Articles Posted in Family Law

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If you own stock in a business entity and you also play an active role in the operation of that entity, then you probably understand keenly how much the success of the business rises and falls on what you do or fail to do. If you’re the spouse of someone like that and the two of you are getting a divorce, it is important to recognize that the fruits of your spouse’s labor are marital assets, which means that you are entitled to an equitable distribution share of the extent to which the business appreciated in value during the marriage. To find out more about what the law says you are entitled to under equitable distribution, reach to a knowledgeable South Florida divorce lawyer to get the customized answers you need for your specific situation.

R.P. was one of those kinds of people, in that he was a spouse and a stockholder. Entering the marriage, he owned stock in three timber corporations in the U.K. In 2008-09, he left his job at the local airport in Flagler County and began taking a more active role in the corporations, rising to become Chairman of the Board. From 2009 to 2018, the bulk of the family’s income came from funds that the husband received from the timber corporations.

In 2018, R.P.’s wife filed for divorce after 18 years of marriage.

As you can see, a circumstance like this is vastly different than, say, being a Walmart greeter who owns stock in Apple. Apple’s value rises or falls completely independently of anything you do. In this case, the husband’s actions from 2009-18 had a very substantial and very direct impact on the increase in value of the timber corporations.

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Many contested divorces may be complicated. This level of complexity may increase several times over if you and/or your spouse owned a business enterprise. In order to reach an equitable distribution, the business must be assigned a specific value and, many times, the value of a business in a divorce is a source of profound disagreement. If that’s you, make sure you have a South Florida family law attorney on your side who is familiar with these processes, including all of the components that go into a proper business valuation.

M.K. and K.K. were one of those divorcing couples. The couple, in the mid-2010s, bought an insurance agency from the husband’s parents. The agency provided auto, renters, home, life, RV, and business insurance policies to customers in North Florida and had been in existence since 1974.

After the agency changed hands, M.K. served as the agency’s CEO. K.K., who had been a stay-at-home mom, returned to the workplace to serve as the agency’s bookkeeper.

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There are many reasons why two people from two “different worlds” might decide to get married and begin a life together. When they do, especially if those differences include vast financial ones, a prenuptial agreement may be very helpful. A prenup doesn’t necessarily mean that the wealthier spouse-to-be views the less wealthy spouse-to-be as merely a “gold digger.” For many couples, a prenuptial agreement can be a beneficial and pro-active step to ensure that, should the marriage not make it “until death do us part,” that they, and not a court, will be in control of what happens to the assets post-divorce. If that’s you, then, before you start down the road of executing a prenuptial agreement, make sure you have representation from a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney so that you can end up with a prenuptial agreement strong enough to withstand any legal challenges that may come later.

A recent divorce case from the Keys was an example of two spouses from two very different backgrounds. When the pair met in the spring of 2001, he was a 41-year-old divorcee and commercial airline pilot with a personal net worth of several million dollars. She was an 18-year-old Colombian citizen with “the equivalent of a high school education.”

Just days after the pair met, they became engaged. They married just three months after first meeting. It was an eventful three months that included a premarital pregnancy and an abortion.

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There are many reasons why two people from two “different worlds” might decide to get married and begin a life together. When they do, especially if those differences include vast financial ones, a prenuptial agreement may be very helpful. A prenup doesn’t necessarily mean that the wealthier spouse-to-be views the less wealthy spouse-to-be as merely a “gold digger.” For many couples, a prenuptial agreement can be a beneficial and pro-active step to ensure that, should the marriage not make it “until death do us part,” that they, and not a court, will be in control of what happens to the assets post-divorce. If that’s you then, before you start down the road of executing a prenuptial agreement, make sure you have representation from a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney so that you can end up with a prenuptial agreement strong enough to withstand any legal challenges that may come later.

A recent prenuptial agreement case from the Keys was an example of two spouses from two very different backgrounds. When the pair met in the spring of 2001, he was a 41-year-old divorcee and commercial airline pilot with a personal net worth of several million dollars. She was an 18-year-old Colombian citizen with “the equivalent of a high school education.”

Just days after the pair met, they became engaged. They married just three months after first meeting. It was an eventful three months that included a premarital pregnancy and an abortion.

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Many divorces by middle-class or working-class couples without children, no matter how complex emotionally, may be relatively simple from a legal perspective. The spouses often need only to divide up a marital house, the vehicles, banking and financial accounts and basic personal property. A high-asset divorce, by contrast, is often much more complicated. The spouses may own businesses, commercial real estate, significant investments or other items with large values. If that’s you, then, as you enter this profound transition in your life, make sure you have a skilled South Florida divorce attorney by your side to protect you and ensure that you get everything you should in your divorce judgment.

When it comes to getting a divorce judgment that gives you everything that’s rightfully yours, one essential thing is to make sure your separate property is recognized as such. If, for example, you own properties that you bought before your marriage, you want to be sure that they remain 100% yours at the conclusion of your divorce process.

That was what one Tampa Bay area husband was fighting for in his recent divorce case. He had purchased several parcels of real estate prior to the marriage, and bought one more during the marriage. The husband purchased the final parcel by increasing the mortgage on the other parcels.

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There are a wide variety of Floridians who have the potential to find themselves facing a high-asset divorce: professional athletes, actors or models, people who have inherited massive wealth, people who own businesses or people who have accumulated substantial wealth through passive investments. For any of these people, a divorce presents the possibility that a soon-to-be ex-spouse may attempt to obtain a share of assets that were not part of the marriage and should not be subject to equitable distribution. To prevent that, be sure you have the legal representation you need from an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

A husband from Naples found himself in that kind of situation in his divorce case recently. He married in 2006 and the wife filed for divorce in 2014. During those eight years, neither the husband nor the wife “was employed or earned a wage income.” The couple lived off loans from the husband’s father, along with passive income and funds from accounts that mostly were solely the husband’s.

During the divorce litigation, the wife asserted that eight of the husband’s investment and banking accounts, along with much of the husband’s stock, were actually marital assets. The trial judge ruled in favor of the wife on six of those eight banking/investment accounts, as well as the stock.

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Contentious divorces can come in all shapes and sizes. When your contentious divorce also involves multiple high-value assets, it can become all the more complex. Your hotly contested battle may impact multiple highly valuable real estate properties and perhaps even affect the control of your businesses. If that’s you, you need the right South Florida family law attorney on your side to provide legal representation that is both thoughtful and, at the same, diligent in protecting your legal rights.

In Miami-Dade County, at least one such contentious contest played out recently. The ex-spouses were music superstar Phil Collins and his ex-wife. The centerpiece of the dispute was a $40 million mansion in Miami Beach. In that legal case, Collins accused the ex-wife, along with her new husband, of enlisting four armed men to take illegal possession of the Miami Beach mansion.

The ex-wife asserted that she did not nothing wrong by taking possession of the mansion even after the divorce. Her argument was that she was entitled to reside at the property due to a “verbal cohabitation agreement” she and Collins had established, according to a Daily Mail report.

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Divorces can often be contentious matters. It may be especially fractious if one of the spouses was allegedly having an affair. If you are facing a high-dollar divorce, it is important to understand how your spouse’s allegations of your infidelity can – and cannot – impact what the judge orders in terms of equitable distribution. To make sure that you don’t get shortchanged and that the distribution you get complies with current Florida law, be sure you have a knowledgeable Florida divorce attorney advocating for you.

H.D. and G.D. were a couple whose divorce case involved allegations of unfaithfulness. The couple married in Cuba in 1967. 48 years later, the husband file for divorce in Miami. The wife asked the judge to award an unequal distribution because of the husband’s adultery. Specifically, the husband allegedly spent marital funds on the mistress and did not collect rent from the mistress (who lived in an East Hialeah rental property that the husband and wife owned.)

The trial judge ruled that the wife was entitled to something called “special equity” and awarded her an unequal distribution. (The wife received $605,000 in assets; the husband $258,000.) The husband appealed that ruling and won his appeal. The trial court’s decision had to be reversed because Florida doesn’t recognize the legal concept of special equity, and hasn’t since 2008.

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If you file for divorce in the wrong place, that error will likely result in a dismissal, costing you valuable time and resources. This risk is a particularly prominent one if yours is a high-dollar divorce. High-asset couples are more likely to have multiple homes, which may give spouses the idea they have more options for where to file than they actually have. Each state has a series of requirements that must be met before the state will allow a person to obtain a judgment of divorce there. Before you proceed with filing your divorce petition with a court in Florida, be sure you have the legal counsel you need from a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney to get your divorce as efficiently and effectively as possible.

R.L. and L.L. were a couple whose divorce case became caught up in this residency requirement. The wife filed for divorce and the trial court awarded her exclusive use of a Pinellas County home as well as nearly $16,000 per month in alimony. The husband, though, appealed and the appeals court ruled in his favor.

The reason this wife’s divorce case unraveled was because of Florida’s rules for subject matter jurisdiction for divorces. “Subject matter jurisdiction” means the legal authority of a court to hear, and issue orders in, particular types of cases. Even if both spouses desire for a Florida court to resolve their divorce case, Florida courts cannot do so if subject matter jurisdiction isn’t there.

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Sometimes, your high-asset divorce can also mean high-dollar misconduct. The breakdown of a marriage can sometimes lead spouses to do things they shouldn’t, like going out and spending large amounts of marital assets on things that don’t benefit the marriage. When that happens, you’ll need to be prepared to take the right action in court in order to make sure that your spouse’s dissipation of assets doesn’t end up counting against you when it comes time for the court to establish an equitable distribution. Whenever you’re faced with this kind of divorce, make sure you protect yourself with an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

A case that originated in the Orlando area is a good example. Both spouses were high-profile and highly successful sports commentary personalities, each with net worth in excess of $5 million. The husband was a highly successful radio and TV host, covering golf and fantasy football, among other things, for several major networks. The wife was also a successful TV commentator, covering golf and football. During the marriage, the husband received a large settlement from one of his previous employers.

In 2016, though, the successful sports commentary couple divorced. Before the divorce was finalized, though, the wife allegedly took a substantial chunk of the husband’s settlement money and spent it on, among other things, $100,000+ of cosmetic procedures at a Beverly Hills dermatologist and over $7,000 on a new dog.

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