Month: March 2014

Divorce Rates are Way Up?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

The accepted wisdom is that divorce rates have dropped since the 1980s, and have been declining since. I recently blogged about how more people are divorcing. Now there is a new report confirming that divorce rates have actually risen by a whopping 40%!

Part of the problem with counting divorces is that collecting divorce statistics in the United States is not consistent. Some counties keep good track of finalized divorce cases, others don’t. Also, different states and the federal Census Bureau have had a rocky history of collecting the data from across the country.

In fact, the federal government has stopped providing financial support for detailed state collection, and some states, especially California, have stopped reporting divorce rates entirely.

A new paper has looked to a different source of information: the American Community Survey, which is an ongoing sampling of population in every state. Here are some of their findings:

– Since 1980 the overall divorce rate has declined only 2.2%.

– Controlling for the change in the age of the population the divorce rate has actually risen 40%.

– The divorce rate peaked in 2011.

By the year 2010, the report notes, “almost half of ever married Americans had divorced or separated by the time they reached their late 50’s.”

The increase in the divorce rate is being blamed on the Baby Boomers, those born between 1945 and 1954. In the 1970s, Baby Boomers, who were then in their twenties, were equally likely to divorce.

But by 1990, couples in their twenties were more stable, but the Baby Boomers, who were entering their forties, continued to divorce “at unprecedented rates.” Since then, the biggest rise in divorce has the “massive increase” in divorce among women in their fifties.

The report also finds that younger married couples are actually enjoying more stable marriages than Baby Boomers did at their age. However, the reason divorce is lower for younger married couples today is that most younger couples are not getting married; instead they’re cohabitating.

Cohabitation has always been far less stable than marriages.

Our results document striking growth in…turbulence since the 1980s. Divorce at age 40 or higher is much more common than it was and because cohabitation makes up a rapidly growing percentage of all unions they have an increasing impact on overall union instability.

One point to keep in mind is the source of their data. Remember, Kennedy and Ruggles, relied on the American Community Survey for their data. the American Community Survey is just a household survey filled out by a single individual, and may not be the most reliable source of divorce reports.

An abstract of the Report can be found here.

Tips to Dividing Your Property

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Equitable Distribution on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

In a Florida divorce we divide only the marital assets and debts. The process of dividing marital property starts with inventorying everything you acquired. Anything you brought into the marriage, anything inherited, and anything excluded by a prenuptial agreement, is generally not marital.

Hiding Assets

One of the worst thing you can do is hide assets. You may think you can get away with hiding assets, but keep in mind that we divorce attorneys are suspicious, and start with the assumption that assets are being hidden.

From the time you marry until the day your divorce is final you owe a “fiduciary duty.” If you violate this duty there can be legal consequences: a judge can order you to pay your spouse’s legal expenses, you could face an unequal distribution, and you will lose credibility with the judge.


The best thing you can do for yourself is to try to settle your property division between the two of you, without mediators and out of court. But what if you can’t come to an agreement?

Hire a mediator to help resolve the tough issues that have kept you from agreeing with your spouse. Your attorney mediates cases very often, and he or she will try to select a mediator that they think can best help you settle your case. Since Florida requires mediation as part of the divorce process anyway, I frequently advise an early mediation – even before you file.

Don’t fight over ‘pots and pans’. No one wins if you end up in court arguing about who gets the Tupperware. Some things have emotional attachments, and try to decide before hand with your attorney what things are most important to you.

Going to Court

Martial property is divided according to Florida’s equitable distribution laws. Unlike courts in California and western states for instance, which are community property states, Florida is an equitable distribution state. In Florida, we start with the principle that marital property is divided equitably, not necessarily equally.

In Florida, a spouse’s financial contribution to the asset, or a spouse’s ability to support themselves post-divorce, or even infidelity can be taken into consideration when dividing property.

You should familiarize yourself with how Florida courts divide property. It will go a long way in helping you when trying to negotiate with your spouse. In fact, you should even consider reading up on Florida’s Chapter 61, the divorce statutes.

To summarize, try to work with your spouse, don’t squabble over the small stuff, don’t hide assets, and learn how Florida laws impact a judge’s decision if they have to make the call over how to divide your life.

Understanding Your Settlement Agreement

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

You want to understand your property division, but it sounds like Shakespeare wrote it: “Witnesseth that whereas the aforementioned, hereinafter referred to as party of the second part, hereby stipulates betwixt . . .” How do you make sense of that?

You could ask your lawyer to explain what this legal mumbo jumbo means again, but you probably don’t want to add to your attorneys’ bill. On the other hand, you also don’t want to violate the agreement, and most importantly, you want this thing to work. What to do.

Below are a few tips to help you to understand your new marital settlement agreement:

– Calendar the exchange days and times into your iPhone as far out as possible.

– Calendar any “notify by” dates for vacations and special events.

– For the kids, draw a color-coded calendar of timesharing exchanges so they will know where they’ll be. It helps instill confidence.

– List on a piece of paper what needs to be divided and when.

– Notify your H.R. department about your divorce.

– Notify cable T.V., cellular telephone and other accounts managers to change accounts.

– Calendar when support payments are due.

– List the amount of child support and alimony to be paid.

– List your children’s extra-curricular expenses and uncovered expenses and remember what percentage each parent is responsible for.

Marital settlement agreements, even when written clearly, are legal contracts. They can be long and complex. Even lawyers have to continually educate themselves to stay on top of this ever changing area of law.

Once the agreement is signed, you should be finished, but not always. These tips should help, but if you find yourself back in court, you will at least have a handle on the agreement.

It is not uncommon for me to be brought into a case to review someone’s proposed marital settlement agreement before they sign it. So, if all else fails, call a lawyer for help.

Divorce Rate Increases

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Sunday, March 2, 2014.

The number of people divorce rose again for the 3rd year in a row. The broader economic effects of the increase are clear: It is contributing to the formation of new households, boosting demand for housing, appliances and furnishings and spurring the economy. Why are more people divorcing now?

Since Florida’s economy and housing market are recovering, more and more couples are moving forward with their divorces after years of showing up to work as if nothing were wrong in their personal lives.

Hard economic times kept many couples locked in unhappy marriages. Often people stay together for financial reasons. As Bloomberg reports, Amy Derose and her husband Lawrence stayed together for the sake of their engineering firm in Pompano Beach:

“The business was hanging on by a thread and we had to hang on,” said Derose, 53, who had been married 35 years and worked as the business manager. “We couldn’t afford to split. He needed me in the business and I needed him.”

However, there are economic effects from the increase in divorce filings: they are creating new households, boosting demand for housing, appliances and furnishings and may spur the economy.

More than 5 million new households were established in the past 4 years, and that helps to create housing demands by creating two households when before there was only one.

Newly single men are renting apartments to stay close to their children and attend school events. Newly single women are entering the work force:

“In unhappy marriages, they have started having the macroeconomic ability to unwind,” he said. That is creating “a little bit of a tailwind” for apartments.

Also helping to motivate people to get out of unhappy marriages are the rising stock and home values. The increase in home equity and investments has given people a sense of greater financial security.

In Florida, which saw home-price gains after huge drops, we are experiencing an increase in divorce rates to above 2008 levels:

“In many cases after divorce, people sell their homes and divide up the proceeds,” he said, which provides “each of them with a nest egg to begin their separate lives.”

Although a bigger stock account and home equity to divide may motivate a divorce, splitting into two homes takes a financial toll on a couple. However, many couples report that ending an unhappy marriage was:

worth every moment of hardship. I had to take full ownership of my life, my choices, my future, and my happiness.

You can read the Bloomberg report here.