Taking Title as a Married Couple

What is a marriage?  A contract.  You do not necessarily think about the legal ramifications at the wedding, but who inherits the house if one of you dies, or who gets the house in the case of a divorce?  You can fix that with a prenuptial agreement, you can fix the contract.    However, just because it is a contract does not mean it is enforceable.  Talk to an attorney and figure out how to make it enforceable. Getting married can change your life.  It can also change how you hold property title.  So you and your boyfriend bought a house together and took title as Tenants in Common.  The only unity there is the Unity of Possession.  Either one of you can sell your interest in the house without notice to the other owner.  But if you get married, neither of you can break the tenancy nor otherwise convey the property without consent of the spouse. Married couples hold title as Tenants by Entirety.  This includes the unities of Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship plus the Unity of Marriage, which subscribes to the legal fiction that a married couple is one entity.  You cannot disinherit your spouse.  Your wife […] Read More

Therapeutic Divorce…Believe It Or Not!

According to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the word ‘gift’ means ‘poison’ and ‘marriage’ in Swedish—depends on how you take it.  In Florida, we have Therapeutic Divorce, so your marriage does not have to be poison. Marriage can be difficult to take, and sometimes divorce is a necessary cure, but you do have a choice.  Therapeutic divorce offers an alternative to the traditional sense of “till death do us part.”  (It does not mean you keep getting divorced until you feel better.) Once the love is gone, it’s just math—therapeutic divorce upholds that statement.  The idea behind it is to work out the details while allowing both sides to continue to be good parents, good employees or employers, good at whatever it is that they are.  Therapeutic divorce is not a new concept, and there’s been a push for it in Florida. One of the caveats of therapeutic divorce is that if the negotiations break down, none of the attorneys can continue to be used by the clients.  This eliminates any attorney incentive to keep the couple fighting for more money.  It keeps the focus on the business of how best to deal with the details, and also does not […] Read More

May Day & Marriage

May of 2013 was the most popular month for marriages in St. Johns County…it was also the most popular month for divorce.  While 166 couples got married in May 2013, 89 couples dissolved their marriage that same month. Marriage is a choice; divorce might be a necessity, but you can choose how you go about it: Courtroom Drama OR Therapeutic Divorce You can choose all the nasty he-said / she-said courtroom drama drawn out over a fortune in legal fees, or you might consider Therapeutic Divorce. The idea behind Therapeutic Divorce is to work out the details while allowing both sides to continue to be good parents, good employees or employers, good at whatever it is that they are.  It keeps the focus on the business of how best to deal with the details. Advantages to Therapeutic Divorce include the following: You negotiate the settlement (instead of having a Judge decide it for you). No public records—because Therapeutic Divorce goes through mediation and not the courtroom, your dirty laundry remains your private matter. The process does not have to be expensive or take a long time. When the love is gone, it is only math. If both sides are ready […] Read More

Moving on After Divorce

Divorce may be a stage in life, and some people go through it more than once.  Just when they know all there is to know and dislike about their spouse, they get married again.  In Family Law, that is not referred to as “repeat offender” (though maybe it should be in some cases).  But no matter how many times you and your spouse split, ‘Separated’ is not the same as ‘Divorced,’ especially when it comes to real estate ownership in Florida. You may be “ABD” (All But Divorced), but while you are still married, you still have a financial interest in your almost-ex’s real estate.  Happily or unhappily, you and your spouse have a Tenancy by Entirety. Tenancy by Entirety includes the unities of Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship plus the Unity of Marriage, which subscribes to the legal fiction that husband and wife are one entity.  As long as the marriage is intact, neither can break the tenancy nor otherwise convey the property.  However, upon the dissolution of the marriage, the property is automatically held as Tenancy in Common. Things can get messy in divorce…and things can get messy if the divorce is not completed.  Do the math […] Read More