DeWitt Law Firm - March 2020

The

Digest

DeWittLaw.com

MARCH 2020

407-245-7723

WHAT TO EXPECT IN SEPARATION SETTLEMENTS NEW BILLS SET TO CHANGE LONG-STANDING DIVORCE STATUS QUO

If you read our January newsletter, you know there could be big changes coming to the alimony laws of Florida. While the proposed alimony reform has no retroactive effects, it may affect our community in some significant ways. Here is what you need to know to make sure you and your family are ready. The bills, HB 843 and SB 1832, have already been passed by Florida’s House Civil Justice Committee. But if they’re ultimately adopted into law, they would eliminate permanent alimony and cut the length of durational alimony in half. “If you owe money in a permanent alimony context, you may never be allowed to retire,” Rep. Alex Andrade told Florida Politics. “Forty-four other states in the country have figured out that’s forced labor.” The bills would also streamline the adjustments made to alimony when either party retires. A 1992 Florida Supreme Court ruling found that retirement counts as an involuntary change in income and can modify alimony. But Andrade stated that codifying it in state law would save Floridians from making costly appeals in court. It’s essential to recognize that this change would not have any retroactive benefits unless your circumstances change between now and when the law is passed. There are some aspects to the bills that the Florida State Bar Association opposes. Michelle Klinger Smith, a lawyer who represents the family law section of the Florida Bar, argued that retroactive benefits should be applied. Smith also recommended limiting the income considered for alimony to just the payer’s, “SMITH ALSO RECOMMENDED LIMITING THE INCOME CONSIDERED FOR ALIMONY TO JUST THE PAYER’S, DISCOUNTING ANY FUTURE SPOUSE OR CO-EARNER. SHE REASONED THAT A PARTY COULD USE THIS STIPULATION TO HIDE ASSETS TO LIMIT HOW MUCH THEY PAY IN ALIMONY.”

which would discount any future spouse or co-earner. She reasoned that a party could use this stipulation to hide assets to limit how much they pay in alimony. Local Florida resident Natalie Willis, meanwhile, spoke in support of the bills. She told the committee she divorced her ex-husband 13 years ago over his refusal to work or take care of their home. Now, she says, she won’t be able to retire due to her alimony payments. “People argue alimony is about rich people trying to skirt their obligations,” Willis said to Florida Politics. “But the wealthy don’t pay alimony because they settle on a large sum, and the poor certainly don’t pay alimony. It’s the trusting, middle- class worker bees like myself who bear the burden.” Alimony is a rough and complicated process. Even if these bills are passed, there will still be a lot of questions and concerns to address regarding how they could affect you and your family. If any of these amendments are keeping you up at night, never hesitate to call. I would be happy to explain all the interesting facets of the bills. Call us at 407-245-7723 or visit our website at DeWittLaw.com.

– Moses DeWitt

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PERSONAL INJURY - DIVORCE - REAL ESTATE

The "DeWitt Law Review" airs every Sunday at 10 a.m. on News 96.5 WDBO. It is always our goal to bring the listeners of central Florida the latest legal news and create a forum where they can ask legal questions anonymously from the comfort of their own home without having to retain an attorney. This month, we were honored to have attorney Spencer Payne join us on the show to discuss nursing home law. Unfortunately, many Floridians reach a point where they can no longer live on their own and must be placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Mr. Payne was able to provide good insight on how to select a nursing home and help ensure your loved one will be properly cared for at whatever facility you choose. Mr. Payne recommended reviewing the rating for any nursing home facility at Medicare.gov/NursingHomeCompare, which provides insight as to the cleanliness, staffing, and quality measures of every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. To listen to this episode or any episode the "DeWitt Law Review," you can visit our website at DeWittLaw.com, where you can download the podcast from Apple Podcasts or Spotify. We receive many legal questions from our listeners each month, and we want to share some of the interesting questions in hopes that they may also benefit others facing similar legal issues. Q: I was injured in a car accident but do not have health insurance. Am I able to get treatment for the injuries I sustained? A: Under Florida law, you can receive up to $10,000 in medical care after an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. However, you must visit a doctor within 14 days after the accident to receive these benefits. Otherwise, you could lose the benefits altogether. In the event that you exhaust the $10,000 in benefits, some medical providers will continue to treat you on what is called a letter of protection. A letter of protection allows the medical provider to continue to bill you with the agreement that they will be paid from any settlement you receive from your accident. However, you always want to consult with your attorney prior to signing a letter of protection to ensure that it won’t adversely impact your case. A: The short answer is no. However, in a recent decision from January 2020, a New York bankruptcy judge discharged $221,000 in student loan debt for an individual citing undue hardship. While bankruptcy attorneys have historically advised their clients that student loan debt is dischargeable, this may open a door to change that mindset. However, it will most likely depend on whether the discharge is upheld on appeal. March Madness on the 'DeWitt Law Review' Q: Am I able to discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy?

GIVING BACK TO LOCAL COMPANIES ON NATIONAL MOM AND POP BUSINESS OWNERS DAY

March 29 is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, which is huge for small businesses everywhere. Mom-and- pop businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy; Small Business Trends reports that mom-and-pop businesses account for 64% of gross domestic product (GDP) and generate 78% of all new jobs. Furthermore, no matter what turns the economy takes, small-business owners are less likely to lay off their employees than big corporations. Mom- and-pop businesses support all communities, and you can support them by celebrating this unofficial holiday! GIVE YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY A BOOST! Shopping locally has a massive impact on your community. Local businesses return three times the amount of money to the local economy than larger corporations do. With that big of a returned investment, your community can support even more small businesses that generate a wealth of jobs and keep the cycle going. In addition to the economic boost, products from small businesses are usually higher quality, which makes them a better value for your dollar. Take this day to shop for birthday and holiday gifts for your loved ones that will bring them great joy and last a lifetime. GET SOCIAL AND SPREAD THE WORD! While small businesses utilize every form of marketing available, social media is essential for their success and growth. After shopping at your favorite mom-and-pop business, share that experience on your social media! When you write a post on Facebook or take a picture for Instagram, be sure to tag the business and use relevant hashtags so your friends, family, and everyone else in your community can shop there, too. Writing reviews on Google Reviews and Yelp helps establish validity for the company. When another potential customer looks for reviews, they know they’re getting quality products and services from a well-established pillar of the community. The local businesses that are active on social media may post deals and sales for that day only, so keep your eyes peeled and be sure to follow all your favorite businesses!

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BE CAREFUL BEFORE YOU POST!

After a car accident, many take to social media to post pictures of the accident or of themselves recovering in a hospital bed or at home. While the intent behind these photos is to show that you are “okay” and alive after the accident, the insurance company may try to utilize those photographs against you. Photographs posted on social networking sites are neither privileged nor protected by any right of privacy, regardless of any privacy settings the user may have established. Such posted photographs are unlike medical records or communications with one's attorney, where disclosure is confined to narrow, confidential relationships. Facebook itself does not guarantee privacy. By creating a Facebook account, a user acknowledges that their personal information will be shared with others. Indeed, that is the very nature and purpose of these social networking sites. Because information an individual shares through social networking websites like Facebook may be copied and disseminated by another, courts have held that the expectation that such information is private, in the traditional sense of the word, is not a reasonable one.

This means that the insurance company can utilize every post, comment, video, or picture you post on social media if it is relevant to the accident or case. We often see individuals post a picture of an accident and then a friend asks if they are okay. In response, the user who posted states, “I am fine.” The insurance company may then utilize that statement against them to argue that they weren’t actually injured. While most would understand the individual simply meant that he or she is still alive, the insurance company will scrutinize this information and take it out of context if they are able to do so. Before you make any post on social media, just remember that you could end up explaining that post to a jury. If you are ever injured on the go, you can always call Moe! Feel free to contact us regarding any accident 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We always have attorneys standing by to help provide you the legal advice you need when you need it.

MOE'S MUNCHIES

BREAK TAKE A

GREEN VELVET CHEESECAKE BARS

Inspired by AboutAMom.com

INGREDIENTS

• • • • •

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

• • • •

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs

3 eggs

1 stick butter, melted

1/2 tsp vanilla extract Green sprinkles, optional

1 oz green food coloring (gel works best) 3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oven to 350 F, and line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, combine crumbs, butter, and food coloring. Press into the baking pan. 3. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together.

4. Add eggs one at a time and stir in vanilla. 5. Pour mixture over the packed crumbs. 6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the center is set. 7. Let cool completely before adding sprinkles and slicing.

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THIS ISSUE

How Will Alimony Reform Affect You?

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Giving Back to Local Companies

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March Madness on the 'DeWitt Law Review'

Be Careful Before You Post!

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Green Velvet Cheesecake Bars

3

Would You Like Some Pi?

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THE SWEETEST WAYS TO CELEBRATE PI DAY ANOTHER SLICE OF PI(E)

Break out your calculators and grab your aprons because it’s almost Pi Day! This holiday has gained popularity among mathematicians and bakers alike — two groups that rarely overlap. Pi Day is March 14, which, when written numerically, is 3/14, the first three digits of the mathematical constant pi. Pi is special because it’s used to calculate the circumference of a circle. This might not sound like a big deal, but pi is used in engineering, construction, GPS, motors,

power generation, and even television! If we hadn’t calculated pi, none of these achievements would be possible. Pi is pretty important, and it’s definitely worth celebrating! Here are two ways you can get in on the fun. LEARN TO RECITE PI Pi has fascinated mathematicians for centuries because it’s an irrational number, meaning the digits go on forever. If you want to try your hand at memorizing some of the numbers, here are the first 50 decimal digits of pi (with spaces, so they’re easier to remember!).

recite as many digits as possible. In the Guinness Book of World Records, the record is currently held by Rajveer Meena, who recited pi to the 70,000th digit on March 21, 2015. And he did it all while blindfolded! EAT SOME PIE Another popular way to enjoy Pi Day is to bake and eat pie. This dessert is perfect because it’s both a homophone (same pronunciation as “pi” but with a different spelling and meaning) and a circle. Challenge your friends to a pie-baking contest, or buy your favorite pie from the store and have a pie- eating contest. And, while this may be a controversial stance, we believe pizza pie deserves a place in Pi Day celebrations, too.

3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510

To make things simple, we often round pi up to 3.14, but many people have challenged themselves to memorize and

Here’s to Pi Day: the tastiest, nerdiest holiday of the year!

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