Washington state became one of three states to approve same-sex marriages earlier this year.  When voters approved laws giving them the legal right to marry, many same-sex couples rushed to the courthouse to be wed. 

Although several states have given these couples the legal right to wed, federal laws do not recognize these marriages and with tax season arriving soon in the new year, same-sex married couples will not receive the same tax breaks that heterosexual married couples will.

The research director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, M.V. Lee Badgett said that the gap between state and federal laws as it pertains to same-sex spouses creates both a complicated and costly tax season for these couples.  “It’s certainly a big headache for people.  I’ve seen them reduced to tears.”

A Supreme Court decision on the issue, which could clear the way for the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in those states where it is legal – Washington, Maryland, Maine Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia – is not expected until June 2013.  If the court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act and recognizes same-sex marriages, it would mean these couples could file joint tax returns and be eligible for not only tax breaks, but other government benefits, such as Social Security and spousal support, that heterosexual spouses enjoy.

As it stands currently, same-sex couples must first fill out a mock federal tax form as a married couple, which they use to file their state tax returns.  They then, must go back and file a second set of federal tax returns as if they were both single.

In community property states, couples are required to split their wages down the middle.  Same-sex partners who received health benefits from their spouse’s employer, are taxed on those benefits, whereas heterosexual spouses are not.  Many of the IRS rules pertain to marriage and same-sex spouses in federal eyes are not recognized as married couples and, thus, do not receive many of the benefits that heterosexual spouses do.

Because of the complexity of legal issues related to same-sex marriages, it is wise for a couple to seek advice from an experienced  attorney on the tax implications of their union before filing their taxes this upcoming tax season.

Original article here.


The divorce process is a particularly emotional and stressful time for all involved.  A parent’s divorce can be a very damaging process for a child, one that is made even more so when one or both parent(s) do not take the child’s emotional well-being into consideration by attempting to cause a deliberate rift between the other parent and child.  This rift could be caused by parental alienation.

Parental alienation occurs when a child expresses feelings of unjustified dislike or even hate towards one parent.  These feelings are often the result of derogatory or hurtful comments made by one parent against the other. 

When a couple divorces, both parents need to take their children’s emotional well-being into consideration, and when one parent acts in an uncooperative and unhelpful manner by attempting to alienate his children from the other parent, this is unacceptable in the eyes of the law.

Children should not be used as pawns and placed in situations where they  hear demeaning statements about either parent.  If your ex-spouse is deliberately causing a rift between you and your children by making unkind or untrue statements, or by blocking your access to them, it is time to contact your family law attorney to deal with the situation.

A parent’s unreasonable behavior can cause emotional damage to their children by affecting not only their relationship with the other parent, but by causing difficulty in future adult relationships as well.  The court recognizes the rights of the children as the most important of all in a custody case. 

When your ex-spouse is deliberately attempting to cause a rift in your relationship with your children, a Florida family law attorney can file a motion for contempt to stop your exes’ behavior.  If the parental alienation behavior does not cease, a child custody modification and visitation order may be served. 


A Winter Springs man is behind bars for allegedly attempting to strangle his girlfriend, and for also pointing a loaded gun at her head and threatening to kill her.

Winter Springs police arrested Dean Erlandson, a Seminole County firefighter, for domestic violence after he was accused of beating his girlfriend.

According to the police report, Erlandson told police he and his girlfriend had a verbal fight over text messages sent to his girlfriend’s phone by a former boyfriend.

The woman’s story, however, differed drastically from that of the suspect’s.  According to police, Erlandson held her down by her neck, pointed a loaded gun at her and said they were both going to die.

Erlandson has had run-ins with the law in the past.  Just this summer in Orlando, he was arrested by police after he was accused of beating a man in a parking garage. 

The suspect  is being held in Seminole County Jail without bond, and has his first court appearance  scheduled for Monday.

In Florida in 2010, 113,378 crimes of domestic violence were reported to Florida law enforcement agencies resulting in 67,810 arrests. Although this number seems high, in reality the number of domestic violence crimes is higher as there are those survivors of domestic violence that do not report their abusers to law enforcement officials.

Domestic violence comes in many forms and is a growing problem in this country.  If you are a victim of or believe your partner may commit an act of domestic violence against you or your children, immediately contact an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney.

It is also very important to contact an experienced attorney if you have been accused of domestic violence and are innocent of the charges.  The consequences of a domestic violence conviction can be quite steep, and could include mandatory jail time, permanent criminal record, forfeiture of your right to own a firearm, and mandatory counseling. Protect yourself by seeking the advice of a experienced, competent domestic violence lawyer.


Read the original story here.


The child custody laws in Florida always have the best interests of the children involved in the divorce as the number one priority.  Several types of child custody arrangements are allowed and one of these is rotating custody.

In a rotating physical custody arrangement, both the physical and legal custody of the child is rotated between the parents.  Each parent will have custody of his or her child for three to six months out of the year.

Rotating custody is also known as joint, alternating, divided, split and shared custody.  In this type of arrangement, parents have equal child rearing rights and responsibilities, much like they did when they were married, which means that each parent retains the authority to make decisions for their child.

In the past,  Florida courts have not been inclined to order rotating custody arrangements, and usually awarded custody to one parent and granted visitation rights to the other parent.  However, in 1997, section 61.121, Florida Statutes, was enacted provided that the court may order rotating custody if it is in the best interest of the child.

Rotating custody can be beneficial to both parents and a child in several ways.  By spending significant time with each parent, a child will maintain a close relationship.  This type of arrangement also makes it easier for both parents to actively participate in the child’s life.  A rotating custody arrangement also removes the need for a parent to compete for a child’s custody, thus removing the need for the child to be disloyal and make the decision to choose one parent over the other.  Another benefit in this type of arrangement is that a child will be better prepared for future relationships as he has seen both parents assume roles of housekeeper and wage earner.

Parents will also see benefits from the rotating custody arrangement.  A parent will not experience the sense of loss of his child and also will not suffer the loss of self-esteem from not being awarded sole custody.  Parents in this type of arrangement will not have to shoulder all of the child rearing responsibilities on their own.  This type of arrangement will also give  parents the much needed time alone to pursue their own individual interests.

When going through a divorce, discuss the different types of child custody arrangements with both your divorce attorney and your soon to be ex-spouse to find the arrangement that will fit both of your needs and  will serve the best interests of your children, as well.


When a marriage lasts for over three decades, one tends to think the relationship must be a happy, committed one to endure the ups and downs of marriage for so long.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case as one New York widow discovered upon the death of her husband.

When her husband passed away in February, a 75-year-old widow was going through his belongings and paperwork as one needs to do after the passing of a spouse.  The elderly widow was shocked to discover divorce papers that showed her husband had divorced her eight years before he died after thirty years of marriage. 

The papers she discovered showed her deceased husband had been awarded an uncontested divorce after he claimed she had abandoned him after he suffered financial problems.  He created fraudulent papers detailing  her new address and the court awarded him an uncontested divorce. 

Although there is no way to ascertain why he fraudulently divorced his wife, it is thought he removed his wife from his life to allow his children from an earlier marriage to inherit his money after he died.

Fortunately, this elderly lady, with the assistance of a lawyer, was able to prove that she had never abandoned her husband and was unaware of the divorce her deceased husband had been awarded.  After the court ruled in her favor, she was awarded her deceased husband’s life insurance payout and  his pension, as well.

Whenever there has been any type of fraudulent activity associated with a marriage or divorce, contact an experienced Florida family law attorney.  A competent family law attorney will discreetly listen to your needs and help tailor a plan specific to your circumstances and situation.