Many marriage vows contain the words, “for richer or poorer.”  A new study by Brigham Young University and William Patterson University found that when both spouses’ emphasis is on the “for richer” part of their vows, there is a good possibility there will be trouble in the marriage.

The two university’s researchers surveyed 1,700 married couples with the intent of gauging the couple’s materialism.  These couples were asked whether they agreed with certain statements concerning materialism, such as “I like to own things to impress people” or “Money can buy happiness.”

The study’s lead author, Jason Carroll, a professor at BYU, said researchers found that materialistic couples had lower levels of responsiveness and less emotional maturity.  “Materialism was also linked to less effective communication, higher levels of negative conflict, lower relationship satisfaction and less marriage stability."  Researchers found those couples who had little interest in money scored 10 to 15 percent higher in the quality and satisfaction of their marriage.  Carroll also found the correlation between interest in money and marital satisfaction remained the same regardless of how wealthy the couple was.

The researchers discovered, however, when only one spouse had materialistic tendencies and the other spouse didn’t, the materialism of the one spouse did not negatively affect the marriage.  According to researchers, the nonmaterialistic spouse stabilized the marriage, and allowed the couple to balance each other out and improve their marital quality and satisfaction.

Although materialism may be a point of contention in a marriage, the authors want to stress that materialism alone isn’t to blame for marriage problems, as there are many other  issues that can negatively affect a marriage.  However, the researchers do feel that the materialistic tendencies of one or both spouses can play a large role in marriage dissatisfaction and marriage quality that in time could lead to divorce.


In this country today, about fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.  There are those who question if it would be wiser if couples lived together to see if they were compatible and then married.  In the past, if a couple lived together before marrying, it was a sign that if the couple did marry, there was a good chance their marriage would fail.  However, according to a new study, this no longer seems to be true.

In the United States today, about sixty percent of couples live together before marriage.  The co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University, Wendy Manning, says that the trend has become so common, that “it’s not surprising it no longer negatively affects marriage stability.”

The study conducted by the Center found that those couples who were engaged and living together before marriage were just as likely to have marriages that lasted fifteen years as those couples who hadn’t lived together.  Those couples who lived together without being engaged, however, were less likely to make the 10-15 year mark in their marriages.  Researchers believe the reasons for these statistics could be more lax attitudes about commitment, lower education levels or family histories that made these couples not engaged more pessimistic about marriage.

According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), both women and men with bachelor degrees usually marry at a later age, but once they marry, are more likely to stay married for twenty or more years.  The Center also found that Asian women had the best marriage rate, with nearly 70 percent still in their first marriage, compared to 54 percent of white women, 53 percent of Hispanic women, and 37 percent of black women.  Among men, 62 percent of Hispanic men were still in their first marriage at twenty years, compared to 54 percent of white males and 53 percent of black males.

Whether or not a couple does live together before marriage or not, the chances are high their marriage will end in divorce.  When a couple does divorce, there are many issues, such as child custody and support or property division, that need to be addressed.  An experienced Florida divorce lawyer will defend your rights and pursue the best possible outcome on behalf of your divorce case.


The end of a marriage is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.  A divorce can lead to feelings of anger, guilt, grief, anxiety and other intense feelings.  In most divorces, couples, or their lawyers, will discuss and work out the terms of the divorce.  What happens, though, if one partner in a divorce has left and his spouse has no idea where he is?  Can a divorce still be granted?

In Florida, one party in a divorce needs to have resided in Florida six months or more prior to filing for divorce.  If a spouse has met this requirement and does not know where the other spouse is, he or she can still file for divorce.  There are a few differences in filing for divorce when a spouse’s location is unknown.  Since the spouse filing for divorce does not know her or his partner’s address, an affidavit with the court will need to be filed, and she will have to swear in court that he or she has searched for and was unable to find her or his partner.

After this affidavit has been filed, the spouse desiring the divorce then needs to publish in a local newspaper for a certain amount of time that he or she is divorcing his or her spouse and that the spouse has to respond by a certain date.  Once the publication has run for the designated time and no response was received by the missing spouse, the partner seeking the divorce will need to file with the court a Motion for Clerk’s Default.  In this motion, the court clerk will review the file, the deadline, and verify that the missing spouse did not respond or file any documents with the court, and that the missing spouse is in default of the petition for divorce.

After this step is taken care of, then the divorcing spouse will have a hearing before a judge and explain why the marriage is over and what she or he expects as a result of the divorce.  The judge will then, based on the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing, make a ruling about the divorce.

Divorcing a missing spouse is a complicated process.  There are many steps to be taken before the divorce is finalized.  It is important to retain knowledgeable legal counsel to pursue the best possible outcome on behalf of your divorce case.


When an unmarried parent adopts his or her partner’s biological or adoptive child without eliminating the parental rights of the biological parent, this is considered second parent adoption.  In Florida, second parent adoptions are treated the same as regular adoptions, which means there will be a home study, parental fitness tests, court appearances and plenty of paperwork.  This adoption, in most cases, gives the second parent full parental rights.  Some state legislatures have voluntarily established domestic partnership relations by statute as a way to recognize same-sex unions.  However, domestic partnerships may involve either different sex  or same sex couples.

There are those individuals who are in a domestic partnership who think that because they take care of their partner’s child, they will have legal rights to that child.  However, this is not true, as the only way to be legally secure is through a second parent adoption.  Without this type of adoption, the non-biological parent in the relationship will have no legal rights to the child.  He or she will not be allowed to make important decisions and share in custody of the child should something happen to the relationship or to the biological parent of the child.

In the Orlando area, the most common couples obtaining second parent adoptions are lesbian couples with one partner being the biological parent.  Others who use this type of adoption are gay male couples, couples where one partner has previously adopted a child of his or her own and couples where one partner has a biological child with a previous relationship and the other biological parent has given up his or her parental rights.

To obtain a second parent adoption, you will need consent from the third party biological parent, or will need an already legal parent to terminate his or her parental rights.

There are those states which do not allow gay couples to obtain second parent adoptions.  Gay adoption was illegal in Florida until just a few years ago, and although it isn’t easy to receive approval for a second parent adoption, it is possible in Florida today.


Married  couples divorce for many reasons, but their reasons usually fall into ten categories.  Although some of the issues in a marriage can be addressed if caught in time, there are those issues that may not be repairable.

  • Infidelity is one of the most common reasons for divorce in this country.  Although cheating is usually the ultimate relationship death sentence, the percentage of marriages where one or both spouses admit to infidelity is 41 percent.
  • When you marry, whether you like it or not, your new spouse’s family is now your family.  Most in-law problems happen when your partner’s parents treat you disrespectfully, ignore you, are openly hostile to you, criticize you frequently, attempt to control you or your partner using money or guilt, give you unsolicited advice, expect your partner to choose between you and them, or expect your partner to meet their unmet emotional and/or practical needs.  When any of these issues are severe, it can disrupt your marriage if steps are not taken to curb their potential negative impact.
  • If you are being abused, whether it be physical, emotional or verbal, in a marriage, your should not stay as 99.9 percent of the time the abuse will not stop.
  • It has been said that the love of money is the root of all evil.  Whether this is true or not, money problems are at the root of many disputes between married couples and can lead to divorce.
  • Stress in a marriage can build up and manifest itself in many forms in a marriage, from abuse to sexual problems.  If a couple does not deal with the stress in their marriage, it can ultimately lead to divorce.
  • Addiction in a marriage in any form – alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. – can ruin a marriage and even the life of the addicted spouse.
  • When a person is unaware or refuses to admit he has a mental disorder, whether it be depression or bipolar disorder, the issue can cause a multitude of problems in a marriage and can also lead to divorce.
  • Perhaps one of the most common reasons for divorce is a lack of communication.  This is also one of the easiest issues in a marriage to fix.  If a couple can have an open dialogue, concern for their partner’s feelings and learn to compromise in their dealings with one another, their marriage has a good chance of lasting.
  • Although a married couple does need to have some independence in their marriage, too much time away from each other can lead to problems, too.  Married couples need time together to grow and mature as a couple.  Too much time apart can lead to infidelity, which as we all know, leads to divorce.

To avoid divorce, a married couple needs to focus on finding solutions to any problems that may arise in their relationship.  By dealing properly with the above issues when they arise, a couple will not only be more likely to avoid divorce, but have a successful marriage as well.


How long does a parent pay child support in the state of Florida?  In general, most people think child support automatically ends when the child reaches the age of majority, which means turning eighteen years old.  However, this isn’t always true.  

Before 2010, child support did not automatically end when a child turned eighteen years of age.  The older law required a parent paying support to obtain a new court order when the child turned eighteen, either modifying or ending the child support.  In the statute passed in 2010, the court must provide dates when the child support obligation should be modified or terminated.

Florida Statutes regarding family law allow support to continue for a child if the child remains dependent on his or her parents because of physical or mental incapacity that occurred prior to the child turning eighteen, or if the child is still in high school.  If the child is still a high school student, he is not only expected to perform well in school, but he is also expected to graduate before he turns nineteen years old.

Child support will also end with the emancipation of a child.  A court will order the emancipation of child in order to remove the child from his parent’s control before the age of eighteen under certain situations when the court feels it is in the best interest of the child. 

When a child marries or joins the service before the age of eighteen, the support will also end.

A Florida family law or divorce lawyer can answer any questions you may have concerning modifying or ending child support.


Divorce is a painful, emotional time in a person’s life.   When going through a divorce, the stress and emotional upheaval can cause some individuals’ performance to drop at work.  Added to that, some may also find their employer subpoenaed for information, their chances for a promotion disappearing, or their business in jeopardy, too.   Those who have children, may have to pass up a promotion or a new job in another state to  retain custody or visitation rights to their children.  Florida law requires that divorced parents with shared responsibility for children cannot move the children more than fifty miles from a residence at the time of their agreement.

One divorced woman owned a business with her former husband.  While they were going through the divorce, she was not only locked out of her office, but lost access to her computer as well.  As a result of these restrictions, her business failed eventually.  According to this woman, it took a long time for her to recover financially from her divorce.

Although many divorced parents’ careers do suffer because of a divorce,  there are those who divorce and then find new, more rewarding careers.

One such woman, a nurse, married a doctor at age 19.  During her twenty year marriage to her husband, they had four children before divorcing.  After her marriage ended, her biggest challenge was finding identity in her career after her divorce.  At first she struggled, but then decided to follow her passion for pets and now owns several businesses associated with animals.

According to Elinor Robin, a family mediator in Boca Raton, people often do better in their careers after a divorce.  A divorce, in her words, can be a career booster, as when the focus is off the marriage, the focus can be on the career instead. 

Divorced parents can pass their experience on to their children.  Let them know that a marriage doesn’t always last forever.  The best way to be prepared should a marriage fail is to educate yourself before marriage.  Even if you have been out of the workforce for a number of years, if you have either a degree or training to fall back on, you will be more employable and have a better chance at becoming financially independent in a shorter amount of time after a divorce.


When a couple gets married, each makes their various financial accounts payable to each other.  In fact, to designate someone else as the beneficiary on a life insurance or retirement account requires the signature of approval from a spouse.  Unfortunately, about half of the marriages in our country today end in divorce.  When a couple divorces, they usually change the beneficiary to their financial and other accounts.

What happens, though, when a divorce is finalized, but a former spouse dies before he or she has updated their wills or account beneficiary designations?  Does the former spouse still inherit under the will and payable on death accounts?  In the past, this answer would be yes; however, recently the legislature has just changed Florida law to void many, but not all, types of inheritances by an ex-spouse.  

One key section in the new law, voids any provision in a will that mentions the ex-spouse, unless the will or final judgment provides otherwise.  This change to the law, protects divorced former spouses from any oversight in updating their intended inheritance beneficiaries.  The law also allows for those former spouses who may want their ex-spouse to inherit from them after divorce.  Another change is now the law recognizes that this type of inheritance may be used as a tool in a property division.  One new section of the Florida statutes now voids any gift in a will or beneficiary designation to an ex-spouse which is made after the divorce is final.

These changes will apply to the majority of financial accounts, life  insurance, annuities, employee benefit plans, retirement accounts, payable on death accounts and securities accounts. 

There are several exemptions to the new law. 

Such as where:

  • federal law applies and provides otherwise
  • the beneficiary designation is made after the divorce
  • the beneficiary is a will or trust
  • the final judgment requires the ex to manage the asset for their children
  • the ex could not legally terminate the beneficiary designation
  • the exes remarry

To read more on the changes to the law, go to Florida statutes, section 732.507 and section 732.703.


The odds for a newly married couple in the United States staying together is only about 50 percent.  Many of those couples who do stay together have unhappy marriages, which, according to researchers, is a risk factor for poorer mental and physical health and also is associated with an increased risk for aggression developing in a relationship.  Research, however, also shows that marital education programs are effective in aiding couples in staying together and making unhappy marriages more satisfying and successful.

Researchers found the quality of interaction between husbands and wives was highly predictive of marital distress or divorce.  Those couples who interacted  more negatively than other couples had marriages that were in trouble or predicted future marital distress.  However, researchers say that negativity between couples is a dynamic behavior that couples can change to improve their odds of staying together.

A program created to focus on the dynamic factors that have been proven to strengthen marriages is the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), which was created by Dr. Markham and his associates at the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies.  PREP teaches couples those communication and problem solving skills that have been found to help marital functioning.  The skills taught are ground rules for handling conflict, forgiveness, speaker/listener techniques, and how to preserve and enhance fun, friendship and sensuality.  Those couples that have participated in PREP are less likely to get divorced and have significantly higher levels of marital satisfaction.  Those couples who took the course before marriage had less negative and more positive interaction and lower rates of breakup or divorce.

There are other research-based marital therapy programs that are strengthening marriages as well as PREP.  These programs include Couples Communication and PAIRS.  Couples Communication Program focuses on how couples interact and involves the use of an “awareness wheel” and “listening wheel.”  These allow couples to map out issues and assists them in becoming active listeners.  This is also an effective program with over 600,000 couples worldwide participating in the program since its development.

The PAIRS program (Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills) focuses on emotional issues from a couple’s past, which have shaped the way they act in relationships.  PAIRS has programs for children and youth as well as adults.  This program teaches speaking, listening and problem solving skills and has been shown to be effective in all populations for which it has been adapted.

Perhaps if all couples would participate in marital therapy programs such as these before marriage, the divorce rate in this country would be much lower and the marriage satisfaction rate would be much higher.


There are many factors that are considered when determining the custody of a child during divorce proceedings.  To help a judge determine child custody, many states have added specific criteria when considering the best interests of the child.  Another criteria that is being added recently is whether and to what degree a child is eating well and exercising.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a study that states that childhood obesity has more than tripled in our country in the past three decades.  The percentage of children ages 6-11 who were obese, increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008.  Adolescents aged 12-19 obesity rates have increased from 5 percent to 19 percent over the same period.

The role obesity plays in the child custody battles in our nation is increasing, too.  Many parents are using accusations of poor nutrition and obesity as an attempt to persuade judges that their ex-spouse in not properly taking care of their child.  The accusing parent states that his ex-partner is placing his child at risk of developing a diet related disease, such as diabetes or heart disease.  A parent may go as far as saying that a child is being teased at school because he is obese.

Parents are  not just using the obesity of the child in an attempt to gain custody, but using the obesity of the other parent as well.  Some parents are saying that the other parent is too obese to perform the basic child care functions.

Most family experts agree that obesity claims have to be quite severe in order to trump both a child’s right to have a close relationship with a parent and a parent’s right to raise a child in the manner he or she sees fit.