Remarriage: What you should know before saying “I Do” again!

There is much to celebrate in finding another companion for your life, but there are more things to consider before you tie that knot again than you might think. According to statistics, remarriage is very common nowadays. In fact, remarriage in the United States today is 3 times as high for 2nd and 3rd marriages as we saw in 1960. Did you know that four out of ten new marriages include at least one partner who has been married before? Pew Research Center found that the number of adults who have ever remarried was at an astounding 42 million!

Although many of the considerations and tips in this blog apply to Same-Sex couples as well, there isn’t quite enough data that has been collected since the legalization of marriage equality to be included. That being said, it’s widely known that men are much more likely to remarry a younger spouse than women. The percentage of men marrying younger spouses is 67% by age 40 and 73% by age 70. Regardless of these statistics, both men and women should know what to expect before they remarry again so that both parties are successful in this new relationship.

So what should you consider before remarrying? First off, there is likely to be a disparity of the partners’ income if there is a significant age gap. This is due to the older spouse having more time in the workforce which means more time to grow their career and income. Another consideration is when one partner is retired and the other keeps working. Both of these scenarios are important to consider because, without proper planning, an income disparity could cause a rift in the relationship.

Secondly, there are some very important rules regarding Social Security for couples that decide to remarry. A remarriage could result in a loss or reduction of Social Security benefits, depending on the type of benefits received and the age of the Social Security recipient. The last consideration to keep in mind involves alimony. Alimony in Florida is based on need and ability to pay. Alimony awarded in a prior divorce could be modified or terminated based on a change in the parties’ financial situations. If one (or both) of the partners are receiving alimony from a previous marriage, they may want to reconsider marriage and/or cohabitation altogether as these circumstances could cause this income to be terminated.

With all of these considerations in place, how do you protect yourself? Get a Prenuptial Agreement. A Prenup, as it is commonly known, has many benefits. For one, it allows you to avoid a lengthy divorce process (if applicable). With a prenup, you can also set the amount of alimony payments, waive entitlement to each other’s estates and inheritance and set rules in place to provide life insurance funds if the greater earning spouse dies. It is also important to consult with an attorney to make sure that your desire to remarry, or even cohabitate with someone will not have a negative impact on current alimony you may be receiving or other benefits you may be entitled to.

Our team at McCart & Tesmer are well versed in all things involving marriage rights and family law in accordance with the state of Florida. Our team of lawyers would love to help you navigate and plan your future so the outcome is the maximum benefit for both parties involved. You can also read more about the rights of unmarried couples in Florida here. Contact us below!

The Rights of Unmarried Couples in Florida

rights of unmarried mccart and tesmer law

There are many benefits to marriage – higher tax deductions, another person to navigate life with, rights to property, children, and more. But what about the rights of unmarried couples? Living in Florida means no state tax, sunshine, white sand beaches, and benefits for unmarried couples! Our team has spent years understanding and working for those rights. So what rights do you have if you are navigating life with your partner but are not legally married?

Couples decide not to legally marry for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Reduction or termination of Social Security or Survivor’s Benefits
  • Ineligibility for Medicaid and long-term care
  • Move one partner into a high tax bracket 
  • Increase tax liability 
  • Reduce or terminate alimony for recipient partner
  • Loss of Financial Aid for a college-aged child

For most of us, we have a pretty good idea as to if we want to marry someone or not, but for those of you who have yet to decide, there are a few things to prepare for to have a successful future with your loved one. From property rights to alimony and paternity to inheritance, there is a slew of legal documentation that can help set you and your partner up for success.

Property Rights of Unmarried Couples:

When you are married and own property together, you automatically have statutory rights to each other’s property. This property can be both tangible or intangible whether it is houses, cars, electronics, pets, intellectual property and so much more. For couples who are not married but cohabitate, you are not subject to various property laws. These laws that were set up to protect married individuals do not benefit the unmarried, however, this isn’t the end of the road. 

As your relationship blossoms so do your assets, and with this growth comes wealth. To prepare you for this growth we suggest you create a property agreement with your partner. This agreement is a legally binding document that states the ownership right per individual and states who is entitled to what in case of a separation. Without this agreement, there is no guarantee that you will be able to claim anything from the relationship as your own. Depending on your situation, this agreement may be the only thing protecting you from ending up with nothing. 

Inheritance Rights of Unmarried Couples:

Inheritance is one of those terms that tends to lend itself to drama. Whether you heard the words from one of your favorite true crime podcasts or heard it while watching one of your soap operas, you know that when a loved one passes inheritance is a big topic of discussion. 

For those who haven’t heard the term, inheritance means the passing down of private property, debts, privileges, rights, titles, and obligations upon the death of a loved one. But what does that mean for unmarried couples? Unfortunately, it means that upon the death of you or your partner, the other party has no legal right to your property. In unmarried cases, the next of kin or the parents of the departed is the next in line to be awarded your joint property.

Bummer, right? Well, don’t fret, you have other options besides getting married and that comes with your estate planning. If both you and your partner agree, you will have to name each other the Agent in a Power of Attorney as well as a Surrogate to make healthcare decisions. You will also need to name each other as a Personal Representative and beneficiary in your Last Will and Testament or Trustee and beneficiary in Trust.

Alimony Rights of Unmarried Couples:

You may have heard this term before, but alimony is a legal obligation of a person that requires them to provide financial support to their long-term spouse before and after a divorce. Alimony takes into consideration the quality of life that you and your former spouse created while in your relationship and awards the individual with the lesser income enough support to sustain life after a divorce. Unfortunately, when this comes to unmarried couples, you are not eligible for alimony. 

However, for those of you that are now divorced, receiving alimony, and in a new relationship, you need to be careful if you want to continue to receive your benefits. Although your last thought maybe marriage, cohabitating in an unmarried relationship may terminate your previously ordered alimony. According to Florida law, when the recipient of alimony starts to live with another person in a way that suggests they intend to live like a married couple, it could terminate the alimony or modify it downward.

Paternity Rights of Unmarried Couples:

In Florida, when an unwed couple has a child, the mother is presumed to have all legal rights to the child. Until a circuit court determines who is the legal father, the mother can decide all aspects of the child’s life. From where the child lives, what medical treatment they may need, and even if the child can visit with the biological father, the mother has all of the control.

Although many would believe that having the father’s name on the birth certificate of their child would be enough to prove legality, it is not. To be considered as the child’s legal father and retain custody of the child, the father must sign up for Florida’s Putative Father Registry to preserve his right to notice and consent in the event of an adoption or custody battle. The father will also need to consent to a DNA test, which does not automatically guarantee the father’s rights or timesharing, but will get them one step close to becoming the legal father of the child.

Once the legality of the father is proven, the father can petition the court in a paternity case and the court will enter a parenting plan which is a written directive of each parent’s rights and obligations to the child. The court will then determine the number of nights in a year the child resides with the Mother and the Father.  With this information plus each parents’ monthly income and child expenses, a child support amount will be calculated pursuant to the Florida Child Support Guidelines.

With all that said, there are a lot of factors to think about when deciding to stay unmarried with a partner. The Law offices McCart & Tesmer is here to help you with the process whether you are looking to start the estate planning process, needing a property agreement for a large purchase with your unwed spouse, or navigating a paternity case. For more information, call us at 813.498.2757 or email us at info@mccartandtesmer.com.

Co-Parenting During the Holidays

The holidays have arrived, which means it’s time to put up the decorations, wrap the gifts, spike the eggnog, and get prepared for a possible co-parenting nightmare! The holidays are already stressful enough so adding the idea of sharing your children with your ex, can make it quite a bit difficult. Because of this possible co-parenting fiasco, we have decided to create a go-to list of tips and tricks on how to co-parent during the holidays.

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Balancing Work & E-Learning During COVID-19

Wait, you want me to balance work, facilitate e-learning AND deal with COVID-19?

Kids have been participating in e-learning for a little over a month now and since it’s clear schools are not going to open up their physical locations for the remainder of this school year, it’s up to us to last through May 29th, the last day of school in Hillsborough County, Florida. Now, take a deep breath and take the time to let it out. Feel better? No? Us either BUT, we have learned a few things during the past month that have worked for us, perhaps they will work for you too! Pour a glass of wine and read on!

1. Don’t freak out! – We know, easier said than done… BUT, we are not home schooling and we are not teachers; we are e-learning facilitators and parents. We do not need to come up with a curriculum, simply follow the plan that your teacher has come up with. They are the professionals. Take a relief sip.

2. Know your strengths. – It is always important to utilize your strengths to overcome your weaknesses. We have kids in two different age groups, one in middle school and one in elementary school. Our elementary school kid needs a lot more supervision and guidance than our middle schooler. Our elementary school kid wakes up really early and our middle schooler sleeps in a bit. Knowing these things helps us manage our day. We can start our younger child’s school day earlier, before we start our own work and help him to get organized before our middle schooler wakes up. We break up assignments into smaller bits of work each day so he can focus on one assignment for a set amount of time until it is complete, then we can check it. This also gives us time to complete our own work. Knowing what time of day works best for your kids to learn and where they are most productive is a huge help. If mornings are not great, don’t fight it, let them have some free time and complete schoolwork in the afternoon. If sitting at the kitchen table (like my son) keeps them focused, great… if they work better at a desk in their room (like my daughter), even better! Sip that wine!

3. Make a Plan. Most schools issue some form of school planner each year. Use the planner! It will typically have each day broken down by subject. We write the assignments that need to be completed each day in every subject area within the planner. Our teachers are giving out assignments at the beginning of the week, some specify what needs to be done each day, others don’t. We break the work out over the week into manageable chunks so that it does not become overwhelming and we can go through the planner each day to make sure that everything was completed. We do this with our kids on Monday mornings, but you could also do it daily if your teacher is not providing a week’s worth of assignments at a time. For assignments with no specified due date during the week we let the kid pick what day they want to do them, this gives them control over a situation they have little control over. And who doesn’t like some control? Drink up!

4. Set expectations. I am an attorney and my husband is an executive director therefore we both have demanding jobs which require time where we work without interruptions. Communication is key. But really, it’s key! John and I must communicate when we are not able to handle parenting duties. If you lack communication, your significant other has no way of knowing that you are not able to help. We also have to communicate with our kids, especially when we can and can’t be interrupted. My kids understand that there are certain virtual meetings they can pop by and waive, and others that are totally off limits. If I am about to participate in a virtual hearing or mediation where they are not allowed to pop by, I make sure to talk to each kid and let them know that I am about to start a meeting where I cannot be interrupted. I also ask if they need anything before I begin and ensure they understand that everything else will have to wait until I am done. This method does not work for dogs… When I get there, I’ll let you know! Drink two sips now.

5. You will miss stuff, communicate that with the teachers. We have missed e-learning assignments and tasks due to the above-mentioned uninterruptable work meetings. Sometimes we both have work at the same time that cannot be interrupted. My son missed a quiz last week because neither of us were able to facilitate the sign-on process due to work obligations. We simply e-mailed the teacher and she was able to reopen the quiz so he could take it the next day. The same thing happened to our daughter regarding a zoom math class. Take that in for a moment, a zoom math class… In this situation we were both working unable to be disturbed and she was having technical difficulties. We again e-mailed the teacher and she provided us with the recorded session of the class. Teachers are expecting these types of situations to happen therefore they are being very flexible and understanding. Just ask and they will help you! Do you have any wine left? Just finish it and pour another glass.

None of this situation is ideal but we can and will get through it. It can be frustrating to balance all of this from home, especially if you are a single parent or parents who are both working longer than normal hours. It is ok to be frustrated! Take a time out, count to ten, breathe. Be sure to let your kids know that you are frustrated. They will learn how to deal with frustration by seeing how you resolve your own in a positive way. All that said, there are no right answers here. This is what has worked for me, hopefully it will work for you. Also, reach out to someone. If you need help call a friend. Sometimes talking to someone and venting for a few minutes can help you gain perspective. Well, that and wine. Lots and lots of wine.

Name change for an Adult or Minor

Occasions may arise where an individual is in need of changing his or her name. For example, a divorced woman may have kept her married name and is ready to return to her maiden name, a man never went by his legal name and has conflicting names on his governmental identifiers, or a child was given his birth mother’s last name and the parents now desire to add the father’s last name. An applicant can change his or her first, middle or last name entirely so long as the name is not being changed for an ulterior purpose.

For an adult wanting to change his or her name, the applicant must file a petition for name

change in the county where the applicant resides. If the applicant is not restoring a prior name, the applicant must have to have his or her fingerprints taken for a background check with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Upon competition and receipt of the background check, a final hearing will be set with the circuit court judge. After receiving the Final Judgment of Name Change, the applicant will provide a certified copy of the final judgment to the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles to begin changing their governmental identifiers.

To change the name of a minor, the parents or guardians must file a petition for name change in the county where the child resides. Both parents or guardians must sign consents to the name change as well as complete fingerprinting for background checks with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In the event that both parents do not consent to the name change, the parent wanting the name change will have to commence litigation against the other parent. Upon receiving a Final Judgment of Name Change, the applicant may provide a certified copy of the Final Judgment with an application for Amended Birth Certificate to the Department of Vital Statistics. This will result in the child receiving a new birth certificate with his/her new name.

If you have questions about a name change for an adult or minor, please call McCart & Tesmer (813) 498-2757, to schedule your free consult today.

Name Change After Divorce

Many individuals, mostly women, struggle with the decision whether to change their last name following a divorce. Some parents want to maintain an identifiable last name with their children while the children remain in school; however, waiting to change a name after the divorce can be costly. Either way, it is up to the spouse changing his/her name to decide if and when to change their last name, even over the objection of the other spouse whose surname is being kept.

What happens when a parent keeps his/her last name at the conclusion of the divorce and later decides to change it? If the last name was not formally changed in the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (Florida’s version of a Divorce Decree), a Petition for Name Change must be filed with the Court in the county where the Petitioner resides. Additionally, finger prints must be submitted through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement unless the Petitioner is requesting a former name be restored. This process can cost $500.00 or more.

The process for changing a name after divorce can become complicated and the attorneys at McCart & Tesmer, P.A. are ready to help. For a free consultation to discuss your matter please call (813) 498-2757 or email info@McCartTesmer.com.