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Broward County Family Law Blog

What is equitable distribution of property?

In the United States, different states provide for different methods of property distribution upon divorce. Throughout the United States, nine states follow community property division rules and the remaining states follow equitable division rules with some special nuances for Alaska. In Florida, equitable distribution rules are followed for the division of property when a couple divorces.

Equitable property distribution, and community property distribution for that matter, is a method of dividing property between spouses in the event of a divorce. Today, equitable property division rules take into account the contributions of non-wage earning spouses as homemakers and the spouse that primarily contributes to child rearing. Prior to recognition of these contributions, property division laws favored the wage-earning spouse to the disadvantage of the spouse that cared for the home and children.

In Florida, property division governed by equitable distribution

The focus of property division in the event of divorce in Florida is fairly dividing assets according to family laws. In Florida, marital assets are divided equally in the event of a divorce. The process is referred to as equitable division. The court will engage in the equitable division process followed by any necessary determinations of alimony and child support. It can be important to note that many rules that apply to the divorce process are established by statute.

The definition of marital assets in Florida is governed by statute. In general, marital assets include income and liabilities incurred during the marriage on an individual or joint basis. Assets the spouses entered the marriage with, or gifts made to one of the spouses during marriage, in general, are not considered marital assets. Marital assets are divided upon divorce but nonmarital assets are not. Because of this, it is important that the court first determine which assets are considered marital and which are considered nonmarital. Following the conclusion of the process, property division can occur.

What is paternity and how is it determined?

Paternity determinations can have significant legal and emotional implications. Because important issues such as child support can be based on paternity determinations, some people may wonder what paternity is and how it is determined? Paternity refers to the paternal parentage of a child or, in other words, the identity of the biological father of a child.

For children born in wedlock, paternity is presumed. The biological father is presumed to be the husband of the mother of the child. For children who are not born to married parents, paternity may be established but is not presumed. A determination of paternity can provide important emotional and financial support for children. Child support is one of the most obvious implications for the establishment of paternity, however, establishing paternity can also be useful for custody and visitation; inheritance; and healthcare issues.

Imputed earnings possible for child and spousal support awards

The divorce process can sometimes be an ugly process full of disputes and bad feelings. Some individuals who are going through the divorce process may wonder if the threats that a spouse makes during the proceedings are possible. In some cases, a soon-to-be-former spouse may argue that he or she is not going to work in order to avoid paying required child support and spousal support payments. A divorcing spouse may wonder if this is possible in family law situations.

In Florida, voluntary unemployment or underemployment may be considered when calculating the proper amount of child support and alimony awards. In cases of voluntary unemployment or underemployment, income may be imputed to the spouse for the purposes of determining alimony and child support. Likewise, income also may be imputed to the spouse that receives spousal support or child support.

Broward County judge paves way for possible same-sex divorce

The divorce process includes common issues most couples will face and should understand and be aware of. A Broward County judge recently declared Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and ordered that legal unions from other states be recognized. The rule was, however, also placed on hold by the judge, pending an expected appeal of the ruling from the state's attorney general. The recent rulings in two other counties, striking down the marriage ban but not recognizing the validity of marriages in other states, were also recently appealed by the attorney general for the state.

The ruling resulted from a case wherein a lesbian woman is seeking a divorce from her estranged partner in order to remarry. The two went through a civil union ceremony in Vermont before it legalized same-sex marriages. The divorce legal issue that is problematic for the woman is that Florida will not recognize the civil union in Vermont so will not grant a divorce and Vermont refuses to dissolve the civil union without a affidavit signed by the estranged partner of the woman. The two women have been separated for four years and the woman is seeking a divorce in Broward County.

A closer look at how child custody cases are decided

Florida courts make child custody decisions based upon their determination of what's in the best interest of the child. While the phrase "the best interest of the child" sounds somewhat vague, it actually refers to a group of factors that are used to determine what would be best for the child in any given child custody situation.

The court will consider the circumstances of both the child and the parent or caregiver, but the child's safety and well-being are always the primary consideration when reviewing factors related to the child's best interest. In Florida, specific factors are listed out by statute that the courts should look to when determining what is in the child's best interest.

Alimony may be modified in Florida

While family law may include areas of the law often subject to dispute, in many of those areas, modifications and changes may be available to help meet the needs of all parties involved. In Florida, there are different types of alimony, for example. Periodic permanent alimony is one type which is paid until either party dies or the recipient remarries. Other types of alimony include rehabilitative and lump-sum, among others. While some who pay alimony may find it overwhelming, it is important to note that all types of alimony that are paid over time may be subject to modification.

Divorcing parties can agree on alimony, also known as spousal support, through a divorce settlement, or, if an agreement cannot be reached, the court may award alimony. When the court determines spousal support, it reviews factors such as the needs of the recipient, the ability of the owing party to pay, the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage, the ages of the parties, and the physical and emotional health of the parties.

Florida man goes to jail for failure to pay child support

Using every available resource through the family law system can be important in child support situations. A Florida man recently turned himself in to authorities in New York for allegedly failing to pay in excess of $233,000 in child support. In response to a Family Court Order of Commitment, the 52-year old man turned himself in to officials. According to the order, the man must either serve 60 days in jail or pay the outstanding amount of child support he owes.

The man apparently decided he would turn himself in after learning he was being considered for further legal action for allegedly crossing state lines in disobedience of a child support order. Florida authorities also assisted in the investigation.

NBA player seeks paternity test and sole custody of child

Legal resources exist to determine paternity and handle the important implications of paternity. If NBA Pacers' player, Paul George, is proven to be the father of a child through a paternity test, he plans to seek sole custody of the child. George has sought to move the proceedings to Florida.

Though a pre-birth paternity test was already performed, George has requested a second test now that the child is born. The mother of the child has also sought sole custody of the child because of the NBA player's travel schedule. George has cited his ability to provide for the child as one of the reasons he should receive sole custody.

Florida man jailed for alleged failure to pay child support

Child support may be a complex issue for many families, however, legal resources are available to help with both the collection and, when deemed necessary, modification of child support. A Florida man is facing charges in another state because he failed to pay $83,000 in child support. The man was placed in jail on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. The man was wanted on separate warrants in 2012 and 2013 and authorities say other proceedings are also pending in other courts. Several law enforcements agencies, as well as other agencies, collaborated to make the arrest.

The importance of paying required child support can be underscored by the penalties that can be faced for failure to pay child support. Penalties can include license suspension; denial of a passport; the withholding of tax refunds; garnishment of wages; and jail time in some circumstances. Child support enforcement options are plenty and consequences for failure to pay child support payments are serious.