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Punta Gorda Family Law Blog

Family law: Divorces said to be on the decline

Marriage advocates may be encouraged by recent data showing a marked decline in the rate of divorces in Florida and across the country. In less than a decade, the divorce rate dropped 21 percent. Some family law analysts predict the trend will continue downward in the years to come. However, those same analysts caution that the slowing divorce rate may not mean more couples are madly in love as much as it relates to the fact that more couples are taking their time before taking the plunge.

Millennials, those in their 20s and 30s, are not rushing into marriage. Millennials, particularly women, tend to delay tying the knot until they have finished college, started their careers and created some security for themselves. As a result, they may not feel they must look to a mate for that security. In fact, they may be more willing to reject a marriage proposal to avoid having to go through divorce in the future.

How a marital agreements lawyer can help prevent divorce

Far too many couples think about prenuptial agreements as nothing more than the outline for an eventual divorce. In reality, these documents serve many more purposes and can even help prevent a divorce from taking place. Sitting down with a marital agreements lawyer can be as beneficial as couples counseling for many in Florida. 

One of the leading causes of divorce involves strife over financial matters. Far too often, those arguments occur because neither spouse was fully aware of what he or she was walking into on their wedding day. A series of in-depth conversations about money could have helped some divorced couples make changes that might have saved their marriage. 

Time is running out to lock in Florida alimony tax deductions

Time is running out for couples planning to divorce before new alimony tax rules kick in at the start of 2019. For those in Florida who want to retain the ability to claim alimony payments as tax deductible, there are only a few weeks left to hammer out any remaining divorce issues and get the matter finalized. In many cases, wrapping things up before that date is best for both parties. 

Once the new tax rules kick in, the party tasked with making alimony payments will no longer have the ability to utilize a dollar-for-dollar tax deduction based on those payments. That will leave less money for spouses to share, as a sizable chunk will soon go to taxes versus to the other party. Those changes could prompt couples to look for more creative solutions in the years ahead to make up for the lost tax deduction. 

Is a parallel parenting plan right for you?

Very few divorces are amicable, and many are downright hostile. In these cases, it is extremely unlikely to get through the divorce proceedings in a timely and cooperative manner. Contentious parts of the process, such as parenting plans (covering custody arrangements and decision making), only fuel the fire.

If this situation describes you, you may benefit from creating a parallel parenting plan instead of a traditional one. This approach can help you and your ex focus on the children while experiencing less emotional turmoil through disengagement.

Tips for Florida parents sharing custody over the holidays

The holiday season has begun, and for newly divorced parents, this might be the first true test of collaborative co-parenting. While the formal child custody agreement will likely address which parent has the right to which holidays, most Florida parents are able to work out a solution that meets their current needs. Doing so requires a high level of maturity and a focus on doing what's best for the children. 

One way to avoid undue stress is to work out a holiday schedule as early in the season as possible. Chart out holiday traditions and decide which parent will handle which events. Whenever possible, try to maintain at least a few family traditions to give kids a sense of stability. If that's not possible, parents can at least create a schedule that covers all the holiday bases. 

The pros and cons of nesting for Florida parents

Virtually all parents who decide to divorce worry about how the process might affect their children. One way to minimize stress for kids is to maintain as much stability as possible as a Florida divorce moves forward. Nesting is one option, and works by keeping the kids in the family home while the parents rotate in and out on a schedule. 

Nesting can be a good option for parents who are moving forward with an amicable divorce. Especially if both parties agree that focusing on the needs of the children is a shared priority. It allows kids to adjust to the news of divorce without having to also come to terms with new living arrangements and perhaps a new school. 

A prenuptial agreement can cover more than just money

More Florida couples are signing prenuptial agreements with the hope that they will not need to rely on them, but those who have one in place are relieved at how well a prenuptial agreement can work to reduce stress and contention in a divorce. Prenups can be surprisingly flexible, too. Beyond excluding a spouse's individual assets or inheritance from property division, prenuptial agreements can be useful in many situations, even if a couple does not have complex wealth to protect.

Many couples are entering marriage with thousands of dollars in student loan debt that complicates their efforts to make major financial decisions, such as buying a home or starting a family. A couple may decide to pay down one spouse's loan, then work on eliminating the other spouse's loan. If, for example, the wife contributes to paying off the husband's loan but the couple divorces before the wife's loan is paid off, a prenuptial agreement can stipulate how the wife will be compensated for her contribution to the husband's debt.

Property division lawyer can help uncover hidden assets

Florida governs its property division proceedings regarding divorces under equitable distribution laws. This means that when the court divides marital assets, the split is not necessarily going to be 50/50 but is intended to be fair. One can't really expect a fair outcome if a spouse is hiding assets in order to gain the upper hand in the property division process; however, a property division lawyer can help nip a hidden asset problem in the bud.

Uncovering a hidden asset problem is often easier said than done because many spouses know how to use secretive schemes to carry out their deeds. Then again, sometimes things can be concealed in plain sight, so to speak. For this reason, a spouse who suspects a problem may want to begin an investigation of the matter by searching through drawers, closets and other areas of the home for hidden money.

Making your mediation work for you

Going through a divorce can be an emotional and lengthy process. Thankfully, there are certain options available that can help to alleviate some of the stress and strenuous aspects of the divorce proceedings.

Mediation is one of those alternatives and can be beneficial. To get the most out of your mediation, there are a few things you should do.

Florida spouses have post-divorce options for health insurance

Moving through a divorce requires quite the juggling act, especially for spouses who already have demanding work, family or community obligations. It's hard to cover all the bases, and it's not uncommon to discover after a Florida divorce that a few things fell through the cracks. It's important to prevent continuing health insurance coverage from becoming one of those things. 

For spouses who have their own existing coverage through their employment benefits or a purchased policy, this isn't a pressing need. For those who rely on their spouse's benefits to obtain coverage, it should be a top priority. For those who have a pre-existing medical condition, it could be an urgent need.