January 24

What is the Florida Guide to Healthy Marriages?

Florida Guide to Healthy MarriagesThere is little argument that divorce comes at a pretty hefty price. Not just on the emotional and relationship ties, but cold, hard cash. The public and private costs incurred from divorce are tremendous, and Republicans in the Florida Legislature are presenting a bill for the upcoming session to try and lessen that cost. This bill will create what is called "Florida Guide to Healthy Marriages."

Republicans Senator Dennis Baxley, of Ocala, and Representative Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville want the Department of Children and Families to create the guidebook. The book would be developed under DCF and would help tackle the almost 2 billion dollar cost to taxpayers of divorce. These costs are in things like the justice system, Medicaid, and Florida's Temporary Assistance to needy Families program. Politicians contend that the personals costs associated with divorce affect women and children more so than men.

Current state law requires couples to sign off that have read the "Florida Family Law Handbook" or some other marriage-related information before getting a marriage license. This bill would add the "Healthy Marriage Guide" to that list. The Florida Department of Health reports about 77,000 divorces in the state in 2018. Unlike the current handbook, which focuses more on prenups, alimony, and finance, Baxley's plan focuses more on interpersonal issues like relationships, family success, violence, and conflict resolution.

Keep an eye on the 2020 Florida Legislative Session for more information.


December 13

Is It Okay to Date While Going Through a Divorce?

Is It Okay to Date While Going Through a Divorce?While there is no legal reason why you can’t start dating before your divorce is final, it’s still a grey area. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Dating before your divorce is finalized can seriously affect you legally and financially.

  1. It can increase the cost and stress of the divorce trial. Parading someone new around has the potential to create suspicion that the relationship started before the marriage ended, enrage your ex, and may even subject your friend to be deposed by lawyers for details regarding your association. Also, if your spouse is not seeking a fault-based divorce, a new relationship can impact the progress of settlement and be seen as a tremendous distraction. Your spouse might feel betrayed or replaced and may be less likely to want to engage in settlement discussions, motivated by revenge, or otherwise not want to be part of an out-of-court resolution. If you’re hoping for a civil split, do what it takes to stay amicable.
  2. It can affect your settlement. If you’re eligible for spousal support, in some cases, this can be done in installments or one lump sum. If you’re already in another relationship, your ex may option for payments, which end the moment you move in with someone else. 
  3. Dating during divorce complicates co-parenting agreements. Splitting up is traumatic enough, but now your partner is anxious about who this new person is that you’re hanging out with, and how they will affect your children. 
  4. Your kids need you now. Dating takes a lot of time and energy. Right now, your kids are going through dramatic adjustments, and they need you more than ever. Even if they seem "fine," they're not.
  5. You’re probably not ready to date. After the hell you’ve been through - the neglect, the emotional roller coaster - of course, you want to feel attractive and wanted again. That’s only natural. But running out to find someone as an ego boost, to hide the pain of your divorce, or jumping into a rebound relationship to not be alone is not only a bad call, it’s selfish. 

Until you can properly grieve for your lost marriage, you’ll still have unresolved issues that you’ll take into the next relationship. You also need to understand the part you played in the breakup. No one person is to blame.

Until you can forgive your spouse and yourself and move past the hurt and anger, you aren't ready to start a fresh, new relationship. You’ll carry the ill feelings from your past marriage and likely repeat your mistakes.

As difficult as it is, this is your time. It’s time you can take for yourself to reflect, heal, get help, find yourself, do what you love, put yourself first, and get back on your feet. Eventually, there will be someone else to put first again, so enjoy yourself right now.

November 1

Things to Complete Before Finalizing a Divorce

Thing to complete before finalizing a divorce.Divorce is never an easy decision to make. It can typically involve many different factors and even people. There are ways to make the finalization of divorce easier by creating a checklist for yourself before taking it to the serious point of divorce. Knowing how to handle a divorce before papers are signed can be beneficial to both parties and at the very least, give you peace of mind that things are in the right order. Here you will find some of the things to add to your checklist before finalization, ensuring you won't have to deal with any potholes along the way.

  • Finances are a big part of a divorce. Many married couples share joint accounts and may have for many years. Keep track of what's in the accounts before bringing divorce papers into play. If possible, begin the separation of what's yours into a new account on your own. In the unfortunate case of a soon to be ex-spouse draining a joint account when they get informed of the impending divorce, you will be safe from potential over-spending that you're unaware of.
  • On the same page, with separating your accounts, it's best to close joint credit accounts as well. Try to have them paid off before divorce proceedings begin as it can be a bit more difficult after the fact. You can request the accounts to be frozen as well, but this won't get rid of a balance due.
  • Do your homework on who's representing you! A divorce attorney may not always be needed if both parties remain civil and find an agreement amongst each other, but that is not always the case. If it's a particularly messy divorce (or has the potential to be), a divorce lawyer should be at the top of your checklist. Don't go with the first lawyer you meet with. Try to interview 3-5 lawyers who have at least 5-10 years of experience in family law.
  • What will your living situation be after the divorce is finalized? Do you think you and your soon-to-be ex-partner will still live civilly together, or is someone moving out? If it's the latter, both parties will now be taking on rent/mortgage payments on their own. This can be a bit more difficult when children and owned property are involved. It's recommended to remain living with the partner you are divorcing until all court proceedings are done and the divorce is officially final.
  • One of the most important things to do before finalizing a divorce is to keep your cool and lay low. A divorce is a very emotional time for everyone involved, and acting out in anger and frustration will only make things harder for you. As for laying low, it's a good idea to keep the dating to a minimum until the divorce is said and done. This looks better on you if you remain focused on the goal of working on your family if there are children, and if there are no children, it's a good time for you to reflect on yourself and work on that.

There are quite a few other things to make sure you go over before divorce is finalized, but these are some of the top things that should be covered before taking that last step. It's an unfortunate time, and every situation is different, but if you're prepared beforehand, it makes it a bit easier.


September 20

How Many Couples Really End Up Divorced and Why?

divorce lake county tavares floridaWe’ve all heard the statistic. “Half of all marriages end in divorce.” A 50/50 prospect seems dim, no? Well, that data isn’t exactly accurate any longer. While it used to be, the overall divorce rates have been declining for years. A more realistic number is that 1 in 4 unions will end in divorce.

There are multiple factors to consider since the probability of divorce isn’t the same for all couples. While some are quite unlikely to split, others have a higher than fifty percent chance of divorce. For example, those entering into second or third marriage are more likely to view divorce as an easy out when times get tough since they've done it before. There are also usually children from previous exes. These additional people and the issues they bring along with them can be considered "baggage," which can put a strain on new relationships.

On the flip side of that coin, a certain percentage of people learn from their unsuccessful marriages and go into new relationships older, wiser, and more determined to compromise and communicate. Predictions are certainly not “one size fits all.”

When it comes to marriage, patience is a virtue. Millennials are primarily responsible for the plummeting divorce rates. Their increasingly selective nature can explain these falling divorce rates regarding marriage and the greater stability of the couples who persist through cohabitation and enter marital unions at high levels of economic interdependence. In other words, Millennials wait longer, marriage is rarer, it’s more stable than it was in the past, and couples share all responsibilities equally. The social acceptance of living together and the decline of well-paying jobs that allow for financial stability mean that couples who previously would have gotten married younger put off that particular milestone until they’re more confident it won’t end in divorce.

Finally, many factors influence the chance of getting a divorce, so for anyone couple to blindly accept that the 50/50 probability applies to them is a misleading oversimplification that could potentially become disruptive and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Going into a life-long commitment with the idea that you only have a 50/50 chance is damaging. If you believe in your heart that success is a coin-flip and only commit half of yourself, you might walk away when things get tough instead of putting in the work necessary for a successful marriage. Put, if you think that your chances of failing are high, then you are likely to see signs that you are "failing" more readily, and then use those signs as a confirmation that you are failing. This is known as “the confirmation bias." In this case, you may be sabotaging your marriage.

While opposites may attract, values must align. Arguments are almost always traced to differing values, no matter how petty. John Gottman, an American psychological researcher, and clinician who did extensive work over four decades on divorce prediction and marital stability, has identified what destroys a relationship.

Gottman’s Four Horseman of Marriage:
Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. They represent conquest, war, death, and hunger, respectively.

The number one reason for divorce, by a large margin, is lack of commitment. Without it, there’s no willingness to weather the storms, work through the rough patches, keep the relationship going - and both partners have to be equally committed.

The Top Reasons for Divorce:

  • lack of commitment
  • infidelity/extramarital affairs
  • getting married for the wrong reasons
  • too much conflict and arguing
  • being out of touch/lack of intimacy
  • lack of individual identity/becoming lost in the roles
  • getting married too young
  • financial issues
  • substance abuse
  • domestic violence
  • not having a shared vision of success
  • unmet expectations/unrealistic expectations
  • difference in sexual libido
  • lack of family support/intrusive parents
  • children from previous relationships
  • health issues
  • weight gain
  • lack of equality
  • lack of trust/privacy issues
  • lack of appreciation
  • little or no premarital education and religious difference
  • differences in or lack of communication
  • laziness/unwillingness to work at the relationship/complacency.


July 2

Separate Parties for Kids of Divorced Parents

Separate Parties for Kids of Divorced ParentsGetting divorced isn't typically a joyous occasion, especially when there are children involved. Many different factors are now needing to be considered, and one often overlooked subject is how to handle is the birthday celebration of the divorced couple's younger child/s. What is the best way to handle this type of situation and still keep the peace? Should divorced parents have separate birthdays for the child/children or try to put differences aside and come together for the occasion?

A lot of it comes down to how the parents interact after the divorce is said and done. If there was a lot of fighting and anger present at the time of finalization, it might not be a good idea to have both parents in close quarters. That being said, if both parents can agree that the day is for the celebration of the child only and they can work together to make it a good time, then there shouldn't be a need for separate parties. 

It's wise to have a makeshift checklist if you are a divorced parent trying to decide to invite your ex to the party or not. If you know that the circumstances of the divorce still afflict your ex, do you think there's a chance they can be volatile? How involved are they with the child's life? Do you think they will cause a scene? Do you think YOU will create a scene if they're there? Will inviting the ex mean inviting along with ex-in-laws as well? But most importantly, you need to ask your child what they want (so long as they're able to make that decision on their own). 

Ultimately, if you can't resolve the differences with your divorced partner and see it being a ruined birthday celebration for your child if they are there, then separate parties may be needed. There can even be a compromise if having two parties for one child seem excessive, such as having the other parent take them out for the day or out for a meal. It all comes down to making sure the child's birthday is fun and not stressful for the birthday kid.