Month: April 2016

Parent Child Relocations in Florida

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Relocation on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

Florida is the 4th fastest growing state, in part, because we are a mobile country. When you’re separating with children though, moving to (or from) Florida is not so easy. This post explores parental relocations with a child.

In Florida, relocations are defined as moving your principal residence – as it was at the time of the last order establishing or modifying timesharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify timesharing – at least 50 miles for at least 60 consecutive days – not including a temporary absence for vacation, education, or health care for your children.

I’ve written and spoken about relocations in the past. Increasingly, people have to relocate with their children during, or right after, a divorce or separation. Some studies estimate that up to 25% of parents move away within the first 2-years after their divorce.

These are some of the common reasons for relocating with a child:

  • – New job offers
  • – Work transfer
  • – New spouse
  • – Financial opportunities
  • – Family support networks

There are two ways to successfully relocate with your child:

1. Both parents sign a written agreement consenting to the relocation, and the agreement has a time-sharing schedule, and works out the transportation arrangements.

2. If you can’t enter a written agreement, and you still want to relocate, you must file a petition to relocate and serve it on the other parent.

If you relocate without an agreement or a court order allowing you to move, you can be held in contempt, the child may be compelled to return, and your relocating improperly is a factor in establishing or modifying a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule

There is no longer a legal presumption in favor or against relocations. Instead, Florida courts have to evaluate several factors such as:

  • – The age of the child
  • – The child’s preference
  • – The reasons for moving
  • – History of drug abuse or domestic violence

Ask a family judge to name the most difficult type of case to handle, and most likely he or she will say child relocation cases. If a Court grants the move, the non-moving parent will no longer be able to participate in the day-to-day life of her or his child.

On the other hand, if the Court denies relocation, and the moving parent has no choice but to move away, then the child will be separated from the parent with whom the child may have the closest bond. In either situation, the child loses.

The 24/7 Wall Street article on the fastest growing states is here.

Religious Prenups

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Thursday, April 21, 2016.

Not only are prenuptial agreements on the rise among all engaged couples, they are also becoming very popular for religious couples. What is the intersection of prenups and religion?

Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” are contracts entered into before marriage that outline the division of assets in case of divorce. They may touch on things like spousal support (alimony), title or ownership of businesses and properties, and even financial duties and responsibilities during the marriage.

While most people think prenuptial agreements deal with assets and alimony, there are a lot of other concerns that can be handled:

– Will you have to care for an older parent

– Who pays or supports the house when going back to school

– Agreeing to spending habits

– Who pays for what credit card debt

– Who handles the costs of a business

– Who pays the taxes

– What happens if someone dies or becomes disabled

Now there is something new to consider: your religion. I’ve written before about religious marriage contracts, especially Muslim Mehr agreements.

Currently in Florida, the issue of whether a Muslim prenuptial agreement is enforceable depends on whether it complies with Florida’s secular contract law. If so, secular terms may be enforceable as any contractual obligation.

What about Jewish Prenups? The halachic prenup, as it is called, is a document binding under Jewish law that helps to ensure that a woman, would be able to obtain a religious divorce from her husband.

The reason, as many young couples are discovering:

“Part of going into a relationship with someone is making sure that you trust each other,” said Mr. Morrison. “We care enough about each other now to be protected in the unlikely event something were to change.”

The halachic prenup – which dates back decades and has been championed by the Beth Din of America, the U.S.’s biggest rabbinical court – has gone mainstream in some circles as a mechanism to avoid the messy, sometimes abusive situations that advocates say can arise as divorce becomes more common in the Orthodox Jewish community.

The Catholic Church does not have a blanket prohibition of prenups. In certain cases, they can be quite valid and helpful. When a widow marries a widower, for example, and they both have children from their previous marriages, a prenup is a legitimate way of determining what is marital property and what is non-marital as a basis for determining the inheritance rights of each spouse’s children.

Florida Alimony Reform 2016: R.I.P.

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Monday, April 18, 2016.

Governor Scott vetoed the single most contentious bill from the 2016 Legislature last week: the alimony and equal time-sharing reform bill. What’s it mean?

As the Miami Herald reports, Scott’s veto ended weeks of suspense and intense lobbying campaigns on both sides during which more than 11,000 calls and e-mails bombarded his office, with supporters ahead by a 4-1 margin.

I wrote about the failure of the alimony reform bill and equal timesharing provision last year, when the Florida House of Representatives made a surprising end of their session, killing all bills. This year, the surprise came from the Governor’s office!

Scott, who like many of his constituents have experienced divorce in his own family, delivered a veto message with an unusually personal tone.

“As a husband, father and grandfather, I understand the importance of family and the sensitivity and passion that comes with the subject of family law,” Scott’s veto message said. “As such, we should be judicious and carefully consider the long-term and real-life repercussions on Florida families.”

He said he was troubled by a provision in the bill (SB 668) that would require judges to begin divorce proceedings with a premise that both parents are entitled to approximately equal time with their children.

Scott said that would put “the wants of a parent before the child’s best interest by creating a premise of equal time-sharing,” a decision that he said should be left to judges.

Though emotionally divisive, the bill had broad support in the Legislature, passing the House by a comfortable 74-38 margin and the Senate by a 24-14 vote in March.

“At this point, it is unclear what future family law reform legislation the governor may find acceptable,” Lee said in a statement. “[The] veto message is vague and does nothing to further illuminate the governor’s concerns … [It)]focuses exclusively on potential outcomes without giving reasons for how the legislation could actually result in those outcomes.”

The Representative most responsible for merging the alimony and timesharing provisions was Representative Ritch Workman. On Friday he admitted that his decision to merge alimony and child custody provisions in one bill was the wrong strategy.

“The governor’s message is clear,” Workman said. “We must tackle each issue in family law separately rather than lumping them all together.”

The Miami Herald article is here.

Say Divorce Three Times . . .

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, April 11, 2016.

Ever heard of the Triple Talaq? It allows Muslim men in India to leave their wives instantaneously by saying “talaq,” meaning divorce, three times. Would it work here?

The Wall Street Journal has an article about India’s Supreme Court, which is considering petitions that challenge Muslim laws governing marriage on the grounds that they discriminate against women, a charged issue that risks angering the country’s orthodox Muslims.

Among the petitioners calling for change is a Muslim woman whose husband, after 13 years of marriage, divorced her by saying “divorce” three times.

The Indian constitution protects gender equality, but on issues of marriage, divorce and inheritance, different religious communities are governed by their own so-called personal laws. Whether a person is subject to those laws is usually determined by their religion at birth.

I’ve written about the interplay between religion and family law in Florida before. Florida passed Senate Bill SB 386, which was approved by the Governor in May. Specifically, the bill prohibits courts in Florida from:

– Basing a decision on a foreign law that does not grant the parties to litigation the same rights guaranteed by the Florida or U.S. Constitutions.

– Enforcing a ‘choice of law’ clause in a contract which requires a dispute to be resolved under a foreign law that does not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by the Florida or U.S. Constitutions.

– Enforcing a ‘forum selection’ clause in a contract which requires a dispute to be resolved in a forum in which a party would be denied his or her fundamental rights guaranteed by the State Constitution or the United States Constitution.

There are now 32 states which have considered some limits on the application of foreign law, either through legislation or ballot initiative.

Muslim women’s rights groups argue that the practice of Triple Talaq misinterprets the Quran and is protected by orthodox Muslim men to perpetuate patriarchy.

“Muslim women have their hands tied while the guillotine of divorce dangles, perpetually ready to drop at the whims of their husbands who enjoy undisputed power,” the petition reads, alleging that women have been divorced over Skype, Facebook and through text messages.

The validity of personal laws rooted in religious beliefs – and the judiciary’s right to intervene – has long been a contentious issue in India . . . and Florida too.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.

Not Very Appealing

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

If you’re trying to lose your divorce on purpose, to avoid foreign currency controls for example, but somehow win, you may be stuck in appellate court. Here’s some advice on how to lose the appeal.

I’ve written before about how and why you may want to lose your lawsuit on purpose. But that was at the trial level. What are some of the mistakes that will prevent your appeal from proceeding successfully?

California Lawyer magazine, the magazine of the California Bar, has an article about appeals. Here are two good mistakes from the article that will put you on the right (or wrong) path:


During the trial, it is natural to focus on the issues at hand, and not on what could happen if you need to appeal later on. For most issues, if it was not presented in the trial court, you cannot raise it for the first time on appeal.

In one case from California, a husband appealed an order in which he did not raise the fact that he contributed $47,000 of his non-marital money toward paying down a mortgage on the wife’s separate property. The appellate court denied the appeal because the issue was never preserved at trial.


Many who practice family law think the evidentiary rules are loosened up a bit in family court. This is a dangerous trap to fall into. Unfortunately, if you believe the judge will give you a little slack on admitting evidence, when you appear before a judge who strictly follows the Evidence Code, you are in for a painful surprise.

But even if the family law judge allows in evidence – without strictly following proper evidentiary rules – this could cause problems on appeal. That’s because any trial court decision based on improperly-admitted evidence could be subject to reversal.

Not many people go through the time and expense of trying to lose a lawsuit, let alone an appeal. But let’s face it, you may live in a country with strict capital controls. If so, losing a lawsuit may be the only way to get around restrictions on transferring currency out of the country.

Postnuptial Agreements are on the Rise

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Monday, April 4, 2016.

Like prenups, postnups are contracts that spell out how assets and debts should be split. Divorce lawyers are citing an increase in spouses asking for postnuptial agreements in the last three years.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article last month on some of the common reasons for a postnup:

Sometimes, it is to punish a spouse for bad behavior, such as infidelity. Other times it is for the opposite reason: to show commitment by guaranteeing a richer settlement if things don’t work out.

I’ve written about postnuptial agreements in the past. They are also used when, for other reasons, spouses want to change the financial agreements set in a prenup.

Postnups allow you to change the law. Right now in Florida, there has been a bill passed to modify the alimony law. The bill is waiting the Governor’s signature.

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.

The probability of divorce is around 50% for first marriages. For second marriages, it’s more like 70%. What some people don’t realize is that going through a second, third, or fourth divorce can be more complicated than first-time divorces.

In multiple divorces, couples are older, and have less time to make up for losses. Also, couples are competing for dwindling resources. Child-support, alimony, and dividing up of the retirement accounts may still be pending, and there can be little left to divide in a second divorce.

Postnuptial agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements, but are entered into after a marriage. Postnups can cover everything from how to divide financial assets in divorce to limits on partners’ weight gain – just as prenups can.

Prenuptial agreements and Postnuptial agreements can be extremely important if you are thinking of marrying. They are not just for the ultra-rich, but are an important part of every healthy marriage decision.

The Wall Street Journal article is here. Thanks to Thomas Sasser for the pointer.