Categories
news

School Choice – Do you really have one?

School Choice – Do you really have one?

School Choice – Do you really have one?

In the majority of Dissolution of Marriage cases involving children, Shared Parental Responsibility (“SPR”) is awarded to both parties.  SPR has nothing to do with Parenting Time or Visitation.  SPR addresses each parent’s decision-making authority over their children’s such as their health, education and general welfare.  One can imagine the difficulties this can raise after a contested divorce in trying to get on the same page with your former spouse on critical issues about your children’s future.

Where your child attends school, as an example, has been a hotly contested issue between divorced parents and can sometimes result in litigation and trial.  Children may have issues in their current school and want to change schools, a parent may move without consulting the other parent and that could impact the school zone and where the children can attend school, are a few examples illustrating the complexities involved.  Making this issue even more difficult is if you have a disagreement with your spouse as to where your children attend school, a parent cannot simply go to Court and ask the judge to decide which school the children should attend because the judge will not make that decision.  What the Court will address, is whether one parent is better suited to making the educational decisions on behalf of the children than the other parent; that is called Sole Parental Responsibility or Ultimate Decision-Making Authority.  The Court tends to narrow the scope of what decision-making authority it awards one of the parents to insure that the other parent isn’t at a significant disadvantage in raising his or her children.

If you’re having difficulties reaching decisions about your children with your former spouse, give us a call. We are here to help.

Categories
news

Children and Divorce

Children and Divorce

Children and Divorce

“Children should not be serving the intimate needs of a parent, or placed in the role of secret-keeper,” says Lisa M. Hooper, a researcher and professor at the University of Louisville, who has conducted extensive studies on the effects of parentification – when the parent projects their role on to the child.  In divorced families, for instance, parents can fall into the trap of relying on their kid as a “confidant” – by revealing private information in the way of venting about the father/mother or by having them mediate conflicts.”

Divorcing your spouse is no easy task, especially when children are involved. Forcing kids to take sides, venting to them about your former spouse, or asking them to keep secrets can have long lasting and damaging effects on your children well into adulthood. Is your former spouse engaging in parentification? Long & Associates, P.A. represent clients in all areas of family law litigation. Please contact Long & Associates, P.A. at 239-316-1600 or e-mail us at info@lanaples.com to set a confidential appointment with one of our Naples Family Law attorneys today.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/03/23/your-child-is-not-your-confidant/?utm_term=.986e447f1945
Categories
news

Social Media and Family Law

“Sharenting”-Sharing Online about Parenting

Social Media and Family Law: How to Help Your Ex Win Their Case

Can your Facebook posts be used against you in court? Absolutely. All too frequently we see clients held in contempt for bad-mouthing or threatening their current or soon-to-be former spouse on social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram. A picture is worth a thousand words, and pictures of that lavish Caribbean vacation you just took and posted online will be used against you to show the Court that you really can afford to make those alimony and child support payments. It should also go without saying that if you’re abusing alcohol or drugs and posting evidence of this online, you should expect those pictures to rear their ugly head in court when your spouse accuses you of bad parenting and wants to modify the Parenting Plan.

The internet is not a private place, and we tend to forget that our “friends” on these social media platforms may not necessarily be our actual friends. We live in an age where the internet has made it possible for anyone and everyone to voice their opinions, and if your “friend” does not agree with that particularly brutal character assassination you just posted of your Ex – you may be in trouble. In Chace v. Loisel, Jr., 170 So.3d 802 (5th DCA), the Fifth District Court of Appeal poignantly explained the nature of Facebook relationships as follows:

“The word “friend” on Facebook is a term of art.  A number of words or phrases could more aptly describe the concept, including acquaintance and, sometimes, virtual stranger.  A Facebook friendship does not necessarily signify the existence of a close relationship. Other than the public nature of the internet, there is no difference between a Facebook “friend” and any other friendship a judge might have.” Id. At 803-804.

Trust us when we say that you will regret that post you made about that “lying, cheating, son of a ______ who isn’t paying child support.”   Posts and pictures can be downloaded and/or shared instantly (via text messages, e-mail, screenshots, etc.) by anyone who has access to your posts. Privacy settings do not prevent your friends or followers from sharing your posts. That same friend who commented and offered their unequivocal support for your cause can turn around in an instant and share that post of you slamming your Ex with the rest of the world.

In sum, make good choices. Think before you post. Once you hit “submit,” it’s game over.  It may feel fantastic to vent to the virtual world your list of grievances against your Ex, but know that those 30 seconds of euphoria you felt when Facebook united behind your cause will likely result in you getting an expedited meeting with the Judge presiding over your case and that they most likely will not be pleased with your use of social media.

Long & Associates, P.A. represent clients in all areas of family law litigation. This article is not a substitute for legal advice tailored to a particular situation. Please contact Long & Associates, P.A. at 239-316-1600 or e-mail us at info@lanaples.com to set a confidential appointment with one of our Naples Family Law attorneys today.

Categories
news

“Sharenting”-Sharing Online about Parenting

“Sharenting”-Sharing Online about Parenting

Before you share that picture of your child online, or submit that post complaining about your child’s other parent, consider the consequences. In the article below, University of Florida Law Professor Stacey Steinberg addresses “sharenting,” or online sharing about parenting, and the potentially damaging effects our social media habits can have on our kids. We, as a culture, tend to share pictures of our children online without any thought or consideration to their privacy. Posts you shared online during your divorce that critique your former spouse will inevitably be seen by your children when they’re older, and we need to be more cognizant of how our online behavior is shaping our children.  Long & Associates, P.A. represent clients in all areas of family law litigation. Please contact Long & Associates, P.A. at 239-316-1600 or e-mail us at info@lanaples.com to set a confidential appointment with one of our Naples Family Law attorneys today.

Source:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/07/31/parents-social-media-habits-are-teaching-kids-the-wrong-lessons/?utm_term=.458ac7cb24e5

Categories
news

Modifying your parenting plan or child support

Modifying your parenting plan or child support

Divorce in another state? Modifying your parenting plan or child support may not be as easy you think.

Did you and your kids move to Florida after divorcing in another State? Unfortunately, current State and Federal laws may make modifying your out-of-state parenting plan or child support order difficult to accomplish and force you to litigate in more than one State. Sounds crazy, right? But in Kessinger v. Kessinger, 228 So.3d 1201 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017), the Second District recently reversed a trial court’s judgment domesticating an out-of-state divorce judgment and child custody order for lack of jurisdiction (legal authority to modify) even though Dad and child lived together in Florida.

In Kessinger, the parties divorced in the State of New York in 2011. The parties’ Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage incorporated a custody arrangement declaring the Mother as the primary residential parent and required the Father to provide child support for the parties’ three (3) minor children until age 21.

Both parties eventually moved out of New York. The Father moved to Florida, and the Mother moved to Georgia. In 2015, the Father filed a petition to domesticate and modify the New York judgment based child custody and support orders.  He filed the petition in Florida.  At the time he filed, two of the parties’ children were 18 and the youngest lived with the Father in Florida. Understandably, the Father wanted to recalculate child support and modify his parenting plan to reflect the current timesharing arrangement.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? If Dad and the youngest child live here, why shouldn’t he be able to modify the old, no longer relevant, court order(s) to reflect the parties’ current arrangement?  Proper jurisdiction matters, and the First District Court of Appeals had to reverse and vacate the trial court’s order granting the Father’s Petition, and dismiss the Father’s petition, because Florida simply did not have jurisdiction to grant the relief requested by the Father.

So, what happened, and why?

Mistake #1: Trying to modify timesharing in Florida.  As it relates the Father’s request to modify the parenting plan, the First District pointed out that at the time of filing, Florida was not yet the child’s home state. Subject matter jurisdiction over child custody matters is governed in Florida by what is called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”). Fla. Stat. §§61.501-61.542 (2017). Under Fla. Stat. §61.503, Florida is the child’s “home state” once the child has lived in Florida for at least six (6) consecutive months immediately before commencement of a child custody proceeding. Kessinger doesn’t tell us how long the child had been living with the Father in Florida but based on the appellate’ s court’s ruling, we can assume it was less than 6 months before the Father filed.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the UCCJEA does not govern interstate child support matters. Florida has adopted into its laws a federal law known as the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“UIFSA”). Fla. Stat. §§ 88.0011-88.9031.  UIFSA is intended to provide uniformity amongst the states for child support procedures, but as discussed below, it makes little practical sense when applying it to modern day scenarios. Which leads us to…

Mistake #2: Trying to modify child support in Florida. Fla. Stat. §88.6131 allows modification of a foreign (out-of-state) child support order only if both parties reside in Florida.  If only one (1) party resides in Florida, Fla. Stat §88.6111 applies and will allow Florida to modify the foreign child support order if the party requesting modification (petitioner) is NOT a Florida resident or if both parties sign a consent giving Florida jurisdiction. Come again? You read that right.  In Kessinger, because the Father was a resident of the State of Florida, he was forbidden from modifying child support here unless the Mother consented to Florida’s jurisdiction (which obviously, she did not).

You’re not alone if you think this defies common sense:

“The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, mandated by federal legislation, became effective July 1, 1997. It contains possible the most cumbersome, redundancy filled, unscholarly, confusing and poorly written set of civil remedies imaginable.” Trawick’s Florida Practice and Procedure (2005).

In short, the Father in Kessinger will be stuck litigating timesharing in Florida and child support in Georgia. The only way to modify his child support obligation through a Court here in Florida is if the Mother moves to Florida, or if she signs a document consenting to Florida’s jurisdiction to modify support.

Kessinger teaches us that we must proceed with caution before attempting to litigate an out-of-state Order. A complete understanding of both State and Federal laws is necessary to avoid the Court dismissing your case for lack of jurisdiction. Long & Associates, P.A. represent clients in all areas of family law litigation. Please contact Long & Associates, P.A. at 239-316-1600 or e-mail us at info@lanaples.com to set a confidential appointment with one of our Naples Family Law attorneys today.

Florida State Statutes

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0061/0061PARTIIContentsIndex.html

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/189181.pdf

Categories
news

Tax code related to child support

Tax code related to child support

With the new tax code changes this past year, it is good to keep up on the impact that the child tax credit has on your potential settlement agreements as it relates to child support and children’s financial issues. Feel free to contact our office to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your options. We are here to assist you with your marital and family law matters.

Forbes.com – What The Expanded Child Tax Credit Looks Like After Tax Reform

Categories
news

Alimony After the 2017 Tax Act

Alimony After the 2017 Tax Act

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law tax reform legislation (Pub. L. No. 115-97, the “Act”) that repeals the long-standing tax treatment of alimony payments as deductible to the paying spouse. What does this mean, and how could it affect your divorce? Well, generally speaking, effective January 1, 2019 a payor spouse will no longer be able to deduct alimony payments from their gross income. Alimony is almost always a highly contentious and emotional subject during divorce negotiations, and the Act has singlehandedly destroyed any leverage a payee spouse had to negotiate a higher alimony award.  Why, you say? Payor spouses are generally in higher tax brackets than alimony recipients, and the Act has taken away the amount of tax savings the payor spouse previously received by deducting alimony payments. The Act has disincentivized the payor spouse from paying a higher alimony amount because ultimately, there will be less money in the pot at the end of the day to divvy up.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the Act can also apply to divorce or separation “instruments” entered into on or before December 31, 2018 and modified after that date, so long as the modification expressly provides that the Act should apply to the modification. Scratching your head?

Here’s the practical application: You and your Ex-Spouse amicably settled your divorce out of Court, entered into the terms of a Marital Settlement Agreement, and divorced in 2010. You move the Court to modify the terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement (the “Agreement”) to decrease alimony payments. Under the terms of the Agreement, the alimony payments are currently classified as taxable to your Ex-Spouse, and deductible to you. If the Court grants your request, the Court now has the discretion to either apply the Act and tax YOU on the alimony payments or continue to classify the payments as taxable and deductible. The point is – it’s up to the Court, not you.

And what about prenuptial agreements? Does a prenuptial agreement qualify as a “divorce or separation instrument?” It’s still up for debate, but in all likelihood, probably not. Current tax law defines a divorce or separation instrument as:

  • “A decree of divorce or separate maintenance or a written instrument incident to that decree;
  • A written separation agreement, or
  • A decree or any type of court order requiring a spouse to make payments for the support or maintenance of the other spouse.” See L. No.504

If your prenuptial agreement includes terms governing alimony that are no longer in line with current law, you should strongly consider revisiting your prenup to determine the extent to which you, or your spouse, may have greater tax obligations once the deduction for alimony is removed.

Concerned about the way your prenup handles alimony? Long & Associates, P.A. represent clients in all areas of family law litigation. Please contact Long & Associates, P.A. at 239-316-1600 or e-mail us at info@lanaples.com to set a confidential appointment with one of our Naples Family Law attorneys today.

Categories
news

How to File for Divorce in Naples, Florida

How to File for Divorce in Naples, Florida

Divorce is so much more than just a difficult emotional decision. It is also a difficult legal and financial decision that can have an impact on various aspects of your life. The decisions you make during your divorce can affect how your assets and debts will be divided, where your children will live, your retirement plan and your savings and investments. If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Naples, Florida, you may want to speak to a divorce law firm like Long & Associates, P.A. today.  Our divorce law firm can evaluate your situation, help you understand your legal options and rights, and assist you in developing the best strategy moving forward. The decisions you make during your divorce in Florida can impact your family for years to come.  Getting proper legal counsel before you agree to a divorce settlement or before you finalize your divorce may be wise.

Regular vs. Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Florida

In Florida, there are two ways you can file for divorce: by using Florida’s regular dissolution of marriage process or by using the simplified dissolution of marriage process. Dissolution of marriage is the term used by the courts to describe divorce. Couples who agree about all aspects of their divorce and those who do not have children may be able to use the simplified dissolution of marriage process. While it is possible to file for a simplified dissolution of marriage without the assistance of a lawyer, before you choose this option, it may still be wise to speak to a Family Law Attorney. Couples who file for a simplified dissolution of marriage process in Florida surrender certain rights, including the right to cross-examine witnesses and the right to receive disclosures about each married party’s assets, liabilities and finances. If you are a high-net worth individual or if you have substantial property, debts, or assets, a simplified divorce may not be the best option for you.

Who can file for a simplified divorce? According to the Florida Bar, couples can file for a simplified divorce if both parties agree to proceed with the simplified divorce, if there are no minor or dependent children in the marriage, if neither party is pregnant, if both parties agree about how to divide their assets and debts, if neither party wants alimony, and if both parties agree that the marriage is over.  In order to file for a simplified dissolution of marriage, one party must have resided in Florida for at least six (6) months prior to filing for divorce in order to meet Florida’s residency requirements.

However, if you and your partner have children, if you have significant assets or debts and need to make decisions about how these assets will be divided, or if you need assistance with the divorce process, a regular dissolution of marriage may be best suited for you. During the regular dissolution of marriage process, both parties are required to make financial disclosures.  If you plan to seek alimony, the regular dissolution of marriage process should also be used. Finally, with the regular dissolution of marriage process, both parties can go to court to resolve their differences about how to divide assets, property, and debt.

Divorce can have major implications for your financial life. Even if you think that you and your partner agree about how to divide assets and even if you qualify for a simplified divorce in Florida, it is highly recommended that both parties seek legal counsel before finalizing their divorce or even before filing.  Do you have questions about whether a simplified or regular dissolution of marriage procedure is right for you?  Do you have questions about how to divide assets and debts during your divorce, and your legal rights regarding these matters?   If so, reach out to Long & Associates, P.A., a divorce law firm in Naples, Florida today. Our attorneys can review your situation, help you understand your legal rights and options under the law, and assist you with the next steps. You are not alone. Long & Associates, P.A. may be able to help you.

Other Factors That May Need to Be Considered in Your Florida Divorce

If you and your partner have children, you’ll need to make decisions about where the children will reside and how major decisions for the children will be made. It will need to be determined whether one parent will have the majority of the parenting time or you will have equal parenting time.  There are also decisions about child support and related support issues such as extracurricular activities that need to be resolved.  Some of the most challenging aspects of any divorce can be those that involve parenting time and support.  This is why it is important to have a divorce and child custody lawyer on your side, helping you understand the law and your rights under the law. Long & Associates, P.A. is a divorce law firm in Naples, Florida that works closely with individuals during this understandably difficult time to help them get the best possible divorce settlement permitted under the law. Reach out to Long & Associates today or connect with Long & Associates, P.A.  to schedule an appointment with one of the Family Law

Categories
news

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Divorce in Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida Co-Parenting During COVID-19Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Divorce in Naples, Florida

As of this writing, 33,404 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus (COVID-19), according to the Centers for Disease Control.The pandemic has led to the widespread shutdown of schools, businesses, and gatherings. Every day we learn more about the long-term impact this pandemic will have on our lives going forward. According to the 20th Judicial Circuit Website [https://www.ca.cjis20.org/home/main/homepage.asp ] Family Law cases are being held remotely except for domestic violence cases.  Long & Associates, P.A. is a Naples, Florida divorce law firm that is closely monitoring the situation regarding court closures and will provide our clients with the most up-to-date information as it becomes available. Finally, if you have a meeting with Long & Associates, P.A. in the office, please inform us if you are not feeling well. We are also available to take your phone calls and can possibly hold meetings scheduled via video-conferencing should the need arise.

Coronavirus is impacting all aspects of our lives. If you are still in the process of filing for divorce or finalizing your divorce, here are some things to take into account as this pandemic goes on. Some divorcing couples may need to reassess their situation:

  • Child Custody. This emergency has been a time where many parents have had to re-evaluate their parenting plans. As children have had to stay home from school due to school closures and as people have been asked to stay home, parents have had to make tough decisions regarding who will care for the children and how shared parenting time will be arranged. Now might be the time to consider how emergencies like this will be handled going forward.
  • The stock market is plummeting. Selling a family home might be difficult right now. You and your partner may need to discuss a strategy regarding splitting your debts and assets going forward. Long & Associates, P.A. is a divorce law firm in Naples, Florida that is here for you to help you every step of the way. Many divorcing couples might find that they have to change their settlements, if these settlements have not been finalized. Great amounts of wealth have been lost for those who have investments, and this may need to be considered.

These are just some of the things to consider if you are considering filing for divorce or are in the process of divorcing in Naples, Florida. As always, Long & Associates, P.A. is a Naples, Florida divorce law firm here to help you navigate the tough questions that may arise in the coming weeks, as couples may need to reconsider their divorce settlements and Parenting Plans. Contact Long & Associates today to discuss your circumstances.

Categories
news

Some Things to Consider If You’re Getting Divorced During the Coronavirus Pandemic in Naples, Florida

Some Things to Consider If You’re Getting Divorced During the Coronavirus Pandemic in Naples, Florida

Getting divorced even in the best of times can be a very difficult process, but getting divorced during a global pandemic can make things even more challenging. Long & Associates is a Naples, Florida divorce law firm that works with clients facing a range of divorce challenges. Our firm works with clients facing high asset divorces, and with those who need assistance with family law matters and child custody.

If you’re getting divorced in Naples, Florida, you might be wondering how the coronavirus pandemic might impact your case. With many courts closed or operating with strict restrictions in place, you may need to contact the court or stay in touch with your divorce lawyer about the latest procedures given increased coronavirus restrictions. The divorce lawyers at Long & Associates in Naples, Florida are here for you to help you navigate these changes. Here are some other ways that the Covid-19 pandemic might impact your case:

  • The economy has suffered some major shockwaves as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many families have seen their retirement accounts diminish, their savings shrink, and their bank accounts grow smaller. If you are going through a divorce, this might mean that you have less money to split. If you were in the process of finalizing your division of assets before the pandemic, you might want to take a second look at how these changes might impact your assets.
  • Your Home. While every case is unique, now might not be the best time to be putting a home on the market. However, you might have other options when it comes to deciding what will happen to the family home. One partner can buy the other partner’s share in the property or both partners can continue to be co-owners of the property in question. Your divorce lawyer can work with you to look closely at your financial picture and help you find an option that can work.
  • Child Custody. Co-parenting at any time can be difficult enough, but co-parenting during a pandemic is especially challenging. With children out of school and parents socially distancing, parents will need to consider their parenting plans taking into account that social distancing may continue for some time.
  • Job Security. With many families suffering income loss due to layoffs or the threat of layoffs, now might be a good time to take a realistic look at your overall financial picture. Can you afford to split your single household into two households? Could you afford to take on the mortgage alone? Do you feel financially secure enough to go it alone? Talking to your financial planner and to your divorce lawyer to help you navigate these questions can be helpful.

If you have filed for divorce or are in the process of planning to file, Long & Associates is a family attorney in Naples, Florida that may be able to assist you. Our lawyers are still here for families who are going through the challenges of divorce in this unique pandemic era. If you have questions, reach out to Long & Associates or visit USAttorneys.com to connect with a divorce lawyer at Long & Associates today.