The domestic relations law in Florida saw significant changes in 2023. The best way for you to plan for divorce is to use proven divorce planning strategies. These strategies work! Divorce cases usually involve financial issues. Examples of financial issues would be responsibility for child support, alimony and attorney’s fees. Equitable distribution of the marital assets and debts plays a major factor in divorce cases. Proper divorce planning will help ensure you get the best result for your case. Planning includes divorce financial planning and planning for your children. You should talk with an experienced divorce attorney if you are considering your options.
Child support is based on a calculation of the guidelines. Operation of the guidelines take into consideration both parties’ income and deductions, health insurance premiums, and employment day care expense. Most importantly, the guidelines consider the number of overnights each parent is entitled to with their child or children. The more combined monthly income between the parties, the greater the children’s needs are under the statute.
Strategy One: Take advantage of Florida’s New Equal Time-Sharing Law
Seek to ensure you have equal timesharing with your child(ren). Spend time with your children. Stay involved in their school events. You should attend doctor’s appointments with your child(ren). Take your child(ren) to church and involved them in the community. Involve your child(ren) in sports. Spend as much time with your child(ren) as possible and keep notes of any time when your spouse denies you the opportunity to spend time with them. The new custody law in Florida provides a presumption that “equal timesharing” is in your children’s best interest.
Strategy Two: Conduct Yourself Accordingly
Do not make any large purchases or take fancy and expensive vacations. Now is definitely not the time for that. Large purchases or debt that deplete the marital estate could give rise to other complications down the road. For instance, those purchases may be uses as evidence to demonstrate income or ability to pay. Talk to an experienced divorce attorney if you have any questions before you make your move.
Strategy Three: Know Your Income for Support Purposes
Make sure you understand how much of your pay check is “income” for support purposes. This is one of the areas where it is necessary to consult with a divorce planning lawyer. Only income that is continuing and recurring into the foreseeable future should be included as “income” for support purposes. It makes a big difference if you are a W-2 wage earner or self-employed in your own business. W-2 wage earners’ income is represented in a W-2 form. Self employed or business income is gross receipts less normal and necessary business expenses. This is an example where proper financial divorce planning is required. Please remember, the structure of your business is very important for divorce planning. Business and pay structure is an area where you need the help of an experienced attorney. A divorce attorney will also help you structure your income. Proper financial divorce planning is critical to the success of your case!
The 2023 change to the alimony law limits the amount of alimony the court can award. The law removes permanent alimony in Florida. For the first time in Florida, the law provides the court with guidelines that govern the amount of alimony awards. The new law limits alimony awards to no more than thirty-five (35%) percent of the difference between the spouses’ net incomes. Also, the new law provides different limits for the length of alimony awards. An award of durational alimony may not exceed 50 percent of the length of a short-term marriage, 60 percent of the length of a moderate-term marriage, or 75 percent of the length of a long-term marriage. Talk to an experienced divorce attorney if you have questions about the new alimony law.
Strategy Four: Consider Alternate Dispute Resolution
You can settle your divorce case before you file. Florida law accepts “antenuptial Agreements” which is basically a settlement agreement. Divorce cases are faster and less expensive ff you and your spouse agree to the terms. If you can not come to an agreement for whatever reason, then you should seek the advise of an experienced divorce attorney. You should not try to draft or sign any agreement without seeking the advice of an attorney. Mediation is an effective way to settle cases even if you and your spouse can not come to an agreement on your own. A mediator is a neutral third person who helps your divorce attorney communicate offers back and forth with the hope of reaching an agreement.
Strategy Five: Proper Record Keeping
Your income and expenses are a key component to divorce proceedings. The law requires you and your spouse to both file a financial affidavit. It is important that you take this document seriously and that all representations are accurate. If you have questions about how to complete a financial affidavit for divorce proceedings please refer to this article.