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Destin Law Blog

What are the benefits of an uncontested divorce?

Like other Florida residents who are considering divorce, you may be intimidated by the thought of a costly and lengthy court battle. Is there any way to end your marriage in a more civil and less stressful way? You may want to consider an uncontested divorce.

What exactly is uncontested divorce, you may wonder? This is also known as amicable divorce, even if you and your spouse are not feeling very amicable toward each other. In this case, “amicable” applies to the non-confrontational and cooperative nature of the uncontested divorce process.

Why joint custody may be your best solution

If the marriage between you and your spouse is coming to an end in Florida, the two of you likely are most concerned about the effect your impending divorce will have on your children. Since they love you both and you both reciprocate that love, neither of you wants to assume the role of weekend parent. Have you considered joint custody

Joint custody slowly is becoming the rule rather than the exception throughout the country. Mothers no longer routinely receive custody of their children in a divorce. Instead, parents, judges, legislators and child psychologists agree that in nearly all situations, children and parents alike get the most benefit from both the mother and the father remaining a big part of their children’s lives.

Lack of money and compassion can lead to divorce

Arguing over household chores is a common pastime experienced by couples in Florida and everywhere else. According to research, money and communication may be the two factors that determine whether such squabbles result in a couple ending their relationship. The link between spending money on household chores and the success of a relationship was explored by a study conducted by Harvard Business School.

By outsourcing tasks such as cleaning the house or doing laundry, people had more time to spend with their families. They also had lower levels of stress because they weren't trying to clean something while also dealing with a child or being late for work. A 2017 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that couples who spent $100 to $200 on such services were happier. Of course, for some couples, hiring help isn't an affordable option.

Helping kids navigate a parent's divorce

Emotions can run high when parents in Florida decide to end their marriage. When the personal and romantic relationship between the adults comes to an end, the changes that ensue can be difficult or confusing for children. Kids may need to adapt to living in two smaller homes rather than one and shifting back and forth between their parents' residences. These major changes mean that children can require support from their parents to handle the divorce in a healthy way, even when those parents are struggling with their own emotional issues.

However, by keeping some key guidelines in mind, parents can help ensure that their children's path through the divorce is eased as much as possible even though concerns and upset will remain. Open conversation can be key, especially for older children. Many kids blame themselves for their parents' divorce, and when those parents can openly assure their children that they were not an issue in the split, it can help them feel supported and more confident.

Tips that can protect people financially during a divorce

When Florida couples get a divorce, they may want to take steps that will help protect their finances. For example, couples might want to separate their joint accounts and open individual ones. They may also want to review their credit records to make sure they are aware of all accounts and should avoid taking on more debt.

While they might want to use a personal account to save for a divorce, it is important that couples be transparent with one another so it does not appear they are trying to hide assets. For example, a person should inform the other spouse if removing something valuable from the home, and neither should take all the assets from a shared account. A person who is concerned about a spouse destroying valued possessions might remove those possessions but should include them on the list of assets filed with the court. People can also get copies of documents related to assets and take photographs of any objects that are valuable. They may also want to get a post office box for privacy.

Be alert to the young binge-drinking-and-driving crowd

With the advent of spring break, motorists are reminded that there will be an influx of young drivers on our roads, an early warning that it will not be long until school is out for the summer.

Be on the lookout for underage drivers who may have been drinking before getting behind the wheel. It might surprise you to know how many young people are binge drinkers.

How child custody and visitation differ from one another

Some Florida parents may have visitation rights to their children after a divorce, but this is not the same as custody and may not give them the right to have their children live with them. Visitation refers to a person's right to time with his or her children. A common visitation arrangement might involve a child spending every other weekend and one weeknight with the noncustodial parent.

While many people may think of custody as referring to which parent a child lives with, it is actually just the definition of physical custody. Legal custody refers to which parent has the right to make decisions about a child's religion, health care, school and other important issues. It is not uncommon for one parent to have physical custody while both of the ex-spouses share legal custody.

How parents can curtail underage drinking for spring break

Florida is a haven for thousands of college students every year who want to unwind for spring break. The issue has gotten so bad that one Florida sheriff's department began keeping a tally of all the underage drinking arrests. So far in 2018, Mississippi State leads the ranking. 

To prevent a phone call in the middle of the night asking for bail money, parents need to remain proactive to prevent their teenagers from drinking too much or at all during spring break. There are various strategies parents can implement that can give them peace of mind while still giving the college student plenty of fun.

Resolving child custody disputes in divorce

When Florida parents decide to divorce or end their personal relationship, one major priority is often ensuring that their relationship with their children is not a casualty of that same choice. This means that child custody issues can be among the most contentious aspects of the end of a marriage, particularly when both parents have been active in their children's' lives. In making decisions about child custody, family courts have a responsibility to prioritize the best interests of the children on multiple levels, including economic stability, health and education.

In some cases, it may be possible for the parents to put aside their personal differences and develop a mutually agreeable joint custody agreement as part of divorce negotiations. A joint custody solution can involve agreeing on a parenting plan. However, in many cases, the relationship between the parents is too frayed to come to an agreement on child custody, and the matter must be decided in family court.

How to divide a retirement account in a divorce

If a Florida couple needs to divide a 401(k) or another type of workplace pension plan as part of a divorce agreement, they will also need to get a document known as a qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO allows for a distribution in case of divorce without incurring taxes or penalties.

Because errors can be costly, a QDRO must be carefully prepared. It should be created in consultation with the plan administrator and reviewed by the couple and their attorneys to ensure that it reflects the divorce agreement's intent. The QDRO should also indicate whether a person is going to receive the distribution directly or roll it over into an IRA. In the former situation, the receiver will need to pay regular taxes on the distribution.

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