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Pensacola Family & Estate Planning Legal Blog

High-net worth couples in Florida and divorce regret

Regret can be a big player in a marital split. Making the decision to divorce is never an easy one as it affects not only the couple, but their children and even extended family members and friends. High-net worth couples in Florida may find it even harder to make decisions regarding ending their marriages since so much is on the line financially. The pros and cons must be weighed carefully.

In fact, one of the major issues that causes divorce regret has to do with finances. Not only is divorce itself costly, but what it can do to a couple's finances as individuals can be life-altering. Running two households is an expensive undertaking, even if the couple had many assets to begin with. There are other issues that impact net worth, including spousal and child support.

Estate planning: Are 'I love you' wills still used in Florida?

What are referred to as 'I love you' wills are pretty outdated for the 21st century, yet many couples still have them. Florida residents who want their estate planning to be all-encompassing and up to date might want to look into bringing their wills into the modern age. Some couples may become complacent and believe once they have wills, there is no need to do update them.

An 'I love you' will is pretty basic as far as wills go. When a couple wishes not to utilize trusts as part of their estate planning, they might have used this type of will, which leaves everything to the surviving spouse. But there may be positives that aren't being taken advantage of with this sort of will -- things such as the planning of estate taxes, asset protection and even keeping assets from a second spouse's family members.

Setting up a special needs trust for your disabled child

If you have a special needs child, your Florida life is filled with both challenges and joy. Naturally you want him or her to lead the best possible life, and you do everything you can to make sure (s)he does. You also likely worry about who will provide him or her with the care (s)he needs should (s)he outlive you.

Setting up a special needs trust for the benefit of your disabled child relieves you of worrying so much. A special needs trust is a legal document your attorney drafts for you that provides for the care your child currently needs and will need throughout his or her life.

Why joint custody may be your best option

If you are like most Florida parents, your kids are the most important people in your life. The last thing you want is to become the stereotypical weekend Disney World parent after your divorce. Your spouse likely feels exactly the same way. In addition, you both know the last thing your kids want is to “lose” one of their parents or become caught in the middle of a custody fight where they have to choose sides as to which of you they want to live with.

For all of these reasons and many more, you and your spouse may want to consider joint custody of your children after your divorce. Joint custody is quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception throughout the country, and for good reason.

Having a family conversation about a health care directive

People don't like to think of a future in which they're incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. But life has a way of throwing some powerful curve balls and it might be best for Florida residents to think about putting a health care directive in place should the unforeseen happen. Such a directive can take the stress and potential guilt off loved ones.

At some point, though, end-of-life wishes should be discussed with family members, so there are no surprises. Having a conversation about end-of-life care is never easy, but it can be done in a way that espouses caring, concern and love and with the point being that no one wants to be a burden on their loved ones or to leave them to make decisions they would find extremely difficult to make. There are many tools available in Florida to make these talks easier.

Parental responsibility: Kids and divorce myths

No one wants pity, not even children. It is then the parental responsibility of Florida parents who are divorcing to show their children that divorce does not mean the end of their family, but a shift in how the family will function. There are still some hush-hush aspects to divorce in society, especially when children are involved. Some people feel sorry for kids of divorce -- perhaps not as often as they did decades ago -- but divorce is still often a taboo subject, which may hurt children, especially when they feel they can't talk to their friends or others about what's going on in their lives and how they feel about it.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that very young children, around the toddler age, aren't affected by divorce. Studies show that this isn't the case. By the time a child reaches the age of 2, he or she can begin to build memory, so how things happen in that child's life is extremely important. The less trauma they perceive, the better for them, so parents should be mindful to rein in any arguing in front of young kids.

Florida's power of attorney rules

There are certain rules that go along with estate planning. One of those has to do with creating a power of attorney in Florida. In order for the document to have any legitimate weight, the principal -- or the one making the power of attorney -- has to sign the document in front of two witnesses and a notary public, which could be one of the witnesses as well. If a Floridian creates a legal power of attorney outside the state, it does have bearing in Florida. 

Rules changed in 2011 with the state's Power of Attorney Act. The current law says that if more than one agent is named to act at the same time, each agent can do so independently unless the document specifies otherwise. If the principal files for divorce, the spouse's authority per the power of attorney is terminated. Once a power of attorney is signed, it automatically goes into effect. 

Relocation of children after a divorce in Florida

When a parent who has custody of a child after divorce decides to relocate, it could be tough on everyone. Children are creatures of habit and as such, don't take highly to change, so relocation for them may be particularly unsettling whatever the reasons may be for the move. When a custodial parent in Florida makes that decision, there are some requirements that should be seen to before relocation can happen.

Getting the consent of the other parent in writing is a good place to start. If the other parent doesn't agree, a relocation dispute could ensue, so talking about why the decision was made for relocation may help the other parent to understand. Giving notice to the other parent in writing of the decision to move is actually the law in many states.

Top financial mistakes to avoid when divorcing

There are numerous financial considerations to make for any divorce. For couples planning to divorce in 2018, it may work in their best interest to finalize the separation before the end of 2018 due to a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which prevents a person paying alimony from deducting those payments from his or her taxes. 

There is no way to have a free divorce, but you can drastically reduce the amount of money you spend. You do not want to become a financial victim, so here are some actions you should avoid to keep from making the divorce harder on your wallet and your peace of mind: 

Service member rights: Managing the military divorce process

A marriage breakdown can be especially difficult when one partner is a service member. Divorce in the military comes with its own set of unique challenges and must take into consideration service member rights. Although state laws govern divorce, certain federal laws and regulations regarding the military may apply to a military divorce situation. Florida military members have access to certain no-cost services such as advice pertaining to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and income taxes, for starters.

Under the SCRA, court proceedings regarding the divorce could be postponed or stayed if the service member is unable to attend because of duty. There are also protections for failing to respond to a lawsuit or appear at trial if the service member is on duty. Military spouses can also access  military legal assistance services through installation legal assistance offices; however, a military lawyer cannot represent anyone in a family court. That is reserved for a civilian attorney.

  • The Florida Bar| Board Certified | Marital & Family Law
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Meador & Johnson, P.A.
900 N. Palafox St
Pensacola, FL 32501

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