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

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. 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 bride-to-be) 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

Appealing a divorce judgment

One of the reasons divorces are often so difficult is because they generally require a couple to compromise on important issues. Sometimes a couple will be unable to come to a mutual compromise, so a judge will have to make a decision for them. It is very possible that a judge's decision will be more advantageous to one spouse than the other. If one spouse feels strongly that a judge's verdict is unfair, the spouse can appeal the judgment.

Appealing a judgment

An appeal is simply the process of challenging a legal judgment. If a spouse decides to challenge a judge's decision, they will appeal to a higher court known as an appeals or appellate court. The appellate court will have the power to overturn a judge's verdict, even though it is somewhat uncommon for them to do so.

An introduction to QDROs

Retirement plans are created with the intention of providing an individual with benefits that will give them financial support once they retire. In an effort to prevent these programs from being used in unintended ways, the laws regarding retirement plans are designed to prevent retirement benefits from going to anyone but the person who has taken out the plan. However, there are some exceptions to these retirement laws. A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is one of these exceptions.

What is a QDRO?

If a couple decided to dissolve their marriage or to legally separate, the normal course of action is to divide the property they shared. Retirement plans often represent a large portion of the assets a couple has amassed over the course of their relationship. However, most retirement plans only allow the sole owner of the plan (a.k.a. the plan's participant) to get benefits. This is where the QDRO comes in.


Beth M. Terry, P.A.
3943 Baymeadows Road, Suite 3
Jacksonville, FL 32217

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