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Saint Lucie County Legal Issues Blog

Holidays can still be enjoyable for children after divorce

Divorcing parents should always keep the best interests of their children in mind when negotiating a divorce settlement and custody schedule. This is especially true for holiday seasons. Christmas time can create magical, happy memories for a child. Divorced parents who are willing to put aside their own differences and focus on making that happen will set the holiday tone for their children for years to come. There are several ways to consider dividing time among families.

First, parents can choose to schedule holiday dinners and events on different weekends. For example, one parent can host a family Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, while the other agrees to hold a family function on either the weekend before or the weekend after. This allows the children plenty of time with both families, without having to constantly watch the clock and rush to visit with everyone. They can spend time with family members whom they may not get to see very often. In addition, the custodial parent does not have to leave the family to transport the child back to the other parent. In this scenario, the parents can choose to alternate even and odd-numbered years where every other year the children will be with them on the actual holiday.

The benefits of settling a high asset divorce out of court

Whether entering into a simple, no asset divorce or a complex, high asset litigation, one thing remains the same; it is usually a stressful time. In the divorce of a high-profile couple with a multitude of assets to valuate and divide, there are a whole host of reasons to work hard at reaching a settlement agreement outside of court.

A 2014 article published by Forbes claims that the number one reason high-profile couples choose to arrive at a settlement instead of going to trial are the high costs of legal fees. Divorce cases that go to trial can end up costing parties many thousands of dollars by the time a Judge enters a final order.

True or False: The myths of child support

It seems that every person ordered to pay or receive child support has their own interpretation of the rules and penalties that govern those payments. Here, we discuss some of the most common myths of child support in relation to Florida guidelines.

One common myth is if the parents have joint custody, neither of them have to pay child support. This is false. The goal of child support is to ensure that both parents share equally in the expenses of raising the children.

Gift-giving presents unique challenges for divorced parents

If you are a divorced parent, you may already realize that giving gifts to the kids now is far more complicated than it was during your marriage. Maybe your ex is the bigger wage-earner, and that is reflected in the gifts the kids receive. Or perhaps you gave the kids some great gifts — along with the stipulation that they can only use them when they are staying with you.

It's a veritable minefield. But the holidays don't have to be explosive as long as co-parents set some ground rules and agree to cooperate to promote good will for all.

"Nesting" as a means of reducing stress on kids during divorce

There is no question that ending a marriage is stressful on parents as well as on kids. In Florida, parents may take excruciating pains to protect their children from their relationship stresses and to preserve as much normalcy as they can in the lives of their kids. A new trend in caring for children during and after a divorce is nesting, and experts believe that it may be a good way to transition children into their new, post-divorce lives.

Nesting, also called birdnesting, involves keeping the family home for the kids. That means that the parents take turns living in the home with their children but also share a second residential space - such as an apartment or second home - where the other stays when they are not with their children. Nesting only works when parents can work together. Some believe that its benefits may only endure for short-term stretches.

A big picture look at child custody in Florida

Child custody is a real concern for Florida parents. When facing child custody concerns, it helps to know how child custody is decided and what Florida parents can expect according to Florida child custody laws.

Child custody laws in Florida focus on how child custody determinations are made, how joint custody works and when visitation should be granted. Additional concerns that the family law process can help with is what the visitation plan will look like and help the divorcing couple develop a co-parenting plan. Child custody decisions are always based on a determination of what is in the best interests of the child.

What does "the best interests of the child" mean?

Parents know that children can be very different. Even parents who have multiple children may have observed the very different personalities and needs that their offspring exhibit even though they were raised by the same people and in the same environment. It is because children can have very different requirements for fulfilling their daily needs that courts must examine what will serve their best interests when matters of child custody are being worked out.

To understand this important legal concept, readers are asked to consider two very different children. First, consider a child who is 5 years old and who has a close relationship with their father but not their mother due to a separation that happened shortly after the child's birth. Second, consider a 15 year old child who has grown up in a loving two-parent home and who has a special relationship with each of their parents.

Keep detailed records of support payments

Most Florida residents have a good understanding of their monthly income and expenses. They may track their spending through their online credit card and bank statements, or they may maintain a ledger that informs them of the checks they have written over the course of the last few months. They may hold onto receipts and payment slips until they know that payments have been processed, so that they are prepared to handle any disputes regarding such matters.

However, not all individuals who are responsible for paying alimony or child support are so mindful about this important aspect of their financial well-being. When a person is told that they failed to make full support payments and they do not have records regarding their past payments, they may be in a difficult position to overcome the challenges lodged against them.

Inheritances, trust funds, and other high asset divorce considerations

A Florida resident may be pleased to find that a long-lost relative left them a small fortune as an inheritance. This unexpected windfall may enable the recipient to improve their lifestyle, make desired investments, or simply build up their own portfolio of assets for the future benefit of themselves and their relatives.

However, if after receiving an inheritance, the recipient decides to end their marriage, they could run into challenges from their spouse. These challenges may be primarily based on how the recipient decided to use the inheritance and whether that inheritance may remain the separate property of the spouse who inherited it.

Addressing the divorce-related concerns of divorcing couples

As this blog recently discussed, half of all marriages end in divorce. Because of this, it is essential for divorcing couples to be familiar with family law resources to help them with their divorce process and to guide them through it so that the process can be as positive as possible for the family.

Divorce-related issues couples and families may need help with include child support; child custody and visitation; property division concerns; spousal support requests; paternity issues; adoption concerns; prenuptial agreements; and modifications to an existing order for child custody and visitation, child support or spousal support.