My practice is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and focusses on helping you resolve your divorce or other Family Law dispute outside court, without adversarial litigation, through collaborative divorce, mediation, or negotiation; and helping you and your family put in place your estate plan, in a way that takes care of your financial assets, and also the well-being of your family.
The types of Family Law matters I handle include divorce, uncontested divorce, pre and post-nuptial agreements, paternity cases, child custody/time-sharing, child support, and modifications, in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties.
For Estate Planning, we focus on being sure the tax law issues that are relevant for you are fully addressed, including the sometimes complicated issue of the best way to pass on Retirement Accounts. A primary focus of my Estate Planning work, though, is being sure we concentrate on putting in place a plan that will help avoid conflict for your family if you become ill or pass way; and a plan for being sure your children are raised how you want, if you are no longer there or no longer able to care for them. We will focus also on ways to pass on not only your financial assets, but your non-financial assets - the values and life lessons you would like to leave to your family.
As a Fort Lauderdale Divorce Attorney, for family law matters, during our first meeting I'll discuss with you the circumstances of your case, what you are seeking, and your alternatives for resolving your case - which include mediation, co-mediation, collaborative divorce/collaborative family law, or litigation. "Litigation" is the process you've probably seen on television or associate with a typical divorce case, in which parties oppose each other, often aggressively in Court.
You may already have a sense if you are reading this that an adversarial court battle is not the route you want to take. I no longer take on litigation matters, but if that is what you need I can give you names of attorneys in the area to contact if you need help deciding who to call.Divorce
Some of the important issues in a divorce are alimony, property and debt division, time-sharing and parental responsibility (i.e. child custody when there are minor children), temporary financial and children's issues while the matter is being resolved; and completing the divorce with as little extra turmoil, distress and expense as possible. Sometimes divorce is something the two of you arrive at with a sense that this is something we both want and without conflict, but often there is conflict and hurt feelings, and it is not a good outcome if the legal process makes that worse, and consumes much of your marital assets.Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative Divorce is a structured process for settling your case outside of Court. In this approach you each retain an attorney who is collaboratively trained - which means that their focus and what you hire them to achieve is a fair result, rather than defeating the "other side". So, your attorney will be seeking to be sure you receive a fair result, and the other spouse's attorney will be seeking the same for them. You can visit the Collaborative Divorce page on this website to learn more about the process, and how I can help you as a divorce attorney serving Fort Lauderdale.Estate Planning
If we meet to discuss your Estate Plan, the process starts by looking at what happens now - to your assets, and also for your family and children, if you pass away or become incapacitated. We'll look at ways that is not optimal for you or not what you want, and our options for arriving at the results you want. Many times this will involve setting up a trust for you, and addressing how to put in place some level of asset protection for assets you pass on to your family members, including your children; sometimes the plan can be a simple will, health care directive/health care surrogate and power of attorney.
If you have minor children, a significant focus will be putting in place some options easily available under Florida law, to help be sure you children are raised by who you want in the event something happens to you, and in the way you would like.
Just as for divorces or other family law matters, if disputes develop among family members regarding care of a family member who has become ill, or disputes over money and assets after a loved-one's death, Collaborative Law is a better process than family members living out not yet resolved family conflicts, and attacking each other in court.Co-Mediation
In my opinion, in virtually all matters it is preferable to settle the case by negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, or a process called co-mediation. Co-Mediation is a process like Collaborative Law in which we bring in additional resources like a neutral financial professional and also a mental health professional to serve as a facilitator, but without each party having an attorney - some spouses or parents prefer to talk more for themselves in their matter, or just have a preference for not having attorneys involved, or involved as little as possible. One of the co-mediators will be an attorney, but that person (me) will be serving as a neutral mediator versus representing one party.Mediation
As a Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer, another a significant area of my practice is serving as a family law mediator. Mediation is one of the most efficient and least expensive ways to resolve a family law matter. When I'm serving as the mediator, I sit with both you and the other spouse or parent and we try to settle the issues, and then I write up a settlement agreement for the two of you to sign. When I'm serving as a mediator I can help prepare the forms you need to file for divorce or other family law case, but then the two of you need to take the forms and file them with the Court, and request/schedule your final hearing.Uncontested Divorce
The least expensive way to complete a divorce is if it is uncontested. That means you and your spouse have already worked out a settlement, and then either you or an attorney writes up the settlement agreement and prepares the rest of the forms you need to file with the Court. If you retain an attorney to represent you in the divorce, he or she can prepare and file the forms, and schedule and attend your final hearing with you (the final hearing is when you go in front of the Judge for him or her to grant the divorce and sign the divorce judgment); or you can prepare the forms and schedule and go to the hearing yourself. Clients who want to represent themselves come to me sometimes for consultations -- for assistance or advice in preparing the forms and the process of completing the divorce.Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements
Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements are documents for which it is often important to have the assistance of a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is an agreement you and your fiancé sign before getting married, which provides for what happens in the event of a divorce or a spouse's death, rather than having those issues resolved under existing Florida law - e.g. the rules re: alimony or equitable distribution (equitable distribution is the division of marital property and debt in a divorce). A Post-Nuptial Agreement is a similar agreement entered after you've married.
Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements can be complicated, both in terms of your options for provisions to include, and the factors which make them enforceable. I believe here, as with other family law issues, if there are difficult issues between you and your fiancé or spouse to address in arriving at the agreement, it's good to have that done through a Collaborative Law process - where everyone sits with a mental health professional/facilitator to come up with something with which everyone is happy, versus it becoming a more legal, negotiation process between attorneys. Either approach can work depending on the circumstances, but often the focus at the time of developing a pre or post-nuptial agreement is you and your fiancé's happiness and a happy marriage, and a collaborative law process can be a good way to maintain that focus.Time-Sharing and Child Support
Time-Sharing and Child Support are children's issues that arise in both divorce and paternity cases. Time-Sharing is the schedule for when each parent spends time with the child(ren) - during the week, weekends and holidays; and we also address issues like how childcare is handled, when can parents travel out of the state or out of the country with the child, etc.
Child Support as the name suggests is money one parent pays to the other to help with support of the child(ren), and is based on each parent's net income, the number of overnights each parent has with the child(ren) and the number of children. As part of child support, we also determine who provides health insurance, and how non-covered expenses are handled.Modifications
Modifications are post-judgment actions to change one of the results in the original divorce, paternity or other family law case - for example to modify the timesharing schedule or modify child support. To obtain a modification, there needs to have been a substantial change in circumstances since the original order, which is relevant to the part of the order you want to change -- for example, if one or both parents' income have changed substantially since the original child support order.
Both family law and estate planning can involve a wide range of sometimes complex issues - the welfare of your children, and also tax, financial, business and real estate issues.
I've had the opportunity earlier in my life working in my past career as a therapist and supervisor in children and family counseling programs, and later as an attorney litigating cases involving abuse and neglect in dependency court. On the business side, I've worked in a high-end "boutique" taxation and business law firm as well as the Real Estate department of a prominent national law firm, and have advised and represented clients regarding the valuation and division of pensions, stock options, businesses, and other significant assets, the development of trusts and administration of estates, and worked with forensic accountants on cases.
One of my goals as an estate planning and divorce lawyer serving Fort Lauderdale, is to help you achieve what you want, with as little extra stress and distress as possible.
Call me at (954) 636-7498 or use the contact form on the website, and we can discuss how I can help you.
Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer | Hollywood, Florida Family Law Attorney | Steven E. Blumenthal
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