When parents separate it is important that both parents maintain contact with the children notwithstanding the age or sex of the children. After separation, if a parent wants to move and the move would materially interfere with the other parent’s contact and access to the children, there are a series of statutory factors that a Court will be required to consider before issuing an Order that permits a parent to move with the children. It is possible that a parent will be denied permission to move with the children. This may occur if the other parent has been an involved parent or if the move is not in the best interest of the children, or if a substituted schedule of contact with the children may not be sufficient to maintain the other parent’s relationship with the children.
At Dahl Family Law Group we esteem men too. Most of us are married to them or are raising sons to become great men, husbands and fathers. So do not read this title and think I am bashing men. But sometimes a man should think before going into a divorce or family law matter (especially going into Court) on whether a woman attorney might serve his needs better. Many a man will tell you they left court and felt the result was not fair because it seemed the Court saw things as two men beating up on the little woman. I have had several male clients tell me they flat out hired me because I was a woman that worked and would not automatically expect every wife to stay at home. Another said only women can figure out other women and I need someone to figure this out. One of my favorite clients complemented that his soon-to-be ex-wife’s crocodile tears did not phase me.
Often in our profession, we see the effects that a divorce can cause on children. Divorce is painful, stressful, and emotional on us as adults, but the impact on the children can determine how they conduct themselves as adults. For our sons’ sakes particularly, some good advice is to not express feelings of negativity about marriage, even though we may be experiencing them ourselves. Author/physician Meg Meeker says in her book Boys Should be Boys:
The most important decision a man makes in his life (aside from ultimate
questions about God) isn’t choosing his college, his career, or what city he’s
going to live in. It’s choosing his mate. If a man’s marriage is good, life is good.
He can lose his job, a child, a home, but if he has a solid relationship with a
spouse, he draws strength from it to endure the hardships. If, on the other hand,
the relationship is tumultuous and painful, life feels bad. His job leaves him
feeling less satisfied, his interests in hobbies wane, and he is more likely to give
up hope in all other areas of his life. One of the greatest gifts we can give
our boys is preparation for marriage.
Our daughters tend to be more forthright in displaying their feelings. If you have sons, their emotions are valuable, but they deal with them differently. Pray for God’s guidance to show you how to influence your son’s viewpoint and attitude about marriage positively.
Collaborative Family Law. What is that? I’ve been collaboratively trained since 2008. South Florida and Tampa have had Family Law Collaborative Groups for more than 15 years. It has been in the news lately regarding proposed legislation. The press is helpful so that more families learn about collaborative law and consider it as an alternative to traditional litigation. The premise behind collaborative law is to promise the other spouse or parent not to beat each other up in court, not to hide assets, not to lie, cheat or steal. Instead they agree to act honestly and civilly toward each other to meet their family’s needs, with particular emphasis on shared interests and goals for their children and their assets (particularly family owned businesses). It helps the family decide their fate instead of a judge that does not know them. In the collaborative model, the parties each have their own attorney and they obtain either a neutral mental health professional like a counselor or a forensic accountant and all meet together in joint sessions to resolve their case. Ultimately all they do is give the judge their paperwork to rubber stamp. It’s not great for every case as some people cannot afford to have a forensic accountant and/or a mental health counselor (of course, not all cases needed one or both). For those people who can, it saves litigation costs. On average, Money Magazine says collaborative law reduces litigation costs by more than forty percent.
Alimony – here today, gone tomorrow? Alimony is not going away. Do not let any fool you. Will it be changed? Yes. The legislature is tackling this issue. When will we know all the details? Probably in May with the new law going into effect as early as July, 2015. Will we have alimony guidelines like a few other states? Will we have permanent alimony? Can someone retire? Can someone still get alimony if they entered into another relationship? Florida law has great provisions for all of these important factors for alimony, plus others such as the party’s ages, the party’s income, the party’s health, their education and work before during and after the marriage, supportive relationships, the care and contributions to the other spouses career and education, contributions to the family and children as a homemaker (although rumor has it we can kiss this factor goodbye – sad commentary on the state of our society and whether family really matters or not – yes, that was a play on words just like our logo). All of these are currently covered in our alimony statute and case law. Good lawyer’s know the law and tell other people about them. But everyone’s not a good lawyer. And, just like every profession and every other area of the law, there have been some bad cases out there. I mean, when is the last time you heard anyone say that the law was fair? Whether family law or criminal law – or, do I dare say it, tax law? Why is our reaction to throw the baby out with the bath water? Let’s hope that the new law clarifies and simplifies alimony. Let’s hope it provides more certainty. Stay tuned.
Have you ever looked at your ex and wondered why? Who knew algebra and romance go hand in hand! All kidding aside, Valentine’ s Day is a great time to get out of the romance box and think about real love – for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. God is love and the ultimate source of love. The more and more divorce work I do, the more and more I believe it’s His love that we need. Maybe it seems too late for you, it is not. Use Valentine’s Day as a reminder to draw near to the ultimate source of love and shower the other loves of your life – children, parents, family and friends with love. Happy Valentine’s Day.
I pride myself in ensuring the value of my work exceeds the cost – the whole Team does, it is one of our Firm’s values. We more than pay for our services.
When asked to pay a retainer or an attorney bill in your family law matter, it might be hard to see that the money is well spent. However, at the end of your alimony matter or the end of your child support matter or divorce – although sometimes it is not realized until the next tax year or when you finally sell the house or you need to enforce something a year or two down the road – you will see the value of a family law professional.
None of us are the type to try to generate unnecessary or unhelpful work just to increase a bill. We know happy Clients pay less – we only want happy Clients. Who doesn’t? We want our Clients to be our best advertisement and future referral sources. So we want to do a good job and that includes not only getting the job done but getting it done efficiently and least expensively. We hope to keep your attorney fees down, too – but “don’t lose the forest for the trees”.
I cannot tell you how many people come to me AFTER they have signed or agreed to something that they should not have. I cannot tell you how many Clients tell me, I wish I had hired you first or before. I have a matter right now where my client almost gave away a $60,000 IRA because she didn’t want to pay a $5000 retainer. She hired us as soon as she realized she could pay the $5,000 and on that issue alone come out $25,000 ahead even with paying the retainer. We usually see our fees recouped in alimony and child support cases – a lot of people think what is the big deal with a $100 a month difference. Well when you have an 8 year old child – that’s $1200 a year times ten years – last time I checked that is $12,000!! I’d spend $5,000 for an attorney to get $12,000! Imagine that same mistake with a divorce at age 45, and that is a $100 month difference for twenty years of alimony until retiring at 65. Think about this not just from the point if you are the one paying this money, but what if you were the one who was supposed to be receiving this money and you short changed yourself $120,000 or $240,000. I bet you would be thinking, darn I should have hired that attorney.
Do not forget, we have a hand out, How To Keep Attorney Fees Down. Remember, if you follow our advice or our timelines and deadlines, you will keep attorney fees down. Let us help you. We are worth it and you are worth it.