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Glen Burnie Family Law Blog

Alimony tax changes to come in 2019

Divorce can be complicated, especially if a couple cannot come to an agreement in regard to alimony payments. To further complicate matters, a tax change is on the horizon that will potentially cause drawn-out divorces and contentious disputes. Maryland couples considering a divorce may want to contact an attorney to finalize matters in 2018 to avoid being locked into the new alimony tax law.

Come Jan. 1, 2019, a 75-year-old tax deduction for alimony payments will cease. While the financier can no longer use the payments as a tax write off, the recipient will no longer need to pay taxes on the alimony received. Though the new law appears to benefit the recipient, that individual may not receive as much money in the absence of the current tax deduction.

Pets considered during property division

Maryland couples seeking to begin the process of divorce should consider many factors that will be involved in the proceedings. Property division, child custody and alimony are just a few areas that will need to be addressed. However, couples will also need to consider the family pet, as animals have increasingly been involved in the battle of dividing assets.

As the family pet has evolved into a member of the family, pets have become a source of contention between divorcing couples. According to a recent survey, there has been a significant increase in pet custody fights in the last several years. The family dog is the most contested, while the household cat and other animals fall drastically short. As if they would with a child, there are some couples who consider shared custody of a pet. However, under most state laws, a pet is treated no different than personal property.

High asset divorce: Tips for financial protection

These days, ending a marriage can be a costly experience, not only in Maryland but across the country. As if divorce wasn't stressful enough, the financial ramifications of a split can add even more stress to the experience. During a high asset divorce, dividing shared assets can be the subject of many disputes. The following tips may be helpful for those in this situation to better protect themselves financially.

One of the first and most important things to do during this time is to close all joint financial accounts. If able, pay down and close any credit accounts. Less debt will make divorce negotiations easier. Also, be careful not to incur new debt.

Prenuptial agreements can secure future financial interests

When a couple is preparing to walk down the aisle, the thought of a prenuptial agreement can seem unromantic and unnecessary. Nevertheless, this sort of legal agreement can be beneficial to protect the interests of both parties in the event of a divorce. Maryland couples considering the benefits of prenuptial agreements are not planning for their marriages to end; they are simply putting protections in place in case of a contingency. 

In the past, prenuptial agreements were something that only the rich and the famous used. Now, they are prominent with couples of all income levels. They can make property division easier in the event of a divorce, and it is possible include things such as instructions for digital assets and financial responsibilities in these documents as well. 

Seeking child support from a member of the military

When marriages end, it is often a difficult situation for all those involved. One of the most contentious areas of family law is child support. In cases where one of the spouses is a member of the military, the military cannot directly force a service member to pay child support. Ex-spouses of soldiers are required to secure court orders for this to happen. Custodial parents in Maryland may also need a child support decree in order to receive financial assistance.

Each branch of the military has different ranks of income and child support rules. When soldiers have been ordered by the court to pay support for their dependents and fail to do so, punishments can ensue. The military can garnish wages from service members for failure to follow a court decree to pay child support to their families. Other types of unspecified punishments can also be sanctioned by the soldier's commander.

Child custody: When custodial parents wants to move out of state

There are several reasons why a person may choose to move out of state. More common reasons are for new career opportunities, better schools and to be closer to family. When it pertains to child custody, if the divorce decree stipulates rules regarding out of state moves, they must be adhered to. Residents in Maryland may seek to move to another state, but they need to consider how the custody of their children will be affected.

Divorce is difficult for all those involved. Children face the most difficulties as they want their parents together, and it is hard to live in two separate homes. A child who lives in a separate state faces even more challenges as he or she will see the non-custodial parent much less.

Property division: Dogs considered as people or property?

There are many people who consider their dogs as part of the family. Some Maryland dog owners will even say that their dogs are their children, and they go so far as to dress them in clothes and take professional photos with them. When a couple acquires a dog during a marriage that later ends, the battle for which owner gets custody begins. Some people consider animal custody an issue for property division, while others consider it more like child custody.

Alaska and Illinois are the first states to make a push for animal rights in a divorce. The laws have been geared towards recognizing animals to be people rather than property. Society has pushed toward humanizing dogs, and this has led to new legislation where the divorce statues have been amended. Some judges must consider dogs in a divorce and may even grant joint custody.

Child support modifications due to changes in circumstances

Most parents want what is best for their children. Parents try to provide their children with the proper home environment and essentials that will gear them toward proper development. Custodial and noncustodial parents in Maryland may need modifications to child support due to changes in life circumstances.

There are several different situations after a divorce that can impact income and hinder the ability to provide for one's child. A decrease in income or increase in responsibilities can significantly impact the need for a child support modification. Whether the parent is custodial or noncustodial, he or she may not be able to provide for the child or children and may seek to either increase or decrease the amount set in an existing court order.

Changes to tax laws will have major effect on alimony

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is likely to affect most Maryland residents and others around the country. The law changes how child credits, standard deductions and many other items are considered when doing one's taxes. One significant change regarding alimony will have a major impact on those going through a divorce after the end of 2018.

The new tax law will eliminate a deduction that has been in place since 1942. Beginning in 2019, the person making alimony payments will no longer be able to deduct the amount on his or her tax return. Those receiving payments will not have to pay taxes on the alimony. This essentially reverses the provision set forth 76 years ago.

Marital property division tips

Marital property acquired during a divorce is usually divided up equally between each spouse during a divorce. However, figuring out how to divide everything fairly can seem overwhelming and confusing for many. Maryland couples who are currently navigating through the property division aspect of divorce are advised the law and what is considered acceptable during the process.

Reaching an agreement can be a challenge for many spouses during the division process. A mediator may be necessary -- or required, depending on the state -- in order to work through potentially messy situations before entering the courtroom. Once the courts become involved, a judge will view all assets acquired during the marriage as property and divvy up according to the law. Should any hidden assets be found, legal consequences such as credibility and loss of previously granted assets will be issued along with payment of any legal expenses uncured while uncovering the hidden assets.