This episode will explain why most of you will want to finalize your divorce in 2018, if possible. After 2018, divorce will be even more complicated than it already is. You probably already want an efficient divorce process, but the recent changes to tax law will provide some additional incentive to move things along.
The change in tax law primarily concerns spousal support. Taxes are not a fun topic, but they are critically important to understand so you can make the best decisions for your situation. How you structure your divorce settlement can ultimately get you 20% to 50% more money and assets. For more about taxes and divorce, visit our archive.
To understand what is changing this year, we first need to understand how spousal support has worked for the past 75 years. Currently, if you receive alimony, you claim it as income and pay taxes on it. The person who pays alimony receives a tax deduction for the amount of the alimony.
For divorces that are finalized after December 31, 2018, the person who receives alimony will not count it as income. The person who pays the alimony will not receive a tax deduction. Why is this such a big deal? If you are the person paying spousal support, you get no tax benefit for paying the support, so you have an incentive to pay less. People who will receive support will probably be getting less.
These changes came from the tax bill that was passed at the end of 2017. If you can wrap up your divorce in 2018, you will not have to worry about it. However, if your divorce is not finalized until 2019, you will be affected by this change. If you are paying support, finalizing in 2018 will give you tax benefits. If you are receiving spousal support, you are highly likely to get more support if you finalize this year.
Who receives spousal support today? In a recent census, it was found that about 97% of people receiving spousal support are women. Most of them were stay-at-home parents during the marriage, or they worked fewer hours than their husbands. Although there are many female breadwinners, women are going to be affected greatly by this law.
What are your options if you find yourself in this situation? You can often come up with clever, creative solutions that will work for everyone. Here is a simple example. If you know that you will probably receive less spousal support for the foreseeable future, you can structure your settlement so that you get more money up front as a lump sum. This can help make up for the tax benefits that you will not be receiving. Look for ways to structure your settlement that will benefit you in the long term.
Many people wonder why this law is changing. There is a good reason for it. In 2017, about 350,000 people claimed they were paying spousal support, and received a tax break. However, only about 180,000 people said they were receiving spousal support (and paid taxes on that spousal support). This means there are 170,000 people who received spousal support who did not report it to the IRS. That adds up to billions of dollars of lost tax revenue.
In future episodes, we will discuss more details about taxes and how to structure your settlement. There is no need to panic, but it’s important to understand how this change will affect you in the broader context of your divorce negotiations. If you understand that you will be losing money because of the change in tax law, you can look for ways to make up for it.
You have met the person of your dreams, and you know that they are the one for you. However, now that you are getting married, all of your friends have told you that you might want to look into a prenuptial agreement before saying “I do.” The problem is that you are just not sure if you need one. After all, prenuptial agreements are only for the rich and famous, correct?
The truth is that prenuptial agreements are designed for everyone; not just those with money. In this article, you will learn exactly what a prenuptial agreement is, how they are used, and how they can be beneficial to you.
Prenuptial agreements (also known as prenups or premarital agreements) are legal agreements that are designed to be prepared before you get married. A prenup basically outlines what property each person in the relationship financially gains, should the marriage end in a divorce.
Many people feel that if they do a prenup, they are telling the world that the marriage is not going to work. However, that could not be further from the truth.
Think of it this way: When you get insurance on your car, are you saying that you are inevitably going to get into an accident? No. You get the insurance to protect you in case an accident does happen.
Use this same rationale about getting a prenup. If the marriage ends, then the prenup will outline what you will walk away with. Or if you have assets going into the marriage, it will outline what is protected, and what your spouse will get. It is protection for you both.
Each person will generally come into the marriage with their own belongings (separate property). Then there are those belongings that you accumulate while you are married (community property). Legally differentiating these kinds of property can make it easier on both of you, should the marriage not work out. In most cases, it saves arguments over many assets.
In addition, if you had a lot of assets coming into the marriage, a prenup is a great way to protect those assets. After all, you worked hard for those assets before your future spouse came along.
A prenup is also a great way to protect yourself if your partner has less-than-ideal credit, and a lot of debt coming into the marriage. Your prenup can state that your spouse assumes all responsibility and liability for any debts coming into the marriage. This way, creditors cannot come after you or seize your separate property. Again, it is like an insurance policy.
When it comes to your property, you do not want the state assuming control over determining who gets what, especially if you have separate assets. Therefore, use your prenup to put the power in your hands by stating ahead of time what each person will walk away from the marriage with.
Prenups are also a great way to list the expectations of each other during the marriage. So you can list whether one spouse will pay for the education of another, how much of a spending limit or allowance each person will get, and how access to bank accounts will be handled. If you have businesses coming into the marriage, then a prenup can be used to outline the separation and liability of those businesses.
Now that you know some of the things that a prenup can do, let us talk about some of the things that cannot be included in this type of agreement.
Prenuptial agreements cannot dictate child-support amounts. Remember, child support is there to protect and provide for the child. The court is going to work in that child’s best interests, so they will determine what amount of child support, if any, will be received.
When it comes to alimony, most states will not allow a person to waive their right to alimony. Therefore, you will want to check your state’s guidelines, but generally, this waiver cannot be included in a prenup. In addition, prenups are a legal document, so they cannot contain anything that can be construed as illegal. In most cases, doing so would void out the prenup. Also, prenups cannot encourage someone to get a divorce.
In addition, prenups cannot be used to list things for your own personal gain, such as dictating if and when a child will be brought into the marriage, and who is responsible for taking care of that child. For instance, a prenup cannot be used to turn your spouse into your own personal housekeeper.
Remember, a prenup is designed to protect your assets; it is not meant to be used for personal gain.
The answer is a resounding yes! The key to making any prenup effective is to make sure that you are clear and detailed when writing it. If the prenup is not clearly written and difficult to understand, then it can leave lots of room for interpretation, which is not something you want.
It should clearly outline what each person’s responsibilities and liabilities are regarding financial and property assets (before and during the marriage). Sure, things will change in the relationship over time, and there may be assets that were unpredicted when the prenup was written.
The key is to protect what you are coming into the marriage with, as well as outline the basic responsibilities of money and property in the marriage. Everything else can be handled by your divorce attorney, should that time come.
Can you afford to let the court decide if your spouse gets the house that you paid for before the marriage? What about half of the nest egg that you built up before the marriage, should it all end in a divorce?
Protect yourself, and get a prenup.
Filing your taxes at the end of the year is an arduous process, even under the best of circumstances. Most taxpayers are filled with trepidation at the very idea of filling out the proper forms, tallying up their total income, then having it reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service. However, the process is made even more complicated by unique circumstances (for instance, if you choose to include your child support as income. Since this form of income plays a large role in your finances, how do you plan to file?
If you are not sure whether your child support is taxable, it is time to begin sorting through the finer details required by the government during tax season. We will take a closer look at three important points that will leave you feeling more confident next tax season.
When determining the appropriate level of child support, judges will often base the number on the income of the parents. While specific formulas and calculations vary from state to state, this general rule of thumb will predict the amount of child support you could receive. The income of both parents will typically be taken into account.
Because child support is usually based on your current income levels, it makes sense that many individuals and families believe that it is considered taxable income, but that is actually not the case.
Child support is not actually factored into your gross income, and should not be added to the rest of the funds you earned that year while filing taxes with the IRS. If you know that your child support should not affect the levels of taxation at the end of the year, it gives you a little more financial security in the present moment, which allows you to more effectively plan and budget your child-support check each month. You should know exactly what the final number will be without having to account for a portion of it being owed to the federal government.
If you are the spouse who is ordered to pay child support, you should know that you will have no significant advantage. Child support is not considered a tax deduction for the party ordered to pay it. Therefore, you cannot deduct the overall amount of the payments from your taxable income when reporting your annual taxes to the IRS. You are required to report your income, including the entire money you paid out for child support to the federal government each year.
Usually, the custodial parent has the right to claim children as dependents, as long as all of the tests from the IRS claiming exemptions are met. In order for the parent who pays the child support to claim them as dependents, additional steps must be followed. If you issue a check to help financially provide for them each month, it does not necessarily grant you the automatic ability to claim that tax credit.
In order for the noncustodial parent to claim children as dependents, they must file a Form 8332, which allows the custodial parent to release their rights to claim them as dependents on that year’s tax return. This form is known as a Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. Bear in mind that you must have a separate form for each child that you plan to claim as a dependent that year.
The custodial parent can also complete this form for a set number of years into the future. If you do so now, you can prevent hassles and headaches during each tax season. If the plan changes in the future, the custodial parent can also revoke the release of the claim to be an exemption—with a new form for each child.
Filing your taxes when you receive child support does not have to be an arduous, time-consuming, and frustrating process, as many may be led to believe. It helps to plan early and know what your rights are, learn the proper process for filing your taxes to claim dependents, and accurately report your income.
If you have any questions regarding the finer details of filing your taxes following divorce, consider hiring a tax accountant to assist you. Search for a professional who is well-versed in handling situations that financially mirror your own. A good tax accountant can help you efficiently and correctly complete your taxes, which will take away some of the pressure and burden that this time of year can bring about.
Vocabulary is a significant part of the divorce process, and knowing what various terms mean can make a huge difference in your progress towards finalizing your divorce. Filing on the grounds of irreconcilable differences seems to be growing in popularity. If your attorney recommends this claim, do you know what it actually means?
Find out if filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences is the right choice for you and your spouse by understanding the basics of these principles.
Every marriage consists of two spouses, each of whom have their own unique habits, opinions, personalities, upbringings, all of which contribute to who they are as individual people. Those items not only contribute to their personality and character, but also can also add up to the breakdown of a marriage. Both spouses could be equally at fault for the end of the marriage in terms of dysfunctional communication.
Common issues that can lead to bigger struggles within the marriage and ultimately lead to irreconcilable differences include parenting, religion, money management, relationships with extended family members, and other day-to-day items. Irreconcilable differences means that the details of a successful, healthy future cannot be worked out between spouses, even with a serious attempt to do so, such as counseling or therapy.
Unfortunately, both spouses do not necessarily need to be on the same page regarding the likelihood of salvaging the relationship. Even if you feel like your marriage is unsustainable based on the issues you are both experiencing, your spouse does not need to agree with you in order to file for divorce due to irreconcilable differences. (This caveat may vary depending on state laws in your area.)
Filing this status means that your marriage will end in a no-fault divorce, placing equal responsibility for the dissolution of your union on both spouses. Unlike other options for filing for divorce, irreconcilable differences does not place the blame solely on one spouse, or label them as being at fault for the breakup. A fault divorce can be far more difficult and time-consuming than a no-fault divorce, which means that filing with irreconcilable differences can often lead to faster divorce times, depending on your state’s laws.
A faster divorce has more than just the benefit of saving precious time when it comes to moving on with a newly single life. Particularly on behalf of a spouse who was wronged, it can save a significant amount of money on your attorney’s fees. A no-fault divorce allows attorneys to avoid the hefty time investment associated with carrying the burden of proof for whatever underlying reason ultimately contributed to the split, even if the cause was adultery or abuse.
Keep in mind that each state has its own laws and could possibly even have different terminology for a divorce filed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Some states may refer to it simply as a no-fault divorce. Other states may offer irreconcilable differences as the only option for filling for divorce, therefore not allowing one spouse to place blame on the other, regardless of the specific circumstances.
Laws surrounding separation when filing for irreconcilable differences may vary as well. In many cases, these types of divorces can be completed quicker than others, so there will be different separation periods based on state laws before a couple can pursue finalization. While some states offer very quick turnaround times, others require lengthier waits before the courts will accept and finalize your divorce.
In many states, splitting up your assets will not be affected by whether you file for a fault or a no-fault divorce. They are typically divvied up according to the typical standards set for your area and the agreement or negotiation between the two of you, regardless of how you choose to file for your divorce. However, filing for a no-fault divorce (as opposed to a fault divorce) could affect items such as custody, alimony, and child support.
In short, filing for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences means that you or your spouse does not believe that the marriage can be salvaged in a way that will result in a successful future together. The implications of filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences can be far-reaching, including the potential for a faster, less costly divorce process. Be sure to understand all of the state laws for your area before deciding how to file for divorce. This decision could have long-term repercussions for your future, so be certain to do all of the necessary research in advance.
Goalsetting is a critical component of having a successful divorce. Setting appropriate goals, even in the middle of your divorce, helps you identify where you are, versus where you would like to be. It gives you an excellent means to realistically evaluate both your present and future, and take the first few steps (be they hesitant or enthusiastic) towards your own success.
How do you go about setting the divorce goals that will lead you toward a successful future as a single individual? Every decision you make regarding your divorce should be made with your goals in mind. As such, it is important to ensure that you know the best guidelines for setting realistic goals for yourself. The following three guidelines will give the building blocks for setting the best goals for your own future.
Do not allow yourself to get swept up in the minutiae of daily responsibilities, or get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Instead, keep your mind focused on what you want your future to actually look like. While it may seem nearly impossible in the midst of your emotional turmoil, take time to step back from the stress and envision your ideal future.
You should consider each aspect of your life, and take time to consider these kinds of questions:
Once you decide exactly what you are hoping to achieve, it is time to start putting actual steps in place to reach success. Select a few actionable steps that would allow you to measure progress towards your goals. They could be relatively simple things, or long-term plans broken into several steps. They could be things such as obtaining a job or a better-paying position, setting a stricter budget, reevaluating your retirement savings, or doing something fun with your children over the weekend. Putting a few steps in place (no matter how basic they may seem) gives you the ability to work toward your goals without feeling defeated during the process.
Experts recommend making goals using the SMART acronym; each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Each step that you put in place should correspond to all five of those categories in order to move you that much closer to your overarching goal for long-term success and stability.
In particular, consider setting a deadline on your specific goals, which will force you to act on your progress within a set period of time. This plan is designed to motivate you to achieve progress faster than you may otherwise be able to.
Understand that sometimes things do not work out the way you plan for them to. Be willing to maintain some flexibility within your plan if things go amiss. Many individuals will want to set a few overarching goals that they would like to achieve within their divorce, and acknowledge that there may be multiple ways to achieve the same outcome. The goals may look different in your day-to-day life than you imagined, so your flexibility can come into play.
You may also want to be flexible about the fact that the goals and steps you set for yourself and your family could be more time-consuming than you originally anticipated. Therefore, be patient with the process while you continue to set measurable, attainable steps toward the goals you set for yourself.
Setting goals for yourself is crucial to helping you determine which decisions within your divorce are in your best interests for the future. Each decision you and your spouse make regarding your split will have some repercussions for your future as an individual. Your goals can help keep you focus on the bigger picture, instead of getting caught up in the details.
Keep an open mind in both your approach to each goal and the results that you achieve along the way. You may find that your goals shift as you get further into the divorce process and begin to get a better outlook at what single life will look like for you. Revising goals that no longer serve you well is acceptable, and you will want to be flexible and open to this possibility.
Goalsetting can certainly be a stressful process, which forces you to consider where you currently are, compared to where you would like to be. However, with Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely goals in place, you can move toward your future in confidence, apart from your spouse.