Concluding our discussion of new Florida family laws passed in 2012, today we discuss HB 401. This legislation amends the Florida Probate Code so you may be wondering why we are venturing down this road. It's simple really. HB 401 specifies the effect of annulment or dissolution of marriage on assets like:
Life insurance policies
Employee banefit plans
Payable on death (POD) accounts
There are times when a former spouse maintains an interest in assets after the divorce. Life insurance is a good example. A "payor" spouse may be required to keep life insurance to secure his or her obligation to pay support.This will still be possible after July 1, 2012 so long as the court order requires the asset be held for the benefit of a former spouse.
The problem came about because those assets that are not ordered to be held for the former spouse's benefit require the spouse who owns them to take action to change the beneficiary or to disclaim tan interest after the final judgment. And sometimes the change or disclaimer does not get made before the owner-spouse dies.
In the 2008 Kennedy decision, the US Supreme Court awarded survivor pension benefits to a former spouse even after the beneficiary designation was changed - and even though the parties' agreement said that the surviving spouse waived all interest in the account. That's because there were specific forms that the surviving needed to sign to "disclaim" an interest in the pension. She did not sign those forms. The pension plan required benefits to be paid to the person designated as the "spouse" of the deceased.
The new law takes effect on July 1, 2012. It has many exceptions so you probably need to consult an attorney who provides unbundled legal services if you are representing yourself and have assets that have specific beneficiaries. You want to be clear and to know the effect of your final judgment.
Negotiate - it can be difficult to do when you don't like or trust the other person. When we are in work place situations however, it seems like it is easier to put aside our feelings and get the work done. I recently saw a slide show on this topic and it got me thinking about how it applies in divorce. It's tough to negotiate when you do not trust the other person.
Here are the Top 5 Tips that also apply when you negotiate with someone you do not trust:
1. Keep Emotions to Yourself - do not share your distrust or upset. You need to process your emotions but this is not the time.
2. Avoid Gossip - while it tarnishes your reputation in the workplace, gossip about your ex has bad effects on your children so do not do it.
3. Pick up the mirror - because the problem starts with both of you. There is not spouse who gets 100% of the blame while the other gets off 100%. Take your share of the responsibility.
4. Draw a bright line - do not allow yourself to be bullied or abused.
5. Detach emotionally - because you are moving into a co-parenting business relationship.
It is not easy to put aside your emotions when you have been betrayed, but in order to successully negotiate, you need to try it. While you may not be perfect at it, keep practicing and it will get easier.
If you need some help detaching from your old behaviors and emotions, join us for the Divorced Parent Telesummit. Our free speaker series helps you be calm, confident and wise as you provide a sense of peace and security to your children.
Over the course of talking to our expert speakers, we discovered some common themes. If you would like to get the Words of Wisdom from the previous Divorced Parent Telesummit, visit www.divorcedparenttelesummit.com and we will send you the excerpts and enroll you in the next speaker series.
Continuing in the 2012 Florida legislative update,SB 990 is our topic today. "Natural guardians" is the topic. This bill covers parental authority to act for your children. Florida has a strong public policy of shared parental responsibility (often referred to as "legal custody"). Both parents must decide the big issues of child-rearing together when parental responsibilty is shared.
But sometimes, sole parental responsibility is ordered. SB 990 specifies that when parent has sole parental responsibility, the parent with sole responsibility is the "natural guardian" of the child. The new law makes it clear that if neither parent is granted parental responsibility, neither are the natural guardian of the child.
SB 990 was sent to the governor on March 23, 2012. It's effective date is July 1, 2012.
Now that the regular Florida legislative session is over for 2012, we know that alimony reform died on the vine, along with the bill to correct some things with equitable distrbution. But what family law bills actually passed?
There were four bills related to family law (and one pertaining to adoptions) which passed. HB 917 was sent to the governor on March 30th. While not strictly limited to family law, HB 917 has to do with contracts. Since marital settlement agreements are contracts, this new law will apply.
The substance of HB 917 allows the parties to a contract to specify that they will be subject to court jurisdiction here in Florida, even if they do not reside here. Subject matter jurisdiction is still something that has to be set by law, but personal jurisdiction can be by contract starting on July 1, 2012.