Invalidating a Prenup

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Tuesday September 13th, 2022.

Prenuptial agreements are typically created with participation from both spouses and can be very advantageous for all parties. Prenuptial agreements can occasionally be made in bad faith, with one spouse solely considering their own interests. 

What is a Prenup?

An engaged couple may enter into a prenuptial agreement or prenup before they get married. The agreement specifies each party’s assets and property. When deciding who receives what assets in the event of a divorce, the couple will consult the prenuptial agreement. 

What Makes a Prenup Invalid?

A court may invalidate the terms of an agreement if it finds that something illegal occurred during the filing or creation of the document.

Here are four reasons a judge may invalidate your prenup:

Failure to disclose assets:  One spouse’s failure to reveal the full extent of their assets prior to signing the prenuptial agreement is a frequent reason why prenuptial agreements are declared illegal. If neither spouse waives their right to review, the other must be informed of all assets and obligations for the disclosure to be deemed valid. The financial details cannot be purposely hidden, such as a prospective spouse transferring assets or giving them as gifts.

Signing without representation: Some states demand that both parties’ legal representatives be present when the agreement is signed. Without a lawyer present at the signing, the agreement can be wholly void unless one party explicitly relinquishes their right to legal counsel.

Coercion: A prenuptial agreement that was signed under duress or under the influence of a future spouse may be void. Threats or physical force used to compel someone to sign a document are referred to as duress and coercion. Duress and coercion include demanding someone sign a prenuptial agreement before they walk down the aisle and denying them the chance to evaluate the terms or obtain independent legal counsel. 

Improperly filed paperwork: A prenup should always be handled by an attorney that is well-versed in the process. A poorly drafted agreement or improperly filed paperwork can be all it takes for a judge to invalidate the document.

Please contact our office today for a consultation if you need help drafting a prenuptial agreement. 

Can I Date Other People Before My Divorce Is Final?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Wednesday August 10th, 2022.

After a divorce, dating can be challenging. If you recently separated and are now returning to the dating world, you may be wondering “can I date someone new before my divorce is final?”

The Short Answer

Yes. 

There is no legal prohibition against beginning a romantic relationship before a divorce is final. In any jurisdiction, it is not necessary to prove one party’s fault for a couple to obtain a divorce. The new person you are dating doesn’t have to be concerned about being accused of adultery in the divorce proceeding.

Will It Complicate Your Proceedings?

It might. 

Dating is defined by law as one-on-one social interaction with another person. There is technically no difference between platonic and romantic or sexual contact. However, romantic or sexual relationships are the ones that garner attention and could complicate your divorce case, practically speaking.

Even if you are formally separated, divorce attorneys advise against dating during the divorce process. There is a possibility that it might raise the cost and stress of the divorce trial. If you’re still married, you shouldn’t date anyone else. However, once a person has physically and legally separated their spouse, judges rarely penalize them for starting a new relationship—sexual or otherwise.

Remember, it can be quite challenging to date while a divorce is still pending. It’s possible that dating someone new won’t impact the divorce process, but consider if it’s truly worth the risk. Before starting a new relationship, speak with your lawyer if you genuinely want to end your marriage. You can get legal advice regarding the repercussions of dating while your divorce is still pending. You may be advised to keep your connection private and try not to be seen together in public if you are dating someone. Definitely do not introduce your children to a new partner before the final divorce decree.

Get All of Your Divorce Questions Answered

The staff at Wickersham and Bowers is accessible right now to respond to your inquiries if you’re considering sacking your marriage. Our attorneys are skilled, competent, and sympathetic experts with years of combined legal expertise. We’ll work hard to get you the best result while assisting you in understanding your legal rights. 

Myths about Collaborative Divorce

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Tuesday July 12th, 2022.

The benefits of collaborative divorce are numerous. It enables you and your spouse to control the process and make all crucial choices. You can decide where and with whom your children will reside as well as how the marital estate will be divided. The outcome is a customized divorce agreement made by you and your spouse — not a judge.

However, because collaborative divorce is relatively new, a few myths are circulating about the process. This article will bust some of the three biggest ones:

Myth: I need a “bulldog” lawyer

Most people think of divorce as a nasty process and think they need an attorney that is ready to get dirty.

The truth is, you don’t need to pit yourself against your former spouse during the divorce process. While defending you, your collaborative lawyer won’t disparage your spouse. Instead, you, your spouse, and both your lawyers collaborate to find solutions to the problems brought on by your separation.

Myth: We need to be in complete agreement

Like any other divorcing people, couples that go through the collaborative process have arguments and problems in their marriage. Throughout the process, a group of experts will collaborate with you and your spouse to identify practical answers to those issues. The only requirements are your honesty, trustworthiness, and willingness to bargain in good faith to discover solutions that benefit your family.

Myth: Collaborative divorce is expensive

Although a collaborative divorce will cost you money, a contested divorce will cost more. Each spouse typically hires a lawyer and a divorce coach in a collaborative divorce. A financial expert and a child evaluator are two examples of impartial experts that the parties jointly hire. If necessary, mediation sessions can be planned and are also beneficial. While that may sound like a large and expensive team, a collaborative divorce avoids the costs of going to trial.

Is collaborative divorce right for you?

Collaborative divorce can assist you and your spouse with respectfully resolving any differences. You will collectively divide the family’s assets in a way that both parties find acceptable and establish a custody schedule that will pave the way for a successful co-parenting relationship. 

Contact us for a consultation if you would like to discuss the collaborative divorce process further.

Who Decides Where The Kids Will Go to School?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Thursday June 9th, 2022.

Who Decides Where The Kids Will Go to School?

School-age children are required to get an education in a public, private, or home school setting. If a child attends a public school, the residential living area determines where the child will attend. However, knowing where the kids will attend school becomes slightly more complicated if you and your spouse are divorced.

If one parent has custody of the child for the majority of the time, the kid will most likely attend school in that parent’s school district. However, if both parents share 50/50 custody, a decision must be made. 

If you and the other parent cannot reach an amicable decision on where your child should attend school, you may need to seek legal assistance. A skilled child custody attorney can help, especially if the court will be involved in the decision.

Factors the court will consider:

  • if the parent exhibits school system knowledge and has looked into the alternatives
  • if the custodial parent shows cooperation with the non-custodial parent in decision-making processes
  • the logistics of getting the children back and forth to school 
  • the ability to express the reasons why the school is the best choice for the child

What If I Am Left Out of School Decisions?

You can give the court order showing your parental rights to the school. The teachers and administration must involve you if you have a court order that provides you access to your child’s school information and gives you decision-making power.

Will the School Correspond with Both Parents?

In most cases, it is the responsibility of each parent to contact the school and establish communication channels. The custodial parent is not responsible for ensuring the non-custodial parent is kept informed.

Does the Non-custodial Parent Have to be Listed as an Emergency Contact?

When one parent has sole physical and legal custody, the other parent does not have to be listed as an emergency contact unless the court order mandates otherwise. 

If you and your former partner need assistance making school decisions for your children, you should consult with an attorney that is well-versed in these decisions. Making decisions regarding schooling should be handled efficiently in order to have the most negligible negative impact on the children.

Reasons You Need a Prenuptial Agreement

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday May 19h, 2022.

A prenuptial agreement defines the parameters of your finances before marriage, including property rights and more. A lawyer should thoroughly review every prenuptial agreement, with one attorney representing you and the other representing your future spouse.

You may think prenups are only for people with substantial financial resources. However, if any of the following apply to you or your situation, a prenuptial agreement should be discussed.

One (Or Both) of You Has Children

A prenuptial agreement should be considered if one of you had children from a previous marriage or relationship.

Prenuptial agreements can be written to protect your children’s assets and future earnings. This property or income might ordinarily be considered part of the marital estate and so be divided. A premarital agreement ensures that children’s inheritance and future maintenance are not entangled in the divorce process.

There is Substantial Debt

Debt is an unfortunate aspect of life, and people can carry their debt into the marriage. The non-burdened party is unlikely to want to be saddled with an enormous bill should the marriage go sour. 

A prenuptial agreement can help limit one partner’s exposure to the debts of the other. Any agreement should spell out each partner’s individual debts and assets prior to the marriage, allowing for a clear distinction between those debts and debts incurred by the couple during the marriage.

Someone Plans to be a Stay At Home Parent

In the event of a divorce, it might be difficult or impossible for one party to re-establish their profession or financial footing after pausing or giving up their work to raise their children. A prenuptial agreement protects stay-at-home parents’ interests in marital assets. It ensures that these agreements are documented in the event that the marriage breaks and their profession is put on hold. 

One of You Has Pets

Including pets in your prenuptial agreement is normal, especially if the pets are costly. This will ensure that any animals you share with your spouse are returned to their rightful owners if the marriage ends in divorce. Although pet ownership is rarely a point of contention in divorce proceedings, some people do use it as a negotiating tool.

Considerations for a Peaceful Military Divorce Process

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Thursday April 7th, 2022.

Depending on the conditions, the divorce process can differ for each family. Because of the large number of military families in the United States, it’s also vital to address some differences and concerns that a military divorce may bring up.

 Service Members Civil Relief Act

When service members are on active duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act helps to protect their legal rights. When one spouse serves the other with divorce papers, the latter is usually required to answer within a set amount of time. However, under the SCRA:

  • If the service member demonstrates that they cannot attend due to duty obligations, civil court or administrative proceedings may be extended.
  • In some cases, service members may be protected from default judgments if they fail to answer a lawsuit or attend a trial.

If You Are Overseas

A divorce decree made outside of the United States may be difficult to enforce since American courts do not recognize it. As a result, filing in the United States is frequently the best option.

Service members or their spouses can apply for divorce in the state where they are currently stationed, the state where they claim legal domicile or the state where the nonmilitary spouse resides, depending on the state’s laws.

Effect of Divorce on Military Benefits

The nonmilitary spouse may keep their identity card and continue to get commissary, exchange, and health-care benefits until the divorce is finalized. When a military member or other family members leave due to a divorce, installation family housing usually ends within 30 days.

The military may pay for the nonmilitary spouse’s relocation costs when he or she returns home from an overseas deployment post. The cost of an in-state move could be negotiated as part of the divorce settlement.

In the absence of an agreement or a court order, each military branch has policies requiring service members to support family members after separation.

When divorce causes a loss of TRICARE benefits, coverage can be purchased for up to 36 months of temporary health care benefits through the Department of Defense Continued Health Care Benefit program.

Don’t Get Discouraged

As you can see, a military divorce comes with its own set of complications. An attorney with experience handling military divorce can help you navigate the process efficiently. 

The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers provides top-notch legal representation to clients in Daytona Beach and southern Florida. Our areas of legal practice include family lawpersonal injuryeminent domain, and estate planning and probate. Our firm has over 60 years of addressing our clients’ legal issues. Please feel free to contact us by filling out our online form or calling us at (386) 252-3000.

Life After Divorce—3 Things To Do Next

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday March 7th, 2022.

What happens after a divorce? The proceedings have likely left you depleted of your energy and feeling stressed. You should be aware, however, that divorce can be a significant first step toward a new chapter in your life. 

Let’s look at three primary areas where you should concentrate your efforts.

Break Ties With Your Ex

Marriage entangles your lives in many ways, and after a divorce, you need to go about extracting yours from theirs. It will likely mean new bank accounts, separate insurance accounts, and splitting any money you have in savings or retirement accounts. 

You may also be changing your name, which means updating all of your financial accounts and maybe even your social media. You may be closing joint streaming services and updating emergency contacts. 

If you have children, school and daycare will need updated contact information. Wills will need to be changed, and beneficiaries updated as well. 

Get Your Finances in Order

You may use the new start of a divorce to get your spending under control, start saving, improve your income, and achieve your financial objectives if you have a proper financial plan in place.

It is very likely that you were previously living with two incomes, and your financial circumstances have drastically changed. Take the following steps to ensure that you can maintain an appropriate lifestyle:

  • Make a new monthly budget
  • Track your new net worth
  • Eliminate expenses as necessary
  • Build up your emergency fund
  • Plan to pay off debt
  • Set new financial goals
  • If necessary, rebuild credit
  • Plan for your retirement

Resolve Any Legal Issues

As part of your divorce, you may have put in place provisions for spousal support and child custody agreements. If not, you will need to do that right away. 

There are plenty of details to co-parenting that will need to be worked out, such as visitation, where the kids will spend the holidays, and maybe even what religion they will be raised in. If things are amicable, you may be able to work these details out on your own, but an attorney should be involved if compromises can’t be reached. 

When You Have a Vaccine Dispute With Your Kids’ Other Parent

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Thursday February 10th, 2022.

Doctors encourage parents of children aged 5 to 11 to get their children vaccinated against COVID. Both parents must sign off if you’re divorced and share custody. However, a poll shows that roughly a quarter of U.S. parents do not want their kids vaccinated. How should parents navigate the issue if one is for the vaccine and one is against it? 

Look at Your Papers

Your first step should be to review your custodial order and final divorce decree. The two of you may have already laid the groundwork for these types of decisions. 

In addition, if one parent was given sole legal custody, that parent has the ability to make the final decision on the vaccine question.

Seek Legal Advice

Should you and the other parent have joint legal custody, the decision will need to be made together. If a consensus feels impossible, seeking the assistance of a family law attorney may be the best solution. You can request mediation, or you can ask the court for help coming to a resolution. 

Going to Court

If you go before a judge, there are a few things that you will need to do to prepare for your case. 

  • Present evidence: You and the other parent will both have the chance to support your position on the vaccine with evidence. Your opinion is not considered evidence. You will need documentation from your child’s medical provider or testimony from medical experts. 
  • History of involvement: Before considering your stance on the vaccine, the court will take a look at your level of involvement in your child’s medical care. If one parent makes the majority of medical decisions for the child, the court is likely to weigh that parent’s wishes more heavily. 
  • Religion: Religious reasons for objecting to the vaccine will be considered by the court, but it is unlikely that this will be the sole factor in the court’s decision. 
  • Your child’s testimony: Older children, fourteen years old and above, will likely be asked for their own opinion regarding vaccination. The court may consider an older child’s wishes when making a decision. 

Co-Parenting and School Vacations

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday January 10th, 2022.

It pays to prepare ahead, whether you’re thinking about the impending holidays or want to make co-parenting with your ex go more smoothly next summer. If the two of you work together to come up with a co-parenting plan that works for everyone, you’ll have a higher chance of co-parenting peacefully.

Co-parents should consider various aspects of arranging time and collaborating over the holidays, including the children’s ages, family customs, and religious views. Additional considerations include how well the parents get along and the kind of relationships the parents have with each of the children. It’s critical to honor the traditions that are significant to each of them.

It would help if you also considered what happens during other school breaks throughout the year. For example, if one parent takes the kids on vacation during spring break, the other parent might receive the bulk of winter break.

Make it Official

Your holiday plans should be outlined in the custody agreement you reached during your divorce. The agreement should spell out how school breaks—winter, spring, and long weekends like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and others—will be spent and allocated from year to year. 

You might also want to discuss what will happen on religious holidays that your family observes that aren’t on the school calendar. If you’re going to keep your usual parenting routine over the school break, you should specify that in your contract. If you don’t, the other parent can subsequently ask a court to decide whether the child should be split or alternated.

Attorneys can help to avoid conflicts by establishing explicit guidelines in the parenting plan or custody agreement.

Every family is unique, and every divorce falls somewhere along the amicable-to-acrimonious spectrum. To eliminate any potential confusion down the road, your plan should be clearly spelled out. Some plans are highly explicit and include set dates, such as Mom getting the third week of June and Dad getting the third week of July. Others may simply specify that each parent will have one week and that all dates must be finalized and communicated by a specific date.

Parents should make every effort to adhere to the schedule.