<#include "/design/includes/googleplus.ftl"> Broward County Family Law Blog | The Law Offices of Cindy D. Sackrin

30 YEARS of family law experience

board certified as a marital
& family law specialist

Broward County Family Law Blog

Why might a prenuptial agreement be unenforceable?

While most Florida couples engaged to be married certainly do not anticipate getting a divorce, the fact is that no one can predict the future. Sometimes one's marriage simply will not last. With this in mind, some couples have looked at the situation with a pragmatic eye, and entered into a prenuptial agreement, also known as a prenup. This agreement, which is executed before a couple marries, is essentially a legally binding contract that addresses, among other things, how the couple's property and debts will be allocated should the marriage end in divorce.

That being said, it is important to execute a prenup with the proper formalities. Otherwise, the document could be considered invalid. First of all, each spouse needs to lay all their cards on the table and completely disclose all of his or her assets and liabilities. The failure to do so could be considered an act of fraud, invalidating the agreement. In addition, in order to be valid, a person signing a prenup must not have been coerced into doing so. Moreover, a person must not have executed a prenup under duress. Also, a person executing a prenup must have the mental capacity to do so.

Child custody and the 'best interests of the child' factors

The love between a parent and a child is strong and unconditional. Therefore, when parents in Florida divorce, one of their primary concerns may be how much time they will get to spend with their child. When a court is establishing a parenting plan, the primary factors in such decisions will focus on the best interests of the child.

One factor is the ability of each parent to maintain a parent-child relationship, as well as to dutifully follow the agreed upon time-sharing schedule. This includes being flexible if changes to the schedule need to be made. Another factor is the amount of time the parent will have to delegate the care of the child to a third party, such as sending the child to a day care while the parent works.

How can paternity be established in Florida?

When a married couple in Florida has a child, paternity is a non-issue. However, for children who are born to unmarried parents, paternity must be established, no matter whether the child's parents are in a committed relationship.

When a child's parents are married when the child is born, the husband is presumed to be the child's legal father and neither the mother nor the father need to take any additional steps to establish paternity. If the child's parents are not married when the child is born, the father can establish paternity via a Paternity Acknowledgement form. Usually this form is made available to parents by the hospital. Both the child's mother and father must sign the Paternity Acknowledgement while a notary public is present.

Can deviations be made from Florida's child support formula?

The state of Florida has a statutory formula in place for determining how much child support to award. However, there are situations in which the law recognizes that there should be a deviation from the standard formula. Let's explore some of the deviation factors Florida courts may consider when determining child support.

One factor is whether there are extraordinary expenses related to the child's health care, dental care, psychological care or educational expenses. If the child has an independent source of income, including Supplemental Security Income benefits, this may also be considered. If there is a payment in support of a parent, where there is a demonstrated need or regular payments have been made, this may also be considered. While each parent's incomes are considered, the court will also take into account whether there are seasonal variations in the parents' incomes or expenses.

When is one in 'imminent danger' of domestic violence?

Under Florida Statutes, if a person is the victim of domestic violence or if a person has reasonable cause to fear that he or she is in imminent danger of domestic violence, that person can seek a protective order. For the purposes of this statute, however, it is important to understand what "domestic violence" is and what "imminent danger" looks like.

Florida Statutes section 741.28 lists a number of types of domestic violence. Per that statute, domestic violence includes assault and battery. However, it also includes stalking and sexual assault. Also, kidnapping and false imprisonment are considered to be acts of domestic violence. Domestic violence can take place between two spouses, ex-spouses, blood relatives, roommates and unmarried parents of a child.

Keep finances in mind if you separate before divorce

Sometimes when a couple's marriage is on the rocks, they may need some time and space to process their emotions and situation before deciding whether or not to proceed with a divorce. There are also other personal reasons why a couple in Broward County will choose to separate rather than divorce, for example, religious reasons or tax reasons. However, remaining married while separated can present issues when it comes to one's finances. Therefore, it is important for separating couples to move forward on the right financial foot.

First of all, once the spouses separate, they should each make sure they are knowledgeable about their marital finances. This can be a bit challenging, especially if only one spouse took care of the finances while the couple was married, leaving the other spouse relatively in the dark. It is important for each spouse to know what the other spouse earns, purchases, invests and sells.

What happens to pets if their owners divorce?

Dog and cat owners in Florida not only love their pets, but also feel like their pets are a part of their family. However, when a married couple with pets decides to divorce, they must sort through issues, such as child custody, property division and spousal support. But, the very emotional decision must also be made as to what to do with the family pets.

Residents of Florida may be surprised to hear that traditionally, pets have been treated in a divorce the same way as any other piece of property, like a sofa, television or even the family home. These assets are awarded during the property division process. Nonetheless, this treatment of pets may be starting to change as more politicians and groups advocate that the pet's best interests should be addressed, when a couple divorces.

Seeking legal advice can be key before filing for divorce

A Florida wedding is a time of celebration, and on that day, most couples envision a future in which they stay beside each other through thick and thin. However, the truth is that wedded bliss is not in everyone's future.

People change overtime, and some married couples find that they are no longer compatible. In the midst of the tears, fighting, doubt and angst, one spouse or the other may consider filing for divorce. But, there are certain steps that a person wishing to file for divorce may want to take before moving forward.

Establishing paternity is a critical to a child's well-being

Every child in Florida deserves to know who his or her father is. When a child knows who his or her father is, it provides the child with valuable information about his or her family history, including health history. Moreover, a child benefits emotionally from knowing who his or her father is, with the possibility of developing a mutually beneficial parent-child bond. In addition, if a child's parents are not in a relationship with one another, but the child's father is identified, that child may benefit from child support payments made by the father.

If a child is born to married parents, it is assumed that the husband is the child's father for legal purposes, even after the parents divorce. However, if a child is born to unmarried parents who are no longer in a relationship with one another, paternity must be established before child support payments can be instituted or before child custody and visitation rights can be sought.

Are premarital agreements enforceable in Florida?

The act of marriage is assumed to be based upon love and respect. Many Floridians, however, overlook the fact that a marriage is also a legal relationship that can affect ownership of property, custody of children, support obligations and disparity of income. Questions that seemed forever over the horizon at the time of the marriage can appear with devastating force if a couple decide to end their marriage. Even though a prenuptial agreement may seem contrary to the feelings that spawned the marriage, such an agreement can ease the pains of divorce, especially for couples who own substantial assets.

Florida has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act to define the formalities of such agreements and to specify the topics that may be covered. In order to be valid, a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties prior to the marriage ceremony. The parties must acknowledge that they intend to marry and that the agreement is intended to become effective when they marry.