Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Virginia Family Law Blog

Deciding to not divorce for financial reasons

About half of all first marriages end in divorce, and the odds only get worse the more times someone gets married. For divorcing couples in Virginia, financial times can often get rough after separation. That's why it's a good idea for each party to carefully consider the financial implications of divorce before proceeding with the legal process. Sometimes, couples counseling and therapy can resolve issues and help maintain a relationship.

The primary cost to think about when deciding to get a divorce is the cost of living. Maintaining two homes separately is almost always going to cost more than staying together. Even if one person stays in a house the couple bought while married, they will likely have to do so with less income. Selling the home also comes with expenses and hassles of its own, especially if the market isn't good.

Can I deduct my alimony payments on my taxes?

Though the state of Virginia does not require alimony or spousal support as part of your divorce settlement, a judge may order you to pay support to your ex. If you are in the middle of your divorce proceedings, you may not mind agreeing to payments to speed up your divorce process. Or, you may concede to continued support for your spouse’s contributions to your marriage.

However, the implications of supporting your former spouse may weigh heavily on your budget, and the new tax law may only increase your concerns about how court-ordered alimony payments will affect you.

Why joint custody is beneficial for children

Virginia fathers who are going through the divorce process are often concerned about how the separation will impact their children. Many dads in this situation are faced with the dilemma of giving up sole custody to the mother. Part of the reason why this question often arises is because experts have in times past warned against children, especially young children, spending time at night away from their mothers.

However, newer research shows the many benefits that children experience when divorced parents share 50-50 joint physical custody. This is true even for younger toddlers and infants. The only exception would be when a parent is neglectful or abuses the child.

Disputes about money raise red flags for divorce

Financial pressures can undermine marital relationships. Couples in Virginia who fight frequently about spending and debt face a 30 percent higher chance of getting divorced, according to a recent study. Money challenges might confront new spouses right away or arise years later after reckless spending by one or both partners.

A survey by Utah State University that asked couples about their finances and relationships determined that over half of marriages start with debt. Furthermore, 40 percent of indebted couples admitted that money issues caused difficulty within their relationships. Sometimes, spouses played the blame game. Survey results showed that 49 percent of spouses contradicted each other about who was responsible for the debt.

Dividing a 401(k) after divorce requires care

In many divorces, one or both parties will have a 401(k) retirement account through an employer. As with other assets, the 401(k) is usually considered a part of the marital estate and is subject to division in Virginia. But when dividing these retirement accounts, special care must be taken to ensure the division does not become a taxable event.

A 401(k) account can be divided 50/50 or some other percentage. Another option is for a firm dollar amount to be set aside for the non-participant. The amount set aside may be kept with the plan sponsor or transferred to an IRA. If certain requirements are met, the transfer will be considered a tax free transaction by the IRS.

How birdnesting may help children stabilize after divorce

Virginia parents who are considering the practice of birdnesting after divorce might not want to practice the arrangement for more than a few months. Birdnesting involves children remaining in the shared home while the parents alternate staying with them there. Parents usually maintain a small place nearby that they take turns living in when they are not in the home. While this can help children adjust to a divorce, experts say that in general, it should not last more than three to six months.

One problem with allowing birdnesting to go on longer than this is that it can result in children starting to think their parents may reconcile. Another problem is that sharing homes can lead to conflict even if parents are on relatively amicable terms.

Dealing with the financial changes of divorce

People in Virginia who are thinking about divorce often remain for years in unhappy marriages because they are worried about the financial consequences of ending the relationship. It is true that the financial aspects of divorce can have lasting effects that remain long after the emotional and practical attachments have been addressed. However, by keeping some tips in mind, people can help to protect their assets and emerge from divorce with their path to financial success intact.

In the immediate period after a divorce, some people may be tempted to make major purchases. People often need to find a new place to live, and they may find themselves looking for a new vehicle as well as a new style to match their single lives. However, the temptation may not be worth it when people are adjusting to life in a single-income household. Major purchases like a car or a house are best postponed until some period after the divorce when former spouses have gained a greater understanding of their new budgets.

Determining factors of a custody and visitation plan

For most separating couples, determining custody arrangements lies at the top of the divorce priority list. Perhaps you and your spouse want sole custody of your children, or perhaps you both agree that joint custody will work best for your family dynamic.

In all divorce proceedings involving children, you want to ensure you have the best representation in court by hiring a family law attorney. These attorneys hold years of experience in helping develop custody plans that work for both spouses. All parties involved - spouses, attorneys and a judge - will work to keep the best interest of your children in mind by looking at a variety of factors of your marriage to ensure the safety and health of your children throughout the custody proceedings.

Why prenups can be useful for all couples

Many spouses-to-be in Virginia may be planning eagerly for their weddings and thinking about venues, dresses and honeymoons. However, experts would also advise them to think about prenuptial agreements. Prenups have a bad name for many people who associate them with planning for divorce before the marriage even begins. Many people also associate prenuptial agreements with greed and a selfish approach that is incompatible with marriage. However, these views of prenuptial agreements derived from media coverage of celebrity divorces and dramatic fiction often diverge from the reality.

In fact, prenuptial agreements aren't only for extremely wealthy people, celebrities or those with large family fortunes. Instead, people in all income brackets could benefit from a prenup, especially if they have major concerns about debt or real estate. Prenups aren't only about distribution of property upon divorce; they're actually a way to begin estate planning early, especially when it comes to the distribution of property to children in case of one spouse's death. This kind of prenup can be particularly important for blended families in which both partners are entering the marriage with children.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act means changes for divorcing couples

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Congress passed in late 2017, may affect the finances of people divorcing in Virginia and around the country. In the past, when divorced parents had one child, they could take turns claiming him or her as an exemption. This will no longer be possible. Instead, there is a head of household deduction, and if there is one child, it can only be taken by one parent.

To take this deduction, the parent must be single, have the dependent living at his or her home more than half the time and pay more than half of the household expenses. This person is also eligible for the Child Tax Credit. The IRS has not provided guidance on whether this will be tradeable, so parents might want to make the divorce agreement flexible in case it can be swapped.

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Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

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