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Georgia Family Law Blog

Tax implications of alimony payments

For Georgia couples who are getting divorced and negotiating alimony payments, the tax implications of such payments might be a major concern. In many cases, alimony payments that are clearly outlined as part of the divorce settlement are deductible for the payer but taxable to the recipient.

It is important to adhere to the stipulations regarding alimony payments, as failing to do so might lead to surprises. In one such case, a man earned a $250,000 bonus, of which he received more than $155,000 after taxes were deducted. Of this amount, he agreed to pay his soon-to-be ex-wife nearly half and she in turn signed an agreement saying that the bonus payment was part of their community property and the man would declare the entire amount on his taxes. Just over a year later, the couple's divorce was finalized, with a spousal support order that stipulated the man would pay his ex-wife $3,270 monthly in alimony payments as well as 31.3 percent of any income he earned higher than $12,500 each month. The support order did not mention the bonus he had split with his wife during the separation.

How child custody can impact a tax return

When Georgia parents of minor children end their marriage, most likely the last thing that they are thinking about is the IRS. However, it may be a good idea to understand the different ways that having custody of a child could impact a person's tax situation. For instance, the parent who claims a child as a dependent on a tax return might be entitled to the earned income credit or the child tax credit.

It is important to know that exemptions or other tax breaks related to having a dependent child cannot be split. In most cases, the custodial parent is the one who claims the child for tax purposes. The custodial parent is generally defined as the one who provided more than half of a child's support in a given year. In the event that the noncustodial parent provides the majority of the income, the custodial parent may fill out Form 8332 to release their right to those exemptions.

A husband's jobs status may affect the likelihood of divorce

For Georgia couples, the likelihood of divorce may be higher if the husband does not have a full-time job. These were the findings of a sociology professor at Harvard University who examined data on 6,309 couples from the years 1968 to 2013. Of those, 1,684 divorced or separated permanently.

Because the researcher was interested in whether women entering the workforce in large numbers was related in some way to the divorce rate, she separated couples who married after 1975 from those who married before. She found that in the earlier group, there was a 1.5 percent of divorce each year when women did half of the housework and a 1.1 percent chance when they did 75 percent. After 1975, household chores did not seem to affect the divorce rate. Instead, the employment status of the husband became significant. When the husband worked full time, the likelihood of divorce in any given year was 2.5 percent. If he was not fully employed, that likelihood rose to 3.3 percent.

Communication and sensitivity help kids through divorce

When parents in Georgia choose to end their marriage, their concerns naturally turn to their children. Although the disruption to the family will present challenges, parents can consciously guide their children through the transition. Consistent communication and awareness of children's emotions could enable parents to maintain a healthy parent-child bond into the future.

Communication begins by informing the children of the divorce as soon as possible. The disclosure will spare the children from reaching their own conclusions and perhaps blaming themselves for what is happening between their parents. Parents must emphasize that the divorce does not end their role parental role. Communication should be ongoing as parents check in with their kids during the divorce process. Reassurance about parental love should be given frequently. If children have a particularly hard time, seeking the help of a therapist could manage the situation.

Factors associated with gray divorces

For Georgia couples who have been married for more than 30 years, the growing trend of gray divorces, or divorces that occur within couples who are over the age of 50, could be cause for concern. However, it should be noted that, while there has been an uptick in the number of these divorces, only certain couples may be at risk.

To determine what variables may be associated with gray divorces, a 2016 study looked at about 5,000 marriages where at least one spouse was born before 1960. Based on data from this longitudinal study, researchers found several factors associated with marriages that lasted. These factors included owning property together and financial security. For example, couples who had more than $250,000 in assets were 38 percent less likely to get a divorce when compared to couples who had $50,000 or less in assets.

Political disagreements on the rise, splitting couples

Some Georgia residents might know couples who have been fighting more since the last presidential election. According to a survey of 1,000 people conducted by Wakefield Research from April 12 to April 18, 22 percent of people know a couple whose relationship has been affected negatively by the election of President Trump. Nearly one-quarter of people said that they were arguing with their partner more than ever since Trump's election.

Furthermore, about 10 percent of couples said they had broken up over political disagreements. Among millennials, 22 percent ended their relationships over politics. Although couples often fight about money, more than 20 percent of respondents in the study reported that in the previous six months, they had argued more about the policies of the Trump administration than about finances.

The flow of communication with children after a divorce

Georgia residents who have children and are going through a divorce might soon become familiar with virtual visitation. Calls, texts, video chatting and e-mails fall under this category of virtual visitation, and technology allows noncustodial parents to spend time with children even when not physically with them.

If parents have visitation rights, custodial parents typically cannot block them from contacting their children. When a custodial parent thinks the other parent is contacting a child too much, a schedule could be created that outlines when and how to contact children along with a plan for resolving disputes.

Child custody disputes and adopted children

When Georgia parents get divorced and they have children that they had previously adopted as a couple, the situation in terms of child custody and visitation is the same as if the children were theirs biologically. Parents will also fight for custody of adoptive children just as they will for biological children. This means that if the divorce is particularly contentious, parents may want to keep some points in mind that will help them maintain access to their children.

Once a court has handed down a custody order, parents must obey it. If they do not do so, they risk losing parental rights. This includes not adhering to the visitation schedule. A parent who feels that the order must be defied because the child is in danger with the other parent may need to contact the police.

Preparing for a child custody dispute

Going through a child custody dispute can be a difficult and stressful experience for many Georgia parents, especially if they do not know what to expect when they head to court. However, the experience may be less stressful if they go into the dispute with a solid plan of action.

When a custody dispute arises, parents may face a long battle and expensive attorneys fees, especially if one or both parents are seeking sole custody. Further, the decision of who will end up with sole custody will be solely the judge's. As such, parents should at least attempt to work together to come to an agreement that benefits everyone. Coming to an agreement on a parenting plan is also often advised, as the parenting plan will determine when the noncustodial parent will get to see their child.

How a child's emancipation affects support obligations

In general, Georgia parents are expected to support their children until those children legally become adults. This means that in most cases, a non-custodial parent who pays child support will pay it until that time. However, there are situations in which a child may become legally emancipated before the age of 18, and if this happens, the parent may no longer owe support.

A child who joins the military or gets married may be considered emancipated. Children may also become emancipated by leaving their parent's home entirely or by becoming economically independent.

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Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
4799 Sugarloaf Pkwy
Building J
Lawrenceville, GA 30044

Phone: 770-676-1191
Fax: 770-963-2828
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