorce out of court is through collaborative law. In a collaborative divorce, each party retains an attorney, but both parties and their attorneys agree in writing to work together to reach a settlement to all their divorce legal issues. If any issues remain unresolved once the collaborative law process is over and the parties must go to trial, their attorneys must bow out of the case and the parties must retain new attorneys. This gives everyone an incentive to make the collaborative divorce process work from the get-go.

Know when paternity must be established

There is no doubt that children need both parents involved in their lives whenever that is possible. But sometimes the circumstances of a baby's birth don't clearly indicate who the father is.

Having a legal father is important for a child. Establishing paternity gives rights to the child and both parents, as you will read below.

Prenups can be valuable when Floridians marry a second time

Not every marriage is meant to last, and some couples in Florida who married in their younger years end up getting divorced decades later. Sometimes, after the divorce is final, a person will find love again and decide to remarry. By this point, however, that person may have accumulated a significant amount of valuable assets and wealth. If this is the case, they may want to consider executing a prenuptial agreement (referred to as a premarital agreement under Florida law), to avoid the difficulties that could be encountered in a high net worth divorce.

When a person is entering their second marriage, they will want to consider how they will support themselves financially while married. A prenup can address what income and retirement assets will be retained as separate property and what income and retirement assets will be considered marital property. The prenup can also address who will be responsible for what costs when it comes to household expenses.

Divorce of Amazon CEO teaches valuable lessons

Florida residents may have been following the highly publicized divorce of Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. This high net worth divorce is notable not just due to Bezos' $137 billion fortune, but due to the fact that Amazon, which he founded while married, may be considered marital property and could be included in the divisible marital estate.

Another notable lesson we can learn from Bezos' divorce is the importance of prenuptial agreements. Bezos and his wife reportedly had not executed a prenuptial agreement. This could significantly affect the outcome of his divorce.

How is property in Florida divided during a divorce?

Couples in Florida may spend years or even decades accumulating various assets, such as a house, automobiles, electronics, artwork and other valuable pieces of property. So, should the couple divorce, the issue of property division can be a sticking point for many spouses who believe they are entitled to certain assets. If a settlement cannot be reached regarding property division, the parties will turn to the court to issue a decision.

When it comes to property division, Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means that the judge will issue a decision regarding property division based on what is fair, and it may not always result in an even 50/50 split of assets and liabilities. Specifically, Florida statutes state that the court will begin with the premise that assets and liabilities should be split equally unless there is a justifiable reason not to do so based on all relevant factors.

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