Marriages lasting between 7 and 17 years are considered moderate-term marriages by Florida Statute 61.08(4). Under the Florida Statutes, individuals leaving a moderate-term marriage may be entitled to several different types of alimony: 1. “Bridge-the-gap” alimony may be appropriate for parties with “legitimate identifiable short-term needs” which do not exceed two years. 2. “Rehabilitative alimony” may be appropriate for parties that wish to become self-sufficient. In order to qualify for Rehabilitative Alimony, the requesting party must specifically define a plan for rehabilitation. This typically includes plan for the completion of a degree or the business plan with a specifically defined ending point.
3. “Durational Alimony” is the most common type of alimony afforded individuals leaving a marriage of moderate duration. The duration, or term, that the individual will receive alimony under this section will vary from case to case, but a grant of durational alimony cannot surpass the number of years married. To determine the amount of alimony received under this theory, the court will look to the need of the receiving spouse and the ability to pay of the payor spouse. A rule of thumb for determining the amount of alimony that should be received was published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in March of 2007. The Academy reported that an alimony amount could be computed by taking 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income so long as the total received does not reach above 40% of the combined gross income. As stated, this is a general rule and does not apply to all cases, but when used appropriately, this can give you an idea of what to expect.
4. Finally, “Permanent alimony” can be granted to a individual leaving a marriage of moderate duration if there is clear and convincing evidence that there is a strong need when considering the following factors: (a) The standard of living established during the marriage. (b) The duration of the marriage. (c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party. (d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each. (e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment. (f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party. (g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common. (h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment. (i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party. (j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties. Permanent Alimony, while available for moderate duration marriages, is not a typical result. To determine which type of alimony you are specifically entitled to, your attorney will need to review the financial needs and abilities of both parties.
A Real Estate Investment Trust or REIT for short is a type of trust which holds real property. In recent years, REIT have become popular for real estate investors for two reasons (1) anonymity and (2) probate avoidance. Anonymity is accomplised by purchasing the property in the name of the trust. Since the documents creating the trust are often not recorded in the public record, only the name of the trust will be shown in the ownership records of the property. Probate avoidance is accomplished by placing the property in the name of something other than an individual. Like a company, a trust will survive the death of a trustee (administrator of the trust) so long as there is a successor trustee to carry on its business.
Article X Section IV of the Florida Constution provides for the protection of your homestead property that is less than 1/2 acre when located within a municipality and 160 acres of contigious land when located outside of a municipality. Click to see Florida’s Constitution. The Constitutional protection does not keep a judgment from being placed against you, instead, it prevents creditors from forcing the sale of your property.
Offer of Judgments can be a useful tool in civil litigation cases for several reasons. One of the most alluring aspects of this tool is that litigants have the ability to collect attorneys’ fees where they would otherwise be prohibited from doing so. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your read of the case. I have provided a link to the .pdf version of both the Florida Statute and the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure. If after reviewing the rules you still have questions, please phone my office to schedule some time for us to sit down and talk about your case and how a offer of judgment can affect it.
In order to begin the dissolution of marriage (Florida’s term for divorce) process you will need to file a petition for dissolution of marriage, a civil cover sheet, a notice of social security number, a financial affidavit and a affidavit from a corroborating witness. A petition for dissolution can be in its typical form or can be simplified dissolution of marriage in nature. A simplified dissolution of marriage petition should be used by couples who have mutually decided that they will disolve their marriage and have either do not have any marital assets or have already decided on who they will divide the assets and debts in a marital settlement agreement. Generally, you will not use the simplified forms when there are children involved. Once you have filled out the forms indicated above, you will need to determine what county you will file the suit in. By rule you will need to live in the jurisdiction you wish to file in for a period of six months prior to the filing of the suit. There are several exceptions to this general rule which require a more indepth analysis of your facts. You can find your clerk of court and their address to file suit by searching on Clerk Web Sites. In addition to filing the paperwork you will need to submit your filing fee of $408.00; $10.00 for a Summons; and a check for $40.00 (rates may vary) for personal service of your Summons on your spouse. After you have filed the paperwork described above, you have started the clock on several important items. First, your spouse will have 20 days from the date of his service to file an answer to the petition for dissolution. You will also have 45 days from the date of filing to file your mandatory discovery with the court. Assuming that your spouse has filed an answer and waiver (follow the link above) your next task will be filing a motion for judgment on the pleadings and submitting it with a proposed final judgment to the court. The Flagler County Clerk of Court has automated the filling out of many of the necessary forms dissolution proceedings. See their turbo forms here.
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