Clearwater courtroom becomes a battleground for the possible changes in the state of Florida’s alimony laws
An incident in a courtroom in Clearwater demonstrated the highly contentious nature of alimony payments. Due to these tensions, Florida has had a number of attempted reforms in recent years, especially related to permanent alimony payments, which can become a huge financial burden over time.
One day in a Clearwater courthouse shows how alimony issues can change lives
The incident in question is related to a six year long divorce battle between a local doctor and his ex-wife. The doctor was initially supposed to send about $20,000 a month in temporary alimony payments, and this amount was based on the fact that he made a multi-million dollar annual salary as a surgeon with the Laser Spine Institute. One of the reasons for the high payment was due to his wife’s claimed blood circulation condition, which causes her to constantly faint. She requires special treatment and health insurance to cover the costs of medical care associated with the condition. She also said that the payments her ex-husband sent out were constantly late, and she was stressed by worrying whether or not she would be able to get necessary treatment over the last twelve months.
Both the doctor and his family law attorney claim that the condition is being faked for the purposes of getting more money. Many women sat in the audience to offer support as part of a larger agenda that is playing out in the state’s capital in Tallahassee. Most of these spectators were essentially homemakers in their fifties and sixties, and their lives changed drastically after their divorces.
Another different interest group is already working to try to get alimony laws changed in Florida. The group is mostly made up of people with large alimony payments and their current spouses, who claim that their quality of life is severely affected by making the payments every month. They are working to get legislation passed that would transform alimony into a system more like child support, where similar income based guidelines would be used, and permanent periodic alimony would be abolished.
These kinds of issues have created a system where alimony is the most intensely debated and litigated issue in the family court system in the United States. Based on stories of extreme conflict, it is easy to see why. On both sides of the courtroom, someone’s entire financial future can become much better or worse based on a judge’s order for alimony. Tax dollars have to be used to pay judges who must spend long hours looking over payment histories and dealing with a couple’s disputes for months, or years, in some cases.
The divorce industry is supported, at least in part, due to the high stakes involved in one party being ordered to make very large payments. Some clients are known to push the issue based on self-interest, even if legal professionals advise against a lengthy court battle due to the time and money investments involved. If one party to the divorce wants to try to get large alimony payments or a disproportionate property settlement, they both may end up spending years in litigation.
There are a number of cases of people with long term alimony orders in place who sometimes cannot modify their payments, even after losing jobs or switching careers into a field with much less earning potential. Other conflicting stories come from former homemakers who find that they need to get by on minimum wage jobs, due to the inconsistent nature of alimony payments and problems with enforcement. Some are technically owed large amounts that have accumulated over the years, and are having difficulty getting the money owed to them. IRS records from 2017 show that U.S. taxpayers owed about $2 billion more in alimony than the amount that was actually received by former spouses during that year.
The most recent alimony battle in Florida can be traced to a handful of advocacy groups that became active between 2012 and 2013. The state has still not completely overhauled the alimony system in a way that is different from the procedures and rules that have already been in place for decades.
What is the best way to deal with alimony issues?
The starting point for anyone going through a divorce is to retain your own attorney. This is crucial to learn about what exactly is at stake in your particular situation. If alimony is a possibility based on lopsided earning potential between the two spouses, it is important to have an experienced legal professional advocating on your behalf.
Learn more about getting assistance during a divorce battle
For advice and guidance related to divorces, alimony payments, child support, custody, and any other related issues, contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet. They are available to assist in the family court system in Clearwater and nearby areas.
St. Petersburg area parents are struggling with child care costs, like everywhere else in the nation
Local news for the St. Petersburg area reported on the high costs of child care and ways that working parents deal with this issue. When a parent has to pay for these costs as part of an order for child support, it can seriously affect their income and lifestyle.
Discussion regarding the problem of paying for child care
The story cited a poll in which 8 out of every 10 parents believe that affordable child care is a serious issue. About 77% of all parents also said that child care expenses have had a serious negative impact on their career and quality of life.
In the United States there are about 15 million kids under the age of six who also have parents that are full time workers. These problems have created a severe form of tension where it seems that people cannot realistically both fulfill their aspirations as workers and productive members of society while having young children. This coincides with the idea that many working age women in America have sometimes had to put their careers on hold for years if they have children.
Employers also expressed concern that they may not have access to the best workers or those with a particular skill set, if their ability to work is affected by child care costs. Most parents believe that the business world should be the primary entity to help their workers find some kind of affordable option to have their children watched as they work. As of this time, subsidies to employees have proven to be the best and most widely used option. Around 50% of all employers in the U.S. offer some kind of subsidy through a dependent care assistance plan. These kinds of plans may let parents claim $5,000 pre-tax.
Onsite child care has also become another popular option for businesses that have the space and means to watch children at the workplace. When an employer does have onsite care programs available, the federal government gives them a tax credit that can be worth as much as $150,000 each year. Even if the child care center is not located on the actual job site, but contracted with a provider, businesses may receive the same credit from the government. Many critics in the business world claim that small and mid sized employers are priced out of the market to help their employees with child care, as it is simply too expensive.
Some business leaders are tackling this problem head on and trying to change the way it negatively impacts working parents. One partnership in North Carolina is in the process of creating early childhood learning programs, where children who are still too young to enter public schools will have access to a program that is a combination of schooling and daycare. This would be paid for by funding initiatives and subsidies from the private sector.
State laws are also being changed in some parts of the country to ease the burden on working parents. Business leaders were heavily involved in a movement in Alabama to make a public pre-kindergarten program available statewide. As of the time of the report, about 16,000 four year olds in the state are actively involved in the program. At the federal level, there are a number of proposed changes to tax credits that should also help parents.
Many who have advocated for reforms in child care costs argue that the country will experience a much better economic future if parents are no longer burdened with years of expensive daycare costs.
Legal obligations to pay for child care
If a parent is ordered to pay child support, daycare or some other comparable form of childcare, it is one of the largest expenses that may be factored into this situation. An obligation to pay child support is a serious matter, and payments need to be made on time every month until the child turns 18 or finishes high school in Florida.
How is child support determined in Florida?
Child support payments are based on the parent’s respective incomes, percentage of overnights with the child, child care costs, and health insurance costs. The child support amounts are supposed to be sufficient to pay for all other necessary expenses. While dealing with all issues regarding custody and support, family courts use a standard called the best interests of the child to determine what will be most functional on a case by case basis.
When there are specific concerns related to child support and how daycare will be paid out of these amounts, it is best to contact a local lawyer to review your case.
Learn more from local lawyers
To speak with a family law attorney who serves St. Petersburg and nearby parts of Florida’s gulf coast, contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet. They can provide guidance related to child support, custody, alimony, and many other related family issues.
When a couple gets married, there is always some risk of a future divorce. The most recent research suggests that when the winter holidays end, and the new year begins in January, filings for dissolution of marriage (divorce) are more likely to take place. There is plenty of advice available regarding how to help make this process go smoothly and how to minimize the damage a divorce will cause to a family.
Divorces are most common as each new year begins, but less people are separating
Local news for the Clearwater area published a report regarding the time of year when divorces are most common. The beginning of the year tends to be the most common time for couples to separate, according to all the available data. The various ways in which relationships end, whether through divorce, or couples who are not legally together but are simply breaking up, spike up shortly after the new year begins. Researchers believe that this phenomenon is partially due to the fact that couples will push through the holidays together, even if they are unhappy or planning a split later on.
A family therapist stated that couples need to learn to grow together and adapt to each other if they wish to make their marriages work. If this gradual process of change and mutual appreciation does not occur, problems will slowly begin to develop, and they may become much more serious at a later time. Even a small amount of drama can seem to grow and take on its own life over time, regardless of the couple’s good intentions. When arguments become regular, couples tend to focus on this tension more than the good things in their marriage, which exacerbates the problem.
When children are involved, breakups tend to become more traumatic for the children and more highly contested for the parents. Even in low conflict situations, children tend to carry long term baggage and trauma caused by their parents’ separation and arguing. According to experts, divorced parents who maintain some kind of informal relations with the former spouse tend to help children deal with the divorce better.
The most recent data from the CDC shows that the overall divorce rate is between fifteen and thirty percent, depending on when the couple was married, which is lower than in previous decades. While the overall divorce rate is dropping, there are also less total marriages taking place now than in previous generations. This may suggest that people who are less serious about marriage may be just cohabitating or remaining in relationships long-term without making the commitment to marry.
The current process to obtain a divorce in Florida
Divorce has been simplified in every jurisdiction in the United States to make filing and dissolving a marriage a fairly quick process when the parties are able to reach a prompt settlement of all issues. Florida has adopted the no fault divorce regime, which means that one or both spouses can simply say that the marriage is irretrievably broken in order to obtain a divorce, as long as other requirements for divorce are met.
Requirements to get a divorce in the state
A couple filing for dissolution of marriage (divorce) must meet some basic residency requirements before the local family court will accept their case. At least one of the spouses must have lived in Florida for 6 months or more before the divorce can be filed in the state. The proper venue is the county court where one or both of the spouses live. If a couple has recently moved to Florida, they may be able to file in the state where their previous residence was located. The person filing for the divorce must say that the marriage is irretrievably broken, but this can generally be for any reason. Under no fault divorce laws, courts are not concerned about what specifically caused the filing. A showing of adultery or abandonment is not necessary, though these factors may affect the case in another manner.
Get specific advice from an attorney
Each spouse should always retain their own family law attorney before and during the divorce process to make sure their interests are being addressed. Keep in mind that unless the two sides can come to their own agreement, divorcing spouses are likely to have a very different idea of what they should receive after a divorce in terms of property, money, other tangible assets, and custody rights. The attorney for each spouse will advocate on their behalf to the fullest extent of the law to make sure their client gets what they deserve out of this process. This is why it is so important to be prepared for hearings related to child custody, property division, alimony, equitable distribution, and other issues that tend to be included with the divorce.
Learn more about divorces and separation issues from experienced lawyers
There are attorneys who practice in the Clearwater area who focus on divorces, child support, alimony, custody, and related family law issues. The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet are available to provide all of these services and legal advice relevant to your personal situation.