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Florida Family Law App

Many Florida people must represent themselves in court or in filing a case for domestic relations, divorce, custody, and other family law related cases due to various reasons.

Our firm offers "unbundled" services, such as review of pro se, someone who is not represented by a lawyer, documents and pleadings, informational consultations, and limited appearance for court dates and filings representation, depending on the case. Contact us today for a case evaluation and to see if we can assist you with these services.

There is also an app that can assist you with navigating the court system called Florida Courts Help. This tool was recently created by the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice. The app works on Apple and Android devices and offers a spot for people to access Supreme Court approved family law forms, links and content to information for help centers in Florida, instructions for how to proceed with your case, and information regarding low-cost legal services, lawyer referrals, and eligibility criteria. 

 

"Gray divorce" on the rise

A recent Pew Research Center article states that among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s.

"The climbing divorce rate for adults ages 50 and older is linked in part to the aging of the Baby Boomers, who now make up the bulk of this age group. (As of 2015, Baby Boomers ranged in age from 51 to 69.)," according to Research Analyst, Renee Stepler, author of "Led by Baby Boomers, Divorce Rates Climb for America's 50+ Population" published March 9, 2017. 

Noted consequences of these "gray divorces" include becoming less financially secure than married and widowed adults, living alone at older ages, and having less satisfaction with social lives.

Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/09/led-by-baby-boomers-divorce-rates-climb-for-americas-50-population/

 

What is mediation?

“ 'Mediation' means a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal and nonadversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decisionmaking authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives." See Fla. Stat. Sect. 44.1011

Particularly, “ '[f]amily mediation' means mediation of family matters, including married and unmarried persons, before and after judgments involving dissolution of marriage; property division; shared or sole parental responsibility; or child support, custody, and visitation involving emotional or financial considerations not usually present in other circuit civil cases. Negotiations in family mediation are primarily conducted by the parties. Counsel for each party may attend the mediation conference and privately communicate with their clients. However, presence of counsel is not required, and, in the discretion of the mediator, and with the agreement of the parties, mediation may proceed in the absence of counsel unless otherwise ordered by the court." See Fla. Stat. Sect. 44.1011 (d)

In all family matters, the court orders you to participate in mediation. Court mediation is offered for parties earning a combined income of less than $100,000 annual gross income. This mediation is held for 3 hours at a courthouse and depending on the circuit, a contracted attorney and/or mediator or a court-employed mediator acts as mediator. The mediator holds a specific certificate that allows him/her to act in this role. Mediators are not always attorneys and are not always family law, marital law, or Florida attorneys.

Private mediators are often utilized in cases that are high conflict, deal with multiple assets and liabilities, have special considerations regarding parenting, or have parties who earn over the allowable amount for court mediation. These mediations tend to be effective as the parties typically invest their time and money for the purpose of reaching an agreement as to some or all of the issues involved in the case.

This blog post is not intended to provide any legal advice whatsoever. This post does not create a legal relationship between Bouchard Law, P.A. and the reader and is merely intended to provide general information to the reader.

Tax consequences of divorce: Alimony recipients & tax withholding

If you are awarded alimony as part of a divorce settlement or divorce final judgment, typically these monies are not subject to tax withholding. Therefore, there may be a resulting tax liability, which should be looked at by a tax advisor so you are fully aware and prepared to pay the liability. 

Also, due to your status changing from married to single, a tax advisor can adequately inform you of the benefits/or loss of benefits that occurs due to the change in filing status from married to individual or single.

A tax professional can assist you with filling out a new W-4, if necessary. This form instructs your employer to withhold federal income tax from your pay, which may differ post-divorce due to the new status of becoming single.

This blog post is not intended to provide readers with legal advice or tax advice in any way. This does not create a legal relationship or agreement between the reader and Bouchard Law, P.A. Bouchard Law, P.A. and its attorneys and staff do not claim to be experts in tax matters.  Bouchard Law, P.A. recommends consulting a tax professional to fully evaluate your tax implications and consequences of your particular position.

Tax consequences of divorce: Dependency exemption

In Florida, the parent that has the child the majority of the time typically receives the tax exemption from the IRS. However, within marital settlement agreements, the parties may negotiate for the parent with a lesser amount of overnights to alternate the exemption or have this exemption every year. For example, if the parent with the majority of the time does not need to file taxes, that parent may utilize this dependency exemption as a bargaining chip (worth approximately $4,050.00 in 2017 as a deduction).

The IRS requires in these types of scenarios for the parents to file a Form 8332 in order to allow the "noncustodial" or parent will lesser amounts of time-sharing to take the exemption.

Another consideration is the actual value of the exemption. Currently, for every $2,500.00 above $287,650.00 in gross income, the value of the exemption is reduced by 2 percent, up to $410,150.00 total gross income. After that gross income point, the exemption can no longer be taken.

This blog post is not intended to provide readers with legal advice or tax advice in any way. This does not create a legal relationship or agreement between the reader and Bouchard Law, P.A. Bouchard Law, P.A. and its attorneys and staff do not claim to be experts in tax matters.  Bouchard Law, P.A. recommends consulting a tax professional to fully evaluate your tax implications and consequences of your particular position.

 

Tax consequences of divorce: Alimony

Alimony

For those who may be on the hook for on-going alimony payments, the word "alimony" may seem like a dirty word. However, many overlook the tax benefit of classifying payments as "alimony" versus something different, such as a property distribution.

Alimony is currently considered a taxable event meaning the recipient of the alimony is receiving taxable income. The alimony as paid is tax-deductible to the paying party, provided the settlement agreement does not state otherwise. This has been in the tax code since 1942.

But buyer beware! Tax changes are on the horizon. "Because of the new tax law, spouses paying alimony won’t be able to take a deduction while spouses receiving alimony will no longer have to report it as income..." reports the American Bar Association. Come 2019, alimony will no longer be a taxable event, which means no more tax deduction and more money flowing to the government due to the payers of alimony mostly being part of higher tax brackets.

Source: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/new_tax_law_affects_alimony_could_spur_divorce_surge/

This blog post is not intended to provide readers with legal advice or tax advice in any way. This does not create a legal relationship or agreement between the reader and Bouchard Law, P.A. Bouchard Law, P.A. and its attorneys and staff do not claim to be experts in tax matters.  Bouchard Law, P.A. recommends consulting a tax professional to fully evaluate your tax implications and consequences of your particular position.