Tag: Cohabitation and Divorce

Swinging into Divorce

There are many reasons why happy marriages are swinging into divorce. Some blame the coronavirus quarantine. Others can point to financial causes. But Silicon Valley actor Thomas Middleditch has found another reason: the swinging lifestyle.

Swinging into Divorce3

“Swinging Saved Our Marriage”

Actor Middleditch has excellent advice for any couple wanting to have a successful swinging and polyamorous marriage: Be open about your rules as a couple.

“Mollie and I have created our own rules, and compared to most of the people we’ve met who do this kind of (stuff), our rules are strict. It’s a perpetual state of management and communication, to the point where it’s like, ‘All right, we’ve got to stop. Chill.’ I’m gas, and she’s brakes. This is actually the premise for a comedy series we’re writing together.”

Thomas Middleditch told Playboy in September he and his wife Mollie are into the swinging lifestyle.

The “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” star told the magazine he’s been to some sex parties, “some weird parties that were very ‘Eyes Wide Shut,’ from which I walked away thinking, ‘I don’t need it, but I’m glad I saw that.'”

Mostly, he says, his first concern is his wife. “Anything that happens has to be run by the queen…I love my wife like I’ve never loved anyone before. With two people who feel that way about each other, how do you go down that road? It’s tough. Bring a therapist along for the ride.”

Citing “irreconcilable differences” Mollie Gates filed for divorce on May 28 after they separated on May 22. Mollie has requested spousal support. The couple do not have any children together.

Florida Grounds for Marriage

I have written about some of the various reasons why people divorce in the past: snoring, calling the bride “fat” at the wedding and others. In Florida, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage.” Florida abolished fault as a ground for dissolution of marriage. The only requirement to dissolve a marriage is for one of the parties to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. Generally, you have to prove that your marriage exists, one of the spouse’s has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.

The reason for the irretrievable breakdown, however, may be considered under certain limited circumstances in the determination of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, and the development of the parenting plan.

Every case is different, so results can differ from case to case. Outcomes in a divorce include, among other things, dividing the assets and debts, an award of alimony, determining the amount of child support, and parental responsibility and time-sharing schedules. There is no “one-size-fits-all” or “standard” dissolution of marriage in Florida.

But is that swinging lifestyle the cause of all of the marriage trauma?

Do all good things come to an end?

Ironically, the Silicon Valley actor’s split from his wife Mollie Gates comes just months after he revealed swinging had “saved their marriage”.

A source told People: “They still care deeply for each other and will move forward as friends.” Their split comes just months after Thomas delved into the couple’s sex life with Playboy magazine. The actor, 38, told the publication last September: “Only after I got married was, I like, ‘Mollie, I’m sorry, but we have to get non-traditional here.’”

While this may seem like a standard celebrity separation buried amid more important weekend matters, you may recall that Middleditch gave a widely circulated interview with Playboy in late 2019 about their relationship, where he revealed that he told Gates, shortly after their wedding, that he wanted a “nontraditional” and open marriage.

“To her credit, instead of saying ‘Fuck you, I’m out,’ she was like, ‘Let’s figure this out.’ To be honest, swinging has saved our marriage,” he said at the time. “We have different speeds, and we argue over it constantly, but it’s better than feeling unheard and alone and that you have to scurry in the shadows.” Middleditch also said that their experiences at sex parties is the “premise for a comedy series we’re writing together.”

Well, they may have found what the season finale looks like.

The Vulture article is here.

 

Four Essential Divorce Tips You Might be Missing

Many know that January is a popular month for couples to start consulting with divorce attorneys about dissolutions of marriage. This January is turning out to be no different than in the past. In New Jersey, an online magazine is offering up some essential divorce tips you might be missing.

Divorce Courts

Divorce Planning

Divorce is one of the most consequential decisions you will ever make — in both emotional and financial terms — it’s essential your interests are protected. New Jersey’s online magazine has four essential tips you may be missing if you’re planning a divorce and have already started the research.

Don’t compare yourself to everyone else

One of the biggest mistakes people make when pursuing a divorce is seeking information about the divorce process — or the likely outcome of their own divorce — by comparing themselves to divorced family members and friends.

Even worse, many people look online and compare themselves to what they read from anonymous online sources. It is often difficult to undo the preliminary `research’ clients conduct, as each divorce is different from the outcome of that of a friend.

Comparing your divorce to your friend’s divorce can result in a skewed perception of how a divorce matter will proceed and could result in unrealistic expectations.

Don’t wait to get a lawyer

People often become their own worst enemies, especially if they decide to count on their online research skills or do it yourself divorce experts.

There is no limit to the information you can learn about divorce, custody, alimony and support on the internet. Be aware that some of this information can be sound, and some is just plain wrong.

One of the hardest situations any divorce attorney has seen is that potential client who has scheduled a consultation after they already signed a marital settlement agreement resolving all issues, and it is clear that they signed a terrible deal.

Although not always the case, many of these unfortunate people are then faced with some tough advice that what they did may not be able to be undone.

Make sure your rights are protected and hire an attorney to guide you through the process.

Florida Divorce Planning

I’ve written on many divorce issues and divorce planning. In Florida, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage.” Florida is one of the many states that have abolished fault as a ground for dissolution of marriage.

The only requirement to dissolve a marriage is for one of the parties to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage.

You must prove that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.

The reason for the irretrievable breakdown, however, may be considered under certain limited circumstances in the determination of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, and the development of the parenting plan.

The divorce process can be very emotional and traumatic for couples as well as their kids. Spouses often do not know their legal rights and obligations. Court clerks and judges can answer some basic questions but cannot give legal advice.

Only an attorney can provide legal advice. Statutory requirements and court rules must be strictly followed, or you may lose certain rights permanently. Be careful to seek expert advice early in the process and hopefully not after you signed an agreement or went to court on your own.

It’s important to only take legal and financial advice from a lawyer and a trusted financial professional. They will be able to objectively help you through your particular situation with the most effective and beneficial advice and strategies.

Consider other professionals, too

While a family law attorney is essential to protect your interests, other professionals can help with the process.

Consider bringing in a forensic accountant who is familiar with Florida divorces, property divisions, how alimony is arrived at, and how child support is calculated. Also consider that many people use financial advisers in addition to forensic accountants.

Knowing both the financial and tax implications of divorce are extremely important as the decisions you make can impact your financial goals for a lifetime. Financial professionals aren’t the only ones who can help.

In collaborative family law cases we always use a neutral divorce facilitator who is a trained psychologist, and I encourage clients to work with a therapist to get through an emotional process.

Don’t let emotions take over

Resolving a divorce can be an important business decision and emotions can ruin the best deal. Indeed, it’s easy to make emotional decisions during the divorce process.

Clients should try hard to put their emotions aside, which can sometimes be easier said than done, and view the choices they have to make as part of the divorce process as business decisions.

Seeing divorce as a business transaction is a good strategy, but if someone is consumed by anger, guilt or other emotions, they can’t focus on the numbers and is not prepared to negotiate.

The New Jersey article is here.

 

Another Case of Fraud and Divorce

A 77-year old Tampa businessman filed to divorce his 26-year-old wife who may have tried to steal $1,000,000.00 from him. Is this yet another case of divorce fraud, and if so, what can be done? The Husband’s divorce attorneys at Sessums Black Caballero Ficarrotta will have to find out.

Divorce Fraud 3

A Tampa Bay Buccaneer

Court records show that 77-year old Richard Rappaport’s attorney filed an action for dissolution of marriage against his 26-year old wife, Lin Halfon, on Friday, Jan. 10. The couple was married in Sarasota in August.

Halfon won’t have an easy time getting to divorce court because she’s been incarcerated for a month at the Hillsborough County Jail on Falkenburg Road.

She is facing charges of money laundering, organized fraud, exploitation of the elderly and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

His wife, Ms. Halfon, has been charged with money-laundering, organized fraud and exploitation of an elderly person after being arrested at Tampa international airport in Florida.

Florida Divorce Fraud

I’ve written about various aspects of divorce fraud before. In Florida, courts distribute the marital assets, such as bank accounts, between parties under the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution.

Some of the factors to justify an unequal distribution of the property include things like the financial situation the parties, the length of the marriage, whether someone has interrupted their career or an educational opportunity, or how much one spouse contributed to the other’s career or education.

Another important factor is whether one of the parties intentionally dissipated, wasted, depleted, or destroyed any of the marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.

Dissipation of marital assets, such as taking money from a joint bank account, happens a lot. Trying to cash a million dollar check at a payday loan store . . . less so. In both cases, the misconduct may serve as a basis for assigning the dissipated asset to the spending spouse when calculating equitable distribution.

Misconduct, for purposes of dissipation, does not mean mismanagement or simple squandering of marital assets in a manner of which the other spouse disapproves. There has to be evidence of intentional dissipation or destruction.

When it’s Friday and Payday!

This divorce fraud case may also get entered into the world’s dumbest criminal’s museum. She’ll join a trio of drug thieves who broke into a Florida home, snorted the contents of three jars – which were in fact urns – only to discovery they’d inhaled the remains of two cherished dogs.

The Wife went to a payday loan company called, Amscot, and tried to cash a $1 million check with both of their names on it. Court documents said Rappaport’s wife returned to the bank with three checks in the amount of $333,000. The police investigation began after an employee refused to cash the checks.

After being notified by investigators, Rappaport said he wanted to give his new wife the benefit of the doubt and did not want her to be deported. When asked later if he felt he was the victim of fraud, Rappaport told investigators, “yes.”.

The Wife’s defense attorney Todd Foster said he plans to file motions asking for bond and evidentiary hearings and asked:

“Can a wife steal from her husband? Is that a crime? We’re looking at that.”

Rappaport’s daughter said in an arrest affidavit that his family members were unaware of the marriage and believed Halfon was ‘conning’ Rappaport due to his age” according to the arrest affidavit.

The Wife’s attorney claims it “was a valid marriage” and that they loved each other.

Tampa’s Channel 8 article is here.

New Year Divorce

You are not alone. Divorce filings surge in January as people decide to start their New Year with a clean slate, helped by a stressful holiday period and, perhaps, even more stressful family members. What should you do if you’re considering a new year divorce?

new year divorce

New Year Resolutions

I’ve written about divorce issues and their causes before. As Market Place reports, being cooped up in a house during the holidays when a marriage is experiencing serious problems – while dealing with the pressure to put on a happy face for the kids and visiting relatives – takes its toll on the most stoic of couples.

People want to wait until after the holidays – especially if they have younger children at home. They think:

Let’s not ruin the holidays and their memories with a divorce. Let’s wait and talk about how we want to move things along in the new year.

And after seeing other families at their best on Facebook and Instagram – the idea of perfect looking families haunts many couples who wonder why their lives don’t look as happy.

That’s probably because people don’t post bad selfies with their families or write about how awful things are on social media. So, people’s perception of what other people are thinking about during high stress times like the holidays is misleading.

Another word of caution, due to the new tax code changes, the recipient of spousal support will not have to claim it as income and the payor will not be able to use alimony as a deduction any longer.

What should you do? Whatever the reason for your problems, there are a few things that anyone looking into divorce for the first time needs to know to help them through the process.

Prioritize

Line up your priorities for life after the divorce. Is it finding a home? Is it retiring? Getting a job? Managing your special-needs child? Consider writing down your most important goals.

Consult

Even if you aren’t certain you need to hire an attorney, or filing for divorce at all, it is a good idea to meet with an expert in Florida’s divorce and family laws. Who better than someone certified by Florida as an expert in marital and family law?

Alternatives

Litigation is something to avoid. It’s time-consuming, contentious and expensive. The majority of divorces end up settling. There are many forms of alternative dispute resolution out there, including collaborative divorce, mediation, and informal settlement conferences.

Have a Happy New Year

As Market Watch further reports, there is good reason for treating a divorce like a calm business deal. Don’t rush to file. Think about your end game. Many people file quickly out of anger perhaps after learning of a spouse’s misconduct. But it’s better to be strategic.

Divorces are up there with a major investment like buying a home. There’s one big difference with divorces though: They can be devastating for your finances, especially if your partner earned more money and the couple are forced to sell their home.

The Market Watch article is here.

 

Gray Divorce

It used to be unthinkable for couples to divorce after 50. Things have changed dramatically. These days more people over 50 are divorced than widowed. This age group now accounts for one-quarter of all divorces. This is a post about divorcing after age 50, otherwise known as the gray divorce.

Growing Apart: The New Trend

According to some reports, these so-called “gray divorces” have doubled since 1990 and, with half our married population being 50 or older, the rate is expected to grow, especially as more and more baby boomers become empty nesters.

Divorce is hard and complicated no matter what your age is. But divorce might be something to approach carefully if you’re over the age of 50. Here’s why.

Florida Gray Divorce

When couples choose to divorce in their 30s or 40s, they still have time to recover financially, because adults at that age have several years, if not decades, left in their careers.

But when divorce occurs when a couple is in their 50s or later, careers may either be coming to a close or are completed, and spouses are often living on fixed incomes provided through Social Security or retirement benefits.

I’ve written about this subject before. Here are some things to consider:

  • Valuing the Marital Estate – By the time a couple enters the golden years, they may have gold to divide, including businesses, retirement funds, and vacation homes. Valuing these assets can be difficult. The value of a business may not be apparent from balance sheets, and the sale or transfer of assets may have tax consequences. As a result, a financial advisor may be an important component in the divorce.
  • Medical Care – Health insurance is often tied to the employment of one spouse. With aging comes diminishing health, and declining cognitive ability. Courts may need to intervene if one party has dwindling capacity to handle their own affairs.
  • Long-Term Arrangements – Legal arrangements, such as wills and trusts, need to be reviewed to make sure they reflect post-divorce wishes. The same is true for long-term care, such as medical directives, living wills and trusts.
  • Retirement Plans – After 20 years of marriage, retirement plans can be substantial . . . and complex. Retirement plans vary in kind, and they all have different restrictions, tax consequences, distribution and vesting rules.
  • Lifestyle adjustment – Younger couples have time to re-accumulate wealth after divorce, but in Gray Divorces, the spouses have less time to re-establish themselves financially. One or both may be close to or in retirement, and face living on half of what they earmarked for retirement.

Why is it happening?

There are many explanations for the gray divorce phenomenon. Often, couples aren’t on the same timeline emotionally when it comes to divorcing, and that can make a gray divorce particularly painful.

People are surprised to be dealing with a spouse who wants out after many years of marriage. The “leavee” can’t imagine growing old alone. The “leaver”, may feel guilty for ending the marriage.

Two-thirds of gray divorces are initiated by women. Having put their needs aside to raise a family, and tired of a spouse who ignores their pleas for change, these women dread the years ahead in a “dead” marriage.

Once the kids are gone, these women choose to end the marriage, opting for a new, more rewarding life and relationships.

The Tweet on Gray Marriage is here.

 

Suing Your Spouse’s Lover

Historically, you could sue your cheating spouse’s lover. Although cheating comes up in divorce, suing your spouse’s lover is a different cause of action. In Florida, a man is now arguing that these laws violate his Constitutional right to engage in intimate sexual activity, speech, and expression with other consenting adults.

Alienation of Affection

American law used to recognize the tort of “alienation of affection” — causing a woman to lose affection for her husband and often to leave the husband because of the cheating lover.

The law also recognized the tort of “criminal conversation,” which basically consists of suing someone having adulterous sex with your spouse.

Many people think heart balm laws are dead. But a few states — Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, Florida, South Dakota and Utah — still recognize them.

In Florida, Marc and Amber were a married couple. Amber is a nurse. The Defendant, Derek, is a medical doctor at the hospital where Amber works.

In early 2015, Derek and Amber began a sexual relationship. Marc discovered Amber was cheating on him with Derek, and sued Derek for alienation of affection and criminal conversation.

Derek tried to dismiss Marc’s lawsuit on the ground that Florida’s common law causes of action for alienation of affection and criminal conversation are facially unconstitutional.

The trial court agreed with Derek, and granted his motion to dismiss. Marc appealed the decision.

Florida’s Heart Balm Statutes

I’ve written about heart balm statutes before, especially as they relate to engagement rings.

These common law torts are commonly referred to as “heart balm” statutes, because they permit the former lovers’ heartaches to heal without recourse to the courts.

The purpose of the heart balm statutes was originally to prevent the perpetration of fraud by litigants who would use the threat of a breach of promise of marriage to force defendants to make lucrative settlements in order to avoid embarrassing publicity.

The Florida heart balm statute, originally passed in 1941, abolishes common law actions for alienation of affections, criminal conversation, seduction, and breach of contract to marry.

The Florida Legislature found that those who break engagements may be “free of any wrongdoing … [and may be] merely the victims of circumstances.”

The preamble declares it to be Florida public policy that the best interests of the people of the state are served by the abolition of the breach of promise action.

Back to Florida

Surprisingly, the Florida appellate court reversed the trial court, and found that the statute was not unconstitutional:

Our holding is neither an endorsement nor a critique of these “heart balm” torts. Whether this Court believes these torts are good or bad policy is irrelevant; we cannot hold a law facially unconstitutional because it is bad policy.

These common law torts are facially valid. They further the State’s desire to protect a married couple’s vow of fidelity and to prevent the personal injury and societal harms that result when that vow is broken.

Simply put, these torts are intended to remedy harms that result when marriage vows are broken, not to punish intimate extra-marital speech or expression because of its content.

The Florida appellate court opinion is here.

 

Divorce and Adultery

South Korea’s Constitutional Court revoked a law that imposed a penalty of up to two years in prison for adultery — but adulterous spouses are not allowed to divorce their spouses. What is the role of divorce and adultery in Florida.

South Korea’s New Law

The South Korean case concerned a 68-year-old plaintiff who left his wife and three children to move in with another woman 15 years ago. He was unable to arrange a divorce with his separated wife, so he sued to get one in 2011.

South Korean law states that the person responsible for a marriage’s failure isn’t permitted to file for divorce, though divorce settlements can be arranged with cooperating spouses.

Lower court decisions upheld this statute and dismissed Baek’s suit because he had conducted an extramarital affair, but he and his lawyers challenged its legitimacy.

South Korea is a conservative country that is still ironing out the legal parameters for marital infidels. The Constitutional Court’s decision to decriminalize adultery was based on the idea that a person’s right to pursue happiness includes the freedom to conduct a private sex life.

The sharp division of the court’s decision in the case, with seven justices ruling against six, suggests that the argument for freedom of choice in personal matters held considerable sway, but it was defeated out of concern for spousal and child welfare.

Divorce and Adultery

Adultery can be the cause of a divorce, but can it impact the outcome? This is a subject I’ve written about previously. After Florida became a no-fault state, the fact that, “he (or she) is sleeping with a co-worker” doesn’t hold much traction in court any more.

Anyone can file for divorce without proving any reason for it other than the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Or is it? When is adultery relevant in divorce?

In Florida divorce and adultery mix. There is still a statutory basis for infidelity to be an issue in your divorce proceedings, but not in the way most people think. Here’s a quick review of when adultery can potentially creep into your divorce:

Parenting Plans/Custody

Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes mentions that the “the moral fitness of the parents” as one of the factors the court considers in determining the best interests of a child.

So, if one parent can prove that the other parent’s adultery had, or is reasonably likely to have, an adverse impact on the child, the judge can consider adultery in evaluating what’s in the best interest of the child.

Equitable Distribution

Adultery may impact the division of property under Florida Statutes. Florida is an equitable distribution state, and it is presumed that property should be evenly divided.

This presumption may be overcome by proof that one spouse intentionally wasted marital assets. This waste is sometimes known as dissipation. Paying for expensive jewelry, foreign trips, rent, car payments, and dinners for girlfriends and boyfriends is considered wasting marital assets.

In Florida, the court has the power to reduce an adulterer’s equitable distribution to credit the marital estate for waste.

Alimony

Florida law specifically provides that a court may consider the adultery of either spouse in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.

However, courts have struggled to reconcile the “fault” of adultery with the concept of “no fault” divorce. The result is a mix of opinions depending on the judges.

Back to South Korea

South Korea still has no law that provides for alimony or child support in divorce; divorce settlements generally provide for this assistance, if they are agreed upon.

If the court were to allow philandering husbands to divorce their wives outright, the court explained, this would potentially force many wronged women into financial difficulty.

Despite the election of Park Geun-hye as the country’s first female president two years ago, gender inequality persists in South Korea.

Data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that South Korea has the highest gender wage gap among the organization’s 33-member states, with a median wage disparity of 36.6% in favor of men.

South Korea criminalized adultery in 1953 to protect women at a time when they were generally reliant on their husbands financially and confined to domestic duties.

Divorce could leave them stigmatized and vulnerable, facing considerable difficulty in finding employment or a new spouse.

The adultery law was intended as a safeguard that granted women a measure of legal power over their husbands.

The article is here.

 

No-Fault Divorce at the White House

Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director, had an explosive first week on the job. His Wife filed for divorce in New York, and his new boss, White House Chief of Staff divorced him from his job. Does fault play a role in divorce?

Anthony Scaramucci is so explosive, President Trump removed him from his new role. President Trump! The news of his ouster, at the hands of John F. Kelly, a new chief of staff tasked with instilling order in the West Wing, followed a particularly chaotic weekend in Mr. Scaramucci’s personal life.

On Friday, The New York Post reported that Mr. Scaramucci’s wife, Deidre Ball, had filed for divorce while pregnant with the couple’s second child, a boy born last week.

In an interview on Sunday, Jill Stone, who is representing Ms. Ball, confirmed the divorce filing, but said it was not caused by Mr. Scaramucci’s decision to work for Mr. Trump.

“It has nothing to do with Trump,” Ms. Stone said.

Mr. Scaramucci’s devotion to Mr. Trump is well documented, and he is thought to be the catalyst for two high-profile departures since his arrival: Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff.

Ms. Stone, who may have been invoking a bit of wishful thinking when it comes to this White House, added, “Honestly, it’s a private matter, and she’s hoping that it just dies down.”

Florida No-Fault Divorce

I’ve written about Florida No-Fault Divorce before. Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

But is no fault divorce the reason the United States has a high divorce rate? Many people think so, and want to return to the old “fault” system to promote families.

Despite the attack no fault-divorce laws are under, no fault laws exist in all 50 states to make it possible for one party to get a divorce without proving any bad behavior took place, and without getting the permission of the other spouse.

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over, or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like adultery or abuse.

No-fault laws are the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Back at the White House

The week of his son’s birth in New York coincided with his first week in the White House, and Mr. Scaramucci remained in Washington with the president.

On the day his son was born, Mr. Scaramucci, 53, traveled aboard Air Force One with Mr. Trump, and then watched as the president delivered a politically charged speech to thousands of Boy Scouts in West Virginia.

The couple, who married in 2014, worked together at SkyBridge Capital, the hedge fund business founded by Mr. Scaramucci. It was the second marriage for both.

The New York Times article is here.

 

Florida Cohabitation Agreements

There has been a very sharp increase in the number of cohabiting couples over the past 15 years or so. This rise in cohabitating – and not marrying – has led to a rise in complex and often costly legal disputes which could be avoided with a cohabitation agreement.

As the Guardian reports, despite what many believe – and around one in four people living together think they have the same legal protection as married couples  – there is no status in Florida law as a common-law spouse or partner.

The number of unmarried couples has doubled since the mid-1990s to nearly three million, while the number of children living with unmarried parents has risen from 0.9 million in 1996 to 1.8 million in 2012. In addition, there are an estimated 6,000 same-sex couples, not in a civil partnership, who have children.

Basically, the law does not recognize in any meaningful way a living-together relationship outside marriage or civil partnership.

So, if a cohabiting relationship breaks down there is very little protection for the weaker partner. As a result, some cohabiting families can find themselves facing real difficulties should they split up, particularly when children are involved.

Florida Law on Cohabitation Agreements

I have written about agreements, and especially cohabitation agreements before. Florida law recognizes that unmarried cohabitants may agree to enter into an enforceable contract that establishes rights and responsibilities towards each other: “as long as it is clear there is valid, lawful consideration separate and apart from any express or implied agreement regarding sexual relations.”

One of the reasons Florida allows for cohabitation agreements is because the right to contract is one of the most sacrosanct rights guaranteed by our fundamental law.

Should your cohabitation agreement be in writing? While it may be literally true that nothing in Florida’s statute of frauds specifically requires that a cohabitation agreement be in writing, it absolutely should be.

Florida is actually unique in the writing requirement. Among the other states that also recognize contracts between unmarried cohabitants, only three—Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas — have held that such agreements must be in writing, and all three of those jurisdictions have enacted statutes specifically containing this requirement.

However, given that one of the primary purposes of an agreement is to reduce the risks of protracted litigation and excessive attorney’s fees, failing to have a solid, written cohabitation agreement is counterproductive.

Cohabitation v. Marriage

In Florida, as in many common law countries like England and Wales, when married couples divorce, both parties have a legal right to maintenance and their share of assets, including property and inherited property. Judges have complete discretion under family law to take all the circumstances and history of the relationship into account and decide on a fair division.

However, cohabiting couples have no such rights, regardless of the number of years they have been together and whether they have children.

So, for example, partner A moves into partner B’s property (partner B, whose name is on the deeds, is the sole owner), they live together and maybe have children. If they separate, whether after five, 10 or even 30 years, partner A has no right to personal maintenance from partner B even if she has always been supported financially.

‘No Nups’ What’s in a Cohabitation Agreement?

As the law stands, the only solution for cohabiting couples who want legal protection should they split up is either to marry or to draw up a cohabitation agreement, otherwise known as a “no nup”.

So what is a cohabitation agreement?

Generally, No Nups set out who owns what, and in what proportion, and lets you document how you will split your property, its contents, personal belongings, savings and other assets should the relationship break down.

No Nups can also cover how you will support your children, over and above any legal requirements to maintain them, as well as how you would deal with bank accounts, debts, and joint purchases such as a car.

The agreement can also be used to set out how you and your partner will manage your day-to-day finances while you live together, such as how much each contributes to rent or mortgage and bills, and whether you will take out life insurance on each other.

The Guardian article is here.

 

Cohabitation & Divorce

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

If you live together (cohabitate) before marriage, are you more likely to divorce? Put another way, what are the odds you’d be in your relationship if you hadn’t been living with your boyfriend or girlfriend first? The answer is: You wouldn’t be.

In a recent survey, respondents who had a firm commitment to marry before moving in together didn’t experience the low levels of commitment to the relationship. They were “deciding, not sliding.”

Scott Stanley, the co-director of Center for Marital and Family Studies, created a video which describes the joy-inducing chemicals released into the body at the start of a relationship – from dopamine to oxytocin – and how they can actually cloud our decisions.

Sexual activity increases the production of these chemicals, but even just going out to dinner with someone you’re falling for can have this effect. Under the “influence” of these drugs, the video explains, we start doing things that “lock us in” to a relationship. We get a joint cellphone plan, we co-sign a car loan, we adopt a dog together.

But after a few months, things may look different. Suddenly you wake up and realize that you don’t really want to be with this person. “You acted on the belief that you had a timeless love, but in reality you had a time-limited chemical high.” Yet you’ve made it extremely hard to disentangle yourself.

But it’s much more that keeps people in relationships past their expiration dates – including social restraints. People don’t assume the way they once did that shacking up is a step on the way to marriage, but most of your friends will still figure that living with a guy is a step closer to walking down the aisle.

For many women, that’s the point: Talk the guy into living with you, and you’re halfway to a ring. Many men aren’t thinking that. But, according to Stanley’s research, even the ones who do wind up proposing may have more regrets after the fact.

In a random-sample study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in 2010, 20% of people who married before living together had divorced; the divorce rate was notably higher, 28 percent, for those who cohabited before even getting engaged.

The video suggests that people beginning a relationship keep their own apartments, cars and cellphone plans. Instead of a dog, maybe jointly adopt a goldfish.

The more you can get to know your possible life-mate without locking yourself in, the better chance you have of breaking up with the wrong person and finding the right one. This used to be called “dating.”

The New York Post article on the survey is here.