Three Ways to Invest in Your Marriage in 2019

January is recognized as the top month for divorce filings across the country. Once the holidays are over, spouses no longer feel pressure or obligation to keep up appearances regarding their marriage. Perhaps you are struggling in your relationship. The new year brings an opportunity to embrace change and recognize areas in our lives where improvement may be necessary.

In order to maintain healthy relationships, we must be willing to treat them as investments. While the fruits of your labor may not lead to immediate results, we encourage you to be patient and build on the foundation of your marriage.

  1. Communicate: When we are angry, it can be easy to shut down and give our partner the cold shoulder. Eventually, our emotions will build up and a minor issue may grow into something more significant. Although your intentions to work through your feelings alone were meant to avoid conflict, it is important to explore solutions as a team. Creating an open dialogue allows each of you to be upfront with your feelings, hopes, and goals.
  2. Be Intentional: Life is incredibly fast paced. With or without children, prioritizing marriage can be difficult. Don’t underestimate the impact of a well-planned schedule. Take advantage of alone time together when it is available. Social media fills our minds with the idea that happy couples thrive off of grand gestures and lavish vacations. Instead of being motivated by comparison, cater your plans to activities that fit your lifestyle. Pinterest, for example, offers many attainable options that may be beneficial for you and your spouse.
  3. Meet Each Other with Grace: Every relationship experiences conflict. It is imperative to be compassionate with one another despite disagreements, or other causes of marital tension. Compromise is essential for couples who are committed to moving forward and adopting solution-oriented mindsets. Often, the moments where it is the hardest to remain clear headed and kind are when our partner needs grace the most. By making an effort to see our spouse in the same way that God does, we allow ourselves to let go of unrealistic expectations, and invite both forgiveness and perspective to soften our hearts.

To speak to one of our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys, contact our office today.

How to Prioritize Your Marriage Through the Holiday Season

How to Prioritize Your Marriage Through the Holiday Season

With sleigh bells ringing and children singing, your marriage may be an afterthought as the holidays are now in full swing. Although schedules may be filled with baking, shopping, party planning, volunteering, etc. we encourage you to pour into your relationship with your spouse. Families with children will especially benefit from a loving and stable environment during this time of year. After all, the moments we share as children create memories and may even lead to cherished traditions.

If you are left feeling overwhelmed towards the end of the year, it might be necessary to reevaluate your priorities.

Have uninterrupted alone time as much as possible: For some couples, the opportunity to connect one on one with your spouse may seem unrealistic. Depending on the specifics of your routine, try to find a time to come together away from your children on a weekly basis.

Consider the wants and needs of your spouse: While most children are eager to supply their parents with Christmas wish lists, it is also imperative to reflect on the desires and expectations of our partner. Perhaps he or she has briefly mentioned a special holiday activity for the two of you to participate in. Don’t overlook those who are children at heart. There is joy to be found in this season at any age.

Be upfront with your feelings: In addition to serving our spouse, the foundation of successful relationships includes honesty. Difficult conversations are often shied away from this time of year. However, your marriage deserves two people who are willing to trust each other and meet one another with grace.

Recognize areas that need improvement: Society has glorified procrastination in a sense, with the idea that goals and changes should be saved for the new year ahead. Instead of allowing yourself to wait, look at parts of your marriage that could use extra attention. By making an effort to pour into your relationship, you are showing your spouse just how much you value your life together.

To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our Orlando office today.

Five Steps to Navigating the Holidays After a Divorce

Five Steps to Navigating the Holidays After a Divorce

The holiday season is often filled with joy, quality time with family, friends and loved ones, and celebrating our Savior. However, for families who are recovering from a divorce, the holidays can also be met with stress, anxiety, and even sadness. Traditions may come to an end. Parenting Plans and Timesharing agreements impact co-parents, children and members of extended family.

Although it may seem overwhelmingly difficult to even consider how you will survive the holidays after a divorce, we encourage you to have faith and be patient with yourself, the situation and your former spouse.

  1. Maintain Communication: Perhaps you are struggling to remain on speaking terms with your former spouse, due to differences of opinion, misunderstandings, or conflict in general. Look into various options to remain connected when necessary. There are many apps and technology methods available to assist co-parents. In situations where young children are involved, it is imperative for everyone to be on the same page.
  2. Be Mindful of Spending: It is no secret that the costs associated with divorce may impact savings, retirement plans, and other assets. While the holidays cause businesses to target consumers with sales and new product releases, implementing a budget will help you keep track of expenses and lessen your financial burden. Try to focus on the needs of your family versus the wants you can do without.
  3. Manage Expectations: This is especially important for families with children. A year ago, you may not have anticipated the end of your marriage. Once you are able to accept your new reality, coping should come more naturally. Remain upfront with your children about how they will be celebrating each holiday and assure them that your family is still a priority.
  4. Plan Ahead: With the contents of your parenting plan and specifics of your timesharing schedule, both you and your former spouse have the opportunity to make necessary arrangements to make the most of the holidays. Consider how your personal and professional commitments may be affected.
  5. Practice Self Care: Going through a divorce is an emotional journey. Let yourself prioritize your own best interests as well as your children’s. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish, doing so allows us to better serve others.

If you are unsure about how to approach the upcoming holiday season with your former spouse, call us to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Orlando Family Law Attorneys.

 

Three Ways Counseling Can Positively Impact Your Marriage

Three Ways Counseling Can Positively Impact Your Marriage

Often, couples are led to believe counseling should only be entered in a final effort to save their marriage. While speaking with a mental health professional may seem intimidating at first, we encourage our clients to seek help, especially if reconciliation is possible. Recently, several high-profile couples have come forward to credit counseling as a contributing factor of the success of their marriages.

Have you considered the potential benefits of working with a therapist?

  1. Creating Paths to Open and Honest Communication

Work schedules, raising children, and social activities may mean your marriage takes a backseat unintentionally. Several days could come and go without having an uninterrupted conversation with your spouse. A mental health professional recognizes the importance of communication and will help you both express yourselves and own your feelings.

  1. Understanding How Your Spouse’s Love Language Compliments Your Own

Are you familiar with the five love languages? For spouses, it is important to consider and honor each other’s language. Author Gary Chapman describes the five love languages as follows:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

The variety of ways we give love may not match how our partner best receives it. For example, you might assume that your spouse doesn’t appreciate gift giving, but as it turns out, he or she values quality time together or words of affirmation over tangible items. Couples who love each other well, should be aware of ways their love languages influence the relationship.

  1. Learning Tools for Conflict Resolution

Contrary to popular belief, even happy couples experience conflict. One key difference between healthy marriages and others, relates to how they approach difficult situations. No two marriages are exactly alike, and it is imperative to identify your specific needs and shortcomings regarding conflict resolution.

If you are struggling with the idea of attempting counseling or gaining a therapist’s perspective in general, we invite you to visit our Therapists Corner Column and connect with one of our legal professionals by scheduling a consultation.

How Can Collaborative Divorce Benefit You and Your Family?

How Can Collaborative Divorce Benefit You and Your Family?

Whether you are embarking on the divorce process now or contemplating your options regarding the future of your marriage, it is important to base your decision on what is best for your family. What worked for someone else may not lead to an ideal resolution for you. If your efforts toward a reconciliation have been unsuccessful, we encourage you to consider a collaborative divorce.

Three of our attorneys at The Marks Law Firm are collaboratively trained, experienced, and dedicated to building a custom team of professionals best suited for your family law case.

When couples are experiencing divorce, it is very likely that they will need assistance beyond legal representation. Who is on your team?

Family Law Attorney

Whoever you choose to be your legal advocate and counselor should work closely with you and your professional team to maximize your goals and interests,  in order to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Financial Professional

A financial neutral can assist you and your spouse in identifying and determining the value of your assets and debts. They can also help you understand your complete financial situation and provide you with financial options to help you and your family achieve your goals and interests for the future.

Mental Health Professional

Your mental health professional will also serve as a neutral member of your professional team and will guide you and your spouse to effective communication. He or she will help you create a positive co-parenting relationship with your spouse and work with you to develop a parenting plan that maximizes the benefits to your children.

To learn more about collaborative divorce and why it might be the best option for your family, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our collaborative attorneys today.

Considering a Prenuptial Agreement?

Considering a Prenuptial Agreement?

Are you recently engaged or in the process of planning an upcoming wedding? If so, your feelings of excitement and joy, may also be met with expressions of concern for yourself or from those closest to you. Most couples marry for the right reasons and have the best intentions leading up to the wedding. However, divorce and separation are becoming more accepted in our society today. Unfortunately, some marriages end in turmoil and disappointment.

Perhaps you are in a financial position where you would like to protect your assets if your marriage and relationship cannot be reconciled.

Talk to your partner.

Once you have decided to spend the rest of your life with someone, communication should be open and honest. Share your concerns and be willing to listen what your future spouse has to say. While he or she may be hesitant to move forward with a prenuptial agreement, make it clear that it is important for the two of you to come to a decision together.

Consult with an Attorney.

Come up with questions you might want to ask a legal professional and be clear about what you want to accomplish through your agreement. He or she will help you organize and prepare a document that will help protect your interests. In most cases, the two of you will need to retain separate representation, as an attorney cannot represent both parties.

Decide what is best for your personal situation.

Depending on the specifics of your relationship and lifestyle, a prenuptial agreement may be unnecessary. Consider your resources, plans for the future, etc. Although other couples may choose to implement a prenuptial agreement as part of their planning, do not allow your judgment to be clouded by comparison. Be intentional with your decision and research your options.

Our Central Florida Family Law Attorneys are committed to serving our clients as they embark on the journey of marriage. To schedule a consultation, click here.

Three Common Challenges Blended Families Face

Many times, when couples are experiencing marriage again after a divorce, a new spouse isn’t the only addition to the family. Second marriages not only represent a sense of hope, but may also include a season filled with challenges and transition. For newlyweds with children from previous relationships, it is especially important to manage any expectations regarding the new family dynamic. While television shows and movies often idealize the lives of blended families, parents should make an effort to be sensitive and mindful of their children’s feelings.

When two families are coming together as one, the honeymoon phase may be short lived. Despite each parents’ willingness and determination to create a perfect new life as a blended family, they may not be able to avoid the tension and trials that come up as a result of their union. In fact, there are many challenges blended families struggle to overcome.

Coping with Sacrifice

Young children especially may not realize how many changes will take place once other siblings come into the picture. In situations where the stepsiblings didn’t have an opportunity to get to know each other prior to spending extended periods of time together, they may not understand or expect any sacrifice necessary, financial or otherwise. Validate their feelings, and explain how each member of your new family will need to sacrifice at one point or another for the overall benefit of everyone involved.

 Maintaining Inclusivity

Perhaps most of the new siblings get along and enjoy quality time together. However, it is not unusual for one or more of the children to experience feelings of isolation. Easing into a new normal where each child has an opportunity to express his or herself in a safe and open environment is imperative.

Keeping up with Schedules

Age groups, interests, commitments, academic needs, etc. all contribute to the family’s evolving calendar. At first, establishing a routine may seem impossible. After all, the children depend on you and your spouse for transportation and punctuality. Even if co-parents are present and willing to help, you might consider leaning on extended family to make sure everyone is accounted for. Communication is key.

Our Team at The Marks Law Firm, P.A. recognizes the support and patience necessary for blended families to blossom and thrive as a successful unit. We also value the insight and experience of mental health professionals in the Central Florida community. To learn more about blended families, visit our Therapists Corner column.

8 Concerns for People Facing a High Net Worth Divorce

If you own significant assets, generate substantial income, and are facing divorce, the following article could salvage a large portion of your net worth.

In divorce, the more you make, the more you have at stake. Unless you have an ironclad prenuptial agreement, up to 50% of any net worth accumulated during your marriage could belong to your spouse – and maybe more.
The following eight tips will help you understand how to protect yourself through the divorce process.

1. Use valuation specialists if necessary. If you own a business, your business could be an asset subject to division upon divorce. This means you will have to determine the value, which likely includes the blood, sweat, and tears (aka goodwill) you’ve poured into it over time. Never enter into settlement negotiations for divorce without first knowing the actual value of assets like a business, professional practice or real estate.

2. Consider a forensic accountant. In many cases, spouses comingle funds or assets, which can give those assets a mixed characterization and make pinpointing the source difficult. Using a forensic account to trace funds and assets may be necessary.

3. Evaluate the strength of your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If you plan to handle your divorce as outlined in a prenuptial agreement, be sure it is well-drafted. If you’ve failed to disclose any assets or failed to have your prenuptial agreement executed under the proper conditions, your prenuptial agreement could be invalidated along with its terms.

4. Consider the tax consequences of your divorce. Transferring assets by way of divorce almost always involves significant tax consequences for high net worth individuals. Your divorce attorney should collaborate with your accountant to ensure any asset transfers as a result of your divorce are structured to mitigate as much tax liability as possible.

5. Understand your potential alimony obligation. If you generate substantially more income than your spouse, and your spouse needs financial support, you could end up with a significant alimony obligation. Alimony payments have tax implications for both the receiving and paying spouse so you want to be sure you can negotiation an alimony agreement that will be favorable to your overall financial picture.

6. Understand the implications of marital waste. Since your marriage has been on the rocks, is your spouse suddenly spending more? Is your spouse funneling marital assets into accounts for which you don’t have access?

It is not uncommon for high net worth individuals to experience this type of behavior from their spouse, or even be tempted to do the same. Thankfully, the law doesn’t allow the waste of marital resources to go unaccounted for, and with the proper guidance of a family law attorney you can take appropriate steps to prevent the unnecessary loss of assets and income.

7. Consider the cost of attorney’s fees (for you and your spouse). If your spouse has little to no income, and your income is substantial, you can expect to pay some amount of their attorney’s fees if you are the spouse seeking the divorce. Treat your divorce like a business decision. Plan how much you are willing to spend to get a reasonable divorce settlement and stick to that decision. Your net worth will thank you.

8. Calculate the cost of your divorce. Would you spend $20 on a $21 dispute? Of course not. Know the value of your fight. Do you want to spend tens of thousands of dollar (or more) on a dispute you could settle for the same amount? You’ll end up spending double what you’d pay, just to fight over the value. While it may be difficult to put your emotions aside and compromise, considering settlement could save you tens of thousands of dollars.

To learn more about how you can reduce the risk of diminishing your net worth as a result of divorce, click here to request a consultation or call 407-872-3161 to speak with one of our Orlando Divorce Attorneys today.

Attention Florida Business Owners Facing Divorce

If you are a business owner, and you are considering divorce, read this first.

Under to Florida Statute 61.075, property owned by you and your spouse falls in one of two categories: marital or nonmarital.

Specifically, marital property typically includes:

  • Assets and liabilities accrued during your marriage, whether accrued individually or jointly.
  • The enhancement of value and appreciation of nonmarital assets as a result of either spouse during the marriage or from the investment of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both.
  • Gifts given between spouses during the marriage.
  • All vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds earned during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs.
  • All real property held by spouses as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired before or during the marriage is considered a marital asset.
  • All personal property titled jointly by spouses as tenants by the entireties, whether acquired before or during the marriage, is considered a marital asset.

The Statute also states that nonmarital property includes:

  • Assets and liabilities accrued by either spouse before the marriage, along with assets and liabilities accrued in exchange for those assets and liabilities.
  • Assets acquired separately by either spouse by gift (not between spouses or to the spouses as a couple, but as individuals), bequest, devise, or descent, and assets accrued in exchange for those assets.
  • All income earned from nonmarital assets during the marriage unless the income was treated, used, or relied upon by the spouses as a marital asset.
  • Assets and liabilities excluded from marital assets and liabilities by valid written agreement of the spouses, and assets or liabilities accrued in exchange for those assets and liabilities.
  • Any liability incurred by forgery or unauthorized signature of one spouse signing the name of the other spouse. That liability shall be a nonmarital liability of the spouse committing the forgery or having attached the unauthorized signature alone.

So what does that mean if you start or acquire a business while married?

Does your spouse have an interest?

What if you owned the business before you got married, does your spouse have an interest then?

The answer could be yes in all cases.

Let us explain.

As the factors outlined above suggest, if you started your business during your marriage, your spouse could have a marital interest in your business because all assets and liabilities accrued during your marriage are usually deemed marital.

But, your spouse could also have an interest in your business if your nonmarital business asset was converted into a marital interest because funds (or some other asset) earned by either spouse during the marriage was used to enhance or increase the value of the business.

Essentially, if you own a business and your wife contributed to the growth of your business financially or enhanced the value of the business in some other way, she could have an interest in your business upon divorce.

Determining whether or not a nonmarital business asset has become a marital asset requires a detailed and expert legal analysis. In fact, an experienced family law attorney should recruit the expertise of a business valuation expert or CPA to determine the value of the business for the purpose of divorce.

If you’re not sure where you stand, seek quality legal counsel to provide you guidance.

To learn more about whether or not your spouse could have a marital interest in your business, click here to request a consultation or call 407-872-3161 to speak with one of our Orlando Divorce Attorneys today.

 

How do I Protect My Assets in a Divorce?

Divorce requires a division of assets acquired during the marriage, so you can’t keep every asset you own out of your spouse’s hands. Knowing that, is there any way to protect your assets in Divorce?

Obtain a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between future spouses that sets forth the rights and obligations of each spouse upon divorce, death, and even during the marriage. In your prenuptial agreement make sure you designate your business as non-marital property. If you’re currently married, you may be able to achieve the same result by obtaining a post-nuptial agreement.

A postnuptial agreement is an agreement drafted after marriage but serves the same purpose as a prenuptial agreement. Having said that, if you’re currently contemplating divorce, a postnuptial agreement will likely not be very useful to you. Once a divorce is imminent a postnuptial agreement becomes a separation agreement, which doesn’t mean you’re business will be protected.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are very specific documents that require experienced legal insight when drafting. Simply missing one essential element in drafting and executing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can render the entire thing void – and for you useless.

Consider a claim for an unequal distribution

Florida is an equitable distribution state which, based on some factors requires spouses to divide their assets “fairly.”

However, where one spouse rightly deserves total ownership of a business that is subject to division in divorce, the court must consider whether it is actually more equitable to allow one spouse to retain a “business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other [spouse].”

If your business is at risk in your divorce, this could be one way to protect it. Be sure to speak with an experienced family law attorney to determine whether or not unequal distribution applies to your case.

Reconcile with Your Spouse

Now, don’t get this wrong. We are not suggesting you stay married just to protect your business. But maybe the challenges you’re facing as a result of your prospective divorce can serve as a catalyst for evaluating whether or not you want to sever the very things you and your spouse have built together?

Perhaps your marriage is salvageable?

Perhaps with the right help it could thrive?

Reconciliation isn’t always an option, but you should be sure it isn’t before you pursue the path of divorce. As strange as it that sounds coming from divorce lawyers – take our word for it.

To learn more about how you can protect your business if you’re facing divorce, click here to request a consultation or call 407-872-3161 to speak with one of our Orlando Divorce Attorneys today.