Beth M. Terry, P.A.
Based In Jacksonville. Serving Throughout Northeast Florida.
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Jacksonville Family Law Blog

Divorce's Wide-Ranging Psychological And Economic Side Effects

Florida is home to the nation's third-highest divorce rate. This alone is not a happy fact. But perhaps more disturbing are the large-scale side effects of marital discord. There is deep psychological and economic fallout. According to the Times-Union, Florida's divorce rate contributes to its status as one of the "most stressed states in the country." Children of divorce are prone to emotional disorders and developmental delays. By some estimates, divorces cost Florida taxpayers upwards of $2 billion each year.

In light of this, a number of counties throughout the state--including Duval County--are offering free courses to help couples strengthen their relationships. Indeed, we're getting federal funding to do so; one initiative, spearheaded by the University of Florida, has received a $5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This would seem to underscore the federal government's recognition that divorce, in many ways, resembles a pandemic disease.

The Stakes Are High In Celebrity Divorce

The gossip column, at times, is true: Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena, has filed paperwork in Florida to divorce from his wife. Despite Williams’ (relative) celebrity status, the issues at-play resemble those of most high-net-worth divorces. There are financial uncertainties – and rumors of foul play. There are child custody considerations. There are concerns about whether the spouses, in light of their marital problems, can reach accord. 

Divorce: The Great Asset Chase

In divorce proceedings, it is not uncommon for a spouse to deny the ownership of certain assets or funds as a means of avoiding paying fees associated with them. At least, that's what happened in a recent divorce case that made its way to Florida's 4th District Court of Appeal.

After 17 years of marriage, a man left his wife to live with another woman and filed for divorce. It wasn't long before financial complications began to arise. As reported in the Florida Record, the wife was displeased with the trial court's decision that the approximate $1,000,000.00 worth of stocks in the husband's name was non-marital. The wife was also displeased with the trial court's decision that both she and husband were responsible for paying unsecured debt to a third party from the sale proceeds associated with an apartment that belonged to her and her husband. 

When divorce lawyers mistreat their clients

Even under the best of circumstances divorce is a complicated process. When one's lawyer is deceitful, or incompetent, or both, it becomes impossible.

A number of Florida residents learn this the hard way. At times, they're able to get justice. Earlier this month, the Florida Record reported on an attorney who was disbarred after failing -- and failing grossly -- to properly represent his clients in a range of family law matters.

When an appeals court gets a divorce ruling wrong

The ability to appeal a lower court's ruling is an important mechanism in the U.S. legal system. Especially in disputes concerning divorce, where individuals' assets and relationships are at stake, it is crucial that legal outcomes are fair and just - and appeals courts are often a means of ensuring exactly that.

At times, however, the appellate court itself makes an errant ruling. When it does so, divorces become even more complicated -- even messier -- than usual. One such case occurred recently in Florida. It concerned a couple of high net worth, whose assets were under dispute. In fact, the spouses had taken measures to protect themselves in the event of a divorce, having signed a prenuptial agreement that stipulated who would get what if the couple parted ways. Unfortunately, the agreement didn't delineate what would happen to the home in which the couple had raised their family.

Who keeps the engagement ring after a divorce?

Engagement rings are given (of course) to signify commitment and the promise to marry the person giving the ring. For many, they are a necessary precursor to marriage. Indeed, engagement rings have become so intertwined with marriage itself that some couples view them as their first piece of jointly owned property.

The Florida courts, however, see matters differently. As made clear by a local appeals court earlier this month, an engagement ring is premarital property -- that is, it belongs solely to the individual (typically the wife) who receives it. This is an important distinction, as it has a major impact on how assets are distributed in the event of a divorce. 

The hidden fees of QDROs

The divorce rate among seniors doubled between 1990 and 2014. Now, nearly 25 percent of people entering divorce are over 50, and 10 percent are over 64. Yet older couples face special financial risks when their marriages end.

Most people are aware that splitting retirement assets can be a particularly complicated facet of divorce. When stocks, bonds and similar holdings are involved, it can be difficult to ascertain the true value of one's assets. Likewise, it is rarely clear how pensions and retirement accounts can be fairly allocated.

A recent article in Bloomberg, meanwhile, hones in a specific issue: The unexpected fees associated with dividing a 401(k).

What not to do when appealing your divorce decree

A recent series of events makes clear the dangers of acting spitefully while in the midst of a divorce appeal. Namely, bad behavior can put one both in debt and in jail.

Following a divorce case that took nearly three years to resolve, a man was ordered to pay spousal support to his former wife as well as roughly $100,000 in attorney fees. He appealed the decision - a fairly normal course of action.

His conduct since then, however - rife with deception, pettiness, and stubbornness - has earned the man the contempt of the courts and a series of weekends behind bars.

Florida politicians want to make it harder to receive alimony

Earlier this month, state legislators filed bills to overhaul Florida's alimony laws. As reported in Florida Politics, members from both the state senate and state house of representatives are aiming "to toughen the standards by which alimony is granted and changed."

Among the lawmakers' top priorities is ending permanent alimony - and thus severely limit the amount of financial support many ex-spouses can receive after a divorce. Similar efforts have been made in the very recent past. They bred discord among politicians and citizens alike.

So why are lawmakers so quick to step back up to the plate?

Military Family Care Plan for Divorce

Divorce is never easy. But it can be a particularly challenging objective for a family with one or both spouses in the military. Much of this is attributed to the lifestyle that military families lead - long deployments, modest incomes, and a lot of moving around. Uncle Sam also considers it critical that a Family Care Plan is in place when there at least one parent serving. One of the most important factors in military family readiness, Family Care Plans apply to married and divorced families.

Like a Child Custody Plan but different

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3943 Baymeadows Road, Suite 3
Jacksonville, FL 32217

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