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Moving to Florida After Your Divorce Does Not Erase Your Obligations to Your Ex-Spouse


There is a cliché that Florida is full of grandparents.  With so many retirees in the Sunshine State, it is inevitable that some of them got divorced in another state before moving here.  Not everyone who gets divorced is lucky enough to be able to make a clean break from their financial entanglements with their ex-spouse.  Some couples are able to divide their marital property in a mutually satisfactory manner, perhaps with one spouse paying each other a lump sum to balance things out, but that is only possible when the marital property is in the form of bank accounts and real estate.  In the case of long marriages where the couple’s assets were modest, one spouse might be required to share their retirement income with their ex-spouse, or the court might even order them to maintain a life insurance policy with their ex-spouse as the beneficiary.  If you live in Florida now, there is a good chance that the courts in Florida have jurisdiction to deal with disputes arising from a divorce that was finalized in another state, a South Florida divorce lawyer can help.

Snowbirds and Debt Birds: Birds of a Feather?

An article on the Forbes website discusses a post-divorce dispute in Florida and its legal implications.  Donald and Lois Weiss divorced in Illinois in 1972; one of the terms of the divorce was that Donald needed to maintain three life insurance policies with Lois as the beneficiary.  In 1994, Lois accepted a lump sum from Donald in exchange for her right to one of the policies, but he still had to maintain the other two policies.  In 2007, Donald, who had moved to Florida, stopped making payments on the remaining policies.  Lois went to court in Illinois, and the court awarded her $80,000 and held Donald in civil contempt.

Since Donald had moved to Florida, Lois needed to get a Florida judge to domesticate the Illinois judgment, which means to make it enforceable in Florida.  The trial court refused to domesticate the order, but Lois appealed its ruling, an appeals court reversed it, making it possible for her to collect the money.

It took an unusually large amount of work for Lois to get the money because the courts treated her pursuit of the court-ordered life insurance money more than 25 years after the divorce as an ordinary money judgment instead of a support order.  The family courts are generally very diligent about pursuing the enforcement of alimony and child support orders across state lines.  For a judgment like the one in the Weiss case, the ease of difficulty of collecting debts varies according to the jurisdiction.  (There is a stereotype that a preponderance of the foreign born, single men in Singapore are deadbeat dads.)  Some states are debtors’ paradises, while others are creditors’ paradises, and some people are “debt birds,” racking up debts in one state and then moving to another state where it is harder to collect debts.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

If your ex is required to pay you alimony or keep a life insurance policy for your benefit for the rest of your lives, you have the right to enforce it for the rest of your lives.  Contact the Boca Raton divorce lawyers at Schwartz | White for help today.





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