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Tallahassee Florida Legal Blog

What is virtual visitation?

Undeniably, technology has changed the way that people communicate. Thanks to lawmakers working in cooperation with the courts, technology can now afford you the ability to fulfill the visitation terms as outlined in your parenting agreement even if you live far away, without requiring you to seek a modification of the existing order. According to FindLaw, Florida is one of a handful of states that has virtual visitation laws on the books, allowing courts to order visitation via electronic or online means in addition to in-person visits between you and your child. 

Virtual visitation can take place via a range of electronic communication, including more recent technologies such as social media or photo-sharing sites, webcams or video conferencing, private document sites or more standard electronic communication tools, such as instant messaging or e-mail. Telephone calls may also facilitate virtual visitation. 

Divorce and your home: 4 different options

What should you do with your home? Your spouse just asked you for a divorce, and that's the first question that pops into your mind.

When it does, you can see two things. First, your marriage has been over for a long time, even if your spouse has just asked for a divorce now. You're not even that sad to see that marriage technically end. You both need a chance to move on and you understand that.

How do new tax laws affect alimony?

Until recently, the rule was that if you paid alimony payments in Florida to an ex-spouse, you had the ability to deduct the payments from your taxes, while the alimony recipient paid taxes on it. Though alimony laws varied from state to state, that was a universal constant. However, federal legislation that goes into effect in the new year will turn the old rules on their heads. 

CNBC reports that the tax rules governing alimony payments will reverse when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act takes effect on January 1st. Alimony recipients will no longer pay taxes on the payments they receive, and alimony payees will no longer be able to deduct alimony payments from their taxable income. The new rule only affects divorces that become finalized after Jan. 1st, 2019. Financial and legal experts are still unclear at this point how or if the new rules will apply to alimony settlements finalized prior to Dec. 31, 2018. 

Who gets custody when the parents are unmarried?

If you have a child outside of wedlock in Florida, you may wonder what happens when you are the other parent separate. Who gets custody of your child? How do you develop a visitation schedule? If you were getting a divorce, then these things are pretty straightforward and handled through that legal process. When there is no legal separation in your relationship, what happens?

Under the law, according to WUSF, you have the right to go through a formal process of setting up a parenting plan as of 2018. Ideally, you and the other parent will agree to the terms of the plan and work together to create it. If you cannot agree, then a circuit court judge handles your case. Either way, this is a legal process that creates a legal document or agreement.

Getting remarried? Check your estate plan

If you are one of the many residents in Florida who is looking to get remarried, you will want to take smart steps to set you and your new family up for success. If your prior marriage ended in divorce, you know that marriage is far from easy and so now is the time for you to proactively do what you can to avoid problems down the road. One thing you can do to this end is to create a solid estate plan.

As explained by Fidelity Investments, a robust estate plan can act as something of a prenuptial agreement and may even be a useful addition to a prenup, especially if your new marriage will be blending children from one or more previous families. 

Can my credit cards give me problems after I divorce?

It is important as you proceed through a Florida divorce not to leave any financial loose ends that could come back to bite you later on. One of those loose ends may be lurking in your wallet. Over the course of a marriage, couples will often share credit cards. But if you intend to separate from your spouse, you must make certain that your credit card debts are separated as well.

Just because you formally divorce does not mean the credit card agreements you currently have on file will automatically change because of that. According to Bankrate, you and your spouse will still be subject to the preexisting agreements you have on file. That means if your spouse is an authorized user on your credit card, even if you divorce, you are still on the hook for expenses your spouse makes if your spouse does not pay.

What should I know about real estate after the hurricane season?

Whether your home was damaged by the recent storms blowing through Florida or you are looking to buy a home that was in a hurricane-impacted area, there are several things potential home buyers need to know about homes that sustained storm and flood damage. Even homes that sustained minimal damage, or homes that were newly built or renovated after a major hurricane, can be affected by the demand for building materials.

The widespread home damage and aftermath that occurred after the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons may provide a warning of what may come while residents rebuild from the recent devastating storms. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Florida was one of the states that was most impacted by a shortage of domestic drywall while homeowners were repairing their homes nearly 15 years ago. Reportedly, contractors had to outsource drywall and other building materials from China and other foreign manufacturers. Chinese drywall has been reported to cause numerous problems, ranging from plumbing and appliance damage to health problems.

Financial infidelity can lead to divorce and also complicate it

Infidelity is one of the most common reasons that couples seek divorce. However, not all infidelity is the result of an extramarital affair. Couples also wind up heading to divorce court as a result of financial infidelity, as opposed to physical infidelity.

Your life is intertwined with that of your spouse. The decisions they make can have a profound and lasting impact on your quality of life and your financial stability. If the person you marry is not honest with you about financial issues, that can lead to serious problems down the road.

How does alimony affect your taxes?

When a couple divorces in Florida, the court may order one ex-spouse to pay the other alimony, also spousal support, if there is a disparity of incomes and one of the former spouses does not make enough money to support himself or herself. If alimony is a part of your divorce settlement, you may wonder how the money that you pay or receive in alimony will affect your taxes. 

According to FindLaw, alimony affects your taxes differently depending on whether you are the one receiving alimony or the one making the payments. If you are the recipient, the IRS regards the money you receive in alimony as taxable income. On the other hand, if you are the one paying alimony, the payments that you make to your former spouse are tax deductible.

Debt relief and divorce

Couples who are facing serious financial problems in Florida often end up making the decision to get divorced. When this happens, they may also want to evaluate a variety of options for how to address their debt. Filing for bankruptcy may be one solution they wish to consider but there are multiple factors that should be considered in order for them to make the right decision for their situation.

There are two types of bankruptcy commonly used by consumers. Chapter 7 is the most well-known consumer bankruptcy and it essentially extinguishes all debt included in the case. It may also result in the loss of some assets. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan does not see the loss of assets but rather acts as a structured repayment plan. Homeowners sometimes look to this type of plan to save their homes.

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