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Nondischargeable debt and alimony

Alimony debts are nondischargeable. That means that that if you owe money for spousal support, bankruptcy won't get rid of that obligation.

Britney Faryn Betts | Mar 14, 2019

What Should I Bring to a Meeting with a Divorce Attorney?

Write Down Biographical Information First, it helps to prepare biographical information. This includes your full name, address, phone numbers, date of birth, employment, driver’s license number, social security number, the same information for your spouse, and the date and place you were married. If child custody is an issue, bring your children’s full names, sex, dates of birth and residences for the prior five years, with dates for when they lived at each address. If you are separated from your spouse be sure to bring the date of separation as well. Create a Narrative of Your Marriage Next, you should prepare a narrative of your marriage. Describe yourself, your spouse, history, past and current marital problems, details about your children, your strengths and weaknesses, and your spouse’s strengths and weaknesses. Let your attorney know what you think the main issues will be in the divorce. Share the Tough Stuff Sometimes it can be difficult to share what has gone on in a rocky relationship, but it is important to let the attorney know details, even if they are difficult to discuss. For instance, if there was domestic, spousal or child abuse that occurred during the relationship, those are very important details to share. Additionally, if there have been prosecutions or protection orders, you should bring that documentation to your appointment. Start Thinking About Child Custody If child custody is an issue in your divorce, it’s a good idea to bring information that is relevant to a custody determination. This information will differ depending on the circumstances: For instance, perhaps since separation, your fifteen-year-old has lived with the opposing party and his grades have declined, he has been missing a lot of school and getting into trouble. You’d want to bring his school records and attendance records to your attorney. Perhaps, there is Facebook evidence that you believe relates to custody in your case. If so, bring it. Text messages and social media evidence is increasingly prevalent in custody cases. It is best to get this evidence early before it can be deleted. Gather Financial Information Finally, you will need to gather financial information. Your attorney will need to know about your assets and liabilities. You can make a spreadsheet or simply write down your basic assets: cash, checking accounts, savings accounts, IRAs, 401K, pension fund, real estate, automobiles, boats, mineral rights, and other assets of significant value. Also include your debts. For instance, credit cards, mortgages, loans, student loans, etc. Bring your last two years of tax returns to the appointment, and year-to-date pay stubs for both you and your spouse. Put together a list of your monthly living expenses. Preparation Pays Off It may sound like a lot of work but being prepared will help your attorney to help you, save you money, time and give you a great chance at a successful outcome in your case.

Fritznie Abigail Jarbath | Aug 1, 2018

5 Myths about Prenuptial Agreements

1. You only need a prenup if you're rich This misconception may have been true at one time when wealthy families were concerned about potential gold-diggers. Today, any couple with assets can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. These documents allow you and your future spouse to decide how your marital estate will be divided if the relationship ends, not a judge who doesn*t know either of you. 2. Signing a prenup means you don*t trust each other. This myth is especially persistent. It claims that if you have to make a divorce plan, you don*t trust each other and aren*t fully committed to the marriage. The truth is that creating a prenuptial agreement can deepen the trust between you because it calls for total honesty about your respective finances and assets. Both of you know exactly what you*re getting into concerning marital finances, and when you sign the document, you*re saying, *I love you just the way you are.* 3. Prenups are only about money. This one is partly true. Prenuptial agreements do specify how assets will be divided if you divorce or separate, but that*s not all. They can also address spousal and child support, division of marital debt, provisions for children from previous relationships, and other issues that come up if the relationship ends. Coming to an agreement in advance, when you are both calm and level-headed, will eliminate the stress of trying to make arrangements when you*re in the midst of a difficult and emotional time. 4. Prenups signal a future divorce Making arrangements for the end of your marriage before you*ve even said *I do* is not the most romantic notion, but like we have pointed out already, putting an agreement together beforehand can make your relationship even stronger. You have to speak frankly and meaningfully about finances, care for children from earlier relationships, and other important matters. Once the agreement is signed, you can focus on building your life together. 5. Prenups are not enforceable Any prenuptial agreement that is fair in scope and has been prepared correctly is likely to be upheld by Florida courts. If you work with an experienced Florida family law attorney, the agreement is not likely to contain any clauses or stipulations that render the entire document invalid or unenforceable.

J. Benjamin Stevens | May 3, 2018

3 Tips to Ensure Your High Asset Divorce Does Not Equal a High-Conflict Divorce

What is a "high asset" divorce? Typically, a "high asset" divorce is defined as any case in which the parties own over one million dollars in assets, whether in real estate, personal property, or cash. South Carolina is an "equitable distribution" state and thus any asset which is determined to be a marital asset must be divided between the parties before a divorce can be finalized by the Family Court. Logically speaking, one might think the more there is to divide, the more complicated the case can be, but that's not always the case. 1. Resolve the Terms of the Separation or Divorce Outside of the Courtroom High asset divorces are more likely to become contentious brawls the moment all of the private details of a marriage (or the break down of the marriage) enter the public record of the Family Court. Therefore, when you're looking to hire a divorce attorney, ask about his or her experience with handling such private details through out-of-court methods like pre-litigation mediation or early neutral evaluation. If your spouse has also hired an attorney experienced with these methods, the odds are more likely that your two attorneys can help guide you through the decision-making process about how your divorce, property division and even the custody of your children can all be handled without ever having to file contested litigation. Besides the benefit of avoiding a judge issuing decisions about your life you may not like, you will likely be able to protect yourself and your family from having personal information and sometimes embarrassing details of what led to the divorce from becoming fodder for gossip around town. 2. Work with a Private Support Team of Your Choosing Once the Family Court becomes involved with a case, the judge may order certain court-appointed professionals to work with your family. These professionals may be financial in nature, such as CPAs or forensic accountants. Or they may focus on the psychological aspects of your case such as family therapists or forensic evaluators for a child custody matter. Either way, depending on the facts of your case, you and your attorney may have very little input into which professionals are assigned to your case. However, if you choose to work with your attorney to settle the aspects of your case outside of court, you and your spouse, along with your attorneys, have a chance to choose your support team - for example, therapists, CPAs, real estate appraisers, or even divorce coaches - to help with the various aspects of your case, whether financial or emotional, keeping costs down and helping ensure private matters remain private. 3. Understand How to Work with Your Attorney's Office If your goal is to keep your high asset divorce as uncontested as possible, find out how best to work with your attorney and his or her staff early on. For example, what is the best way to supply necessary documents to their office quickly and efficiently? If they have to spend too much time tracking down documents to provide to the other side, it could seem like they are hiding something, which will cause your spouse's attorney to seek the Court's intervention much sooner than you may like. Also, find out if there is an Associate or Paralegal assigned to your case who can speak with you when your attorney is not available. This will help speed up the flow of communication between you and your legal team. As an added bonus this will help keep your legal bills down since they typically will have a lower billable hour than your lead attorney. Lastly, when you receive communications from your legal team with deadlines, work closely with them to make sure those deadlines are met. Resolving high asset divorces outside of court involves a lot of trust on each side of the equation. Meeting deadlines and keeping promises is essential to the process and your ability to help your legal team meet those goals will go a long way to making sure your case gets resolved as privately and as cost-effectively as possible. We can help. The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for well over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce, including complex cases. We are well-equipped to handle all family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us today by clicking here or calling our office at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an initial consultation. About the Author: J. Benjamin Stevens Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Ben is a National Vice President and Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a Fellow in the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocates. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with all three of these distinctions.

Kristina Elizabeth Feher | Apr 3, 2018

The Beginner’s Guide to Divorce

Get organized. You cannot begin to evaluate what things you will need to address until you start getting some information together. Collect your important paperwork - this includes a copy of the deed to your home, a current mortgage statement, the registration or title for the cars, the last car loan statement, bank statements, credit card statements, and any other important document that addresses financial things (IRA statements, 529 Plans, etc). Review trusted resources about the divorce process Divorce varies from state to state and it is quite possible that your friend from Nebraska had a very different divorce than you will in Florida. Laws are different. The process is different. The Florida Supreme Court has resources to assist you in your Dissolution of Marriage (aka Divorce) case. Determine what type of case you will have. Will your divorce be uncontested? "Uncontested" means that you agree on everything. You and your spouse can then file together and move towards the final judgment of divorce quickly. Will your divorce be contested? This means that you do not agree on the terms of your divorce and that you may need a judge to make some decisions for you. This type of divorce will take some time for you to go through the divorce process. Contested divorce cases can take anywhere from four months to years. Have you considered collaborative divorce? Collaborative divorce is an out of court process where you and your spouse address your issues with the help of a counselor, a financial neutral, and attorneys, in order to come to a resolution on your own. Collaborative divorce allows you and your spouse to address your issues, while being guided by professionals. Collaborative divorce allows the parties to resolve all of their issues in approximately five to seven meetings. Review a Parenting Plan form. The Florida Supreme Court provides a form Parenting Plan, with instructions that you can view here. While many parents think that they know how to divide time, the reality of splitting holidays and birthdays and splitting extracurricular activities are concepts not yet thought about. Determine how your stuff will be divided. Create a list of your assets. Since you've collected your paperwork above, you should be able to create a list of things that you own. Anything obtained during the course of the marriage belongs to the pot of marital assets and will need to be divided. Make sure to list all of your assets, as well as the value of each item. Create a list of your debts. Since you've collected your paperwork above, you should be able to create a list of debts that you owe. Most debt incurred during the course of the marriage belongs to the pot of marital debt and will need to be divided. Make sure to list all of your debts, as well as the balance of each debt. Create a proposal as to how these items will be split. In most divorce cases, a judge will seek to divide things equally. If you believe that there should be an unequal split, you should consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your options. Decide if you want to seek alimony. In your divorce, this is the time to seek alimony if you would like to request it. You will not be able to seek it at a later date. Different states have different rules on whether you will be able to claim alimony. The rule of thumb in Florida is that any marriage shorter than seven years is a short term marriage and most likely will not qualify for alimony; any marriage longer than fifteen years is a long term marriage and most likely will qualify for alimony; and any marriage longer than seven years but shorter than fifteen years is in a grey area. Grey area marriages will need to identify what kind of alimony they need and why.

Debora Ann Diaz | Dec 6, 2017

Ten Tips to Consider Before You File a Florida Divorce

One: Requirements for Florida Divorces If you or your spouse has decided to file for divorce in Florida, at least one of you must be a resident of the state or a member of an armed force stationed in the state. If both you and your spouse agree that the "marriage is irretrievably broken," and there should be a divorce, you can agree in writing to end the marriage. If one of you denies that the marriage is broken beyond repair or you have a child, the court has the authority to order counseling with a marriage counselor, priest or rabbi, or psychologist for up to three months. Although it is rare that the court orders counseling. Two: How to Begin the Process of Divorce for Florida Residents Also called a "dissolution" of the marriage, Florida divorces legally begin when you or your spouse files a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" with the local circuit court. After the other spouse is served with the summons and paperwork the spouse has 20 days to respond. If both you and your spouse agree on how to divide property and debt the divorce can be finalized without a trial. If you have minor children the parties also must agree on child-support, time-sharing and a Parenting Plan. The agreement and Parenting Plan must be in writing and signed by both parties. The Court must approve the Parenting Plan. If the parties cannot agree, the court will assign a time for a hearing. Three: Marital Assets Any assets and debts acquired during the marriage are referred to as "marital assets," and will be divided "equitably," or fairly, upon divorce. Any assets you had prior to the marriage may be considered "non-marital assets" if they were kept separated from property acquired during the marriage. You and your spouse can each retain your non-marital assets. Note that sometimes non-marital assets can have a marital component if they were co-mingled and/or used as collateral in the marriage. Four: Dividing of Marital Property Judges will divide assets equally, unless there is a basis for unequal distribution. The judge will consider both you and your spouse's economic circumstances and the contributions each of you made to the marriage (including care for children and your marital home). If either you or your spouse wants to keep your marital home to live in with a child from the marriage, that may also be a factor for unequal distribution. Five: Alimony Alimony is an extension of the obligation for spouses to support each other financially during the marriage. Under divorce laws in Florida, a court can order alimony based on factors under Florida Statutes. Factors the courts will look at include: the standard of living during the marriage; the length of the marriage; and the age, physical condition and emotional condition of each spouse; the financial resources of each party; the earning capacities, educational levels and employability of the parties; the contribution of each party to the marriage; the responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children; the tax treatment and consequences of any alimony award; all sources of income available to each party; and any other factor to do equity and justice between the parties. Six: Primary Residence If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on the primary residence of the child, the court will make a decision based on what is in the "best interests" of the child. Unless there is a reason that it would be detrimental to your child's upbringing, the court will usually grant shared responsibility. Sometimes the court will give one parent responsibility over specific aspects of a child's welfare, such as primary residence, education or medical care. The court will consider the moral fitness of you and your spouse as parents, your abilities to provide for the child, the mental and physical health of the parents, the home, school and community record of the child, and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment among several other factors. Seven: Child Support Divorce laws in Florida include child support guidelines that judges use to figure out the support needed for a child and how much each parent has to pay. The court looks at both parents' incomes and the child's health and child care costs. Florida's standard needs table lists support amounts based on the child's age and the parents income. Eight: Documents You Will Need The court will need to know about all of your assets in order to divide them. Both parties are required to file financial affidavits listing all income, assets and liabilities. Make copies of tax returns, bank statements, mortgage documents and any other financial information that you have access to. This will save you time and money down the road. You should also take inventory of your major household and family possessions. A detailed household budget will help your lawyer as well as the court determine how much temporary support can be paid. Nine: Debts Any debt incurred before the marriage, such as educational debt, is not considered while dividing debts. Like assets, the debts will be divided equitably. If you have a mortgage, the court may order both of you to split the debt; if one spouse stays in the home, the mortgage may be restructured to make that spouse the sole owner and borrower. Note that educational debt incurred during the marriage is marital! Ten: Taxes It is important to think about how a divorce, for Florida residents, will change your taxes. Property transfers, taxability of alimony payments and dependency deductions for children may all affect your tax filing status. Working with an accountant along with your lawyer will help you avoid making mistakes you may not be able to fix after the divorce.