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Pensacola Family & Estate Planning Legal Blog

High net-worth couples find best ways to divide assets

The end of a marriage often means the beginning of a long process of negotiations. For high net-worth couples in Florida, this may involve finding creative ways to effectively divide martial assets and keep the details of their settlement as private as possible. Those whose wealth includes a level of notoriety may have difficulty maintaining their privacy. However, one celebrity couple has decided to involve the public in their divorce in a practical way.

Actor Russell Crowe and his wife, actress-singer Danielle Spencer, have been separated for five years, and their divorce is scheduled to be finalized around his 54th birthday and what would have been the couple's 15th anniversary. It is on this date in April 2018 that the couple is planning a divorce auction at Sotheby's Australia. Crowe announced that the auction is an example of the cooperation he and his soon-to-be ex expect to continue as they raise their children after the divorce.

Pet owners use estate plan to provide for beloved animal

Pets are often beloved members of the family, participating in family vacations, posing in holiday portraits and taking their places in the hearts of every member of the household. As owners grow older, however, they may begin to wonder how to ensure the well-being of their animals after the owner's death. In Florida, as in most states, pets cannot inherit money from a deceased owner's estate. This is why many people provide for their pets using their estate plan.

Including a pet in a will is tricky because the law considers pets to be property. One issue that arises when using a will for one's pet it that it does not obligate a designated person to accept the responsibility for the pet, and many pets end up in shelters as a result. Additionally, some wills name specific pets, but their owners fail to update their wills after a pet passes or a new pet joins the family.

Addicted parents may be unable to handle parental responsibility

A welcome change in child custody laws in Florida and across the country includes the move toward more equitable parenting plans. However, when one parent is not fit to deal with parental responsibility, the courts may decide to intervene. This typically happens in the face of evidence that a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol.

Substance abuse is often the catalyst for a marriage breakup. During a custody hearing, if the court learns that a parent's addiction or history of addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs prevents him or her from providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children, a judge may impose restrictions on parenting rights. The result may be limits placed on the children's interaction with the parent, including restricted or supervised visitation, or no contact without proof that the parent is undergoing treatment..

Is a collaborative divorce right for you?

If you are a Florida resident contemplating divorce, both you and your spouse, despite your irreconcilable differences, probably hate the thought of a protracted, acrimonious court battle. What you may not realize is that more amicable options exist. One of them is collaborative divorce, and it may be the approach that best fits you and your spouse and your specific situation.

As in a traditional litigated divorce, you and your spouse each retain your own attorney. However, unlike in a litigated divorce, your respective attorneys do not assume the traditional adversarial positions. Rather, the two of them help the two of you negotiate and resolve your differences out of court.

Changing tax law muddles alimony and property division for many

As if divorce was not hard enough, now Florida couples have to contend with new alimony laws that may turn teh proceedings upside down. Alimony was once a useful tool for negotiating property division and for providing a lesser-earning spouse with some stability in the early years after the divorce. However, the new law removes the incentive for negotiation and may create a rush to court for many couples who have been postponing their divorces.

Previously, the spouse paying alimony could deduct those payments from his or her taxes. The person receiving alimony was required to pay taxes on it. The benefit of this arrangement was that it frequently gave the payer incentive to agree to alimony. This often kept couples out of court because a high-earning spouse was willing to consent to paying alimony to gain the tax break.

Should you and your spouse negotiate on your own?

During a divorce, many soon-to-be ex-spouses try to save money and time by negotiating with each other. In a few cases, it works. Many times, though, this move turns into a giant headache and worsens the situation. For one thing, you could make an offer that is not exactly legal or give up much more than you think you have to.

If you are thinking about negotiating on your own, consider the following few things.

Overcoming the stress of deployment in military marriage

Being married to someone who serves in the U.S. armed forces may be one of the most challenging partnerships a person can face. Service members and their spouses must quickly adapt to changes, including moves to unfamiliar places and prolonged periods apart during deployment. Because of the stress involved, the rate of divorce within all branches of the military is high. Some advisors suggest ways for Florida couples to overcome the common complaints about military marriages.

Since a military marriage may mean spending time apart, many successful couples plan ahead for a date night each week. These dates are never used for discussing bills or resolving conflicts but merely to enjoy each other's company. It is also important to hold family time sacred, protecting it from long hours at work or outside interruptions. This will be helpful during that time of rebuilding that occurs after a long separation when the spouses may have adapted to life without each other.

Bitcoin is an important part of estate plan for many

Many in Florida and around the world are discovering the convenience and flexibility of cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and other virtual wallets allow people to control their financial transactions without going through a bank. However, since no bank manages the accounts, those who invest in cryptocurrency must keep track of their own holdings. Additionally, because cryptocurrency accounts can be managed anonymously, they may be lost if they are not included in one's estate plan.

The way things stand now, such accounts can exist without one's heirs knowing about them. Regulators in the United States do not require identification when one opens a virtual account, although this may change in the future as it has in other countries. Because of the anonymity of the accounts, they do not require their owners to name beneficiaries as they would on a bank account or retirement fund.

Parental responsibility in blended families takes its toll

Since the coining of the term "blended family," stepfamily advocates have sought to bring out the best in the very difficult task of uniting a married couple with the children of their spouses. Each blended family has its own unique dynamic, and the assimilation of two worlds into one often seems like an impossible goal. In fact, divorce experts claim that when parental responsibility includes stepchildren, the result may lead to many Florida divorces at the beginning of each new year.

Sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce, according to the latest data. However, if the spouses bring children into their new marriages, the risk rises to 70 percent. One reason may be that one spouse may be overly critical about the parenting style of the other spouse. On the other hand, one partner may refuse to allow the spouse to discipline the partner's biological children. The lack of flexibility and consistency may make it difficult for children to adjust.

Why is it a mistake to post on Facebook during your divorce?

First things first: Yes, some people are able to use social media just fine during their divorce without experiencing repercussions. However, it is a good idea to, at the very least, avoid Facebook use and other social media use. To cover your bases altogether, the recommendation is to suspend your posting until the divorce is over.

Otherwise, you could end up posting something that hurts your case or that turns an agreeable divorce sour.

  • The Florida Bar| Board Certified | Marital & Family Law
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