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Pensacola Family & Estate Planning Legal Blog

Shared parenting fairly divides parental responsibility

Shared parenting is becoming more widely accepted in Florida family courts and across the country. What used to be known as joint custody has been given a more positive name to promote the positive aspects of sharing parental responsibility. The concept of parenting as partners after a divorce may seem difficult to some, but encouraging evidence pointing out the benefit to children may be enough to dispel some of the common misconceptions surrounding shared parenting.

Many people believe shared parenting is too difficult. There is too much animosity between parents to pull off a truly positive experience for the children. However, parents who have been willing to make use of resources like counseling and mediation have found healthy ways to work through problems, setting a fine example for their children. While some may feel it is enough for one parent to have custody and the other to have scheduled visitation, studies show that this arrangement can have devastating, long-term effects on children.

3 steps to take after being served with divorce papers

If you receive divorce papers, you may have trouble thinking clearly for a few hours or even days. While you have 20 days to respond to the divorce filing, you do not want to wait until the last minute to figure everything out. It may just sound too overwhelming to you right now, as the thought of getting a divorce can be extremely disheartening.

What can you do when you get the terrible news that your spouse officially wants out of your marriage? Here are the first steps you should take. 

Property division includes fair split of home equity

When children are told they have to share the last piece of cake, even at a young age, they understand the importance of getting their fair share. There may be countless times in life when someone watches assets divided in front of them and may have to fight to get what is due. At no other time does equitable property division become as important as when two people are going through a divorce. The largest, most difficult asset to divide is often the family home.

Florida couples would benefit from getting independent appraisals of the property before negotiating its division. Once they agree on the value of the home and subtract what they owe, they have a better understanding of the equity to divide between them. One way to divide that equity is to simply sell the house and split the profits. This is often the cleanest option for two people to disentangle their interests in the property.

Estate plan includes personal protections

People who do estate planning may be the kind who place the well-being of their families before their own good. Creating an estate plan means providing security and reducing the burden on loved ones. However, without meaning to, many in Florida overlook some crucial elements without which their families may face heart-wrenching decisions.

Estate planning advisors recommend people include disability documents along with their wills or trusts. In fact, advisors may refer to these as essential elements of a complete estate plan, beginning with an advanced health care directive. Also known as a medical power of attorney, this document names a trusted person to act as the voice of the person granting the power if that individual should be unable to make medical decisions. To aid one's medical power of attorney, a living will can outline one's preferences for medical treatment, including those end-of-life wishes.

Child custody and parental responsibility over Thanksgiving

With the Thanksgiving holiday just days away, divorced parents may be concerned about how to fairly divide time with their children. Although the main event may be Thursday's dinner, many families have traditions that flow through the weekend. In fact, by extending the celebration through Sunday, Florida parents may have a better opportunity for a more equal sharing of parental responsibility.

Thanksgiving weekend may have traditions of its own, such as dinner with extended family or taking in the early holiday movies and shopping. This may allow divorced parents several options for dividing the week's festivities. For example, a father may celebrate Thanksgiving Day with the children, and the mother may have the children with her for the rest of the weekend. Another alternative is to divide Thanksgiving Day between both parents, then similarly split the days over the weekend. Of course, this entails more exchanges and may be stressful for the children.

New tax plan may change alimony and property division negotiation

Divorce is often a matter of careful negotiation. A Florida couple may find that coming to agreements quickly on matters like child custody and property division may allow them to move forward with their new lives. For some spouses, especially those with low incomes or who spent their marriages out of the workforce to care for children, alimony is an especially important part of divorce negotiations. However, new tax proposals currently under consideration in the U.S. Congress may complicate negotiations for many couples.

While paying alimony is rarely something a spouse wants to do, it is often a necessary part of a divorce settlement. Some spouses, though, agree to a substantial alimony sum because they can then deduct it when they file their taxes. In fact, that was the purpose of establishing that tax break -- to provide incentive for high-earning spouses to be generous to spouses with lower incomes.

3 mistakes that divorcing women should avoid

If you are getting divorced soon, you may be feeling a whirlwind of emotions. With the emotional trouble of ending your marriage, you can be prone to making mistakes. If you are not prepared for the emotional roller coaster or messy legal process, you could make long-lasting, devastating mistakes. 

You must make some of the most important decisions you will ever make while you are going through an emotionally traumatizing experience. Here are some of the ways you could slip up during your divorce and what to do instead. 

3 ways you can help your kids through divorce

Figuring out a divorce is never simple, especially for children. Your kids will be particularly affected by your marriage breaking down. They will feel a lot of stress, confusion, sadness and anger throughout the process. While you certainly have your own emotions to deal with, you can also help your kids cope with divorce. 

You can avoid certain actions that would worsen the experience for your children and practice other behaviors to comfort them. Not only will this help your children healthily process the divorce, it can also help you prove yourself as a responsible parent worthy of visitation or custody. Here are the best tips for helping your kids through this difficult time. 

Deployment is one factor that may jeopardize military marriages

Florida families in which at least one spouse serves in the military know the challenges such a life presents. The stress and uncertainty of deployment combined with the difficulty many have when returning to civilian life are only two factors that can work against a couple trying to keep a marriage alive. While such couples may feel they are alone in their struggle, a recent study shows there are many fighting along with them.

In fact, enlisted military supervisors have the highest divorce rate among all other professions. Those who coordinate and lead military operations have a 30 percent divorce rate before the age of 30. Following closely behind are those serving in tactical operations in the military and all others who serve in the armed forces. The study reveals that three of the top 10 occupations associated with marriages at risk are military careers.

Tax law changes and potential changes to an existing estate plan

There is a tax reform plan on the table that could, if passed, bring changes to what is known as the death tax. If this measure passes, it will eliminate this particular tax, yet some people may think that this eliminates the need for a strong estate plan. Regardless of what happens in Congress and to federal tax laws, Florida readers know that good estate planning still makes good sense. 

Lawmakers have talked about eliminating and reforming certain taxes that impact estates after the death of the estate holder, mainly because it is largely seen as a form of double taxation. Up until this point, specific estate planning tools can shield beneficiaries from certain taxes. Even if the death tax does go away, there are still many protections and benefits to be enjoyed by having a solid, thoughtful and updated estate plan in place.

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