The Best Gift
A CANINE COMPANION
Both Ashley and I have always been animal lovers. It’s something we found we had in common when we first started dating. It’s amazing how pets become part of the family, isn’t it? I’ve been lucky to experience that bond throughout my life, and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. As kids, my sister Katie and I dreamed of getting a dog for Christmas. We imagined that, come Christmas morning, a puppy would be waiting for us next to the Christmas tree. Of course, a pet is a big responsibility, one parents want to make sure their kids are ready for. My dad wasn’t ready to get a dog for another reason. Not long after my parents got married, my dad was attacked by a dog, and it was an experience he wasn’t eager to relive.
Despite my dad’s negative association with them, Katie and I still really wanted a dog. When they saw me crawling on the floor pretending to be a dog with my sister riding on my back, I think my parents realized maybe it was time to finally get us a pet. They adopted a Rottweiler puppy, and it started something of a tradition. Not long after that, we adopted a second Rottweiler, and from then on, we always had a male and female Rottweiler while growing up. Two Rottweilers are part of my parents’ family to this day. Our dogs were two of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Mom and Dad gave Katie and me the gift of learning to care for another creature. Plus, we got to discover how much unconditional love a dog can give. Even when you feel like you’ve had a failure of a day, there they are at the door, wagging their tails because they’re happy you’re home. That human-animal bond is a pretty special thing, isn’t it? Those first two dogs developed my initial love for animals, and when I met Ashley, I found a partner who shared that same love. She’s pretty much the same way about animals as I am. When we got married, I became a dad to her three cats, and we’ve added one more to our family since then. Eventually, we’d love to get a dog, but we don’t have the backyard space for one just yet. But in the near future, we are going to be settling into a home with a yard where it will be appropriate and fair to have dogs — a yard they can run around in. For now, I think our cats Maui, Xina, and Punky are happy to have our attention all to themselves, even if they’re fickle about when they actually want it. Our passion for animals is something we want to pass on to Russell and Ruby. Over Veterans Day weekend, we celebrated Ruby’s birthday with a bunch of friends. We fortunately have more than enough toys around the house, so rather than bring gifts, we asked guests to bring a bag of dog food or make a donation to an animal rescue organization in our kids’ names. Ashley and her mom, Bernice, are also very involved with a local nonprofit that rescues labs, called the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida, and they give their time to help make sure these Labs find good homes. It feels good to give back to something we’re passionate about and to reminisce about gifts that have given us so much.
– Chris Bruce
Ruby loves big dogs.
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Understanding Divorce Basics
DIVISION OF PROPERTY
The Best Divorce is achievable when you have a basic understanding of divorce law. When we say basic understanding, we mean having a base knowledge of the relevant laws that are going to apply to and govern your divorce. These basics usually determine the boundaries of what type of settlement package is possible. There’s no need for you to know everything — after all, that’s why divorce attorneys spend four years at law school — but knowing the basics will help you make informed decisions and be prepared when it comes to your divorce. One area included in the basics is the division of property. In most cases, each spouse will receive 50 percent of the Marital Net Worth in a divorce. “Marital Net Worth” refers to assets or liability either spouse accumulated during the marriage. Earnings, debts, and savings may all be part of the Marital Net Worth, as well as any businesses. Although overall Marital Net Worth is divided equally, each liability or asset — a house or bank account — may not be. The goal is for each spouse to leave the marriage with an equal value of property. There are a few exceptions to the 50 percent division of property. Assets and liabilities that are owned before the marriage or inherited as a gift during the marriage are considered nonmarital. If these were kept separate from marital property, they are not divided in the divorce. The burden of proof then falls on the spouse to demonstrate an asset or liability as nonmarital. Some states, like Florida, give a judge the right to decide on an equitable distribution of property, meaning the judge may decide on a different distribution of property than the 50-50 division. That said, it rarely happens.
TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT WINTER HOLIDAYS
According to the Pew Research Center, Christmas is the most celebrated December holiday in the U.S. Yet, like the melting pot it is, the U.S. contains many cultures from across the globe, each with their own traditions. Teach your kids about some of the holiday celebrations from different cultures this season. KWANZAA Created in 1966 by black studies professor Maulana Karenga during the Black Nationalist Movement, Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration and reflection period for African Americans. The week offers African Americans the opportunity to connect with African culture and history by celebrating the seven principles of African heritage, which include unity, self-determination, and creativity. HANUKKAH Hanukkah pays homage to a two-year Jewish rebellion against an oppressive Greek- Syrian government that took them captive in an attempt to eliminate Judaism. The tradition of the eight-day celebration and the lighting of the menorah candles comes from the story of a miracle that happened during the rebellion, when a one-day supply of oil burned for eight days in a temple. DIWALI Though celebrated in late fall, Diwali is a Hindu holiday that’s known as the festival of lights. Its main purpose is to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and the five-day festival includes the lighting of candles or lamps, feasting, and giving gifts to family and friends. Diwali also celebrates the Hindu new year and is the largest, most widely celebrated festival in India. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but educating your children about holiday practices other than Christmas will give them a broader worldview and inspire them to gain further knowledge about cultures outside their own. Your local library is a great resource for children’s literature on these holidays, and there are also TV programs from PBS that feature episodes on these traditions. Enjoy the winter holiday season, however you decide to celebrate!
Division of property is just one of the topics covered in the Florida Divorce Law Guide Basics. To learn more about these resources, visit brucepa.com/florida-divorce-law-guide/.
A Free Resource on Divorce Education and Strategy
My Best Divorce Membership
Learn how to make your divorce the Best Divorce possible — yes, it is possible — with this free resource and strategy guide. When you sign up for a My Best Divorce Membership, you’ll gain access to 14 free lessons in the Best Divorce Basics Course, Divorce Overview Seminars, ebooks, and community divorce forums. Sign up at brucepa.com/my-best-divorce-registration.
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A Loyal Companion
FOSTERING FRIENDSHIP AT THE LAB RESCUE OF FLORIDA
The organization behind Jon and Shayna’s story, and many other heartwarming stories like it, is the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida (LRROF). For 18 years, this organization has been rescuing, caring for, and placing Labrador retrievers in loving, permanent homes around Florida with people who are overjoyed to have pups. Finding the perfect home for each lab is a priority of the lab rescue; they share information about each dog and do home visits to make sure a human and lab partnership is set up for success from the very beginning. The adoption process includes an application, a home visit, and a chance to meet adoptable dogs, all of which takes about two weeks to complete to ensure that each dog is matched with its forever family. As the organization says on their website, “LRROF is committed to making a lifelong match for of all our adopted Labradors.” The nonprofit gets most of its help from volunteers and veterinarian partners who are dedicated to helping place pets in homes. The Lab Rescue says the volunteers are at the heart of their organization, as they can only save as many dogs as they have space for. With the compassion of volunteers and the families who have adopted through LRROF, fewer dogs become abandoned, neglected, and mistreated, and both human and pet find a loyal companion and friend.
Our Family With Hugo
As Chris shared on the cover, pets provide companionship and unconditional love. For a disabled veteran, this can be a much-needed source of stability and affection. That’s what Shayna, a loving white lab, has been for Jon, a disabled Vietnam veteran. After Shayna was abandoned by her previous owners, Jon stepped in and adopted her. As he says about the first time he met Shayna, “In 30 seconds, I had a new best friend; I knew I was not leaving without her.” A year later, Jon and Shayna are established companions. According to Jon, “I did not rescue her; Shayna rescued me.”
Visit LRROF.org to learn more about the organization.
have a LAUGH
Buttery Roasted Chestnuts
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
2 pounds fresh chestnuts, unpeeled
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2–3 sprigs rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Pat dry and transfer to a medium bowl. Add rosemary, butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Toss to coat and transfer to baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer. Gather the edges of the foil together, leaving an opening at the top. Roast until peels curl up, about 30–45 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve while hot or warm.
Heat oven to 450 F.
Place a large sheet of foil on a rimmed baking sheet. On a large, flat workspace, place chestnuts flat side down. Using a sharp knife, carve an X on the rounded side of each chestnut. In a large bowl of hot water, soak chestnuts for 1 minute.
Inspired by Bon Appétit
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A Lifelong Gift page 1
Teach Your Kids About Holidays
This Issue: Division of Property in Divorce page 2
Labrador Rescue of Florida page 3
A Look at Health Insurance for Pets page 4
A Member of the Family HEALTH COVERAGE FOR FURRY COMPANIONS
The close bond that humans form with their pets can be mystifying to those who proclaim they are not “pet people.” A dog given a spot on the bed or a cat given specialty food might seem extravagant to some, but a glance back in time shows that this close companionship developed long ago. Ancient Egyptians were sometimes mummified with their feline or canine companions, and when given the choice between losing a battle or harming cats, Egyptians chose a loss to their Persian adversaries rather than attacking soldiers who’d strategically strapped felines to their bodies. A special relationship developed between humans and their animals during the process of domestication, and pets earned their proverbial place at the table. For some pet parents, this close bond makes insurance coverage for their fur babies a no-brainer. Some employers are even offering it as an employment benefit. When it comes to caring for our furry companions, veterinarian Jean Maixner points out that having pet insurance can keep families from having to make a gut-wrenching decision when a pet gets sick or hurt. “If you get the right policy, it can be an asset to the health care of that pet and have a significant impact on the bill that results from an emergency visit,” Maixner says. As with human health insurance, pet health insurance policies vary. A higher deductible usually means paying a lower monthly rate. You can find plans that cover accidents and illnesses, and some plans even cover routine care, like vaccines. In an assessment of policies, Consumer Reports found that for a relatively healthy pet, most policies actually
cost more than they would ultimately pay out. However, they also found that for a pet that develops a serious illness or condition, many pet insurance policies will indeed pay out more than what they cost. Talk with your vet to see if there are any conditions your pet is prone to. Consumer Reports also recommends reading all the fine print when looking at plans to make sure you understand what will be covered. For many people, pet insurance offers peace of mind that their companion will be protected. As Herb Weisbaum, consumer advisor for NBC News, says, “If you buy pet insurance and don’t use it, consider yourself lucky.”
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