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Fort Myers Family Law Blog

Should I take lump sum alimony?

If you expect to receive spousal support after your divorce, you may want to consider pushing for a lump-sum payment rather than receiving ongoing payments from your former spouse. Lump sum alimony can be advantageous for both spouses in many ways, leading to a cleaner separation after the divorce finalizes and giving you greater opportunities for starting fresh on your own.

The principles behind opting for lump sum alimony are similar to taking a lump sum award if you were to win the lottery. When you take a lump sum payment, you not only get your entire payment at one time, you also also avoid the possibility of receiving less if one of you passes away prematurely while in a monthly alimony arrangement.

Beware of family helping a spouse hide assets

When it comes time to divorce, beware of ways that your spouse may attempt to hide assets that may apply to a divorce settlement. Although the courts never look very kindly on hiding assets in a divorce case, the practice is still surprisingly common. In many cases, a spouse may attempt to claim that certain assets belong to another family member with whom it is relatively simple to transfer property.

This is a more widespread tactic than you might think, so if your spouse's family was involved in your personal finances during your relationship, you should be especially careful. In many cases, a parent or sibling may claim that the spouse owns a certain asset while you are married, but when divorce comes knocking, the other family member suddenly claims they own the asset.

Avoiding potentially detrimental decisions in high-asset divorces

There are countless reasons that can lead a couple to consider parting ways. Perhaps you and your spouse have reached an impasse, and the decision to divorce has moved from a discussion to a reality. Along with the emotional stress that can accompany such a difficult decision, the financial side of divorce can be intimidating and complex, especially for the wealthy.

The two of you might have accumulated a substantial amount of your wealth during marriage, or perhaps entered marriage believing you would be together forever, thus forgoing the idea of a prenuptial agreement. Without an agreement in place concerning property distribution, preparations for the subsequent process will likely be more important than ever.

How can a postnuptial agreement help my marriage?

Many marriages fall prey to the pressures of money conflicts, but it doesn't have to be that way. Couples across the country are discovering, or rediscovering, the value of postnuptial agreements. Postnuptial agreements, when executed properly can relieve much of the tension surrounding financial matters between spouses, saving marriages that might otherwise be doomed.

There are numerous scenarios where a postnuptial agreement can be a great help. Let's say that you and your spouse have been married for a few years, living near Fort Myers, and you have started a business. Because your started the business while married, the business is technically marital property, which means that if you get divorced, the whole thing may dissolve because your spouse can claim they deserve a portion of the value of the business.

Are there different types of alimony?

If you and your spouse divorce, there are several types of alimony or spousal support that a judge may order, depending on the circumstances. While most people may assume that alimony is a single monolithic thing, there are actually five separate types of alimony that courts use in various situations.

Permanent alimony is often the type of support that most people envision. Under this system, one spouse pays the other a fixed amount on a monthly basis indefinitely, although changes in circumstances for either party may justify a modification to the order.

Why might my prenuptial agreement fail to stand up in court?

To many people, prenuptial agreements carry a reputation as a silver bullet that defends against all divorce woes. However, while prenuptial agreements wield great strength to protect spouses from outside parties and even each other, there are many ways that a well-intentioned agreement may not hold up in court.

Just because a prenuptial agreement exists does not mean it is enforceable. It should go without saying that any prenuptial agreement worth its salt must be in writing (but you'd be surprised how often verbal agreements come up in divorce negotiations). Even if it is written out, it must be properly executed and signed by all parties. Furthermore, neither party can sign the document under duress or without proper time to consider its provisions and pursue independent legal counsel.

Beware of false allegations in divorce

Divorce is rarely an amicable, dignified process, but two things almost always find a way to make it far more complicated — high assets within the marriage and children within the marriage. Unfortunately, the presence of either or both of these elements regularly compels one spouse or the other to take actions that turn the process hostile. In many cases, one spouse will accuse the other of some illegal act to gain leverage in the property division or custody agreements.

While this practice is both highly unethical and illegal, it is far more widespread than you might think. Often, it is the result of one partner wishing harm on the other or fearing that they have no leverage to negotiate and lashing out in self-preservation.

How to separate chaff from wheat when it comes to attorneys

If you're facing a situation that prompts you to seek legal assistance in Florida, chances are the topic is of some paramount importance in your personal or professional life -- or both. When considering your options, you no doubt know there will be expenses involved if you hire an attorney. Just as when you purchase a car, a new TV or your dream house, you want to get the most for your money, so it's logical you'd want to find a lawyer whose services best align with your particular needs and goals.

When you're shopping for clothes, for instance, you can hold two shirts up next to each other to compare quality and price. This is obviously not possible when it comes to lawyers; that is, you can't stand them up side by side to compare their qualifications. However, you can research as thoroughly as possible to determine which attorney appears to have what it takes to increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in court.

Prenuptial agreements offer valuable lessons for partners

Many couples simply do not take wise precautions when approaching marriage, leading to problems down the road that could easily have been avoided with some careful planning and intentional conversations about hard issues. One of the biggest relationship killers is a difference in how each spouse approaches finances, which may seem small, but has ended many marriages in the long run. Unfortunately, even those who pursue premarital counseling rarely take the time to truly understand their partner's financial life.

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success in a marriage and protect your future spouse is by working together to create a prenuptial agreement. A key aspect of prenuptial agreements that many couples do not take advantage of is its ability to protect one spouse from another spouse's debt — a benefit that begins as soon as you are married, not if you divorce.

Don't wait to file for a child support modification

Child support is an important part of being a good parent to a child after you and the child's other parent are no longer together. Contrary to the popular image of deadbeat parents who skip out on child support payments, most parents who struggle to pay child support would prefer to pay their fair share and simply can't. The good news is that it is possible to modify your child support order with proper help.

Once you realize that your child support order is unsustainable, do not wait another day to take action. Modifying child support orders is not a fast process, and your circumstances and the courts are not likely to be understanding if you do not act quickly. The first thing you should do is gather as much documentation as you can to make the case that you need, rather than just prefer, the modification. This is most common when your income changes after your order is handed down.