Florida Divorce – Equitable Distribution

The recent public break-up of Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Maria Shriver raised some interesting questions about what spouses are entitled to at the time of divorce. Media sources stated that under California law, because the celebrity couple had been married since 1986, Ms. Shriver would be entitled to half of the marital estate under California’s “equitable distribution” principles. Those same sources speculated that the former Terminator star’s net worth to hover around $100 million.

Similar to the marital laws in California, Florida also has an equitable distribution scheme which provides that spouses are entitled to divvy up what they earned while married. Now, it’s easy to confuse equitable with “equal,” but that is not necessarily the case–“equitable” more closely means “what is most fair”. Often a husband or a wife who was primarily a homemaker during the marital relationship will feel as though they are not entitled to anything. WRONG!!! Courts view any kind of labor, even labor that primarily focused on maintaining the household, like childcare, doing the dishes, or paying the bills, as equal in value as going out and earning a living. Florida law also provides for spousal support and alimony. King Law can give you all the answer you need.

If you are facing the possibility of divorce, it is important to educate yourself. If you are served with a divorce petition by your spouse, be aware that you have to file a response within a certain time frame. What often happens is the spouse who files the divorce tries to convince the other that they don’t need a lawyer or that they just need to sign a piece of paper and the lawyer will take care of it. This is horrible advice. You likely are signing away your rights to significant amounts of money. Understand that the lawyer your soon-to-be former spouse is not looking out for your best interest, but your ex’s. Don’t let this happen! Eric Ratinoff Law Corp would be more than happy to help guide you through the maze of law and help you protect what is rightfully yours.

Attorney’s Fees in Family Law Cases – How do I get someone to pay for my divorce?

When people are getting a divorce there are so many heated emotions but none more so than money.

When I see a new client one of the first things we talk about is money. How much they get or how much the former spouse can take away from them. Then we talk about my fees. Inevitably the question is – “can’t the other side pay for it?” Like all things legal, the answer is “it depends”.

When you file for divorce or you answer a divorce petition, you can and should always ask for attorney fees. You can ask for them in child support, child custody, and paternity cases too. The only family law case where you will not be awarded attorney fees is in a domestic violence injunctions.

Whether or not you are actually awarded attorney fees and in what amount entirely depends on the other party’s ability to pay, your circumstances, and the judge.

If you have a question about attorney fees in injury law cases, call KCNS Law Monterey Park workplace accident lawyers. As of today – our initial consultations are free (which is subject to change).

Husband – Wife Marital Privilege in Florida

Do I have to testify against my spouse? Like all things legal the answer is – IT DEPENDS.

The Florida Evidence Code governs which evidence is allowed in at trial. Most of the evidence code is written to prevent prejudice before a jury. The Marital privilege is one of those. The law says that a spouse can refuse to disclose commuications “which were intended to be made in confidence between the spouses while they were married. ” (the key here is while they were married, I have many people ask, what happens if I marry him now? meaning after he’s been charged with the crime – the answer is: too bad. The communications must occur within the marriage.)

However, the law goes on to say that if one spouse is charged with a crime against the other – the privilege doesn’t apply. Domestic Battery is a good example. The Husband – Wife privilege does not apply if one spouse is charged with a crime against a child of either spouse.

Another exception is if the defendant spouse is the one who offers the evidence. For example: One spouse is charged with murder. He/She offers testimony that he had a conversation with his wife three weeks earlier about how someone else was going to kill the victim, or that he was going to be out of town on the day the murder occured. That is called an EXCULPATORY statement, and someone charged with murder would want his or her spouse to testify to something like that. They certainly would not invoke the privilege if the communication could potentially help him or her.

A recent Florida Supreme Court case out of Jacksonville, FL discusses the Husband- Wife privilege in detail. It seems the Husband, who was charged with murdering his father’s girlfriend after an evening of drinking and cocaine use and then burning down the house; told his wife of his plans to frame another man for the murder. While he was in jail, he befriended his cellmate, who helped him find someone on the outside to plant the evidence. He told his wife to give another man $300 to help him plant evidence on the other guy. The wife met up with the man, gave him the money, and discussed the cover-up with him. Unbeknownst to the wife – the man helping with the cover-up was an undercover cop. (This is a perfect example of why not to befriend cellmates – this guys cellmate went right to the cops!) The wife was subsequently charged with a crime for her help and pled guilty.  During the penalty phase of the trial, she was called to testify about her actions by the State.  Obviously, the defense attorney objected that the wife’s testimony was privileged. But the Supreme Court said she was merely testifying about her own ACTIONS, not the communications she had with her husband and therefore the testimony was admissible.

The wife was also called to testify about a phone call she received from her husband telling her not to go home because the house was on fire.

The Court said that although this was privileged communication between a Husband and Wife, there were so many other witnesses at trial who testified that the house was on fire, that even if the jury had not heard her testimony, they would not have changed their minds about his guilt on the arson charge. The Court calls this “harmless error,” meaning with or without the Wife’s testimony, a reasonable jury would have convicted him of arson anyway.

In review: If you are the victim of your spouse’s crime, the Husband Wife privilege doesn’t apply. If the testimony is about the defendant’s actions – rather than what he said – the privilege doesn’t apply. The only time the Husband Wife privilege applies is when the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy while speaking to each other. And most importantly, don’t befriend your cell mate!