Month: May 2018

When considering divorce, you will likely feel overwhelmed, exhausted and confused. Thinking about alimony, money, property, debts, custody, visitation and your family’s well-being can feel like crushing weights on your shoulders. Now, if that wasn’t enough, you also need to think about the consequences that the new tax law may have on your divorce and financial future.

Recent taxation modifications made at the Federal level are causing a bit of head scratching because of the major changes in the handling of alimony payments.

Does this mean that you may want to delay or speed up your divorce plans? We’ll talk about it in this issue.

What is Alimony?

Under Florida law, alimony is legally required financial support made by someone to his or her former spouse for either a specific amount of time or permanent. Courts will consider a host of factors to determine the amount to be paid,  including the:

  • length of the marriage;
  • financial resources of both parties;
  • standard of living established during the marriage;
  • earning potential of both parties; and
  • age of and health condition of both parties.

One question I am almost always asked by couples is how can we figure out the proper amount of Alimony? I wish there was a formula like the one used to calculate child-support because that would make the process so much simpler. However, since that does not exist, I work with couples to balance the factors above (and the other ones listed in Florida law) to help couples figure out an amount and time-frame that is fair and equitable to both the paying-spouse and the recipient.

The topic of Alimony almost always causes a strong eruption in emotions during mediation as the spouse paying invariably feels that they are paying too much, and the spouse receiving usually feels they did not receive enough. As your Mediator, I work hands-on with both spouses to find a middle-ground that works for both spouses.

How will Alimony change with the new tax law?

Before the new tax legislation passed, the person responsible for paying the alimony was generally entitled to count it as a tax deduction on their personal tax return. Likewise, the spouse receiving the alimony was generally required to report it as taxable income. For both parties, this reciprocal handling of taxation for the alimony payment made sense and seemed fair.

Under the new law, however, the person paying will no longer be able to claim it as a deduction. Likewise, the payments will be tax-free to the person receiving the payment. Now when I work with couples, there is an added strain on the negotiations because of this new taxation rule.

The new tax laws will affect divorces finalized as of Jan. 1, 2019. The previous tax law will still govern divorces finalized on or before Dec. 31, 2018. As a result, many experts are expecting a rush of divorces in late 2018. In fact, many of the couples contacting me and choosing the route of a PeacefulSplit™ Mediation because they want to take advantage of the current tax law.

The taxation of alimony payments is changing
Alimony is a hot-button issue in divorce. The new tax law made it even more challenging.

Will the new law affect my divorce?

For the party required to pay alimony, the divorce just became much more expensive. In addition to paying a specified amount, he or she will also have to pay its associated income taxes. For this reason alone, it’s likely that alimony will become an even bigger challenge for couples to agree about. For the paying-spouse, the true cost of alimony will be more expensive, and for the recipient-spouse, the true value of the payment will be more valuable.

The new taxation law recently passed. So far, Florida has not adjusted the way alimony impacts the calculation of child support. Currently, it is still counted as income to the recipient-parent as as an expense to the paying-parent.

Here at PeacefulSplit™ Mediation, our sole mission is guide, comfort, and assist you and your spouse or partner so that you can obtain a peaceful divorce. Most importantly, we never judge you based upon your values, beliefs, culture or sexual orientation.

If you and your spouse are ready for aPeacefulSplit™ Mediation, or are just contemplating divorce, I am here to help by answering all of your questions and explaining to the both of you the benefits of aPeacefulSplit™ Mediation.  Sometimes both parties are on the same page, and often they are not. I am available to help you under either scenario.

If you are ready to divorce, want to avoid a financially and emotionally draining legal battle, and desire an economical “PeacefulSplit™ Mediation” or just want more information about the divorce mediation process, then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you.  I can be reached at 954-272-8292.

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Many same-sex couples were ecstatic in 2015 when it became legal to marry in Florida. Just a few days after that historic day, the Tampa Bay Timespublished an article that chronicled the experiences of a woman who was jubilant for a completely different reason: Florida would also have to allow same-sex couples to divorce.

“It was a very liberating moment,” the woman told the newspaper. “All of the angst, frustration and anxiety that was just under the surface was finally released.”

In this issue, we’ll talk more about same-sex divorce in Florida.

How many same-sex couples are in Florida??

Census information from the Williams Institute tells us there are nearly 50,000 same-sex couples in Florida, the third highest rate in the U.S. behind New York and California. While 51% of such couples in the United States are female, women make up approximately 64% of gay marriages in the U.S.

Are same-sex couples more likely than straight couples to divorce?

Current research and data reveals the exact opposite. A study published by the Williams Institute reveals that same-sex couples divorce at a slightly lower rate than their heterosexual peers. The research confirmed that, on average, same-sex couples divorce at a rate of about 1.1% — compared to the 2% annual divorce rate between heterosexual couples.

same-sex couples and divorce mediation
Same-sex couples divorce at lower rates than heterosexual couples, but can also benefit from a PeacefulSplit divorce mediation

How is same-sex divorce different in Florida?

Many issues common with heterosexual couple divorces are found in same-sex separations. For example, division of assets and property, alimony, child support, parental responsibility, etc.

Just as with heterosexual divorces, there are two types of same-sex divorces: settled and contested.

As a licensed attorney for over 23 years and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, I firmly believe that  divorce mediation can be a big help in assisting both same-sex and heterosexual couples obtain a peaceful and amicable settled divorce marked by open communication and agreement.

A big challenge for same-sex couples facing divorce, however, revolves around any children they have together. If both partners adopted a child during their marriage, they will both enjoy the same parental rights as heterosexual partners. This includes custody and child support arrangements based upon “the best interests of the child.” This is the same standard applicable to heterosexual divorces.

If a sperm donor or surrogate was used to have children, the Court will generally not view one of the partners as a biological parent. This is especially true if that partner did not choose to adopt the child.

If you’re considering same-sex divorce in Florida, call Peaceful Split Mediation:

For all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, divorce can be incredibly complex matter. Emotions and anxiety quickly create environments that cause costly mistakes. Divorce mediation, however, creates an environment of calm and ease. It is in this mindset that you will be able to collaboratively resolve your differences to achieve your individual and collective interests.

Just as with an opposite-sex divorce, if you are in a gay marriage in Florida and do not have a divorce agreement in place before you go to court, you will be most likely be required by the court to take part in divorce mediation.

Here at PeacefulSplit™ Florida Divorce Mediation, our sole mission is guide, comfort, and assist you and your spouse or partner so that you can obtain a peaceful divorce. Most importantly, we never judge you based upon your values, beliefs, culture or sexual orientation.

If you and your spouse are ready for a PeacefulSplit™ Mediation, or are just contemplating divorce, I am here to help by answering all of your questions and explaining to the both of you the benefits of a PeacefulSplit™ Mediation.

If you are ready to divorce, want to avoid a financially and emotionally draining legal battle, and desire an economical “PeacefulSplit™ Mediation” or just want more information about the divorce mediation process, then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you.  I can be reached at 954-272-8292.

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Men and women are equally likely to end a non-marital relationship. A recent study confirms that it is women who are more likely to initiate divorce proceedings. However, as both former partners begin their post-divorce lives, who has the tougher time?

We’ll talk about in this issue.

Why women start most divorces?

According to the study, which was published in Science Daily and researched by the American Sociological Association, a big reason for women beginning the divorce process is a desire for the flexibility available in non-marital relationships.

A key finding in that study was dissatisfaction with a perceived loss of independence, coupled with husbands who tend to be controlling.

A different study from the AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons) also found that women tend to initiate the divorce process – but for different reasons. The study found that women “were more in tune with the danger signs of a problem marriage.” The study also found that men were more likely to be completely caught off guard by the suggestion of a split.

Who fares better after a marriages end?

With evidence showing that women initiate more divorces, there’s research suggesting that women – as compared to men – also enjoy happier and healthier lifestyles thereafter.

A research project into the post-divorce health habits of men and women found that its men who are more likely to experience negative physical and mental health effects following a separation.

Among the suspected causes of such findings is the absence of a positive healthy influence many wives have upon their husbands. When that influence is no longer around, many men are prone to develop unhealthy habits, including use of tobacco and alcohol.

An NBC News report suggested that many men take longer to recover from the shock of divorce because they often do not realize how dependent they are upon their spouses or partners until they are served with divorce papers.

How does a PeacefulSplit™ Divorce Mediation level the playing field?

For starters, neither party has the upper hand during divorce mediation. Eric B. Epstein, Esq., a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediation, will take specific steps to eliminate any power imbalance – real or perceived – and both spouses will be empowered to stand up for themselves, their desires and their feelings.

For some, the outcome of mediation is not divorce, but reconciliation. For the vast majority, the outcome to a successful PeacefulSplit™ Florida Divorce Mediation is a hostile-free divorce that is healthier for the spouses as well the any children. The key to a successful mediation is working with an experienced mediator who will encourage creative settlement ideas and ensure that the parties negotiate in a non-threatening manner.

Divorce doesn't have to be ugly; It can be peaceful
A PeacefulSplit™ Divorce mediation is focused on the well-being of the spouses and any children.

Hardly anyone enters into a marriage thinking it will end. Life, however, presents us with different challenges every day that often lead us on a road we thought we’d never travel.

Even though divorce mediation in Florida is a generally required if you and your spouse do not already have a settlement agreement, the goal is to ensure that whatever differences both of you are having are resolved in a civil manner, and that the resulting agreement is in the best interest of both parties and any minor children.

In a PeacefulSplit™ Mediation,  I work with both spouses to keep the focus on the following:

  • the best interests of the minor children;
  • your divorce experience – and not anyone else’s;
  • developing and implementing their short-term and long-term goals; and
  • deciding about their needs and desires.

If you and your spouse are ready for a PeacefulSplit™ Mediation, or are just contemplating divorce, I am here to help and ready to have separate conversations with each of you, or, as is my preference, a conference-call during which I can explain to the both of you the benefits of a PeacefulSplit™ Mediation. Sometimes both parties are on the same page, and often they are not. I am available to help you under either scenario.

If you are ready to divorce, want to avoid a financially and emotionally draining legal battle, and desire an economical PeacefulSplit™ Mediation or just want more information about the divorce mediation process, then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you.  I can be reached at 954-272-8292.

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