Bankruptcy

How is the present bankruptcy code different from the previous bankruptcy code?

Answer: Under the present bankruptcy code, a person has to take a credit counseling course prior to filing his or her petition and a debtor counseling course shortly after filing his or her petition. Secondly, if a person earns over a certain amount of money, there is a presumption that he or she should be filing a Chapter 13 case rather than a Chapter 7 case. That earnings amount varies depending on the size of the family. Thirdly, there is a possible limit on the homestead exemption depending on how long a person has lived in the homestead property.

If my homestead is “under water” and I want to surrender it, does that change my exemption that I can use on other assets?

Answer: Yes, if you claim your homestead as exempt, there is a general exemption for personal property of $1,000.00. However, if you do not claim your homestead as exempt, then there is a “super exemption” for personal property of $4,000.00.

Divorce

What types of alimony does Florida allow?

Answer: Florida now allows four types of alimony by statute. These types are (1) rehabilitative alimony; (2) bridge the gap alimony; (3) durational alimony; and (4) permanent alimony. The appropriate type of alimony depends on (1) the need of the party seeking alimony; (2) the ability to pay by the paying party; and (3) the length of the marriage. A short term marriage is now less than seven years. A moderate term marriage is now 7-16 years. A long term marriage is now a marriage for 17 years or greater.

Does Florida recognize common law marriages?

Answer: If the parties were married in another state by common law in a state that recognizes common law marriages, then Florida will also recognize that marriage. However, since the mid 1960’s Florida has not recognized common law marriages arising in Florida.