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One way to reduce Florida property tax liability

An important step of estate planning is determining how to protect your estate from property tax and creditors. Florida residents have the unique opportunity to use homestead status to do this.

Homestead status can keep you from going bankrupt after the death of a spouse, during creditor collection efforts or when property taxes would otherwise get the best of you. Here’s how.

Collaborative divorce coach can be of value to the team

Divorce is typically an emotional time in a person's life. People do not typically enter into a marriage in Florida with the intent to divorce, and if children are involved the proceedings can be that much more difficult. There is a move toward a better way that involves what is known as a collaborative divorce.

In a collaborative divorce each party has his or her own attorney but also has a team of professionals to advise on things such as finances, child support and custody and other issues. Included in this group may be a collaboration coach. One advantage to the collaborative process is that discussions take place among everyone on the team rather than the attorneys having to go back and forth acting on behalf of the principals. A collaborative divorce coach can help keep the process moving forward.

Co-parenting after divorce

Florida residents fall in love, get married and start families that they intend to nurture and love into adulthood and beyond. Regardless of the intentions, many families break up via divorce while the children are still very young. Parents, by the very nature of being parents, attempt to keep the best interests of the children in mind during this difficult time. The best interests of the children may strongly influence how they decide to parent following a divorce.

Counselors, attorneys, friends and other people influential in a couple's lives may suggest that the most effective method of parenting following a divorce is co-parenting. Both parents retain an equal say in raising the children. The success of this goal is dependent on several factors.

Communication breakdown can lead to divorce

People fall in love, get married and sometimes live happily ever after. While the divorce rate is declining, particularly for younger couples, 40 to 50 percent of marriages still end in divorce in Florida and elsewhere. While the reasons given for a marriage ending are many, a recent study shows that the main cause is frequently related to one of two areas: lack of communication or growing apart.

Communication issues typically fall into one of two categories -- either an inability to fix an issue following an argument or when arguments chronically end in emotional overload. Many arguments may relate to one partner failure to do something. A failure to repair the issue, or change the behavior, can cause more serious problems. Arguments that continually end in emotional overdrive can cause issues that can be hard to overcome.

Divorce need not be contentious

The decision to end a marriage is not an easy one and one that is seldom made lightly in Florida. The hurt and anger that so often follow the decision to divorce can be a challenge to deal with particularly when young children are involved. There are steps that can be taken to make the process easier on everyone.

First, one should make sure that there really is no other option. Couples have disagreements and fights. Make sure that a divorce isn't a permanent solution to a temporary problem that time and cooler heads might be able to resolve. If one is past the point of no return and the decision is irrevocable, try to maintain respect for the other person. If young children are involved, they may pick up on feelings of animosity that can add to their hurt and confusion.

"Ghosting" can be grounds for divorce

In this day and age, it's easier than ever to find and communicate with someone. So, if a person chooses to suddenly halt communication with a significant other, it's usually intentional. The slang for this action has been dubbed, "ghosting" among pop culture.

If your spouse has left you like this, you have the right to move on after an extended period of time. Here's when you can get divorced on the grounds of ghosting, or as it's referred to legally, abandonment.

Social media posts can affect child custody case

Social media has become so intrinsic to people's everyday lives that there is hardly an aspect of one's life that is free of it in Florida or elsewhere in the country. It has become an issue in a child custody case in another state. The case involved Facebook, a mother and a judge ruling in a child custody case.

The case involved parents with shared custody of their child. The mother was looking to get sole custody and child support. This was in part due to charges of abuse by the mother against the father. The judge hearing had heard testimony but had not issued a ruling when the child's mother sent him a friend request on Facebook and the judge accepted it. The father was not informed of this.

War as a metaphor for divorce

The language of war can be a metaphor for the ending of a marriage. And like a war, a divorce can have a lasting and detrimental affect on one's life. A war can be full of minefields, harmful explosions and crippling injuries. A contentious divorce in Florida can also be full of minefields, explosions and injuries that can cause emotional harm to one's former spouse and children.

There are steps that can be taken to lessen the harmful effects of a divorce, particularly where children are involved. People must realize that victory is not a realistic expectation and that no one is really the victor in a divorce. The goal should be to arrive at a truce that is agreeable to all parties. A divorce can mirror a marriage, and issues that caused problems in the marriage could become a minefields in the divorce. Being aware of this and being proactive to deal with contentious issues can disarm them before they explode.

Collaborative law could limit contention during divorce

Ending a marriage is typically a traumatic process that could be exacerbated by the presence of contention. However, collaborative law offers couples in Florida and elsewhere the opportunity to finalize a divorce amicably. Those who can sit down together and negotiate an agreement can save time and money, and they might even limit the conflict and trauma.

A collaborative divorce requires each spouse to retain the services of an attorney with special training in this field of family law. After meeting separately with their respective lawyers to discuss their needs and wishes, all four will come together for negotiations. If necessary, professionals to advise on financial, real estate, tax or child-related issues can be brought in to assist the parties to reach a settlement agreement.

Divorce could be more costly in 2019

January is here and a new year has begun. People strive to remake themselves in the new year through resolutions and other changes. One of those changes is divorce and consequently January has become known as divorce month. For any one divorcing in Florida or elsewhere in Jan. 2019 or later, that divorce may be more expensive.

A new tax law was passed at the end of 2017 and some of the components of that law did not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019. One of those changes concerns how alimony is now handled for tax purposes. Before January 1, the higher-earning partner who was paying alimony could deduct the amount of the alimony from his or her taxable income. The change brought about by the tax law states that the person paying alimony must pay it with after-tax income and will not get a deduction, as it was under the old law. The recipient now has no tax liability for the alimony received.

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