Marriage from the Other Side

During the course of my legal practice as a family law attorney, I have gained a perspective of marriage and divorce to which few are privy. Marriage (the institution) sometimes replaces Marriage (the relationship) as the goal of one or both parties. Interestingly, in these instances, those endorsing the institution rail that divorce is the devilish pariah that is destroying the fabric of society. The proponents of marriage as a relationship understand that divorce allows for the healthy disengagement of a non-existent or even toxic relationship.

Publicly, I have spoken on both marriage and divorce. Almost every time, there is at least one heckler in the crowd who says – “I can do it myself; what do I need you for?” My answer is usually the same: “If you needed a root canal, would you try to do it yourself?” The loss of any significant relationship is devastating. The loss of a marriage has been likened by many psychologists to death only without the closure of a funeral. Yet, at this juncture, circumstances and competing legal agendas require clear and well thought out decisions. In this sea of tumultuous change, the hiring of a professional team to create objectivity in the moment and make plans for the future becomes a necessity, not a luxury.

Time and again I meet with people who have chosen to “do it themselves.” In most instances they are sitting in my office because they have realized, too late, that the great deal they thought they negotiated without lawyers left them with no future and very little present. Once a divorce judgment is signed, for all practical purposes, it cannot be changed except under extraordinary circumstances. Every divorce case is complex and evolving even if the legal issues are streamlined. Attorneys are not “one size fits all.” Finding a professional who is qualified and who understand the goals and factors that contribute to the complexity of the case is THE most important decision made by a party. Prior to either a marriage or divorce, it is wise to consult a family law attorney to accurately assess your rights in making these momentous decisions.

For more information about marriage from the other side or to request a consultation, please contact me at: lhudson@hudsonfamilylaw.com or at: (561)472-0805 .

Boca Raton Observer Article

Lise L. Hudson was recently written up in the Boca Raton Observer’s November issue. She was profiled for helping clients navigate through divorce and other family issues.
Please see the full article below:
LiseHudsonBocaRatonObserver

Boca Raton Observer Article Hudson Family Law

How to Avoid Needing a Divorce Lawyer

Over the last twenty-five years, I have had occasion to witness the demise of relationships that, in all likelihood, could have been saved. In an effort to educate those who may be willing to consider the idea of “trying again”, please note the following:

  1. Punching your fiancée’s father the night before the wedding may shorten the longevity of your future marriage;
  2. Giving your spouse a pamphlet from the local gym at your first wedding anniversary may have a chilling effect on the conjugal visit anticipated later that evening;
  3. Tweeting that your spouse is the reproductive product of a horse and a donkey may be misinterpreted by your true love;
  4. Dating while married usually accelerates the demise of “good will” amongst spouses;
  5. Cleaning out the joint bank accounts, secretly selling the car your spouse is driving, or slowly siphoning funds to an off-shore account in your sister’s name might make you a “person of interest” to the Federal government and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

The above may be obvious; the truth however centers on the relationship itself. Marriage is an ever changing landscape that requires the focused commitment of each party involved. It not only requires a willing dedication to the relationship (not the institution), but a commitment to lovingly confront behaviors, feelings, or even emotional issues in oneself. This can be a daunting challenge but being emotionally healthy requires the honesty of each person about the other and about themselves. The current, socially accepted thought that each person can live in any way chosen and be married is deceptive and usually destroys the marriage ultimately. Conversely, however, confrontation can become abusive without the involvement of a qualified third party such as a marriage counselor to balance the emotions of the parties.

Divorce is not the inevitable end to marital relationships that seem broken. If the people involved are willing to participate in a process of identifying and addressing issues in themselves and in each other, the relationship can be preserved and will often strengthen. If one person is not willing to undertake this process, the relationship will not change because relationships do not “heal” themselves. It requires the parties involved to be willing to come together jointly that allows healing to take place. This, after all, is what marriage is all about.

If you have further questions or need further information on avoid needing a divorce lawyer, please contact me at:lhudson@hudsonfamilylaw.com or (561)472-0805.

THE NEW REVOLUTION: ALIMONY REFORM

Alimony: it’s a word that strikes fear into the heart of most divorced men and has been a sacrosanct right to many divorced woman. When discussed at cocktail parties or among polite acquaintances, it quickly divides a room and often destroys all enjoyable conversation; but what is alimony?

Alimony is the requirement of one spouse to support another after the end of the relationship. In the United States and most Western societies this requirement is primarily financial. The concept of alimony has existed for centuries, even millennia. While the methodology to calculate this support may differ in various Nations, the concept of support in and after a formal marital relationship is recognized globally with very few exceptions.

Since 2010, there have been significant efforts in Florida to change how and when alimony is awarded; all prior efforts have failed. This year may prove to be different. Once again, in the corridors of the State Capitol, hard core lobbying has been taking place to change §61.08 (Fla. Stat., 2011) – Florida’s alimony statute. The proponents of the “revolution” share disheartening stories of being “trapped” forever because they were ordered or agreed to pay life time alimony. The opponents share their deep dissatisfaction and discouragement about how their alimony awards did not provide enough or were too short to allow them to recover financially.

For the first time, the proponents of reform are working with the Family Law section of the Florida Bar to create a fair and balanced alimony reform bill. Those assisting with drafting these new measures have indicated that, more likely than not, an alimony guideline shall be utilized, much like the Florida child support guideline. However, there is also an indication that permanent or life time alimony shall be abolished. Taking a “wait and see” approach if you are considering divorce could have disastrous results.

If you have questions concerning alimony, divorce, or how your rights may be effected in the future, please contact me immediately at:lhudson@hudsonfamilylaw.com or (561)472-0805

A Civilized Divorce?

A Civilized Divorce can be an expensive, agonizing, and lengthy process. Even the family pets become an issue over which acrimonious couples argue. However, now many people want to take a different path during this difficult time and are asking: “Isn’t there another way?”

Yes, there is.

A growing trend across the United States is something called the “collaborative divorce process”. This system was specifically designed for people who want divorce without WAR. The process works so that each party signs an agreement stating that each will work with their attorneys to peacefully and with integrity address the painful and difficult choices each is required to make instead of duking it out in the court room.

To begin this process, the parties each engage counsel who will work together to draft a collaborative agreement outlining how the process will work. The attorneys work together with the parties in a closed process where all necessary financial and other information is obtained, but remains confidential. With the help of counsel, each side of the “team” raises the issues about which they are concerned. The goal of the process is to encourage each party to openly discuss issues involving their children, their finances, and the loss of their relationship. Once all of the questions are answered, the parties and attorneys jointly work to create a written settlement agreement that will be filed in an uncontested proceeding and approved by a Judge.

The collaborative process is not an “all or nothing” process. If a party changes his or her mind they may end the collaborative process and choose the traditional route of litigation. However, at this juncture, BOTH PARTIES must hire new attorneys and begin a traditional case. This “loss” is the incentive to keep the parties motivated to work it out.

Should you have any further questions about the collaborative divorce process or simply have questions regarding how the law protects you in a divorce, please contact us at Hudson Family Law. AT HUDSON FAMILY LAW our Mission for twenty-five years has been to help our clients: RESOLVE, REBUILD AND RESTORE

Brave New World – Religious Divorce

While there are many new, complex, and dangerous issues facing this Nation, there are some that are profoundly the same. On Sunday, January 25, 2015, the New York Times reported an article on page one denoting that the Roman Catholic Church is re-examining its stance on divorce and whether a marriage, once made, is indissoluble. At the heart of this question is a discussion which is intrinsic to all of the great faiths of the world, spans many centuries, and has, in part, even spawned wars. There are many who hold dear the tenets of their faith and yet have been banned from practicing it because divorce is not recognized as a “viable option.” Florida unwittingly became a pioneer in the area of divorce when Henry Morrison Flagler was permitted to divorce his second wife by reason of her diagnosed insanity; something that was disallowed formerly. Previously neither Florida nor most other states permitted divorce unless “fault” (usually adultery) could be proven. These and other legislative policies were shaped by Judeo-Christian or faith based ideals.

On January 6, 2015 Florida became one of several states whose same-sex marriage ban was held unconstitutional. In light of the significant split by federal appellate courts regarding which unions shall constitute a “marriage”, the United States Supreme Court shall address the issue prior to the conclusion of its spring session in 2015. With this question squarely before the highest court of our Nation, it will be noteworthy to observe whether the tenets of faith continue to diverge with civil ideals. However, even when the dust has cleared from this highly emotionally judicial decision, the more difficult issue of divorce within the confines of certain faiths shall still remain. The question of obtaining a “religious divorce” has had a resurgence over the last decade. In the Catholic faith, it is provided by way of an annulment; in the Jewish faith it is provided by way of a Get, and although the Protestant faith has no formal outlet to address the issue, certain sects of Protestantism are providing their members with church based programs for help. As we venture into 2015 and beyond, marriage, divorce, parental identification, and many more core values of our society will be touched by the answers which are applied to the questions involving marriage and divorce. Finding a lawyer who can be of assistance with all of the issues can be a great relief. If you would like to know more, please contact me, Lise Hudson at Hudson Family Law; telephone: (561)472-0805 or on the web at: www.HudsonFamilyLaw.com.

Fourth Worst Mistake in a Divorce: Do Not Try Your Divorce on Social Media

Last month, I began a series of articles highlighting the five worst mistakes someone could make in a divorce. This month, our discussion will be about the social media explosion. The latest tabloids that report on celebrity marriages and divorces prove that social media has become the court of public opinion. However, in a court of law, social media use as evidence is at an historic high.

Pictures, statements, tweets, and posts may be admissible in court against any party if time, date and identity can be positively matched. Therefore, scenes of separated spouses partying, spending lavishly, touring the world, spending their time with “new “ friends, or even complaining to their old friends may have relevance. Further, during litigation, spouses can be forced by court order to turn over passwords to Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, not to mention email and financial accounts. At least three years of information prior to the divorce is required in Florida and additional discovery prior to that period can be requested by counsel. These digital social, financial, and other accounts are forensically reviewed by information specialists retained to find every tweet and post. Due to the existence of metadata on every digital framework deleting the information is usually unsuccessful. The results can be devastating.

No less damaging are the lengthy phone calls, notes and messages to family, friends, co-workers, or anyone who will listen to a litigant talk about their horrible divorcing spouse. Each of these people can be ordered to appear in court and required to recount the numerous conversations about what a jerk your soon-to-be ex-spouse is…. really. Except in extraordinary circumstances, comments made to third parties, on Facebook, or in your diary could become evidence that your spouse may utilize in a divorce to sway a court regarding children’s issues, financial concerns, spousal support, and a request for attorney’s fees. A word to the wise – silence is golden …. and is rarely misquoted. Please join us next month for a further discussion of mistakes to avoid in divorce. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Confessions of a Divorce Lawyer

Over the last twenty-five years, I have spoken at numerous public events. Almost every time, there is at least one naysayer in the crowd who half rhetorically asks why anyone would actually need a divorce lawyer. My answer is usually the same: “If you needed a root canal, would you try to do it yourself?”

No one looks forward to root canals or divorces, however, when one is necessary the informed party will choose a professional who has extensive experience and skill to do it. Florida law has changed dramatically in the last quarter century. The core issues of who may marry and adopt, and many other family law related matters are at the forefront of American politics today. With these changing ideals comes significant legal reform.

Every family law case is complex and evolving even if the legal issues are streamlined.

Requests for parenting plans, child support, and alimony, and questions regarding the marital assets and liabilities exist in most cases. The lawyers/parties must provide proposals for how these issues shall be resolved. There are often unforeseen tax consequences if assets are not divided properly. Along with these challenging issues may come the unhappy incidence of domestic violence or a spouse’s fraudulent transfer of funds. If the proper relief is neither requested nor argued in the underlying proceedings the consequences may be staggering.

Every relationship has an agenda; marital relationships have at least two; but divorces have three – his, hers, and the Court’s. The financial landmines that exist in any divorce coupled with the competing emotional agendas leaves little room for error. Without the objectivity of a divorce attorney to investigate and navigate these murky waters, a divorce usually devolves into something that looks like a self-performed root canal. For additional information on this or any family law matter, please contact us at: (561) 472-0805 or on the web at: www.HudsonFamilyLaw.com

Understanding Florida Child Support Law

The laws and regulations surrounding child support in Florida are outlined in Title VI, Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes entitled; Dissolution of Marriage, Support and Time Sharing. A common misconception when it comes to child support is that the law dictates a fixed amount that’s used across every divorce in Palm Beach Gardens and the rest of the state.

That is not the case at all. Instead, the actual amount can fluctuate based on a variety of factors including but not limited to; the income of each spouse, the number of children, special needs of children, healthcare and other insurance coverage and so forth. While in most cases child support payments fall within the guidelines set forth in Chapter 61, the presiding judge has the authority to allow a payment amount to fall outside the boundaries of the law should they deem it necessary given the circumstances. A child with special needs that require expensive treatment and care or a parent with an extraordinary income would be examples of when a judge could exceed the boundaries set forth by the law.

The amount set by the judge is not a static amount either. A change of situation could allow a lawyer to petition the court for a higher or lesser payment depending on the circumstance. For instance, should the spouse paying child support lose their job, a judge can lessen the payments until that person finds new employment.

In many cases of divorce and child support in Palm Beach Gardens, having a lawyer with experience arguing for the best interests of the children becomes extremely valuable. A knowledgeable attorney is well equipped to construct a strong argument as to why a spouse deserves a certain monthly child support payment. A 2011 amendment to the child support law in Florida made it significantly harder for people to evade child support through such means as underemployment or not fully disclosing their financial situation as that was not an uncommon practice.

When you place your trust in a skilled divorce attorney in Palm Beach Gardens such as Lise Hudson at Hudson Family Law, you are taking a great step in protecting your family’s financial situation. Raising a child as a single parent is difficult enough without having to constantly worry about receiving enough child support. Lise Hudson has helped countless people through divorce and child support proceedings and is dedicated to providing quality representation for her clients. Call today at (561) 472-0805 for a consultation!