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Punta Gorda Family Law Blog

Florida readers aware of change in approach to frozen embryos

In most cases in which one party wishes to use frozen embryos to have a child and the other does not, the opposing party is favored in court. That could change, however, based on a law recently passed in another state. The new law gives parties who want to use frozen embryos to have a child the right to do so, even if the other party strongly opposes that outcome. That has many Florida readers concerned. 

The law is highly controversial because it essentially forces parenthood on individuals who don't wish to become parents. Those who support the law point to the fact that many people choose to freeze embryos because health considerations prevent them from becoming parents at that time. They store their embryos with plans to have a child when their health improves. However, if the relationship between prospective parents ends, that could leave one party with no additional options for having a child who shares their genetic makeup. 

Florida millennials make good use of prenuptial agreements

Unlike past generations, the young adults of today have vastly different concepts about marriage. One way in which they differ is in their opinion of the importance of prenuptial agreements. Their parents and grandparents may have reserved these contracts for the very wealthy or those with considerable assets to inherit. In contrast, millennials in Florida and across the country are using prenups more frequently because of changes in their circumstances and in their overall view of marriage.

Many young people are postponing marriage to complete their educations and establish their careers. In fact, more than 70 percent consider career advancement a more urgent priority than marriage and children. As a result, when millennials finally decide to tie the knot, they may have some savings, investments and even real estate that they bring into the marriage as individual assets. They may also carry considerable student loan debt.

Actress continuing child custody battle over frozen embryos

Many Florida readers are familiar with the work of Sofia Vergara, one of the stars of "Modern Family." The actress has been fighting a child custody battle for some time now as she and her former partner argue over what to do with two frozen embryos created during their relationship. Vergara's ex, Nick Loeb, wants to use the embryos to have children, a move Vergara strongly opposes. 

The case has moved to several different courts, and Loeb is now trying to have the matter heard in a state with strong pro-life leanings. Many people believe that courts in pro-life states are more likely to side with the party who wants to bring frozen embryos to term. Vergara wants the case to be heard in federal court, and has challenged jurisdiction. 

Florida residents could risk litigation over frozen embryos

Many people choose to create and freeze embryos in the hopes of someday having a child of their own. In some cases in Florida and elsewhere, however, this choice ends in a bitter legal battle with the party who contributed the other half of the genetic material needed to produce the embryos. Such is the case for "Modern Family" actress Sophia Vergara, who remains embroiled in a bitter child custody case with former partner Nick Loeb over their two frozen embryos.

The former couple created the embryos in 2013, and planned to have a child through a surrogate. When the couple parted ways, Loeb established a trust for the embryos in a state with a strong pro-life stance and sued Vergara for the right to implant the embryos in a different surrogate. Vergara had the case removed to a different court, and persuaded a judge to dismiss it based on jurisdiction matters. 

Why men may have to pay spousal support after a divorce

Getting divorced can be a frustrating and confusing process. You would like to move on with your life afterward, but that can be hard to do if you must pay spousal support. In some cases, there is no need for spousal support, but the courts order it anyway.

For instance, say that an ex-wife has a master's degree in teaching and worked as a teacher up until the time the couple had children and she stayed at home. She has maintained her licensure, and there is plenty of demand in the area for teaching jobs. In theory, she could start working soon and make about the same amount of money as her ex-husband. However, his lawyer failed to explain this in court, and so the judge awarded her spousal support.

Ask a family law attorney about estate planning needs

Spouses who are preparing to divorce have a long list of items on their legal to-do list. Among those items should be having a frank discussion about estate planning with their Florida family law attorney. If estate planning needs are left unmet, the outcome can be drastically different than what one intended. 

Take, for example, the recent deaths of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Both took their own lives, and both were estranged from their spouses at the time of their deaths. That left their estranged spouses in charge of handling their final arrangements. It also left a considerable amount of wealth to spouses that they were no longer living with. 

Not every Florida family law case signifies a failure

Far too many people think of divorce as a failure, a mark of a union that did not work out as intended. In reality, however, divorce does not always mean a negative end. In fact, some Florida couples decide to end their marriage because they recognize that they're both ready to move on to a new phase of life. When a family law matter is viewed in this more positive light, the outcome is usually better for everyone involved. 

People change as they mature. Very often, they grow at different rates or in different directions. In some cases a marriage can survive those changes, but for other couples, a divorce is the healthiest path forward. Being able to accept that truth is a remarkable sign of personal growth. 

Florida spouses can avoid negative health impacts of divorce

For those spouses who are considering filing for divorce this year, it may be helpful to also think about how the process could impact health and wellness. According to some experts, divorce can lead to serious negative health consequences for many. Florida residents who are preparing to end a marriage can take steps to avoid a similar outcome. 

Researchers found that people who've gone through divorce are more likely to smoke or live sedentary lifestyles than those who are married or single. When asked about the reasons for those statistics, researchers suggested that one's spouse often plays a role in moderating bad habits and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. When that influence is suddenly gone, may people backslide into their previous bad habits. 

Some Florida spouses can save on taxes if they divorce this year

The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will lead to significant changes for many spouses. Specifically, individuals who divorce and make alimony payments will lose the ability to claim those expenses as tax deductions. The new roles take effect for all divorces made final after Dec. 31, 2018. That means that Florida spouses who are considering divorce should make a decision and begin the process as soon as possible in order to preserve this tax advantage.

The year may not be halfway over, but only those divorce cases that are finalized before the end of the year will be eligible to claim alimony as a tax deduction. That means a proactive approach is required. In many cases, divorces take longer than anticipated, so the sooner the process begins, the more likely it is to end before the last day of 2018.

3 benefits of stepparent adoptions

When you enter into a relationship with somebody who has kids from a prior relationship, it can be difficult to navigate the new dynamics. This might become even more of a challenge when you marry into the family and find yourself in the role of stepparent. Some stepparents choose to take this role further and legally adopt their stepchildren. What are some of the benefits that this can offer?

There are many benefits, in fact, that adopting your stepchildren can provide. It is a significant gesture, but it is an important decision, too. Consider carefully whether it is the best option for your family by reviewing the following three benefits.