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PRESERVING YOUR ‘DISTRIBUTABLE’ ASSETS Requirements of the Law Subject to Negotiation?
In my nearly 20 years as a lawyer, I have had many clients ask, “Can I keep my retirement assets away from my spouse in the event of divorce?” The answer to this question is not straightforward. The law and general consensus among lawyers and judges is that this is a no-brainer! Like any other asset accumulated during the marriage, a retirement asset is a marital asset subject to equitable distribution.
and his claim for child support beyond the age of majority for one child because of a medical condition. Finally, the last issue that didn’t sit so well with my client was his wife’s claim for half of his military retirement as well as his survivor benefit plan, which, if she received it, would pay her half of the value of my client’s monthly retirement benefit for the rest of her life.
“THROUGH EXPERIENCE, INNOVATION, AND NEGOTIATION, WE CAN ACCOMPLISH RESULTS THAT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO OBTAIN AT TRIAL AFTER A CONTESTED HEARING.”
Recently, I worked with a client who is an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He had been married to his ex-wife for 14 years, and throughout their marriage, he made consistent contributions to his retirement fund. When he and his wife decided to divorce, his retirement asset became the center of attention because it had been the parties’ most valuable asset aside from their four minor children. I won my client custody of his children at a temporary needs hearing, and then I secured custody of all four of his children for him on a permanent basis. The only issues left to be determined in the case were my client’s claim for past-due retroactive child support, his claim for regular child support,
So, is it possible to keep a substantial asset such as a party’s retirement assets out of reach of the other party during divorce proceedings when the law says these assets are to be split equally? Well, as goes the old cliché, anything is possible! For this particular client of mine, that possibility became a reality, and I saved him from having to give up approximately $1,800 per month of his retirement income to his former wife. What this amounts to is an annual savings to my client in the amount of $21,600 for the rest of his life and the ability to designate his second wife as beneficiary of his survivor benefit plan.
negotiation, we can accomplish results that would be impossible to obtain at trial after a contested hearing. The beautiful thing about this case is that, to him, my client gave up very little to get a lot. But just “a little” in his case was important enough to his wife to help us seal the deal.
One might ask, “How were you able achieve such a result?” Through experience, innovation, and
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The Dangers of Overstimulation
With the current trend of getting TV, social media, and news alerts sent to our phones, we have access to more media than we could ever consume. While constant connectivity is a boon for many aspects of our lives, researchers are discovering that too much stimulation is cause for concern. One study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that too much social comparison, spurred by the likes of Facebook and cable news, can lead to an increased risk of depression. If you find yourself pressured to live up to the public lives of friends and family, or if you feel like you’re being bombarded with too much news and entertainment, consider a media detox. A detox doesn’t require you to unsubscribe from social media services or unplug your TV forever. Instead, think of it
as a vacation from the overstimulation so many of us experience. Ask yourself which aspects of your media diet are causing more stress than they’re worth, and take a break from them for a little while. “In the same way we think about what we eat, we should think about what we read, what we’re seeing, what we’re engaging in, and what we’re interacting with every day,” Emma Watson told CNN in an interview about her selective social media use. If you’re not mindful of your media consumption and participation, it tends to pile up. When you detox, it’s a lot easier to identify which parts of your media diet are essential and which are only a burden.
Because most of us consume media in small chunks throughout the day, it’s easy to overlook how much that time adds up. All those hours you spend on Facebook could be used to start a garden, knit a quilt, or join a soccer league. Unless you have an unlimited supply of leisure time (and who does?), you need to be selective in the way you spend it. Remember, media isn’t the cause of all your ills. Used mindfully, it can actually increase happiness and satisfaction. The problem is that we are so mired in the media muck that we can’t get a perspective on how much is too much. A detox will allow you to reassess the media you’re consuming and build a better plan for the future. You can still keep up with your grandkids on Facebook, but it shouldn’t be the only way you interact with the world.
Another benefit of a media detox is that you’ll have more time to pursue new and dormant hobbies.
What to Do if YOU’VE BEEN IN AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT
If you drive a vehicle on a regular basis, you are at risk of being involved in an automobile accident. Crashes can be devastating, but even a simple fender bender can cause a great deal of inconvenience, aggravation, confusion, and delay. If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident, the first thing you should do is contact your insurance company. However, if you are the “at-fault” driver and there are no injuries and less than $500 in property damage, it may be best for you to enter into an agreement to voluntarily repair the other driver’s vehicle without involving your insurance company.
you should capture the license plate information of the other vehicles. If no one has been hurt, you can offer to exchange insurance information with the other party and begin documenting the damage to your vehicle. If you are injured in an automobile accident and there is more than $500 in damage, you should report the crash to local law enforcement and remain at the scene of the crash until their investigation is complete. You should also immediately seek medical treatment, as the law requires you to do so within 14 days in order to be eligible for the valuable “no-fault” benefits your Florida auto insurance policy provides. You should also seek legal advice and refrain from discussing the crash with any insurance company until you have hired an attorney.
If you’ve been injured and are unable to work, the stress of battling the insurance company can become overwhelming. Navigating through the fallout of an automobile accident can be exhausting and confusing, and that’s why you should hire an experienced automobile accident lawyer to help you. Insurance companies and adjusters can take advantage of your vulnerability after an accident, so it’s very important to contact a lawyer. Most times, insurance adjusters present themselves as your “friend.” Remember that you are never required to give a statement about the accident to another driver’s insurance company — and you shouldn’t! Insurance adjusters may even offer a quick settlement, but you should never take a settlement without first discussing your case with an attorney.
If you are able to do so safely, you should take photos of the damage to the vehicles involved. Specifically,
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IS YOUR PRENUP VALID?
F lorida recognizes agreements between in the event of divorce. Prenuptial agreements allow couples to navigate their way around the requirements of the law. These agreements exchange marriage for certain financial terms not otherwise available in the absence of a valid prenuptial agreement. There are many reasons why marrying couples insist on prenuptial agreements. Primarily, these agreements bring certainty and predictability to each spouse’s financial future. Prenuptial agreements are usually subject to attack, and they must be drafted with the formalities required by law in order to be enforceable. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid in Florida, the party asked to sign it must have had the opportunity to consult with an attorney. There must be complete and full financial disclosure of both parties’ assets and liabilities. Lastly, for the agreement to be valid, it must be voluntarily entered into after full understanding of each party’s financial condition. marrying couples that define each spouse’s rights and obligations toward the other
Here are some things that prospective spouses are free to agree to under Florida law before they ever get married: • ●Each spouse’s ability to manage or control property during the marriage • ●How the couple will divide their property in the event of a divorce or death • ●Whether one spouse will pay the other alimony after divorce • ●What happens to each spouse’s retirement plans or pensions • ●What happens to the proceeds of any life insurance policies • ●Whether each spouse is required to write a will to carry out the terms of the agreement Florida uses the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act to determine the enforceability of prenuptial agreements. Agreements that are unfair in Florida are still enforceable, unless the spouse seeking to attack it can show that the agreement is unconscionable and the other party concealed their financial condition.
PASTA WITH TURKEY AND BROCCOLI
(Recipe inspired by realsimple.com)
This simple, delicious recipe only takes 20 minutes from start to finish. It’s also a great way to encourage kids to eat their broccoli. The next time you make pasta, leave the canned sauce in the pantry and make this instead!
• • • •
3/4 pounds pasta (shells or orecchiette)
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2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups broccoli florets 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add broccoli when pasta is 1 minute from done. Drain both and return to pot. 2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, garlic, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt. Cook while breaking up meat with a wooden spoon for 3–5 minutes. 3. Combine turkey with pasta and broccoli mixture, adding the remaining olive oil as you stir. Serve in bowls topped with Parmesan.
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HOW TO KEEP YOUR EX FROM GETTING HALF OF YOUR RETIREMENT ASSETS WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A MEDIA DETOX NAVIGATING AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS INSIDE THIS ISSUE 1. 2.
GETTING AROUND THE LAWWITH PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
PASTA WITH TURKEY AND BROCCOLI
THE MESSAGE BEHIND KINDNESS ROCKS
A Small Token With a Big Message
KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS
Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go right? You wake up late, you can’t find your keys, the kids aren’t ready, and the day continues to unfold in a negative fog. Those difficult days are the reason Megan Murphy started the Kindness Rocks Project.After her parents passed away, she found comfort in finding heart-shaped rocks and sea glass on the beach. She realized that these small tokens might make other people feel better, too. Megan’s friend, one of the first to pick up a rock Megan had left behind, sent her an encouraging message after finding it: “If you did drop this rock, you made my day.” Since then, Megan has inspired others with randomly placed messages of kindness. She finds a rock, paints a kind message on it, and leaves it on the beach for others to find.And the idea has spread.As the project has
grown, so have people’s stories about finding kindness rocks.When people find a kindness rock, they get a boost to their day, but they also feel inspired to pay the kindness forward.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN KINDNESS ROCKS
If you want to spread kindness, start with a few smooth 3- to 5-inch rocks. Part of the adventure is in finding the rocks, so take the time to explore outside to find them. Maybe take the kids for a trek to a nearby park or beach. Once you have your rocks, use nontoxic paint or spray paint to color them. Use bright colors so that others can spot them.After the paint has dried, use paint pens to write your messages on the rocks.These can be as simple as one word or as big as an inspiring quote or verse.
After you’ve written your message, use a clear nontoxic sealant to protect your artwork so it will be there when others find it. Find an outdoor space to leave your rock —maybe even in the original spot you found it.
In a world that often seems dark, your message of kindness will serve as a beacon of hope for others.
“One moment can change a day, one day can change a life, and one life can change the world.” –Gautama Buddha
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