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.

How Do I Adopt My Grandchild?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Friday December 10th, 2021

When a child’s parents are officially separated, divorced, deceased, or unable to care for them, child custody rights dictate who will take over care of the child. The custodial parent is the name given to this person. 

The child’s needs, such as shelter, clothes, and food, are the custodial parent’s responsibility. Furthermore, the person given custody of the child is accountable for making critical life decisions on the child’s behalf.

In general, while assessing who should be granted custody rights, preference is given to the biological parents. Grandparents gaining custody of their grandkids is an uncommon occurrence. The court is the only one who may decide whether a parent is unfit to care for their child.

When Would the Court Give Grandparents Custody?

When the kid’s parents are either unable or unwilling to raise their child, a court may grant custody to the grandparents. 

The grandparents must show that they can raise the child; custody will not be given simply because they are the child’s grandparents.

The court will consider how long the parents have been unable to care for the child and whether the grandparents seeking custody have been caring for the child during that period. 

Things that would prove a parent unfit include:

  • Failure to provide a safe home
  • Endangering the child’s health or safety
  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Unable to care for the childe due to mental or physical disability 

For the court to grant custody to a grandparent, they would need to prove:

  • They are able to  financially care for the child
  • They are physically and mentally fit
  • The child wishes to live with the grandparents
  • An emotional bond exists between the child and grandparents

The court will assess if the petitioning grandparents are mobile and able to be present and active participants in the child’s upbringing to further clarify what they are asking for. 

The court will evaluate whether the grandparents are financially competent in providing for the child’s medical and day-to-day expenses while still meeting their own financial obligations. 

Finally, the court will consider how the child’s connection with other family members, particularly any living parent, may be affected if the grandparents are granted custody rights.

How is Child Support Determined in Divorce?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Tuesday October 12th, 2021

When parents split, the divorce settlement indicates who the children will reside with, and the child support also concludes the circumstances under which the other parent would meet the child. Parents frequently need to work out such arrangements, either voluntarily or with the help of their attorneys. However, if they cannot come to an amicable agreement, the court may step in to make the best decision in the child’s favor.

Matter of Consideration in Child Custody Decisions:

The court evaluates several variables while selecting who will receive custody. Although it can be challenging to ascertain, the court is focused on what will be the best option for the child. The parent who has been the primary caretaker is often the deciding factor. If the children are of legal age, the court will consider their wishes while making a custody judgment.

Some common factors influencing the court’s decision are as follows:

  • Interaction and relationships with other family members
  • Child’s age and their sex
  • Parent’s mental and physical health
  • Religious or cultural concerns
  • Stable home environment
  • School and community adjustments
  • Evidence of drug or alcohol misuse
  • Excessive parental discipline or emotional abuse

Types of Joint Custody Agreements:

Once the investigation ends, the Judge will decide between the following two custody types:

1. Joint Physical Custody

Joint Physical Custody entails the child living with both parents for “substantial periods”. The children will have “regular and continuing contact” with each parent.

However, this does not imply that the child has to spend equal time with both parents. The child would spend half of their time with the primary custodial parent.

2. Joint Legal Custody:

Joint Legal Custody is when both parents decide to share the right and obligation to make significant decisions for their child with mutual understanding. The decisions made may include:

  • Childcare costs or schooling
  • Child’s residence
  • Religious entities or activities
  • Health issues

Some differences may occur during the process of making these decisions, which may necessitate the court’s involvement.

Need Assistance? Contact Us Today:

The fear of losing your beloved child can cause severe and long-lasting anxiety. Thus, you must seek the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through this challenging procedure. Contact us today to get a quote.

Dealing with a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday September 13th, 2021

It is neither easy to be a victim of domestic violence nor is it manageable to fight a case against it all on your own. Dealing with a restraining order for domestic violence can lead to grave consequences.

Consequences of domestic violence 

  1. Deportation: You may be vulnerable to losing your legal status in the United States. 
  2. Imprisonment: It will cost you your freedom, with 1 to 3 years of jail time.
  3. Time loss: You will be required to attend a conflict and accountability program for 52 weeks.
  4. Financial loss: In some cases, you may be charged with a penalty of $10,000.
  5. Career barriers: General livelihood and career is affected as the domestic violence charges will be added to your history.
  6. Order to stay away from home: If your partner lives in the same house and is parenting a child, the court may order you to leave the house as it will interfere with the child’s upbringing.

However, there are cases in which the accusations on the individual are false. In that case, there are several ways to defend yourself.

False allegations: 

There can be different reasons why your partner would falsely accuse you of domestic violence. It can gain their benefits in the family court and help them to obtain custody of the child. However, defending yourself is your legal right. The attorney will help you conduct a background check of your partner for any history of false allegations they might have.

Self-defense 

If you want to protect yourself against any dangerous situation, you may use self-defense. However, it could be used against you in court to degrade your records. Moreover, the pressure on police to arrest the oppressor can also make them take the wrong decision at times. 

The attorney will help you find evidence of any past injury through medical history or photographs to prove that you are not the oppressor. Secondly, the complete story can also help you give an edge in the court. 

Accidental injury 

A fight can turn into an accident sometimes. Either your partner or the police can take advantage of the situation and arrest you in the case of domestic violence. However, you can defend yourself with the help of a skilled attorney. Proofs can be provided about how the whole incident happened with the help of the attorney. To know more, get in touch to book an appointment so that we can discuss your particular case in detail. 

Keeping Children Safe During Divorce Proceedings

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Wednesday August 11th, 2021

It can be difficult to know what is best for children or how best to keep them safe during an ongoing divorce. It is important to understand the rights and responsibilities that are in place from the moment a divorce petition is filed so that children are kept safe and both parties can come out of the divorce with their parental rights and relationships intact. 

Know the Rules During a Divorce 

Regardless of the situation, it is important to know that once a legal separation is granted and divorce proceedings begin, neither parent is allowed to take children out of the state in which the divorce is occurring. 

This is done to safeguard the children and to determine the state of the family at the time of the divorce. 

What this means though is that planned trips, vacations, or other activities may have to be put on hold while the process is ongoing. 

Be Honest and Forthright

It is important to include both parents in the divorce discussion and to be as open and honest as possible without blaming or shaming either parent during the conversation. 

It also helps to allow children to express their feelings and concerns as well as ask any questions they may have about what is going to happen moving forward. It is important to remember that while the divorce is going on, it’s not a good idea to discuss custody or living arrangements unless the courts have already made a decision regarding those facts. 

The goal is to make the process as smooth as possible for the children while handling the logistics of the divorce. 

Never Use Children as Intermediaries or Bargaining Chips 

Remember that the divorce should be settled by the parents, the courts, and the legal representatives on either side. This means that children should largely be kept out of the legal proceedings. 

Using the children to communicate with your spouse should never be an option. Neither is using your children to gain leverage or information on your spouse. 

At Wickersham and Bowers we know that divorces can be messy and painful endeavors, but that’s why it’s important to have the right legal representation to help make the process as simple and pain free as it can be. 

If you’re considering a divorce, contact us today for a consultation