Understanding Prenuptial Versus Postnuptial Agreements By Jeff Weissman, Attorney at Law

Nuptial agreements are contracts that determine the division of assets, properties, and debts in the event the marriage is dissolved at a later point. While prenuptial agreements are commonly used among high-wealth individuals who seek to protect their assets and income from the legal ramifications of a future divorce, other contractual forms—postnuptial agreements—can be implemented after the wedding has occurred.

In a prenuptial agreement, the assets and wealth of both parties are protected prior to marriage. A postnuptial agreement deals with issues that arise after marriage, such as receiving a large inheritance or a business transaction that was pending before the marriage, but was completed after the wedding. Postnuptial agreements are designed to address unforeseen financial issues that may be problematic in the event of a divorce. While the subject matter may be uncomfortable, both pre- and postnuptial agreements help foster communication between a couple and put financial and monetary concerns on the table in an honest and straightforward manner.

About the Author:

As an attorney with Gladstone & Weissman, Jeff Weissman offers counsel on marital and family law.

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Jeff Weissman, Attorney, Answers Frequently Asked Questions on Mediation

Question: What is mediation?

Jeff Weissman: Essentially mediation involves a discussion between two parties in conflict through the assistance of a neutral person, known as the mediator; the mediator guides the process. The mediator also investigates various settlement options and solutions to the conflict.

Question: What are the benefits of receiving mediation?

Jeff Weissman: As opposed to a court settlement where only one party will become the victor, mediation enables both parties to receive a satisfactory resolution to their problem.

Question: How do you know whether a situation calls for mediation?

Jeff Weissman: If a possibility of conflict arises, such as the suggestion of divorce for instance, seeking mediation immediately assists in preventing an expensive and painful court battle, allowing proper communication and understanding to replace intense emotions and antagonistic attitudes. Waiting only allows the tension to build.

Question: What is necessary for successful mediation?

Jeff Weissman: Both parties must cooperate with the mediator and commit themselves to acting fairly. In order to facilitate this process, each party may meet with an attorney for advice and to support his or her position.

About Jeff Weissman: Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator, he practices law with Gladstone & Weissman, P.A. Board certified in marital and family law, he holds membership in professional organizations such as the Florida Bar, the American Inns of Court, and the American Bar Association.

Jeff Weissman, Attorney, Presents an Introduction to Child Support

In simple terms, child support means the contributions for the costs associated with raising a child that come from both parents, allocated between the parents based upon their respective incomes. The amount prescribed by the Florida Child Support Guidelines varies based upon several factors, including the parties’ respective incomes and their timesharing schedule with the minor children. The legal requirements for child support seek to ensure that children have their needs met, including adequate nutrition, clothing, health care, and education.

In the early 2000s almost half the marriages in the United States ended in divorce. Because of this fact, and the additional statistic of nearly a quarter of children being born to unmarried parents, child support presents a substantial legal consideration. Sometimes such support comes voluntarily from a parent. However, often the state family court system determines whether or not the child requires additional financial aid and in what amount.

About Jeff Weissman:

An attorney board-certified in marital and family law, Jeff Weissman brings nearly two decades of legal experience to his partnership in the Florida firm, Gladstone & Weissman, P.A. He focuses on issues related to divorce, domestic violence, paternity, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and child custody and support.

Parental Alienation Syndrome, Part 1 of 2

All too common in the middle of contested divorce proceedings, Parental Alienation Syndrome is the attempt of one spouse to alienate the couple’s children from the other parent, effectively destroying all emotional bonds. This alienation is encouraged by parents in several ways:

• The alienating parent talks negatively about his or her spouse directly to the children, saying things such as, “Mom/Dad left because he/she doesn’t care about us.”
• The alienating parent talks about the failure of the marriage and puts all the blame on the other parent.
• The alienating parent blames the other spouse for all the current hardships the family is experiencing.
• In severe cases, the alienating parent makes accusations of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse against the other parent.

Regardless of how the alienating parent attempts to turn the children against his or her spouse, the children realize that in order to win the love of the alienating parent, they must turn against the targeted parent. The consequences of Parental Alienation Syndrome are severe, resulting in children feeling estranged from one parent and guilty about this estrangement. The long-term consequences may negatively impact self-esteem levels and general outlook on life, as well as foster dysfunctional relationships.

Part 2 of this article is about how to protect children from Parental Alienation Syndrome.

About the author: Jeff Weissman is an attorney with Gladstone & Weissman, P.A., a firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is board certified in marital and family law.

Interview with Attorney Jeff Weissman on the Role of the Guardian Ad Litem in Family Court

Jeff Weissman is a partner at Gladstone & Weissman, P.A. The firm specializes in family and marital law, providing representation in areas including divorce, child custody, child support, and paternity cases. Mr. Weissman is also a Supreme Court Certified Guardian Ad Litem; in this position he makes recommendations for the best interests of children in family court proceedings.

What exactly is a Guardian Ad Litem?

Jeff Weissman: A Guardian Ad Litem is a person appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of a child. They are often appointed in cases of child abuse and neglect. They may also be appointed to look out for a child’s best interests during a custody dispute or adoption. In Florida, there are two types of Guardian Ad Litem. Some are volunteers from the community who receive extensive training and work primarily with abused and neglected children in the foster care system. Others are attorneys, who may work in the foster care system, or be appointed to serve in family law cases.

How does a Guardian Ad Litem advocate for children?

Jeff Weissman: A Guardian Ad Litem performs an independent investigation and talks to all of the parties involved in the case. For example, they may interview teachers, neighbors, and grandparents. They also monitor ongoing situations. Based on their investigations and monitoring, they make recommendations to the court that they believe are in the best interests of the child.

How does one determine what is in a child’s best interests?

Jeff Weissman: Partially based on training and partially on common sense. Typically, the investigation helps me uncover what is in a child’s best interests. I do ask the child what they want, but that does not necessarily mean I will recommend what he or she requests. Sometimes what a child wants and what is in his or her best interests are two different things. As a Guardian, I have a duty to report the child’s desires to the judge, but make my own recommendations that are independent from the minor, their parents, or other parties to the case.

Parental Relocation

Divorce can trigger the desire for relocation and a fresh start, but divorcees with children must consider several factors before packing their bags. Jeff Weissman is a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, attorney specializing in marital and family law, and clients often seek his counsel because they themselves want to move or because their former spouses have expressed the desire to relocate. Many people do not know where the law stands on parental relocation, and with good reason: The issue is far from black and white.

For example, Florida’s appellate courts initially agreed that a custodial parent was free to move with the children unless there was a residence restriction in the union’s dissolution judgment. A divide emerged when some courts made relocating difficult if the resulting move would violate visitation rights. Many courts found this reason enough to rule against a move, while others felt that issues such as the potential improvement to a child’s quality of life should be considered.

To address these issues, the Florida Supreme Court adopted a new approach in the 1990s that used six criteria to reach a judgment in cases where custodial parents wanted to leave the state. Courts had to consider whether

1. the move was motivated to defeat visitation;
2. the move would improve the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and children;
3. the move was in the child’s best interest;
4. the move was fiscally feasible;
5. the custodial parent would comply with substitute visitation arrangements; and
6. substitute visitation would be sufficient to allow the continued cultivation of a meaningful relationship between the children and the noncustodial parent.

Courts tended to approve such moves, rationalizing that by improving the quality of life for the custodial parent, the child’s life would also benefit. It has become increasingly apparent, however, that substituting visitation schedules detrimentally affects relationships between children and noncustodial parents. Noncustodial parents also had to contend with custodial parents moving without court consent, thus forcing them to try to reverse the move after the fact.

In 2006, a relocation statute co-authored by Mr. Weissman adopted many of the factors mandated earlier by the Supreme Court and added several other factors and criteria for judicial consideration. Through the years, this statute has been further modified and updated to include certain procedural requirements applicable to the moving party and the objecting party. Mr. Weissman has overseen and participated in the discussions regarding the relocation statute and is currently seeking to enact legislation that will clarify and improve upon the legal definition of “relocation.”

Custody arrangements can be difficult to navigate without the support of a knowledgeable attorney like Jeff Weissman. Contact the offices of Gladstone & Weissman, P.A., to learn more about its services.

Representing the High Net Worth Client

Stack of $100 Bills

 

By Jeff Weissman

As a marital and family law attorney in South Florida, I handle many divorce cases involving individuals who hold significant financial wealth. Protecting my clients’ assets is my primary concern in negotiating a contentious divorce. I have created some tips for attorneys who are managing high net worth divorce situations to help them reach positive outcomes and allow both parties to move on with their lives as quickly and painlessly as possible.

1. A sound prenuptial agreement is the first step in preventing a messy divorce. Advise clients to consider building reasonable prenuptial agreements that provide a substantial enough monetary provision to discourage further litigation.

2. Make sure clients consider the implications of a lengthy divorce case. In many states, the proceedings from a divorce might become public record even if they are initially sealed. If your client possesses hidden assets, or if the process of forensic accounting will uncover some potentially questionable business practices, then a quick settlement might be advisable. Encourage each client to examine the risks and rewards of settling versus becoming involved in a case that could create long-term damage for his or her reputation.

3. For high net worth individuals who also attract substantial attention, a divorce case can be an appealing story for tabloid-style media. Especially when children are involved, the public sentiment generated by media reports will very likely not be favorable for your wealthy client. Work with your client and his or her assistants to minimize media exposure from the beginning in every feasible way.

About the author: as a Partner at Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Gladstone & Weissman, P.A., Jeff Weissman is a member of the Family Law Section and the Executive Council of the Florida Bar.