Month: June 2013

Unseen Problems with DOMA

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, June 24, 2013.

Because many people are familiar with divorce, either through their own divorce or living through their friend’s divorce, it can be a prism to understanding legal controversies.

I was involved in a case on behalf of a client who was in a 9 year relationship, and this client has a 2 year old. There is a house and a rental apartment, and two 401(k)s to distribute. We are also going back and forth about the amount of child support and alimony to be paid.

In other words, this is a typical divorce. Except for one thing, both of the parties are women. Under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (otherwise known as DOMA), the law we apply in every other divorce doesn’t apply to this relationship. This form of discrimination can lead to unfairness which directly impacts your bank account.

In a typical divorce, one party might have to pay alimony to the other. Under our tax code, alimony when paid pursuant to a court order or written agreement, is tax deductible to the paying spouse, and is included in the taxable income of the payee spouse.

The tax-deductibility of alimony allows divorce lawyers to use the tax deductibility in ways to maximize the dollars available to everyone. Sometimes the payor spouse may actually want to pay more alimony because the overall payment for both child support and alimony could be less after you tax effect the payment.

However, under DOMA any support payment paid cannot be construed as alimony in Florida, and would not be deductible under our Federal tax code, because the couple is homosexual. Under DOMA certain tax advantages available to every heterosexual married couple are not available to homosexual couples by law.

Many people have different views about same-sex marriage, but there are a few far-reaching effects of DOMA that many people may not be aware of. Sometimes, putting it into perspective of a divorce, which many people are familiar with, can give people a better understanding why people oppose DOMA.

In the next week or so, the U.S. Supreme Court will announce its decision in the federal DOMA case. The name of the case is United States v. Windsor, and can be followed here.

Reducing the Stress of Your Divorce

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, June 17, 2013.

Divorce is not a sprint, it’s an endurance race. Sadly, divorce is also one of the most painful you may have to go through. Even couples who are amicably divorcing suffer through major divorce-related stressors.

Believe it or not, dealing with stress can help be the difference between resolving the divorce successfully or not. I’ve seen clients do some of the most harmful and self-destructive things to themselves and their case solely because of the stress of the divorce.

So, how do you overcome stress? Recently, Huffington Post asked some of their readers on Facebook how to keep calm during the most burdensome days of their divorces.

“From repeating simple mantras to finding solace in their favorite Pandora station, click through the slides below for some of our favorite answers, then head to the comments and tell us what helped you de-stress during your divorce.”

Some of the best suggestions I read:

  • Exercise: “A 10-15 mile bicycle ride (and boy was I fit!)”
  • Being Proactive: “planning my future”
  • Music: “ and a long walk”
  • Self-improvement: “Massage therapy school”
  • Entertainment: “classic movies”
  • Friendship: “My best friend”
  • Family: “My daughter”
  • Staying Active: Painting

There are many stressful situations in life. Finding your stress relief can help you deal with stress ad hopefully resolve problems. Sometimes it may not seem hard, but it isn’t too difficult to find pleasure in this world. Even simple things such as chatting with a friend, watching a good movie, or going for a long walk or run can ease the burden of splitting up.

Five More Ways to Lose Your Divorce

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, June 12, 2013.

Anyone can tell you how to win your divorce. Few people ever tell you what not to do . . . until it’s too late. This could leave you wishing someone had warned you beforehand. So, if you want to learn 5 MORE ways to lose a divorce, pay attention.

6. Hire that mean lawyer you heard about

Run-of-the-mill divorces are boring. But everyone loves a good fight! Retaining the most litigious attorney in town will ensure that you will spend a lot of time contesting even the smallest and insignificant issues, and alot of money too.

Better still, once you’ve taken the gloves off, you’re guaranteed to get an equally aggressive response. Judges love it. What would you rather do, cheer on a couple of fighting lawyers, or deal with some dull legal issue?

7. Represent yourself

There is a quaint saying out there that: “the person who represents themself has a fool for a client.” Lawyers are for sissies and celebrities. I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you can divide by 2 and read, you can handle your own divorce. It’s really that easy.

8. Lie to your lawyer

There’s another old saying that: “in the middle of every client is a lie.” We expect it. And, lying to your attorney has two big advantages:

First, lying to your attorney will surprise your attorney in court, and we lawyers love to be surprised in court.

But there is another advantage: It tells your lawyer to watch out because you’re the type of client who will lie about anything. This will cause your attorney to drop your case as soon as possible, leaving your case dead in the water.

9. Lie to the judge

Let’s face it; if you want to lose, there’s really no substitute for lying to the guy or gal deciding your case. If you sprinkle a few lies in your testimony, pretty soon the judge will catch some, and start questioning everything you’ve said.

This is exactly what you want: to have the judge doubt everything about your case. Not only will you lose, you could win a free night’s stay at the Turner Guilford Knight hotel.

10. Bring the kids into it

Unfortunately, children are not parties to a divorce. That’s a shame, because kids love parties. In fact, the “Rules” require a court order to even bring your children to court. And we all know how much kids hate to be kept out of things.

So, bring the kids to court, let them read the court papers, and be sure to tell them what the other parent said about them. Involving the kids tells the judge that you will probably violate the judge’s order.

Play your cards right, and you can lose your case before you’ve uttered the first word.

Top Reasons to Have a Prenuptial Agreement

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Monday, June 3, 2013.

Property division are important for couples planning to marry. Many people believe prenuptial agreements are only for the rich and famous. However, prenuptial agreements help all couples. Here are a few reasons why:

Keeps Your Non-Marital Property Non-Marital. The property you brought into the marriage is yours. But over time it is common for people to start mixing things up. Inheritance funds get deposited into joint accounts, properties get transferred into joint names…and all for good reason. Unfortunately, tracing commingled property is expensive, and hard to prove. But, if you put it in writing at the beginning, you can avoid this task and save some money down the road.

You Can Change the Law. Right now in Florida, there has been an ongoing debate about alimony. When you go to court, a judge has to follow state law regarding alimony. However, through an agreement you can modify Florida’s legal standards for awarding alimony, in addition to modifying what the current law says about the amount of support and the duration of the alimony period.

Avoid Expensive Divorces. Let’s face it, divorce can be expensive, and the cases don’t end quickly. A prenuptial agreement can simplify things by resolving issues ahead of time, way before the divorce is even filed. Once you have entered an agreement spelling out what happens in the event of a divorce, the case becomes a lot more cheaper, simpler and faster to resolve.

Protects Your Children’s Inheritance. Prenuptial agreements protect property from falling into the hands of the new spouse, often seen by children from earlier marriages as a “gold digger.” An agreement helps assure your children that any inheritance is protected, and they don’t need to resent the new spouse.

It is important to be aware of all of the consequences of marriage, and do what planning you can to avoid complications and costs in advance