In our first episode of “Women Winning Divorce,” we get to know Florida Women’s Law Group CEO, owner and attorney, Heather Quick. Heather highlights her experience and what led her to start a women’s-only family law practice. Heather and Host, Julie Morgan from WOKV in Jacksonville, discuss what family law is and more specifically, family law in Florida. With over 20 years of experience, Heather provides insight into divorce, paternity, pre-nups, child custody and more family law issues. Heather is the only for women by women family law firm in Jacksonville, FL.
"Women Winning Divorce" is a radio show and podcast hosted by Heather Quick, CEO and Owner of Florida Women's Law Group. Each week we focus on different aspects of family law to help guide women through the difficult and emotional legal challenges they are facing. Heather brings over 20 years of law experience that advocates and empowers women to achieve happier and healthier lives. Join Heather each week as she discusses family law issues including divorce, custody, alimony, paternity, narcissism, mediation and more.
This program was created to provide tips and insight to women with family law issues. It is not intended to be legal advice because every situation is different.
Visit us at https://www.womenwinningdivorce.com/ for more resources.
Text us at 904-944-6800 for a copy of Heather's Top 5 Divorce Tips.
If you have questions or a topic you would like Heather to cover, email us at email@example.com
Julie Morgan: Welcome to Women Winning Divorce with your host Heather Quick. Heather brings over 20 years of law experience that advocates and empowers women to achieve happier and healthier lives. Each week we provide knowledge and guidance on different aspects of family law to help lead women through the difficult and emotional legal challenges that they are facing. Listen in as she discusses issues including divorce, custody, alimony, paternity, narcissism, mediation, and other family law issues to provide insight on the journey of women winning divorce. Welcome to the show. I'm Julie Morgan, and I'm joined by your host, Heather Quick. All right, so Heather, this is our first show together. Tell me a little bit about your background.
Heather Quick: I graduated law school in 2000. It's hard to believe. I think every year in January, I'm like, "Wow, 22 years." It just doesn't seem like it could have been that long ago. But in fact, it has. As a newly graduated lawyer, I was very interested in trial work. I loved the courtroom. When I went to law school, I was really a bit naive to think that there are people who went to law school that did not want to be in a courtroom, and who were afraid to speak in front of people. I am a Law & Order junkie, I love it. So I was a prosecutor and I actually began, before I graduated law school, I did an internship, I tried five cases and picked a jury in five cases before I even graduated law school. It was very thrilling. I loved it, and that was really my first job as a lawyer.
That evolved because just with life, and it was something that I didn't really think I would be there forever as a prosecutor, although it was truly fun. People don't really understand that. There's just such an excitement and electricity in being in a courtroom and producing evidence and of course, getting a conviction because I was a prosecutor. That really transpired with my life as well.After graduating I got married and then pregnant, and then really gravitated away from criminal law from the prosecutor side and thought I would enjoy criminal defense. But, that is not where my heart is. And that's the beauty of the law. I just recognized, this isn't for me. I am more of a putting people in jail rather than getting them out type person. I really got into family law at that time.
And I mean, that's 20 years ago and evolved throughout that time to where I thought, "Wow, I can really make a difference in family law." And I was doing misdemeanor when I was doing some defense work and that's... It's just different aspects as to where having me on their side in a divorce, it's going to change their outcome substantially. And that's really I think what motivated me to go into that area because you want to be fulfilled like what you're doing is really meaningful.
Julie Morgan: Now, I have to ask you this because you said Law & Order and I love Law & Order myself. Which one was your favorite?
Heather Quick: Oh, I'm the classic. I'm the OG original generation. That's the one I like. All your basic crime. I can't watch the other stuff. It gets a little too dark for me. I mean, not that murder and robbery and all those others aren't dark. But I don't do the SVU one.
Julie Morgan: Got you. Got you. I had to ask because I know there are listeners out there they're saying, "Oh my goodness, I'm a Law & Order fan as well. She's like me." So tell me how did you start Florida Women's Law Group?
Heather Quick: Well, it really was...and I did do some other types of law prior to starting Florida Women's Law Group, but it was at a point in my life and family as well, having children and looking at well, what am I going to do next? I'm not going to stop being a lawyer just because I'm a mom. And at that point, my husband really encouraged me to start my own firm. With the idea that you can really control what kind of law you want to practice and how you wish to practice. From that first decision, which was in 2010, it evolved. I think that's due to my own growth and really focusing in on the practice of family law. It evolved to where we are now, which is Florida Women's Law Group. When I first began, I did what everyone else does, just do family law, represent men and women and not really taking a point of view or perspective on how I'm going to do that.That evolved with my personal growth and really developing the business and understanding where I could have the biggest impact.
Julie Morgan: Now, one of the things you mentioned, you said that when you became a mom, you said, "Okay, I don't have to stop doing what I love to do." Is that why you said women only? That's probably a good way to go.
Heather Quick: It was as if a light bulb went off, I kid you not. I was evaluating what cases do I really enjoy? I enjoy representing women and in particularly women who really didn't value or they underestimated the value they brought to the marriage. In large part, their husband was devaluing them, and saying, "This isn't yours, I'm the one who's worked." I thought, that's just not true. That is not true, you are entitled, and to really educate these women, but then stand up for them when they were unsure. I thought, I am getting so much personal satisfaction out of this, and I know I'm changing their life and maybe helping them value themselves more.
That was when I first realized, okay, that's who I want to represent. I want to represent women. I began to then notice the patterns of women. There is the stay-at-home mom, but also the breadwinner, the business-owner woman. There's just a lot of common threads and I felt as though I had so much to offer for those women. I really knew we could make a difference there.
Julie Morgan: Was there someone in your life that maybe went through a divorce and you said, "Well, I want to help someone like her in the future?"
Heather Quick: Yes, Julie. Exactly. And that's my mom. It was interesting, because we had a conversation earlier, probably right around the beginning of the year with my mom. I said to her, "Mom, you went through all of that. And I just want you to know it wasn't for nothing because I gained so much knowledge and so much experience through your struggles, and through your various marriages." She has been married more than once. I also saw the pattern she went through, and those are exactly what I saw in other women. She and my father divorced, I was about... I think I was probably around eight years. So I was a child and it was only what you remember. Subsequent to that, I just saw how... I mean, obviously as children we saw she struggled, she worked so hard. She's very strong but in the legal setting, sometimes you're not as strong and that's something I've seen, certainly through many women.
Julie Morgan: So the strength in real life doesn't necessarily translate to strength when it comes to dealing with legal issues?
Heather Quick: Yes, and specifically legal issues regarding your personal life, your children, your money. You can be strong if you're like, "Hey, I have to go work hard, make dinner, clean the house, take care of these kids, do all these things on my own. But now when I've got to talk about it and negotiate over these things..." For most people it's emotional. In both men and women, it's emotional. It's just how you deal with that. Many times women, they would be first to say, "I don't care, I'll walk away, I'll figure it out. I'm not going to continue to put myself through this emotional difficulty of the legal battle."
But very often it's like, "Well, let us help you get through that because you deserve more financially. So let us get you over that hump, and continue through." Help them fight, and fight is the right word. Because then you feel like, hey, somebody's there for you sticking up for you. Again, these are my beliefs. That's the beautiful thing about what I can do because I can share my point of view. Not everybody agrees with it, but I watched the women in my family, as well as myself and what we bring to the table. When you've carried the child, given birth shoot, just adopted and raised a child and be there for your husband, but then also work. There's so much. We give so much, and not all of it is ever really quantified, and it's not a number, it's not within the 401(k).
It's not what's in the bank account. But it's like the life is the stuff that we do and that the husbands wouldn't have realized without us. They take it all for granted. Not all the time but overall, and I just think that as women, we bring a lot to the table, and it doesn't always have to be financial. It's usually in addition to what we bring financially, and how we support our husbands to make them better financially, but then also provide them with things that they couldn't have done. Women are very well equipped to do family and career. Men not so much. They can do maybe one or the other.
Julie Morgan: I'm going to say amen to that.
Heather Quick: Thank you.
Julie Morgan: So let's talk about how long you've been in business. I believe you mentioned it a little bit before, but tell me how long you've been in business.
Heather Quick: I started the law firm around 2010, so about 12 years. That was after my career as a lawyer, or in addition to, working for others. And really coming to the place where it's like, "All right, I'm going to build something that is going to make a difference." It has been an incredible journey and it's not over yet. To bring together amazing women on the team who are then helping women, it's great. We work hard, and it's very inspiring to be around such smart, hardworking women.
Julie Morgan: That's the other thing that I was going to ask you about. How important was it to say this is for women-by-women, that's it. That's the way it has to be.
Heather Quick: It was, and at first, I remember a woman, I was at like one of those mentoring Mondays and she's like, "Yeah, be careful. I don't know, I think it'll mess up your message if you were to have a male attorney." In the very beginning, I didn't necessarily think so. But it's more about our point of view and what we do, and I do think it's important. I will tell you, this is a unique place, this firm and these women that work here, because it's not for the faint of heart. And it's not really for the dramatic. We're a tough bunch. Not many men can really survive in this environment, I would say.
Julie Morgan: Oh, if the listeners could see my face right now, that was just too funny. All right. So let's talk about family law. Family, and if I'm not mistaken, you said marital law, right?
Heather Quick: Yes.
Julie Morgan: Define for us what is Family law?
Heather Quick: Family law is... A broad definition would be everything to do with families. But that's not true, because we have so many specialized areas of law. When we talk about family law, we are talking about issues related to divorce and marriage, as well as paternity, which that's basically having children but not being married. You still have to go through as much of a complicated legal proceeding if that relationships dissolves and how you deal with children. With family law, somebody will say, "Well, hey, that's adoption," and I think you and I were talking about that earlier. One of our favorite answers as a lawyer is, "It depends." Now, there are so many different kinds of adoption and there are very specialized lawyers who do that. There is a small niche called a step-parent adoption.
Okay, that would fall within our purview generally speaking. We've done that before but not a, "Hey, I want to go to an adoption agency and adopt this child." That is much more specialized, not what we do. When there's areas of, say, a prenuptial agreement or even a postnuptial agreement, that falls within what we do, and then if you want to ever change things after divorce. We handle all of that, and that would fall within family law. If you have children, most likely it's within family law. But there are other areas of the law, say for dependency, which I don't want to kind of go down that road, but it's not everything with children, but it is a lot to do with children and if there's been a marriage.
Julie Morgan: Okay. So does marital law fall under family law?
Heather Quick: Yes.
Julie Morgan: So we have three main areas. Marriage, money and divorce. When it all comes down to it, would you say those are the three areas that somebody falls into whenever they come to your office?
Heather Quick: Yes, I would. Because we deal with all the many things related to the marriage, many things related to money, they're very closely related. And then, of course, as with the divorce. Under, I would say, the divorce is that's where we would talk about the issues with the children. And that falls under that.
Julie Morgan: You're listening to Women Winning Divorce with Heather Quick, owner and attorney for Florida Women's Law Group. Heather, before we went to break, we were talking about the three main areas of family law. Marriage, money and divorce. Let's break down family law and marriage, estate planning wills and trusts. This is something you handle, correct?
Heather Quick: Yes, we do, we certainly do particularly for our clients. We don't generally do it outside of that, because it's very important once your divorced to address your estate plan in your will. One thing that we do really, very early on, even before the divorce is over, is we ask our clients to choose someone to be their power of attorney. If you can imagine so many people, unfortunately, like a large percentage of folks don't have their wills in order. They don't have a will, they don't have a power of attorney and they're married.
By law, so there's a lot of things in Florida, and really in any state, but you can choose the way you want things done in many instances. If you don't, Florida is going to do that for you. In Florida, your spouse will be the first person that will get to make decisions. Now you can imagine if you're going through a divorce, and God forbid, you're in a car accident and someone needs to make a decision as to whether or not to pull the plug, generally, I'm thinking you don't want the husband you're divorcing making that decision.
Therefore we say why don't we do a new power of attorney and why don't you pick somebody else, even now before the divorce is final, which you can do, like I said, you can choose certain things and contract certain things. But you have to do so by the requirements of the law, or like I said, Florida is going to choose it for you. And that's very specific and in wills and trusts. So that's one of the things we definitely do is say, "Hey, let's pick a new Power of Attorney, so that in the event that would happen you have somebody maybe you feel more comfortable with making that decision."
Julie Morgan: It's interesting that you say that because that's not something I would have even thought about. Your clients have to be in the same boat as I'm in. Because I would not have thought about that. But I mean, time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all. So you just never know.
Heather Quick: True. And that is the job of your attorney, is to think of things that you wouldn't think of because you don't know what you don't know. And even if you've been through a divorce before, it's different, you're in a different spot. You hear things differently, depending on your circumstances. That is why it's so valuable and it is so important that you go to the correct person, because they are going to ask you questions that you had not thought of.
Julie Morgan: Has someone ever said, "I'm too young for that. Is that really necessary?"
Heather Quick: Of course, because isn't that what we think? That, "Well, that's not necessary." I will tell you a funny story because my uncle is a lawyer, my grandfather was a lawyer and a judge. So I'm going to law school, and my uncle's like, "All right, let's do your will and all this stuff." Of course, I've got zero. I'm going to law school. I have nothing. I'm about to take on debt. So I was like, "Okay, that's what we're going to do. We're going to decide who gets the debt." And he was like, "No, no, Heather. You're going to sign all this. What if you got hit by a Coca Cola truck, I need to know who's going to get the money or something like that." It was just kind of funny. But because it was out of love they'd say, "No, you do need this and this is what we're going to do. You pick who's going to get what, if there is anything." So he drew it all up for me. I do tell that story every now and then. It is important for that point but also, if we are, particularly in Florida, considering all the news and everything lately like, "Oh, I want to make my own decisions. I don't want the government running my life." Well, folks have no idea how much that the laws of Florida are going to dictate your life unless you're educated and understand areas where you can then dictate how things would go.
Julie Morgan: So much truth in those words I tell you. Legal name changes, this is something that you do for your clients as well.
Heather Quick: We do so by, again, operation of law if you're married, you can easily change your name, however, you'll go through many hoops as far as the marriage certificate. Then many times after divorce, women aren't always sure, and then that usually depends on how long they were married or if they have kids. But we have a conversation about that, okay, well, there are things we can do so that if you want to change your name in the future, it's already been done. Because it doesn't magically happen just because it's in the divorce, you still have to jump through even twice as many hoops to get your name back.
Many times three years later, everyone feels differently from where there at then. So that is also something that we do here at our firm is, we're really looking at your life, and we know what's going to happen in three to five years more likely than not, and you're going to feel differently than when you're in the heat of it. We really try to one educate our clients, bring these things and do what we can for them that's going to make it easier in the future.
Julie Morgan: Okay so one thing you said that you have to jump through hoops just to get your old name back.
Heather Quick: This is correct.
Julie Morgan: But that wasn't my name.
Heather Quick: I know. But if you went and changed it, now you got to change it back. So let's see, if you change your name... And I it's been a while since I've been to the DMV, you'll need your marriage certificate to go change it. Maybe your social security number. I don't know, because you have to go to the social security officer as well as the DMV. Well, if you want it back, you better find your birth certificate, you better have a court order that is signed saying you can change your name back. They're probably going to want to see how it got to the other name, your marriage certificate. I mean, there's so much, you're just like, "Oh my gosh, and are they going to take my blood?" And they might. I don't know. But it is complicated.
Julie Morgan: Okay. Do you tell your clients, "Okay, this can be complicated?" And do they sit back and say, "Well, okay, that's okay."
Heather Quick: Absolutely. It's like, if we give you all the documents, we just say, "Hey, you got to go to these different places and do it." I understand the world we live in now is different than it was even 15, 20 years ago as far as what is required when you go to the DMV, and things like that. Fortunately, there's a lot of things available online. But you have to request those things to get it. The main thing is, if you don't get your name changed in the original divorce, you will have to have a separate court action later to do so. That's where most of the clients will be like, "Well, I didn't know that." And of course, they wouldn't have known that. But that is what's required.It's one of those things that we say, "Hey, it would make sense that if we do it but ultimately, our clients make that decision, and if they changed their name later, at least they knew at the time." Well, I feel differently now. So that's really our goal is just to give them the information to make the best decisions.
Julie Morgan: Last thing on this, the legal name change topic. Are there any pros and cons to keeping your name versus changing your name, in addition to the fact that you have to jump through the hoops?
Heather Quick: I don't know. My name has been changed for so long because I just did that when I got married. I think that I can understand going back. I think for professionals, the more professional licensees you have, and you're, not maybe reputation, but name recognition in the community. So sometimes it's like, I don't know that I want to change. But sometimes it's very cathartic, and it's important for women to say, "You know what, I am going to claim that back and it is important to me." I think it's more about that, more about how they're identifying. If they're saying, "I've been Heather Quick for so long, I'm going to stay that way." Or, "You know what no, a part of me wants to reclaim my own identity again and not under the identity of as a wife or an ex-wife." So I think it's more psychological. A deeper question is how women make that decision.
Julie Morgan: Yes, and it sounds like it's personal. So what's good for Julie is not good for Heather. It's a very personal decision.
Heather Quick: Agreed. I really think so. And just like it's personal decision when women don't change their name. Now it's very common but for a while, they'd be like, or the hyphenated. I mean, I can remember when those were hotter topics. So I do, I think it's very personal. It’s just what women decide to do and we're here to help them navigate that.
Julie Morgan: Another topic that I see here domestic violence. I mean, it's such a touchy topic. It comes up in your business, right?
Heather Quick: It does. It's so prevalent, unfortunately, and it takes so many different... It's not always the same. Sometimes it can be abuse that is not physical at first. Generally it gets there but through threats and intimidation. Many women live in, just extreme fear, even though physically there has not been an action and the laws have truly grown and become making it more accessible for a victim of domestic violence to seek an injunction. There's definitely been more education in law enforcement and the court system into different ways that that may present itself. Yes, many times women are here seeking a divorce and through the conversation, I have concerns for their safety. I bring that to their attention, because it's very easy. I'm sure you can resonate with this, Julie and it makes sense. When you're talking to a friend or a colleague or anybody, you see it easier.
When you're in it, you don't always see it. Because usually a lot of the domestic violence issues, it doesn't happen overnight. It builds, it builds, it builds, and all of a sudden you're like, you almost think it's normal, although there's a part of you that doesn't. A lot of the times our lawyers and our staff, sometimes we just have to tell clients that's not normal behavior, that is something that maybe we should seek to get you some help with.
Julie Morgan: That has to be a sad conversation.
Heather Quick: I don't see it as sad. I mean, it is emotional. I feel as though women actually probably feel a lot of relief when somebody recognizes, "Hey, listen, this is not good. And you are here, and we are supporting you to get out of this situation." But it is scary for them. I know that. For us, the law isn't perfect, there are only so many tools we have in our toolbox to assist a woman who may be a victim of domestic violence, but there is the court process in which they can obtain an injunction, we can help them do that. Not only does that legally provide you with some protection, they're actually standing up for themselves and/or their children. That is very powerful as well. Once they are able to get the separation, it becomes clear as to maybe how bad that situation was that you can't see as much when you're in it. Because you're almost in a survival mode. So it's harder to stand back and look at it objectively.
Julie Morgan: It sounds like that's also where you talked earlier, about your desire to empower women. It sounds like that is a perfect place for that to happen.
Heather Quick: Absolutely. I believe that all humans, but especially women in a marriage, you deserve respect, and you should not be in a position where you're threatened and you're verbally or emotionally abused. That it's not an easy step for somebody to take on their own, it's one generally, women in those situations are already very lonely and they are scared and they're scared for themselves and they're scared for their children. It's a vicious cycle. It's something that if we're able to help women get out of it, then yes, that's where we are having an impact so that they can then go on to live the life they were meant to live and be a better parent, be a better human. Now they have self respect, and they're not in fear.
Julie Morgan: Tell me about... and of course I'm not asking for names or descriptions or anything. But can you tell me how maybe a client has felt in the past? What have you gathered from them after you've helped them through a situation like this?
Heather Quick: I can tell you that one thing that resonates is they're like, "You believed me and believed in me to help me." That's big because I think that many times, they're in this abusive situation and that's what their husband tells them, "Nobody's going to believe you. And they'll believe me, they'll never believe you." That one is big because then they trust us, we trusted them, we believed in them, and we're willing to advocate for them. That's a big thing and you can imagine if you've been in a situation where someone has told you, "Nobody's going to believe you, that you are less than someone else, you're not worthy, you're not smart." Then all of a sudden now somebody else believes in you and then that helps you then begin to believe in yourself, that in and of itself, gives you some strength.
Julie Morgan: You know, Heather, in the first segment of the show we talked about how the fact that family law really boils down to three areas. Marriage, money, divorce, and of course, you said divorce also includes anything having to do with children. So we've talked about family law and marriage. Let's talk about family law and money. I'll be honest with you, this is going to be my favorite part. Just because I really want to know specifically, postnups, and understand that. So one of the things that you handle, prenups. What is a prenup really?
Heather Quick: Prenup's a contract, by which basically you sign with your fiancé as to how in the event this doesn't work, how things are going to be handled. You can put so much into a prenuptial agreement. Basically, like I indicated previously, you can decide how it will happen. When I was talking about wills and estate, you can decide how you want your divorce to go down because if you don't, the state of Florida will and then you're going to go by the laws of Florida on how things are divided. Now and of course, there's still protections in there. You can't wave away a lot of things. You can't do a prenup on issues of the children necessarily, but it can deal with all money issues. And you can deal with infidelity if you want. It is an opportunity to really structure maybe even, "Hey, this is how we want our marriage to be and if it doesn't work out, this is how it will end in a divorce." Unfortunately, I think there's a bad rap on prenups. It's like you sign a contract for everything. I mean, to open a bank account for a car, you spend more time on paperwork for a car than you do for a marriage. When you really look at that, it's like, "Wow, how seriously are we taking our marriage if we're not going to even bother." I mean, we all know with the house. My goodness, you signed so many papers. But even as simple as a bank account, a car which everybody nowadays has a car, you really may not read it, but you sign a bunch of legal documents for things all the time and why we don't really take a little bit more time before we enter into a marriage is just I think people not understanding.
Julie Morgan: Is there such thing as an ironclad prenup? I remember watching a movie about that once.
Heather Quick: That was such a good movie. I'm a geek for all the legal movies too. They're like you do this all the time. It was with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta. It was a great movie.
Julie Morgan: Great movie. I love it.
Heather Quick: Yes, I mean there are so many ways to make them very strong.That's by full disclosure, making sure each side has the representation. But you know, nobody is signing it right before they walked down the aisle and it's not for... There's a lot of those basic things that can be done and it is in the drafting of the document, understanding the law in Florida where you're drafting it because every state has different laws as they relate to marriage and family and divorce. So yes, there are ways to make it as strong as possible.
Julie Morgan: Understood. What about a postnup? What is a postnup?
Heather Quick: So a postnuptial agreement is just like it sounds post. You're already married. Now it differs because after being married now you've got rights. Now you're married and rights... I mean, essentially by the state of Florida that you have certain rights as a spouse. If your husband dies, there are certain rights even if they have a will and they maybe say they had a will that excludes you, or they tried to disinherit you, you can't disinherit your husband or wife. So you have right, now if you sign a postnup, you have to have more disclosure, it needs to be more specific because you're waiving rights you have. If it's a prenup, you're waiving rights you don't have yet. So if that makes sense. So now actually, "Hey, I've got something to lose. I don't have to sign this."
There are a lot of reasons for a postnuptial agreement. Many times it's an effort to salvage a marriage, and through counseling and maybe some trust has been broken and they're like, "Okay, if you put me through this again, you're giving me everything." So that is a drastic example, but a very common example because many times in marriages once there's a breach of trust, and even though the parties want to put it back together, it's hard. We all know that. It's hard. And this can be used as a tool to show you can trust me. I'm not going to do this again. Let's sign a postnup and let's just say. So that would be most likely when you would see it.
Julie Morgan: Heather, I just see so many more shows that we could just talk about prenup and postnup. I really-
Heather Quick: Yes.
Julie Morgan: Yes. So what about paternity and child support?
Heather Quick: If you have noticed, which I have, in our current culture many people have children without getting married. The reality is that if you break-up, there are still issues as it relates to child support. There are issues as to who's going to see the child and when so the only way to resolve that is through the court system. Again, through the state of Florida, if you aren't married and you have a child there is not a legal father until there's a court order stating that is legally the father. You can put them on the birth certificate but there are requirements that the state of Florida recognizes who is the father of that child. You look shocked. They can't see you. I wish they could see Julie.
Julie Morgan: Are you serious?
Heather Quick: Yes.
Julie Morgan: So I'm just going to pick my mouth up off the floor and continue. So again, we talked about earlier, how this all boils down again to three main areas. Marriage, money and divorce. We've talked about marriage and money. Now we're going to talk about divorce, alimony. How common is alimony? Well, you know what, let's start at the beginning. What is alimony?
Heather Quick: Alimony is spousal support. Now, one of my favorite topics. I love talking about alimony and I love how it make men cringe. But I'll tell you, if a woman's got the money, there's nothing worse than when a woman doesn't want to pay it, even more than a husband doesn't want pay it, ex husband. But regardless, it is alive and well in the state of Florida. Our laws are very supportive of alimony, many states aren't. We also have permanent alimony, which also makes many people cringe but it's then after a long-term marriage. Many men have been ordered to pay alimony until they die, and they can get remarried but they owe the alimony. There's so many factors that go into an analysis of alimony.
It's very complex, and it's a great... It's one of those things you can really make a difference for somebody because through their correct proof and showing that you can change essentially the financial circumstances of a woman who maybe would have walked away from alimony. But it's based on a husband's ability to pay and the wife's need. That's the very basics and even if like sometimes... I had a case, one of my very first, not first but very early on, in my career divorce trial and that the attorney told me, "This is not an alimony case, Heather." Very nice attorney and I was like, "Well, I think it is. It's not Heather's. It's not a divorce. It's not an alimony case." I was like, "I think it is so that's the case we're putting forward." And lo and behold, she got permanent alimony. So and the thing is, it's not... Always somebody may think, "Oh, I can't afford alimony."
Well I know that's what all men think, they can't, but they can. So it's not always going to be thousands of dollars per month, it could be 500 bucks a month, but that's still alimony and it makes a difference. So it really goes into the length of the marriage, how the parties, what they did during the marriage, and what was the wife's role, the husband's role, and at the end of the day, it does come down to what the ability to pay, what kind of money he makes or she makes, and the need. So that's a way to make it very simplified. But it is much more complex than that, and a lot does go into it. There's so many negative things people say about it. But in the end of the day, it's the only way to really even out the playing field financially after a marriage.
And again, my perspective, so many women have given half their lives to a marriage and their husband, and their part just wasn't being compensated financially. So what? Now they're just going to leave. And I've heard men say, "Well go get a job." And it's like, "Okay, I have a job, I've been doing a job. What are you telling me to go do? I haven't worked in over 25 years." It's a valuable tool. It's a great part of our law that allows for women to still be financially... They're not going to be rich, but they're going to be able to maintain their lifestyle to some extent, and be self sufficient, even though they're relying on alimony. Of course, I do have a flip side when the women have to pay alimony. I don't feel quite strongly about that.
Julie Morgan: You know, there was something that you told me already. Let's keep this going and talk about division of assets and liabilities. I mean, do we have to... Liabilities. You can have those?
Heather Quick: Well, I know. I'll tell you this can be rough on both sides. Now, you can imagine with a couple divorcing that maybe they don't see eye-to-eye on everything and that's the reason they're getting a divorce. One of the common things... and you see this in people who stay married versus divorce. But obviously I'm dealing with the divorce cases, and somebody is a saver and somebody is a spender. That's a tough pill to swallow. If you're the saver, he's the spender and now he gets half your savings, and you got to take half his debt. It's rough. I'll just tell you right now, and a lot of what we do is answer questions and we just tell you the truth and it's not always what you want to hear. I'm always like, "Hey, I will make a case as best we can based on the facts in the law. But at the basic understand, yes, you've been stocking away the money he's been spending it, this is how it's going to come down." So that's a tough one, I will tell you.
Julie Morgan: It's tough.
Heather Quick: It's tough if you're getting half of what he saved, but it's very difficult if it's half of what you saved, and then the debt and that evaluation. I think that's why sometimes divorce is so hard because you knew these things but now it's real.
Julie Morgan: So let's talk about custody and parenting plans. What exactly is a parenting plan? Do your clients think about that before you actually bring it up to them?
Heather Quick: Not always. It depends how much research they've done, and their understanding of how things are going to be divided and issues will be addressed in regards to their children. One of the things everybody talks about is custody. It is now called time-sharing. Because that is a nicer word, I suppose. We're going to share time with our children versus somebody having possession of them, I guess. The parenting plan is basically going to be what the schedule is.
Julie Morgan: Okay. So you're with me every other Wednesday and on the weekends, that type of thing?
Heather Quick: Right. How are we going to divide the holidays? How are we going to divide the breaks with school, how will we handle summer, how will we handle travel if travel is involved? And usually, there's much of it that is what you would call boilerplate, the very standard on how we're going to communicate, how we're going to make decisions on school and healthcare. And for most people, those are going to be pretty standard, meaning, "Hey, we're going to share in the decisions just because we're no longer together doesn't mean that we're not still both parents of these children. Ideally, in the ideal world, we're going to communicate and we're going to make decisions together." That is the intent of the law and the goal for the court system is that people will do that. That does not always happen and that is why the family law business tends to stay busy.
Julie Morgan: Yes. Modifications to divorce settlements. You can modify that?
Heather Quick: Again, lawyer answer, it depends. There are things that can be, and some things can't. I think that's the most important thing, Julie, because one of, and this goes for certainly the lawyers at our office. We want to help. I mean, you come to us and say, "Oh, I entered into this. What can be changed?" Unfortunately, a lot of things cannot be changed. One, you got to meet all these requirements, there needs to be a substantial change. That's the legal term, but a pretty change in circumstances for everybody that's rather significant, maybe unexpected, a lot of different things.
When that happens, we can modify, we can change things such as alimony maybe more or less, depending on the circumstances. Men are always going to try to change it to pay less or to end it. On child support, there are certain requirements that allow you to go in and increase child support.
And one of the biggest things you'll see that we see when we're looking at a modification would be maybe they want the schedule with the children different. That's very difficult to accomplish. We can do it and we help our women understand, "Hey, these are the things that kind of have to happen that allow us to change that," and also when people move. And that almost has its own category as a relocation, but that is a change, and then the financial implications of that. So there are many things that can be modified, and a lot more that can't.
Julie Morgan: There's so many places I'd like to go with that. Unfortunately, we are out of time for this first episode. Oh boy, I can't believe we're already at the end.
Heather Quick: I know. It's a lot of good stuff to talk about.
Julie Morgan: Thank you for listening to Women Winning Divorce. We hope you found information to help you navigate your divorce. If you like our show, please take the time to subscribe and provide a five star review. If you need more information, please visit our website at womenwinningdivorce.com, where you will find previous episodes and other helpful content. Join us next week as we continue our journey of Women Winning Divorce.