Sarasota Family Law And Criminal Defense Law Blog

Tips for winning your custody battle

Contested custody battles are brutal for all concerned — not the least of which is the children involved. Parents, too, find these types of legal tugs-of-war to be jarring and very stressful.

Still, when both parents have tried — and failed — to reach accord on a parenting plan, the custody decision rests with the family law judge. Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant in this action, you have a compelling interest for the ruling to be in your favor.

Surprising financial changes that come with divorce

When people in Florida decide to divorce, the end of a marriage can often be accompanied by a number of financial changes and surprises. Because of the extreme financial changes during this period, many divorcing spouses gain a far deeper understanding of financial difficulties and may make changes to their plans for the future. One study surveyed 1,785 divorcing or divorced women and found that nearly half experienced financial surprises during their divorces, with younger women even more likely than older participants to be shocked by marital finances.

In many cases, the surprises discovered during divorce related to marital debt. Even when couples believed they were open about finances with one another, the clarity about the extent of credit card debt, mortgage loans, car loans and other debt revealed during the divorce often came as a shock. In addition, the division of retirement accounts often led to a shift in priorities for many of the women in the survey, especially for those closer to retirement age. Many expressed that they were focusing on investment to bulk up their retirement funds.

Yes, popping a wheelie on your motorcycle is illegal in Florida

Motorcycles are a popular mode of transportation for thrill seekers across the State of Florida and the United States. After all, these small, fast vehicles can allow for outrageous speed and impressive tricks. Many motorcycle enthusiasts enjoy seeing how much they can manipulate their motorcycles while driving them.

Unfortunately, many of these activities are incredibly risky. In the State of Florida, some of them are illegal as well. The act of popping a wheelie, which is when you pull up on the handlebars and balance your bike only on the rear tire, is actually against the law in Florida. Drivers who don't know this could face steep fines even for a first-time offense.

How parents can handle money issues in divorce

After a divorce in Florida or any other state, it is important that parents focus on their children as opposed to the behavior of their former spouses. As a general rule, it is never a good idea to threaten the child's other parent because it can make it difficult to resolve a problem.

It may not be a good idea to threaten to report the child's other parent to the authorities when temporary financial problems come up. This can create the perception that a custodial parent is more concerned with money as opposed to the welfare of the child. It can also create problems for the noncustodial parent that may be avoided when all parties are reasonable. By reporting a parent to the authorities, it could ruin that person's credit and make it necessary to file for bankruptcy or sell assets.

Parenting schedules add stability to children's lives

When parents in Florida decide to divorce or end their romantic relationship, both may be committed to ensuring that it does not also mean the end of their relationship with the children. Coming up with a custody agreement can be challenging but also important for developing a stable environment for children after their parents decide to separate. A parenting schedule can lay out logistics and responsibilities for how a child's time will be divided between his or her parents. By working together to create a plan, both parents can show their children that they are committed to putting the kids' interests first.

There are several matters to consider for parents developing a child custody or parenting schedule. First, this means considering the needs and desires of the children. For some parents, full 50/50 custody where the child switches homes each week can be a good choice. This is especially true when parents live close enough to one another that the child's access to school, friends and activities is not disrupted by the moves. In other cases, different forms of shared time, in which one parent has more weekend and vacation time, may be a better option.

How your brain tricks you into texting and driving

If someone asked you if you should text and drive, when you were not in a car, you would probably tell him or her that it is risky. Maybe you have heard of texting drivers getting in accidents or perhaps you know that Florida has a texting and driving ban. Either way, you know not to do it.

In the car, though, you feel differently. It's not that you do not understand the law or the risk, but it feels a bit less important. You hear the phone buzz or beep, and it is tough not to look at the message. It takes restraint to not answer really quickly; in a fast-paced world, people expect instant responses.

How divorce may affect retirement preparation

Some people in Florida who get a divorce may suffer financially, and it could extend into retirement. Furthermore, with divorce among older people on the rise, it is increasingly likely that more people may struggle during retirement with less time to recover financially. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that households that have been through a divorce are 7 percent more likely to have to lower their standard of living.

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act adds some additional complications to post-divorce finances that people should be aware of. A white paper by an executive at Prudential Financial Inc. outlines some of these complications. One is that alimony will no longer be taxed for the recipient or tax-deductible for the payer starting in 2019. This could mean that alimony recipients' reported income is low.

How disability can affect child support payments

For families in Florida who rely on child support payments for ongoing sustenance, parental disability can have a major impact on their financial health. Due to disability, a non-custodial parent may no longer be able to fulfill their child support obligations as provided for in the initial order, as their own income may substantially decline. While disability does not automatically change or lower the child support award, the practical reality is that an acquired disability can substantially affect the amount of income available.

Disability insurance payments, often provided by an employer, can help a disabled parent continue to meet their child support obligations. However, the disabled parent can still seek a modification of their child support order, as support orders are based on a formula that calculates payments based on parental income. While disability insurance can help to sustain a person's life, these insurance payments are often substantially lower than the parent's prior income from their job. With a child support modification, the custodial parent would continue to receive child support, but the amount would reflect the non-custodial parent's current financial circumstances.

What can you do to make child custody plans easier to follow?

Children who have divorced parents can often feel like they are being pulled in two different directions. Parents can prevent this from happening by working together to rear the children even though they are no longer married to one another. Finding ways to share the responsibilities can help with this aspect of life after divorce.

When you are trying to figure out how to make things work, you need to look at the full picture. Keeping your child at the center of the case is one of the best things that you can do because it will keep your focus on what's important. Here are some points to consider:

Gaming the child support system

The gig economy in Florida and throughout the country has created more flexibility for individuals to earn money on their own terms. The independence and flexibility of this type of economy allows many to manipulate the tax system to their advantage. Many are using the system to avoid having to pay child support.

When large amounts of income go underreported, a person responsible for paying child support can avoid having to pay the correct amount of child support entitled to the custodial parent. This is because the child support formula only factors in the reported amount of money earned by the other party. Not having all of the income reported makes it easier to pay less in child support on a monthly basis, which may cause undue hardship on the custodial parent.

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