Michael E. Golub, P.A.

Tavares Family Law Blog

Options for establishing paternity

If you are a man in Florida who wants to make sure that you are legally recognized as the father of your biological child, there are a few ways that you might achieve this. Having this legal recognition is important for a variety of reasons including ensuring that you enjoy as much time with your child as possible and that is reasonable if you do not live with your child's mother. Even if you do live with your child's mother, you can benefit from having legal paternity established.

As explained by the Florida Department of Revenue, there are typically three avenues to establishing paternity. One of these is via court order, one is referred to as acknowledgement or legitimization and the third is at birth in a hospital. If a court order is to be used, you will need to undergo genetic testing to confirm that you are the father of your child.

Who pays child support and how much in a Florida divorce?

Divorce is full of emotional and financial challenges, one of which is child support. The obligor does not want to have to give more than he or she can afford, and the obligee does not want to receive less than he or she needs for the children. It is a complex matter that often leaves one or both parties feeling displeased.

What can help the process go more smoothly and cooperatively is understanding how child support works in Florida. This can give you an idea of who will have to pay and where the payment amount comes from.

Pets and divorce

Many residents in Florida love their pets dearly so it comes as no surprise that when couples get divorced, there can be quite a bit of discord over which spouse will keep the family pet or pets. The New York Times reported that in a 2014 survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, respondents indicated they had seen a jump by as much as 27 percent in the number of divorce cases involving pet custody since 2009.

For a lot time, most courts simply considered Fido, Kitty or other pets to be just like any other piece of property or asset. However, there is a growing push to evaluate the needs of the pet as a living creature to identify the best home for it. In some cases, this might even mean some type of joint custody where both spouses have time with their pet.

How to navigate divorce and financial problems

If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage in Florida, you may well be concerned about your financial health. In fact, many couples who get divorced find themselves under serious financial stress and this stress may even have contributed to the failures of the marriages. Depending on the severity of your money problems, you might want to think about filing for bankruptcy. But, before you do anything you should carefully evaluate the timing and how a bankruptcy might impact your divorce.

As explained by My Horizon Today, there are two primary types of consumer bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7, debts are completely eliminated but this may also mean that some assets such as homes are lost. This is because in a Chapter 7, secured assets are subject to seizure in an effort to repay at least some of the debt owed. In a Chapter 13, you may be able to keep your home but your bankruptcy could last as long as five years, keeping you tied to your spouse longer than you wished.

Understanding custody arrangements

When Florida parents divorce, one of the things they need to discuss is their custody arrangement. People may have different parental rights depending on the custody arrangement they choose, so it is important to understand the differences between each type of custody.

Some parents may decide that a joint custody arrangement is best for their family. FindLaw says that in this situation, parents usually make decisions about their children together and the kids may also live with both parents. Sometimes people may share legal custody of their children. This means that both parents can make decisions about the types of medical treatments their kids receive and where their kids will go to school. Additionally, people can have a physical custody arrangement. Physical custody means that children can legally live with a parent. Sometimes someone might have sole custody of the children if the other parent is not fit to take care of the kids.

Homes, mortgages and divorce

Florida couples who are getting divorced often find themselves trying to figure out what to do with their family homes. A house may well be a couple's single most valuable asset but it may also be connected to a mortgage that may be their single biggest debt. In addition, people attach a lot of emotions to their homes, especially if they have children that they raised in the home or who still live there. This can lead a lot of people to rush into trying to keep their house when they get divorced but this may not always be the best idea.

As explained by Time Money, if one spouse wants to keep the marital home and the other person is even willing to sign a quit claim deed relinquishing their ownership in the property, if the mortgage is in both people's names, the lender will still consider both of them responsible for the loan. Certainly being financially liable for something that one does not get any benefit from is not a good thing but there are other problems with this scenario as well.

How children can benefit from joint-custody arrangements

If you, like so many others across Florida, are navigating your way through a separation or divorce, you probably have quite a bit on your plate. While figuring out how to rebuild your life after divorce can prove difficult in and of itself, learning how to do so when there are shared children involved can present even more obstacles.

While you may initially wince at the sound of the term, “joint-custody arrangement,” research shows that having such an arrangement can prove highly beneficial for your kids when compared with having your child live exclusively in your home, or your partner's. Of course, there are always exceptions, and no child should have to live with a parent who is abusive, neglectful and so on. However, under typical circumstances, children who spend time living in the homes of both parents tend to experience certain advantages.

How do I handle divorce with a family business?

For many couples, the ability to own a business together is a dream come true and many make this work very well. Married couples certainly should know each other's strengths and weaknesses and how to communicate with each other and these things may well contribute to the succesful running of a business. However, when the marriage sours, deciding what then will happen to the business can be tough. If you are in this situation, you will understand this all too well.

Forbes explains that you have a few options and reviewing each one is wise before making a final decision. One of your options is to shut the company down altogether. This may be a choice to consider if your company is also having financial challenges and neither you nor your partner can afford to keep it running. You may be able to sell your business which allows the company to survive yet releases you from responsibility and may even provide you with some cash.

How mediation might help you

The stereotypical divorce process that many in Florida think about generally involves thoughts of two very bitter people at odds with each other who are virtually unable to communicate other than via arguing. However, you may be in a marriage that is coming to an end yet you are able to communicate to some degree with your spouse. If so, you may be able to take advantage of mediation as a means of determining your divorce details.

As explained by the Florida Courts, mediation may offer many benefits including the ability to get your divorce completed quicker and less expensively than via traditional litigious methods. It is important that you understand the mediator is not really a replacement for a judge insofar as the mediator makes no decisions in your case. In fact, the mediator does not even make recommendations for any decisions in your case.

The alimony tax break clock is ticking

Once the decision to get divorced has been made, some couples in Florida almost seem to rush into getting things taken care of while others may drag their feet before even being willing to consider filing an initial petition for dissolution. There is certainly no right or wrong to either approach per se but this year if one or both partners in a marriage believes that the heretofore standard system of how taxes and alimony are handled is right for them, waiting could end up being rather costly.

As explained by CNBC, any divorce that is finalized after December 31, 2018 will find alimony payments subject to a very different taxation model. Instead of the paying spouse deducting this money from their tax return and the recipient spouse, who is likely in a lower tax bracket, paying the income tax, it will be the paying spouse in the likely higher tax bracket who will get hit with the tax liability for these payments.

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