“Conscious Uncoupling” or an Amicable Divorce?

What is “Conscious Uncoupling“?  How is it different from an amicable divorce, or a simplified divorce?  No matter what you call it, it’s going to include complex issues.  If you are thinking about a divorce – or uncoupling as Hollywood now likes to call it – please get legal advice.  Even as Psychotherapist Katherine Woodward Thomas states in her interview, no matter what you call it, you are making decisions that will affect the rest of your life.  Be smart, get advice.

If you are undergoing a Family Law Matter, please contact us to discuss the law and how it applies to your situation before embarking on a Hollywood’s newest feel good remedy.  After all, you didn’t name your child Apple, right?

 

Link to interview here.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=227

Divorcing? 6 Ways to Keep Your Financial Footing

The financial ramifications of a divorce can be far reaching.  Often times when I speak to prospective clients about the division of their assets during a divorce, they tell me, “well, we don’t have much to divide” or “we agree on how we are going to divide everything” or my favorite, “we already divided everything.”  I believe they tell me this in an attempt to reduce their attorney fees, which I understand.  But, almost always, the lack of planning up front ends up costing them more short and, more importantly, long term.

Preparing for your financial well begin after your divorce begins well before you are actually divorced.  When you begin the process of a divorce, start planning for your future.  Work with your attorney to achieve the most advantageous division of your assets and begin working with a financial expert and planner to start  planning for your financial well being after your divorce.  Here is a link to a good, short article discussing six things to think about during your divorce to help your long term financial well being: link.

If you are thinking of a divorce, or are currently going though a divorce, please contact us to discuss your options.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=218

Andrew Bokan Selected as 2013 Super Lawyer, Rising Star

I am honored and humbled to have been selected as a 2013 Florida Super Lawyer, Rising Star.  This recognition by Florida Super Lawyers® magazine is awarded to those who have achieved a high degree of peer-recognition and personal achievement in the field of Marital and Family Law.  Less than 2.5 percent of eligible attorneys throughout Florida are named to the Super Lawyers, Rising Stars list.  The 2013 selection is a particular honor as I was the only attorney with offices in Fort Myers to have been selected.

 

If you have questions about a Family Law matter, please contact us to discuss your options.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=213

The Most Expensive Divorce in History

Billionaire Oil Barron Harold Hamm is mired in a divorce proceeding in his home state of Oklahoma.  Hamm is the CEO of Continental Resources and is one of America’s wealthiest and most influential businessmen.  He served as the senior energy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign.  Reports estimate Hamm’s net worth as $11.3 billion.  And you guessed it, according to court records there does not appear to be a prenup.

Oklahoma Family Law is similar to Florida Family Law with regards to the distribution of the marital estate.  Both states apply the theory of equitable distribution.  Equitable distribution does not always mean an equal distribution of marital assets.  Instead, it gives the trial court discretion to divide the estate as deemed equitable, or fair, which could mean an unequal distribution of the marital estate.  The trial court only has to justify the distribution – a very low standard.  Typically, equitable is distribution is the same whether the court is dividing $1 or $1 million dollars, but this amount of money begs the question of how much is enough to be equitable, especially considering the low standard (a justification) for an unequal distribution?  Does $11.3 billion need to be divided equally to be fair, or is $1 billion, or $2 billion, or $3 billion, etc… enough to be fair?

This will be an interesting one to follow.  Not only for the exuberant dollar figures, but to see how the court applies equitable distribution to such a large estate.

If you are facing a divorce or are getting married and have questions about a prenuptial agreement, contact us to discuss your options.

 

 

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=207

Are Declining Divorce Rates Bad for America?

Okay, that’s a trick title.  At first glance it would appear that of course less couples getting divorced is a good thing.  But what if the decline in the divorce rate in America is an outcome of less people getting married and results in more children being born out of wedlock?  What effect does that have those children?  A recent article in The Economist addresses this exact question.

The article points out that, as of December 2011, just 51% of all American adults were married and 28% never had been, down from 72% and up from 15% in 1960.  However, less people getting married is not stopping them from having children.  In 2010, 40.8% of all births were to unmarried mothers – that is more than 4 out of every ten children being born out of wedlock!  I am surprised that I was so shocked by the statistics.  Paternity cases have become much more regular and I handle far more Paternity cases now than I did ten years ago.  Paternity is an umbrella term which addresses all child issues (time sharing and child support) between unmarried parents.

The article is an interesting read and discusses an array of topics related to this issue, including an initiative in Oklahoma attempting to show the benefits of marriage to unmarried expecting parents and the economic results (or causes as the article points out) of such family structures.

If you have child out of wedlock or are expecting a child and are not married, contact us to discuss how Florida Paternity law relates to your family.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=203

“Gray” Divorces on the Rise?

Today I received a call from a local reporter inquiring as to whether I have seen a rise in divorces for people over the age of 55.  Divorces for this age group are being referred to as “Gray Divorces.”  Bowling Green produced a study on the topic and last year the New York Times published an article about the perceived trend.  I was not comfortable providing a definitive response “off the cuff” without looking at my cases, past and present, and having some guidance about a specific time period.  Needless to say, the “interview” did not go very far.

After some reflection, I recall representing clients over the age of 55 in several cases throughout my career and I continue to represent several clients who are over the age of 55.  Conversly, during my service as Family Law Magistrate, only a few cases (comparative to the overall case load) in which the parties were over the age of 55 reached trial.  Many factors go into whether or not a divorce reaches trial.  I can say that a majority of the divorce cases in which I represented a client over the age of 55 settled prior to trial.  Perhaps that is reflection of the age group and could make for interesting study?

There are several factors often unique to a divorce for a person over the age of 55.  Such divorces often involve long term marriages which has specific alimony considerations.  Although the current marriage is being dissolved, and it is often difficult to imagine re-marrying, it is an important topic that needs to be addressed, especially with regards to an alimony award.  It is also important to discuss pre-nuptial agreements for marriages later in life when parties have adult children.

I suppose the response I could have given the reporter is “no.”  No, I have not seen an increase in “gray divorces” in my practice.  But, I have always represented clients over the age of 55.   However, such divorces involve several unique matters which require the counsel of an experienced attorney.

If you are contemplating a divorce, contact us to discuss the process, what issues are unique to you and your family, and what you can expect.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=166

Bokan Appointed to Gulfshore Business 40 Under 40

I am honored to be included in the 10 year anniversary 40 Under 40 and Rising Stars class of Gulfshore Business.  As the only Marital and Family Law Attorney in Southwest Florida included in the 40 Under 40 class, I am honored to share the distinction with colleagues and peers who have received the distinction in the past.  Thank you for the nomination and to Gulfshore Business for this great honor.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=162

Bokan Elected to the AFLP Board of Directors

It is with pleasure that I accept the position on the Board of Directors for the Association of Family Law Professionals (AFLP) in Lee County.  The AFLP’s mission is to promote cooperation in matters of family law, including dissolution of marriage, in order to achieve cost-effective resolutions and to maintain emotional stability and necessary family relationships.  I have been a member of the organization for approximatley nine years and served as an honorary board member while serving as a Family Law Magistrate in Lee County.  I look forward to continued service to the organization and the Lee County family law community as a board member for the AFLP.

If you are facing a family law matter and want to discuss cooperative, cost effective alternatives to high conflict, costly litigation, please contact me to dicuss options at 239-822-9370 or aabokan@gmail.com.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=152

Passing the Back to School Test as a Parent.

Summer is winding down and many schools are in a back in session as early as next week.  If you are exercising a parenting plan with your child or children, that means your summer time sharing schedule is ending and your school year time sharing will begin.  This often creates several problems for parents. Over the summer parents do not have to address the difficulties that the school year presents.  Below are some of the problems I often see resulting from children going back to school and how to address them.

In contested parenting cases, the child’s school and school related activities is often a hot topic.  Who takes the child to school?  Who picks the child up from school?  Who attends parent teacher conferences?  Who does homework with the child?  Who attends the sporting events, recitals, concerts, etc…?  Often times the child’s teacher’s will be required to testify on these topics.  In Florida we do not have the designation of primary or secondary parent.  Under Florida law, there are two parents who will have a parenting plan established which sets forth a time sharing schedule for the child or children.  Florida Statute 61.13 requires that when developing a parenting plan a designation of which parent will be responsible for school-related matters including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration be addressed.  The parents can share the responsibility for forms and school related matters but only one parent’s address can be used for a school-boundary determination.  Make sure an address is being used that is in the child’s best interests and is most beneficial to the child’s education experience.

Because their is no primary or secondary parent under Florida law, both parents have equal access to school forms, report cards, and can communicate with the child’s teachers.  When I served as a Magistrate I often heard a parent say that they do not receive any information from the school, including report cards.  When I asked why not, they blamed the other parent for not providing it to them.  While there is a responsibility for parents to share information, it is not a legitimate excuse.  Call the school, make sure you are on all the school forms for the child including the emergency contact forms.  Request to be notified of all field trips.  You are a parent, make sure the school knows it.  Engage your child’s teacher early.  Make sure she knows you are involved with your child’s education.  Classrooms offer a wealth of information for parents online.  Confirm you are set up to receive the informaiton.  Doing so allows you to show that you are engaged with your child’s education and will assist you if face a Petition to Modify Parenting.

The return to school also creates more expenses for the child.  Expenses such as books, school fees, uniforms, field trips, enrollment in school activities, even lunch money.  The basic rule of thumb is when the child is in your care, you pay for the child’s expenses such as lunch; which is actually the basis for a lot of litigation.  It is best practice for parents to divide other expenses such as uniforms, tuition, books, or field trips independent of child support.

I can go on and on about the parenting difficulties that arise when children return to school.  Just try to remember to keep your child first.  A positive education experience in invaluable to your child.  Their involvement in extracurricular activities can teach valuable life lessons and help develop extraorindary skills such as playing a musical insrument.  Do not allow the difference with your child’s parent stifle your child’s development.

If you are having difficulties with parenting issues that have arisen, or if you are facing an action to modify your parenting schedule, contact Andrew Bokan at 239-822-9370 and we can fill you in on what you are facing.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=146

A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to Marriage?

When people hear what I do, they often ask me if I am married.  They also ask me if I am jaded about marriage.  I have heard from many clients when I first meet with them, “don’t ever get married.”  The fact is, I believe in marriage and I believe in family.  It’s why I do what I do.  I remember a lesson taught to me early on.  My high school soccer coach pulled me aside to watch another goalkeeper.  At the time, I was the starting varsity goalkeeper and was on my way to setting the state record for shutouts.  When I asked my coach why he told me to watch the freshman goalkeeper, he responded ”because we don’t have time to make all the mistakes ourself.  Sometimes we need to learn from other peoples mistakes.”

Here is an interesting article about just that, learning from other people’s mistakes: http://on.wsj.com/NIgjej.  The five regrets, and advice items, are particularly interesting.  I see some variation of them in nearly every divorce in which I represent someone.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your marriage, take a moment and read some very good advice from people who have been there.  If you need to know what will happen if a divorce is filed, contact me at 239-822-9370 or aabokan@gmail.com to discuss what you can expect.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.andrewbokanfamilylaw.com/blog/?p=140

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