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Once everything is said and done in a divorce, two people who have been sharing everything through their marriage will be legally separated. This can often be a complex and difficult process. In the state of Florida, there are two options available: uncontested and contested divorce. Take some time to learn the basics about each of these options to see which one is right for your unique situation.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

In an uncontested divorce, both parties will have worked out all of the details necessary for their divorce ahead of time. This can be done either by talking between themselves, using the services of a third party, or by working directly with their attorneys to negotiate. Some of the details that will need to be addressed outside of court include:

  • Division of Assets
  • Division of Debts
  • Parenting Plan (including parental responsibility and time sharing)
  • Child Support
  • Alimony (if Applicable)
  • Other Sources of Potential Conflict

If both parties can come to an agreement on these issues, the divorce can be considered uncontested. The attorneys representing each party will write up an agreement, and the courts will authorize it. There is no need to make arguments in court, which can save a lot of time and money. One more important thing to remember about uncontested divorces is that both parties must agree on the issues. If one party refuses to negotiate, the divorce will necessarily become contested unless the other party is willing to give up 100% of what they wanted.

What is a Contested Divorce?

When it is not possible to work out all of these issues, the divorce becomes contested. When this occurs, each party will need to present their position to a judge, who will then make a ruling. It is possible to have some issues worked out ahead of time, and only bring the remaining issues to court. If nothing can be agreed upon, the courts will handle the entire divorce, including division of assets, parenting plan, any type of support, and more.

Which One Better Fits Your Situation?

If you are able to have an uncontested divorce, that is almost always going to be much preferable. Even if you have to compromise on certain things, it will likely be better due to the fact that there will be far less conflict, it will be much less expensive (without court and attorney’s fees), and you will maintain a greater level of control throughout the process.

If your relationship with your soon-to-be ex is very contentious, however, it may be best to just go straight to litigating your divorce. While it will be more costly up front, it can at least guarantee that it will be over and you can move on.

Get the Representation You Need

Whether you choose an uncontested or a contested divorce, you need to have proper legal representation throughout the process. Here at the Vasquez de Lara Law Group, our only goal is to get you the peace of mind you seek. Contact us now to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you through your divorce, no matter what you’re facing.

When it comes to planning for the future, there are many things that need to be considered.  For many people, they may need an estate plan to help ensure the assets that they have built up over the years will not only be there for them throughout retirement, but also so they can leave something for their loved ones.  There are many aspects you can take care of during drafting your estate planning, but one thing that is often overlooked is planning for Medicaid.

Medicaid is a government program that is designed to help those who can’t afford to pay certain medical expenses get the care they need. This program is used by millions throughout the country, and one of the most important needs that it meets is paying the bills for long term care for the aging and elderly. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities can cost tens of thousands of dollars per month in many cases, which is more than all but the richest among us can afford. Learning about this option and how you can qualify should be a part of any future planning.

Why Does Medicaid Require Planning?

When most people think of government programs like Medicaid, they assume that if they need them, they will be able to go in, apply, and get the help that is required.  There are many restrictions on qualifying for Medicaid though, so you need to plan ahead.  One of the most significant restrictions is in regard to the income and assets a person has acquired.  Those who have a higher net-worth, for example, can’t get on Medicaid until they have spent enough of their money to be able to qualify.

This is known as a Medicaid spend down plan, and it can end up costing you thousands of dollars before the government program will step in and start paying for the needed care.  If you start planning years in advance, however, it is often possible to take steps to ensure you can qualify for the program if it becomes necessary, without having to lose all your financial assets.

Medicaid Planning Options

If you begin planning for potential Medicaid needs early enough, it is possible to position your assets so that they aren’t considered for Medicaid calculations.  Using certain types of trusts and other vehicles can allow you to retain access to these assets, without sacrificing your ability to use Medicaid.  The longer in advance you begin planning, the more options you will have available.

Contact Us

Whether you are young or old, now is the time to start looking into how you will cover the costs of your long-term care, should it become necessary. Contact us to discuss all your options and get everything in place for today and your future.

When a divorce has been finalized, many people expect to experience a major sense of relief and even happiness. While this can occur sometimes, it is quite common for newly divorced parents to be left with more questions than answers. The most important question is how to help yourself heal, while providing the children with the love and support they need from you. The following five tips on parenting after a divorce can be a great starting point to begin your post-divorce journey.

Everything is changing. How do I deal with it as a family?

A divorce will impact just about every area of your life and the lives of your kids. While it is good to try to maintain as much stability as possible, it is unhealthy to try to deny the fact that many things are going to be different going forward. Celebrating the things that can remain the same (or at least similar), and adjusting to the things that are changing together will help your family to adjust successfully. Always encourage your kids to talk about it with you (and a counselor if possible) so you can make changes based on the needs of everyone involved.

How do I handle holidays & other family traditions?

Few things will be more difficult for a newly divorced parent than going through important holidays and other family traditions. From the beginning, it is necessary to accept the fact that many of these traditions are going to have to change and adapt. Finding new things that fit into your new family situation can help children to adapt and grow over time. For example, you can try and make new traditions with just you and the children; something that will reach them on an emotional level to reassure them change isn’t always bad.

My heart is broken. How can I heal while still putting my children first?

While many parents don’t like to admit it, the fact is that the months immediately following a divorce can be truly heart-wrenching. One day you may feel fine, and the next it is all you can do to keep from constantly crying. Accepting that this is normal, and finding trusted friends, family members, or therapists who you can talk to can be very helpful in getting through this painful transitional period. You have to start helping yourself before you can really start being there for other people.

I despise my ex. How will this impact the kids?

This is perhaps the biggest (yet least talked about) question that newly divorced parents will have. In almost all cases, divorce will leave at least some negative feelings about your ex. While this is certainly normal, it is never acceptable to push those feelings on your children. Your job, however difficult, is to try to encourage a healthy relationship between your children and your ex (unless there is abuse or some other reason why this is not possible). Feel free to talk bad about your ex to friends and family (as long as the kids aren’t around to hear) but never say a bad word in front of the children or while they’re nearby. As the saying goes, little pitchers have big ears and I’m constantly amazed at what my children overhear when I think they’re not nearby or paying attention.

Will things ever get back to normal?

Yes and no. Things won’t go back to the “normal” that you are used to from before the divorce, so as hard as that can be, the first step to healing is accepting the situation. You will, however, find that you and your children adapt to a “new normal” that can be just as good, if not better, than what you remember in the past. This process will take time, but with time and effort, things will settle into a wonderful routine.

 

We understand that this is a very difficult situation for you. At the end of the day, only you know how you can best help yourself heal. At the Vasquez de Lara Law Group, we pride ourselves on our connection with our clients. We can help you with your Florida family law and estate planning matters in your time of need. Call us today!

Having a last will and testament is extremely important for ensuring your belongings go to the people you intended your belongings to go to when you pass away, among many other things. When it comes to estate planning, a will is a very important first step, but it is certainly not the only step that needs to be taken in most situations. Understanding what a will can and can’t do is important when engaging in estate planning activities.

What a Will Can Do for You

  • Bequest Specific Items to Specific People – If you have a specific item that you want a specific person to have when you die, a will is an excellent option. You can name just about anyone, even if it isn’t a blood relative, and bequest to them the exact assets you desire.
  • Naming Guardians for Minor Children – If you have minor children, a will is perfect for ensuring the people you choose will step in to provide their care after you’re gone.
  • Disinheriting a Person – While unfortunate, there are reasons why people want to make sure none of their assets go to one of their relatives. A will can have a section specifically written to ensure one (or more) person doesn’t get anything.

What a Will Can’t Do for You

  • Avoid Probate – Even if you have a will in place, your estate will almost always have to go through the probate process. There are other estate planning tools available, such as trusts, to help avoid probate.
  • Delay Access to Inheritance – If you have a child who you want to pass your belongings down to, but you don’t think they are yet mature enough, a will can’t delay their getting access to it. If you use certain types of trusts, however, you can have their inheritance held until they reach a certain age.
  • Keep Estate Private – Wills are a matter of public record, and so is the probate process. If you want to keep your estate private, a will is not the right tool for the job.

We’re Here for All Your Estate Planning Needs

Even if you aren’t wealthy, proper estate planning is important and can help position yourself and your assets properly so they can be passed along according to your wishes. Whether you just need a simple will, or something much more advanced, we are here to help. Contact us to discuss your situation and see what we can do for you.

By: Michele G. Moss, Esquire

Johnson Moss L.L.C.

One of the purposes of creating a will is to identify the assets you have that you want to pass on to your loved ones.  We are usually concerned with identifying all of our tangible physical assets, including personal property, bank accounts, and real estate to make sure that these assets are bequeathed according to our wishes.  However, most of us don’t think about our valuable intellectual property, such as copyright, that we can also pass on to our loved ones.

Copyright is a form of protection granted by law for original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression.  Copyright protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works including writings, artwork, photographs, poetry, songs and movies. Copyright protection attaches or begins once the original work (photograph, writing, drawing, image, etc) is fixed or created.  The moment I am done typing this article it will be protected by copyright.  The moment you post your photograph to Facebook, Flickr or Instagram it is protected by copyright.  Copyright registration with the federal government is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in federal court for copyright infringement. However, copyright registration is not required for copyright protection to exist.

The author or owner of copyright has certain exclusive rights: 1) the right to reproduce the work in copies, 2) the right to prepare derivative works based upon the work, 3) the right to distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, lease, lending or rental, 4) the right to perform the work publicly, 5) the right to display the copyrighted work publicly, 6) in the case of sound recordings, the right to perform the work publicly or by means of a digital audio transmission.  Ownership of copyright and the exclusive rights that it provides can be extremely valuable.

The legendary music producer Quincy Jones filed a lawsuit against the estate of the late Michael Jackson seeking additional royalty payments.  Jones claims he was underpaid his share of the royalties for use of Jackson’s music in the film “This Is It” which was released after Jackson’s death and in two Cirque Du Soleil shows.  During the trial, Jackson’s estate showed that Jones earned $8 million dollars in royalties in the two years after Jackson’s death in 2009.  Despite this fact, a jury in Los Angeles awarded Jones $9.4 million in damages.  Under copyright law, Jones has authorship rights in the music that he produces and can therefore be eligible for royalty payments.

Copyright ownership originally vests in the author or authors of the work.  However, copyright ownership can be transferred, in whole or in part, by “any means of conveyance or by operation of law.”  17 U.S.C.A. §201(d)(1).  In order to be valid, a transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, must be in writing and must be signed by the owner of the copyright or the owner’s authorized agent.  Copyright ownership may also be transferred by bequest in a will or pass as personal property by the applicable laws of intestate succession.

Have you or has anyone in your family created any original (not copied) literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works that could be valuable?  If so, you should consider identifying those works in your will and transferring copyright ownership in them to your loved ones.  Ownership of copyright (depending upon the popularity of the particular creative work) can be an extremely valuable asset for you and your family for years to come.  Quite often, an author’s works become more popular or sometimes are not even discovered until after their death.  To ensure that your family can benefit from your creative works, you should specifically and clearly transfer copyright ownership to these works in your will.

If you have questions about copyright or trademark or you need to act quickly to protect your brand or your creative works from being misused or exploited by others, please contact me at:

Johnson Moss L.L.C.,
3505 Lake Lynda Drive,
Suite 200,
Orlando, FL 32817,
Direct: 407-273-7027
Office: 407-476-1971
Email: info@johnsonmosslaw.com
Website: www.johnsonmosslaw.com

Whether your divorce is difficult or relatively easy, it is always a relief to finally get your divorce order from the courts, and finally be done with it. While an original divorce agreement will likely establish the terms for quite some time going forward, there are situations where it will be necessary to make adjustments. Fortunately, modifying your original divorce agreement is not nearly as difficult as getting through the divorce in the first place, but you must have the necessary grounds to request a modification which include a substantial, permanent and unforeseen change in circumstances.

Read through several key situations where it may be necessary to have your original divorce agreement modified so you can be prepared should you face any of them.

Children Getting Older

One of the most common reasons for needing to have a divorce agreement modified is that children are growing up and their needs are changing. If you got a divorce while the children were too little for school, for example, it will likely become necessary to make changes to the parenting expenses and time schedules to accommodate the schooling. Adding in after-school activities like clubs, sports, and homework can also necessitate a change in the order.

One Party is Moving

If you or your spouse has to move a long distance away, it will be necessary to have the order adjusted. When both parents live relatively close together, having the child go back and forth is fairly easy. When the distance is more than about 25-30 miles, however, it needs to be factored in to ensure both parents can have as strong of a relationship as possible with the kids.

Significant Change in Income

A significant change in income for either party often makes it appropriate to have a divorce agreement modified. If you lose your job, for example, you may no longer need to pay the same level of child support as when you were working. Likewise, if your spouse gets a significant increase in pay, they may have to pay more child support, or you might not have to pay as much. There are calculations used to determine how much support should be paid, so speak with your attorney to see if the change in income for your situation should trigger a change in your divorce agreement.

Health Changes

In the event that either parent experiences a serious health problem, it could require a change to the agreement. If, for example, one of the parents is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the courts are likely to grant them additional time with the child to help strengthen the relationship during this difficult time. In other cases, if a parent becomes unable to properly provide care due to an illness, the courts may factor that into a new parenting time arrangement.

Get Help with a Divorce Agreement Modification

If you are facing any of these situations, or you believe you have another event that may require a change to your divorce agreement, we are here to help. Whether we helped you with your original divorce or not, we want to be there for you for this important modification. Contact the Vasquez de Lara Law Group [Link to CONTACT US page] to discuss your situation, and how we can help you.

In Florida, when a loved one requires a legal guardian to help take care of them and make decisions on their behalf, the courts can appoint someone to take on this role. A court-appointed guardian can be for either a minor whose parents are unable to provide the care they need, or for an adult who has some type of disability where they cannot care for themselves.

Once you’ve been named the legal guardian, you will have new rights and responsibilities that you need to be aware of. If you neglect these responsibilities, you can be in legal trouble, so that is why you should always consult with your attorney.

Decisions Regarding Housing

In most situations, you will be responsible for making decisions regarding where your ward will live. This may typically mean that they will stay in your home so you can provide them with care, especially if they are minor children. Many disabled adults, however, are able to live somewhat independent lives, so they may have an apartment or home of their own. If this is the case, you would be there to help them find a home and ensure you are able to help them along the way.

Medical Decisions

Making medical decisions is one of the biggest responsibilities of a guardian—these may be day-to-day decisions like which doctor to see, or major medical decisions in the event of an emergency. In addition to traditional medical decisions, you’ll also have to make decisions surrounding things like therapists, dental work, vision care, and more.

Paying Bills

Helping with paying the bills is a common responsibility for guardians, especially when the ward is an adult. In most cases, you do not have to use your own money to pay these types of bills.  The guardian establishes a court restricted depository account which allows the court to approve expenses of the ward. Instead, you’ll use any money that your ward has to pay their bills (if they are an adult). It is absolutely critical to note, however, that their money must only be used for things related to them. If you dip into their money for personal things, you are violating your responsibilities.

Managing Investments

If the person you are caring for has financial assets, possibly left to them by their biological parents, you will need to help manage these investments. This can be as simple as hiring a financial advisor, or you may want to make the investment decisions on your own. Regardless of your approach, you must always make your decisions with the best interests of your ward in mind.

Filing Reports with the Court

One responsibility that many people don’t realize as a guardian is filing annual reports with the courts. These reports should provide a general overview of how your ward is doing, and what you’re doing for them. This helps to ensure they are getting the care they need as the years progress.

We Can Help You with Your Guardianship

If you have a loved one who is unable to care for themselves, and you would like to seek legal guardianship, please contact us right away. We’ll sit down with you, go over the details of your case, and help you to determine what the next steps should be.

No, The payments are for back support which means that it is for child support that should have been paid while the children were minors, but was not paid. This means that she spent her money or went into debt while the children were minors in order to care for them because she was not receiving the ordered child support from you at the time. Since this is a debt owed to mom, it cannot be paid to your sons unless she agrees.

The problem with this issue becomes how to prove that the other parent was not allowing you to see the child. It quickly becomes a he said she said whether the child was abandoned. That being said, a divorce does not have to be filed in order to obtain time sharing so the parent not being allowed access has to request court assistance as soon as possible in order to short circuit the abandonment argument.

You may need to seek at least a consultation with a dependency attorney in your area that can better explain to you what your rights and responsibilities are while in the system,. Otherwise, you just have to keep calling the public defender and the advocate until you get answers. Or bring up the issues you are having to the judge and see if they assist you.