New York teen feared the safety of her life when she was kidnapped by Uber driver, who the police say wastrying to sexually assault her. The teenage girl said she told the driver she had to use the bathroom and called 911 from the McDonald’s restaurant. What was supposed to be a 20 minute ride home, turned into an hour of horror. 15-year-old says she was abducted last summer and feared for her life.
The goal of collaborative divorce is to avoid conflict and come to a resolution that works for both parties. Legal Matters such as divorce, child support or custody are often seen as “battles”. This is due to the disputers between parties. When it comes to settling disputes, a collaborative approach is the best approach. According to Harvard Law School, the best route to go with disputes is through an “integrative negotiation” where there is joint fact-finding.
The holiday season often brings warm memories and bonding moments for families. It can also bring the stresses of interstate or even international travel, accusations of favoritism, and feeling the need to fit meaningful visits with multiple family members into a short spurt of time. For newly-divorced parents and their children, these stresses can be easily magnified.
When you begin the process of determining your parenting schedule, discuss how you want handle the holidays with your spouse and your attorney. You can include requirements for the holidays in your parenting time order that allow for you and your spouse to each have sufficient time with your children for the holidays and build your own traditions with them. For further guidance with this and other issues that can crop up when dealing with family law issues, contact an experienced Florida family law attorney.
Every Family has Unique Needs
And these needs will come into consideration when you plan how your children will spend the holidays after your divorce. For example, divorcing couples of different faiths often have their children celebrate both parents’ religious holidays with them. Other specific holidays that parents might want to have written into their parenting plan orders are specific cultural holidays, parent and other family members’ birthdays, and parent-specific holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
In situations where both parents celebrate the same holiday, many opt to either alternate or share the holidays. Whether it makes more sense to alternate or to share a holiday depends largely on how close the parents live to each other and the logistics of getting their children to both households without sacrificing the day to traffic or unreasonable travel times.
Alternating vs. Sharing Holidays
In cases where parents opt to alternate holidays, this is often handled by writing up an agreement where one parent spends specific holidays with the children on even-numbered years while the other parent spends those holidays with the children on odd-numbered years. For example, a child might spend Thanksgiving with Mom and Christmas with Dad in 2015, then Thanksgiving with Dad and Christmas with Mom in 2016.
For families who choose to share holidays, the court often imposes specific time frames for each parent. An example of this is one parent having the children for Christmas morning, then sending them to the other parent’s house for the afternoon and evening, then following this arrangement in reverse the following year and alternating between these arrangements for the years to come.
Work with a Winter Park Child Custody Attorney
As a parent going through a divorce or considering ending your marriage in the near future, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced Winter Park family attorney. Contact Sperling Ducker today at 407-645-3297 to schedule your initial legal consultation with our firm. We can answer any question you have about divorcing and handling family issues in Florida and provide you with the guidance you need as you navigate them.
Lunch & Learn Law Seminar “Advertising for Dummies, or How to Avoid Buyers’ Remorse Between You and Your Clients.”
On Friday, June 7th, 2019 Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. will be presenting a law seminar at CPLS. CPLS, P.A. is pleased to announce that Attorney Aubrey H. Ducker Jr. has joined the firm as a partner Attorney Counselor at Law. Attorney Ducker is a member of the Firm’s Family and Elder Law Practice Groups. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Ducker began his voyage to become one of Florida’s pre-eminent family law, education law, and elder law attorneys. Aubrey has been with Sperling Ducker for several years before starting his own law consulting business at CPLS, P.A.
On Friday, June 7th, 2019, Attorney Aubrey H. Ducker will be presenting a Lunch & Learn Law Seminar, titled, “Advertising for Dummies, or How to Avoid Buyers’ Remorse Between You and Your Clients.” At this Lunch & Learn law seminar, Attorney Ducker will be focusing on all forms of lawyer advertising. We invite you to explore an attorney’s guide to happy clients focus on all forms of advertising for lawyers.
About Orlando Attorney Aubrey Ducker Jr.
Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. has had years of accomplishments in the legal field. He has taken an interest in elder law after caring for his own grandmother and parents-in-law. Mr. Ducker has the first-hand experience in dealing with the stresses and anxieties that accompany deciding how to live the rest of one’s “golden years”. Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. knows that adult children have to deal with this rite of passage. This involves specific stresses when making decisions for a parent or parents incapacitated by serious illnesses.
Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. is a member of the Orange County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. He has gotten an “AV Preeminent” Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. This is the highest rating available. As a member of Collaborative Family Law of Central Florida, Aubrey Ducker works through the collaborative process to assist families in making their own decisions. This is an alternative to leaving the courts to choose between competing views. Aubrey Ducker also serves by court appointment as a guardian ad litem — advocating for children in contested custody and abuse or neglect cases. Harry Ducker is a member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the Florida Association of Family and Conciliation Court.
His practice areas include:
- Family Law
- Elder Law
- Estate Planning
- Education Law
- Guardianship & Probate
- Collaborative Divorce
If you or any of your corporate clients have an interest in attending the seminar, please feel free to contact Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. directly at
NBI Seminar 30 Steps to a Perfect Probate – In case you missed the first one, this is another seminar on probate law. Once again, Aubrey Law is going to be a speaker at this seminar 30 Steps to Perfect Probate. This is a 2-day seminar where experienced lawyers will share their insights on probate law. There will be a special focus on strategic decision-making to minimize tax burdens, speed up the process and alleviate conflict.
NBI Seminar – Aubrey Law is going to be a speaker at the NBI Live Seminar on 30 Steps to Perfect Probate. This is a 2-day seminar where experienced lawyers will share their insights on probate law. There will also be a special focus on strategic decision-making to minimize tax burdens, speed up the process and alleviate conflict.
Engagement letters and written reports from financial experts deserve special attention in family law cases. Including these 18 elements can help family lawyers to win their financial cases.
By Ken Stalcup and Craig Cwynar,Financial Experts
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
Best case scenario: The financial expert prepares a bullet-proof, understandable, well-reasoned, impartial, and supported report.
Worst case scenario: The financial expert produces a 452-page sleeping pill that cannot be explained to the average layperson in five minutes.
Whether the engagement is a forensic accounting project or a business valuation engagement, properly written communications will bend the arc away from those worst-case scenarios and more towards the best-case scenarios with the best possible outcomes for your client.
A Financial Expert’s Engagement Letter Should Address the Essential Elements of the Project
All financial experts should use written engagement letters. After discussing all the case elements until all parties are satisfied, the financial expert should draft an engagement letter.
The engagement letter should typically be addressed to the attorney. This may allow the attorney to cover the work product with attorney-client privilege in the early stages of the engagement. The engagement letter should identify all the parties involved, the significant elements of the work and the scope of the project. The letter should also disclose the professional standards to be followed and the fees charged by the expert.
Ideally, the engagement letter will address the essential elements of the project but will remain flexible enough to allow the financial expert to investigate new avenues of interest that may develop, particularly in a forensic accounting engagement.
Business Valuation Reports
If you are asking for a business valuation report or reviewing a report from the other side, a good business valuation report will include the following elements:
- General information on the Valuation Assignment: The general information will include the names of the individuals and business interests involved, the date of value and percentage interest being valued. The report should also indicate the purpose of the valuation, the standard of value and premise of value used.
- Information on the Subject Company: A good valuation report will include extensive research on the company, its owners, its tax status, the entity type and the service or products sold. A well-written report should also describe any buy/sell agreements and any restrictions on transfers of the equity interests. The appraiser will usually visit the site of the business and include pictures obtained from the visit.
- Economic Outlook: A business valuation report should contain an analysis of the national, regional and local economic trends at the date of value. The information should be relevant to the understanding of the economic trends that affect the value of the subject company.
- Financial Analysis of the Subject Company: It’s typical to expect to see five years of financial data presented in a valuation report. The financial data will typically include a balance sheet, an income statement, financial ratios and a comparison of the subject company’s data to industry averages. The valuation expert should also disclose key findings in a written analysis of the financial information.
- Valuation Approaches: It’s important to consider and identify all the valuation approaches. The valuation expert should identify #1) An asset approach, #2) A market approach, and #3) An income approach. If a particular approach is not used, the valuation expert should explain why. It’s also important to consider discounts. Generally, valuation experts will consider discounts for a lack of control and discounts for lack of marketability. Each discount should be explained and supported by empirical evidence. The ultimate conclusion of value should be expressed as a specific number or a range of values.
- Statement of Assumptions and Limiting Conditions: This statement will typically contain numbered paragraphs that explain the approaches and conditions affecting the valuation process.
- Exhibits: The report should be supported by detailed exhibits referenced in the written report.
- Appraiser Certifications: This certification references standards and affirms that the report is true and correct. The appraisers will certify they are unbiased and have no prospective interest in the property being valued. The certification should be signed by the appraiser(s).
- Appraiser Biographies: The appraisers should provide a summary of their credentials and experience. Look for one of the following credentials: ABV-Accredited in Business Valuation ASA-Accredited Senior Appraiser or a CVA-Certified Valuation Analyst.
Forensic Accounting Reports
If you are asking for a forensic accounting report or reviewing a report from the other side, a good forensic accounting report will include the following elements:
- Forensic Accountant’s Letter: This letter will outline the nature and duration of the engagement and the professional standards followed. The report will typically indicate that the forensic expert was compensated on a flat, hourly rate that was not dependent on any finding or conclusion. The report should be signed by the forensic accountant.
- Executive Summary: This section of the report should summarize the entire report, the findings, and recommendations.
- Background: The report should identify the parties, the nature of the case, and the disputed facts.
- Scope: The scope, in terms of dates and data analyzed, should be disclosed. For example, “We reviewed the cash disbursements between March 5th and October 9th 2017. This includes all Bates stamped documents from A001 to A941.”
- Procedures: This section of the report will outline the nature of the tests or work performed. A standard approach will identify the purpose of the procedure, the individual steps undertaken, and individual conclusions reached as a result of the work performed.
- Conclusions or Findings: While the forensic expert should not state a determination of guilt or innocence, the expert can state objective, overall findings, and conclusions about the work completed.
- Recommendations: The expert can make recommendations to the client as to future actions to be taken or avoided.
- Exhibits: The report should be supported by detailed exhibits referenced into the written report.
- Forensic Accountant’s CV: This document should summarize the credentials and experience of the forensic expert. Look for the following credentials: CPA, a Certified Public Accountant, CFE-Certified Fraud Examiners, or CFF-Certified in Financial Forensics.
Engagement letters and written reports from financial experts deserve special attention in family law cases. An engagement letter will focus the financial expert’s efforts on the significant elements of the work, and a well-written report will help you win your financial case. While the written reports express the intent and opinion of the financial expert, the attorney should understand and carefully review each document to provide legal input from start to finish.
Ken Scalup, CPA, CFE, CFF, ABV, is a Senior Director with Houlihan Valuation Advisors, a national firm of consultants providing business valuation and economic strategy services. Craig Cwynar is a valuation analyst with Houlihan Valuation Advisors. www.houlihan-hva.com
Bird-nesting: Can this trend be the new co-parenting for your family?
Bird-nesting is the new co-parenting which means the child alternates between each parent’s home on a set schedule. This can disrupt the child’s routine and make it hard for him or her to adapt to life after the divorce and continue doing well in school. Realizing this, some parents have adopted a new way of co-parenting: bird-nesting. With a bird-nesting agreement, it is the parents, not the child, who alternate between households.
Here is how bird-nesting works: the couple retains ownership of their marital home, potentially as co-owners or with an arrangement that involves one parent buying out the other’s share of the home’s value or an agreement that they will sell the home and split the profit after the child moves out as an adult. The child remains living in the marital home while his or her parenting plan dictates when each parent lives in the home with him or her. During a parent’s “off” time, he or she might live in a rented apartment, a separate home, or with family or friends – this is for the divorced couple to determine. In some cases, the couple also shares this “off time” lodging, alternating between this home and the marital home according to their parenting plan.
The Advantages of Bird-nesting For You and Your family
Couples who choose bird-nesting arrangements choose them because they offer the following benefits:
- Less disruption to the child’s established routine;
- No hassle of having to sell the home;
- No need for the child to relocate;
- When the parents’ alternate home is a small apartment or staying with extended family, bird-nesting can save them money; and
- There is no need to schedule pickups, drop offs, or build travel time into the parenting plan
Drawbacks of a Bird-nesting Arrangement
Bird-nesting can also have so disadvantages. It is not the right choice for every couple, and in some cases, the features of bird-nesting that are benefits for some families are drawbacks for others. Potential disadvantages you can face with a bird-nesting arrangement include:
- Greater levels of conflict with your former spouse. Because you are still sharing a home, despite not living in it together, you will need to communicate more and inevitably, you will see each other more. You will also be far more exposed to each other’s parenting and interaction with your child;
- If you both buy or rent individual homes, you will face costs associated with your purchases and/or rentals in addition to remaining responsible for your marital home’s mortgage, utilities, and property taxes; and
- It can be more difficult to move past your divorce and date again when you have the high level of contact with your former spouse that comes with a bird-nesting arrangement.
Work with an Experienced Winter Park Divorce Lawyer
Depending on your family dynamics and your relationship with your former spouse, bird-nesting might be a viable co-parenting option for you and your former spouse. To learn more about bird-nesting and other parenting plan options, contact our team of experienced Winter Park divorce lawyers at Sperling Ducker PLC today to set up your initial consultation with us.
Collaborative Divorce? Learn new ways to get through it
Collaborative divorce is an attractive alternative to divorcing through litigation. With a collaborative divorce, the couple works together, each person with their attorney to draft the divorce settlement that is going to work best for both of them. Meaning they can go outside the guidelines for property division, alimony, and parenting plans. Imposed by Florida law to create a modification that truly suits the family’s needs. If this is something you are facing or considering, discuss it with the appropriate lawyer who can understand.
Share with Your Spouse What You Really Want
In a collaborative divorce if you and your spouse decide how you want to divide your marital assets. You have to specify the asset, like ownership of your vacation property, this is the time to speak your preference and what you are willing to “give up” in order to achieve your divorce goal. You can adjust creative ways to break your assets, like sharing the vacation property with a timeshare-like agreement. Be clear on what you want, and how it would work between you guys.
Establish a Well Rounded Parenting Plan for Your Kids
When the court develops a parenting plan, it follows the guidelines set in Florida law to develop the plan that best serves the child’s personal needs. Establishing a plan that is in your child’s best interest is always something you should strive to do and be prepared for.
Rather than the court creating the plan, and you establishing it. There is more flexibility and control to establish a plan that works best with your family. In many cases, this is easiest when you have help from a child custody evaluator. The parenting plan you establish might veer a lot from the “typical” shared parenting plan like the child spending a lot of his or her time with one parent and every other weekend with the other parent. Yours might involve split weeks or even a modern take on co-parenting like a bird-nesting arrangement. With a collaborative divorce, you craft the parenting plan that suits your family’s needs.
Create an Agreement that Will Make You Both Happy
Maybe you would rather take a larger share of your marital savings than seek alimony. Or maybe you want to settle as much of your marital assets as possible and use the funds to start fresh on the next chapter of your life. These types of arrangement are possible with collaborative divorce. The only limit to your ideal, self-directed settlement is your spouse’s willingness to work cooperatively with you to reach it.
Work with an Experienced Winter Park Divorce Attorney
If you are considering a collaborative divorce, work with a Winter Park divorce lawyer who has extensive experience handling this type of divorce. Contact our team at Sperling Ducker PLC today to set up your initial legal consultation with a member of our team.
In Florida, more than 50,000 people use medical marijuana to manage their chronic pain and severe illnesses like AIDs and Parkinson’s. Despite the continued trend of relaxing attitudes toward marijuana use sweeping the United States, many are still opposed to its use and legalization for medical and recreational purposes.
If you are a medical marijuana user, discuss your use with your lawyer before you develop your parenting plan. The court may impose restrictions on your use, such as requiring that you abstain from using medical marijuana while your child is present.
Does your Marijuana Use Impact your Child’s Safety or your Ability to Parent Effectively?
This is the main issue at hand. Your former spouse may allege that your medical marijuana use somehow puts your child’s safety in danger or negatively impacts your ability to parent your child. He or she might claim that you do not keep your medication securely locked away from your child’s reach, that you smoke marijuana while your child is present and expose him or her to the smoke and act of smoking, and/or that because you use medical marijuana while your child is in your home, your ability to provide for your child and react to dangerous situations is impaired.
How can you prove these types of allegation are false? With evidence. If your former spouse alleges that you use marijuana simply to “get high,” documentation showing that you are a medical cannabis patient is an essential piece of evidence to show that your use is legitimate.
Other pieces of evidence you can use to refute allegations about your use include:
- Testimonies from your doctor regarding how and why you use medical marijuana;
- Photographs showing how you store your medicine securely away from your child; and
- Testimonies from other adults in your child’s life, such as his or her pediatrician or teacher, attesting to your medical marijuana use’s effects on your child.
Your child’s parenting plan is developed according to what the court deems to be in his or her best interest. Maintaining a consistent relationship with both parents is typically in a child’s best interest, and if your legal marijuana use does not interfere with your ability to parent your child, it should not affect your parenting plan. However, courts and judges can be biased, so it is in your best interest to be proactive about supporting your claim and have evidence available to demonstrate your fitness as a parent.
Work with an Experienced Orlando Park Family Lawyer
If you have a valid prescription for medical marijuana, your responsible use of the medication should not interfere with your parenting plan. If your former spouse or another party is attempting to take your medical needs out of context in an effort to sabotage your relationship with your children, you need to work with an experienced Winter Park family lawyer who can represent your case and prove that the accusations are incorrect. Contact our team at Aubrey Law today to set up your initial consultation with us.