Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Virginia Family Law Blog

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.

Precautions for older adults who are divorcing

For people of all ages, divorce can be one of life's most stressful events, and this can lead to health problems. Older adults, who are divorcing at twice the rate they did in 1990, should be particularly mindful since these health problems can worsen conditions associated with age such as high blood pressure.

Divorcing adults may also use poor coping mechanisms, such as alcohol abuse, overeating or overspending, to deal with depression and anxiety. Insomnia can cause exercise to fall by the wayside. Men who depended on their wives to maintain their social relationships might become more isolated. Women who stayed home with children or earned less money and put less away for retirement might struggle to afford basic necessities after divorce.

Gray divorce has far-reaching consequences

Virginia readers may have heard that gray divorce is on the rise. In fact, the divorce rates for couples ages 50 and above has doubled since 1990, while the rate for those ages 65 and above has tripled. Meanwhile, the divorce rates for all other age groups have been declining.

While gray divorce may seem to only impact those directly involved, the phenomenon actually has far-reaching social consequences. For example, adult children can be deeply shaken by their parents' split, and it can cause them to question the status of their own marriages. Divorce can also be contagious. Recent studies have shown that people are much more likely to get a divorce if they have a friend who has gone through the process.

How divorced parents can help their kids succeed at school

Each school year brings its own set of challenges to Virginia children and their parents. However, kids with divorced parents sometimes face extra stresses. In order to ensure the new school year goes as smoothly as possible, parents may want to create a plan for their child's success.

For example, divorced parents should consider what they would like their kids to learn academically and socially this year. Parents could consult with each other and their children to develop mutually agreed upon goals. This could help prevent conflicts and confusion later on. Divorced parents may also need to discuss how extra expenses will be handled throughout the school year. While a divorce settlement typically addresses large child support expenses, smaller expenses like homecoming costs and missing work to care for a sick child need to be addressed. Some parents agree to handle these costs 50/50 while others choose to pay a percentage based on their income. Meanwhile, kids can also contribute through their allowance or income from jobs.

What is a Virginia protective order?

Divorces prove extremely difficult for individuals. Yet especially for those suffering from abusive relationships, separation may provide the opportunity to heal and regain confidence after years of trauma. For men and women facing divorce proceedings involving violent spouses, a protective order may need filing by the court for your safety and security during a trial.

Rebuilding retirement savings after divorce

Getting divorced in Virginia can have a very negative impact on retirement plans. When spouses get divorced, they will have to divide all of their marital assets, including the money that they have saved in their retirement accounts. However, there are several ways that people can recover after their divorces so that they can still retire comfortably.

Part of the challenge of rebuilding retirement savings after divorcing is the limits on the accounts. People may lose a couple of hundred thousand dollars from their retirement account balances in divorces but be limited to maximum annual compensation limits. The most that people under age 50 can contribute to their 401(k) accounts each year is $18,500. If they are older than 50, they can contribute $24,500. People are also limited to making annual contributions of $5,500 to their IRAs or Roth IRAs. If they have pensions, they cannot contribute additional amounts each year.

3 reasons to consider a prenuptial agreement

Planning your wedding is time-consuming and at times very stressful. There seems to be a never-ending list of things to do, from interviewing DJs to trying out different caterers to finding just the right accents to set off your theme, not to mention the big-ticket items like finding a venue, booking an officiant and finding the all-important dress or tux.

One thing that might be missing from your to-do-list? Getting a prenuptial agreement. Whether this is your first wedding or your fourth, here's why you shouldn't skip this very important pre-wedding "must do."

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Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

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