Tag: collaborative family law

Happy “Good Divorce Week”?

Well it is the holiday season. According to the Financial Times, it’s “Good Divorce Week” (that’s really a thing). In Britain the aim is to help resolve a divorce in a constructive way and minimize the impact on children. The idea may work well here too.

Divorce

The Long and Winding Road

For most people — especially those going through a separation — a “good divorce” sounds like an oxymoron. Contentious splits are common, and likely to involve a lot of wasted time, anger and money.

But going to court is not the best way to resolve family issues. Mediation and negotiation can be cheaper, quicker and less stressful.

Increasingly, the collaborative process is becoming more widely requested by clients and helps keep costs and anger down.

Why do people in the UK divorce? According to the article, unreasonable behavior is the most common basis for divorce — accounting for 52% of divorce petitions brought by women, and 37% of those by men. However, research says adultery is the most common reason for divorce, followed by couples growing apart, struggling with money issues, abuse and addiction.

Let it Be: Florida Divorce

I’ve written about divorces before, and the “good divorce” too. Historically in Florida, in order to obtain a divorce, one had to prove the existence of legal grounds such as adultery. This often-required additional expenses on behalf of the aggrieved party, only serving to make the divorce process more expensive and cumbersome than it already was.

Florida Statutes actually still provide that these things may be considered under certain circumstances in the award of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, and determination of parental responsibility. However, case authority shows little consideration from a legal perspective, relegating them to more of an emotional appeal.

In the years leading up to the enactment of “no-fault” divorce, courts often granted divorces on bases that were easier to prove, the most common being “mental cruelty.”

In Florida, 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 before filing the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Back in the UK

Sarah Coles, has been researching the costs of divorce in the UK, and how a good divorce can reduce these. For starters, fighting in court can be expensive, so you need to ask yourself whether you really need to fight over who gets the pots and pans.

Mediation can dramatically cut costs of a divorce. If you have a reasonably good and equal relationship with your ex, this brings you together in a room with a single lawyer to hammer out the details.

To enable this, separating couples need to keep the channels of communication open.

Unsurprisingly, it is the financial settlement that causes huge stress. The article advises couples to decide their priorities when it comes to finances and matters relating to their children.

Remember that a bad credit record can affect you both, and that if you move out of the family home, but are still named on the mortgage, you are still jointly liable for the monthly repayments.

The Financial Times article is here.

 

Child Custody Fight Club

The child custody battle between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is set to go to a trial next month because the parents can’t agree about the future of their six children after two years of litigating.

Child Custody Fight Club

According to USA Today, the couple could still reach an agreement out of court and put the messy breakup of their family behind them, but lately their ability to see eye-to-eye seems to have deserted them.

The two stars’ legal teams have been in negotiations since September 2016, when Jolie filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences and “the health of the family” after 12-years together, two of those years in what we later learned wasn’t wedded bliss.

Fury

Their custody dispute comes down to this: She wants sole physical custody of their six kids, ranging in age from 10 to 17; he wants to share physical custody.

According to a document filed Monday in Los Angeles County’s Family Court, Pitt and Jolie have asked for an extension to June 30, 2019, on the appointment of retired Judge as a temporary “private” judge in their case.

He has handled all pre-trial issues and motions and will preside over the custody trial, scheduled for Dec. 4, likely behind closed doors and not at a public courthouse.

Sole Child Custody

The question about an award of sole custody of children frequently comes up and is a matter I’ve written about before. Many people are surprised to learn that the term “custody” is no longer recognized in Florida.

Florida replaced the “custody” term for the “parenting plan” concept in order to avoid labeling parents as “visiting parent” or “primary parent” in the hopes of making child custody issues less controversial.

Under Florida’s parenting plan concept, both parents enjoy shared parental responsibility and a time-sharing schedule. “Shared parental responsibility” means both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities and have to confer with each other so that major decisions affecting their child are made jointly.

A time-sharing schedule, as the name suggests, is simply a timetable that is included in the parenting plan that specifies the times, including overnights and holidays, that your child spends with each parent.

Florida’s parenting plan concept has changed sole custody into “sole parental responsibility.” The term means that only one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child, as opposed to the shared parental responsibility terms, where both parents make decisions jointly.

How do you get sole custody in Florida?

Sole parental responsibility, or sole custody as people generally call it, has been made more difficult to obtain. Florida’s public policy is for each child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after a divorce.

Because of Florida’s public policy, courts order shared parental responsibility unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.

In those cases where detriment is proved, the court orders sole parental responsibility to one parent, with or without time-sharing with the other parent, if it is in the best interests of the minor child.

World War Z?

The couple have had a bitter divorce that has been frequently in the news. In November 2017, Jolie claimed she and Pitt had reached an interim custody agreement in which she would continue to have sole physical custody of the kids. But Pitt immediately disputed that.

In June 2018, a judge warned Jolie that if she didn’t start encouraging the children to forge relationships with Pitt, she could be in danger of losing custody.

Then in August 2018, a Jolie bombshell: she accused Pitt of not paying “meaningful” child support. Pitt hit back, arguing he’s paid over $1.3m in bills for her and the children.

All of this makes matrimonial lawyers despair:

Do they want their children to say “My mom and dad kept it between themselves and just let us know how much they loved us and always supported our relationship with the other parent, or My mother hated my father and let us all know it?”

The USA Today article is here.