Articles Tagged with santa rosa alimony lawyer

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domestic abuseIf you have suffered mental, emotional, or physical domestic abuse throughout your marriage, you may feel like you cannot escape the marriage fast enough. One thing, though, may be plaguing your mind: If you have made significantly more money than your spouse, concerns about having to pay spousal support are probably more than a little irksome. What are your rights and responsibilities going forward? While every situation is different, an experienced local family practice attorney can guide you going forward. 

What is Domestic Abuse? 

The statistics on domestic violence in this country are deeply troubling. 10 million instances of domestic abuse — roughly 20 people per minute — are physically harmed by an intimate partner every year in America. Nearly one-fifth of those incidents involve the use of a weapon. 

What is the legal definition of domestic violence? California code 6203 defines domestic violence as: 

  • The intentional and/or reckless attempt to cause bodily harm;
  • Assault of a sexual nature;
  • Causing rear that one will cause serious harm to another imminently;
  • Engaging in behavior that may or may not result in actual physical assault or injury.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that such instances of domestic abuse occur in all kinds of relationships and involve individuals of all races, socioeconomic levels, education levels, religions, and genders. It is generally a control tactic; domestic abusers use fear as a weapon to get what they want from their victims, who often feel coerced, intimidated, and powerless. 

The Conviction Does Matter 

The good news for you is, having a domestic violence conviction will impact the outcomes of your divorce agreement. The extent of financial protections afforded a domestic abuse victim varies depending on the type of conviction and the time frame of that conviction. 

For misdemeanor convictions that occurred within the past five years of your marriage, a judge will postulate that you should not have to either pay spousal support or pay for your spouse’s attorney’s fees under the doctrine of rebuttable presumption. However, your spouse may fight against that presumption and provide additional evidence to attempt to convince the judge otherwise. 

If your spouse was convicted of a domestic violence felony or a violent sexual felony within the past five years, or within five years of being imprisoned, paroled, or on probation, you cannot be ordered to pay any spousal support or for your spouse’s attorney’s fees.  Continue reading →

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alimony obligationsAlimony obligations and California law. If you live in California and are struggling to make sense of California’s spousal support rules, you are not alone. There is plenty of opposition to having to pay alimony in the state, none more aggressive than the battle being waged by Steve Clark of Huntington Beach. 

Clark is on round two of his confrontation with state expectations, advocating for a ballot initiative that would place severe restrictions on the length of time a former spouse should be expected to make spousal support payments. As one might guess, Clark himself is divorced, and has been ordered to pay his former spouse one grand a month for the rest of his life. That, he says, is just plain unreasonable. He claims that if he had known there was a possibility of getting stuck with that kind of obligation a quarter century ago, he would never have tied the knot in the first place.

California Law

Under California law, spousal support, or alimony, may be ordered by a court under four specific circumstances:

  • Divorce;
  • Legal separation;
  • Annulment;
  • Domestic violence resulting in a restraining order.

The amount of spousal support is determined based on a number of factors, including:

  • Assets and debts accrued;
  • The financial needs and abilities of each partner;
  • Whether holding a job outside the home would impact childcare needs;
  • Whether one partner supported another while getting an education;
  • Whether one partner sacrificed a career in order to raise a family;
  • The health of each person involved;
  • Whether or not domestic violence is a factor.

Considerations Before a Judge

When determining the amount and/or length of alimony obligations, the judge generally considers a number of factors, including the workforce skills of the individual getting support, and his or her potential earning capacity. In terms of the length of time support obligations last, the law requires “a reasonable period of time,” which generally is considered to be half the length of the marriage. So, for a marriage that lasted five years, alimony payments might be for two and a half years. However, judges do have discretion to adjust the length of time as they see fit.

In the case of marriages that exceeded 10 years in length, judges frequently do not set an end date for alimony obligations. In such instances, it has the potential to go on until one or both parties die.

The California Alimony Obligations Ballot Initiative

Clark feels the lifelong commitment to caring for a former spouse is unreasonable, and is fighting to cap alimony payments at five years. Why, he asks, should alimony continue for a lifetime, when child support ends after 18 years? The petition needs 623,000 signatures in order to move forward. Continue reading →

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spousal support changesHow can spousal support changes to the new 2019 tax law affect you? For anyone looking to get divorced in the near future, you may want to get things settled in the very near future—before the end of the year, in fact. That is because changes in federal tax laws are going to have a significant impact on anyone who receives or pays spousal support, potentially making negotiations for these payments significantly trickier.

Factors Considered When Determining Alimony

A number of issues must be weighed as the court makes judgments regarding spousal support payments. Naturally, disparate incomes are a central factor. Just a few of the many other items considered include:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The ability of the lower-earning spouse to obtain employment without having an adverse impact on minor children;
  • The amount of support one partner gave another in the pursuit of education and/or career goals;
  • The health of the parties involved;
  • The tax consequences of any settlement agreement.

How Important Are the Upcoming Spousal Support Changes?

The implications of the new tax laws will be felt by all individuals paying or receiving alimony payments, and is expected to be be quite significant for couples who jointly earn between $60,000 and $500,000. Here is why:

For the past 75 years, alimony payments were deductible for payers, and recipients were expected to claim the money as income. Since the higher-earning spouse received a deduction, Uncle Sam collected taxes based on the lower tax bracket of the recipient. The couple jointly kept a bigger chunk of dollars earned with this arrangement. Starting in January 2019, all of that changes, and the payer will be unable to deduct alimony payments, making that money taxable at the earner’s higher tax bracket rates.  

Spousal Support ChangesThe Numbers Tell the Story

So, let us say in 2018, Spouse A, who is in a 33% tax bracket, is paying $30,000 in alimony. The deduction saves him or her $9,900.

Spouse B, who receives that $30,000, is in only a 15% tax bracket. The tax burden on alimony income is $4,500. The couple has jointly saved $5,400 that would otherwise be going to the federal government. In 2019, Spouse A will be paying the taxes on that $30,000, meaning there will be $5,400 less in the joint coffers to divide between the divorcing spouses.

Do not be fooled into thinking that Spouse B will be making a killing by keeping that extra $4,500.  Experts predict that alimony negotiations will take all of this into account, meaning each spouse will take a hit. Presumably, a 2018 alimony requirement of $30,000 will be significantly less in 2019 because the government’s chunk of the money will have to be factored in. Continue reading →

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Alimony, taxes and tax deductions. Tax day recently came and went and with it, many Americans were thinking about what deductions they could list on their returns. The tax code seems to get more complicated every year, making it difficult for taxpayers to avoid paying more than they are legally obligated. Divorcees who pay or receive alimony or child support are particularly vulnerable to our complex tax laws and the risk of overpayment. In order to maximize their deductions, divorced taxpayers need to carefully analyze the rules governing spousal support payments. The tax implications of alimony are quite different, depending on whether you are on the paying or receiving end of the money.

TaxesTax Implications for Paying Alimony

Alimony payments are generally tax-deductible for the person paying the support. If you pay alimony to your ex-spouse, make sure that you list it as a deduction on your tax return. Note that certain other types of payments to an ex-spouse are not tax-deductible. These include child support payments, distributions of personal or real property, and mortgage payments on a house co-owned by the two ex-spouses (you can deduct half, but not all, of those mortgage payments). Make sure you keep separate records of your alimony and child support payments, so that you do not confuse them on your tax return.

Tax Implications for Receiving Spousal Support

If you receive spousal support payments, you should be aware that it is considered taxable income. You will want to factor in the alimony payments when you are trying to figure out which tax bracket you fall into, and plan accordingly. Failing to report alimony payments you have received on your tax return will likely result in an IRS audit, particularly since your ex-spouse is likely to deduct the payments on their own tax return. Mortgage payments made to third parties on your behalf are also considered taxable income. Child support payments, however, are not taxable, and neither are non-cash property settlements.

Divorce Decree Should Clarify Types of Payments

A divorce decree or marital settlement agreement is issued at the end of a divorce proceeding and spells out each party’s obligations. The decree or agreement will often clarify which payments qualify as spousal support (and are therefore tax-deductible) and which do not. In addition to child support, other payments that are not tax-deductible include money used to maintain the payer’s property or the simple use of the payer’s property. You should read the decree or agreement carefully in order to make a preliminary determination as to which payments are taxable or which may be tax-deductible, and make sure to comply with its terms.

What to Do if You Are Paying or Receiving Alimony

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