Articles Tagged with spousal maintenance

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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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spousal support for menSpousal support for men. Courts often award spousal support to lesser earning spouses following a divorce. While nearly half a million people in this country receive this maintenance support, only 3% of recipients are male. Why is that?

Why is Spousal Support for Men so Rare?

It seems crazy that such a small percentage of men receive spousal support when roughly 40% of females are the primary breadwinners in American homes. Family law attorneys speculate on key reasons for this imbalance:

  • Men consider it emasculating to require support, so they do not ask for it;
  • Men sometimes want a clean break with no attachments;
  • Some men wish to keep the peace to make co-parenting smoother;
  • Women fight bitterly to keep their hands on their earnings;
  • Judges in parts of the country have a difficult time accepting gender equality.

One San Francisco Bay area legal mind agrees, saying he encounters stereotypes regarding gender roles all the time. A recent divorcee compared palimony to hitting a girl – something no self-respecting man would ever do.

Are Gender Roles Shifting?

As much as gender roles have shifted in modern times, many men find the idea of receiving an allowance from their former spouse humiliating, and they are just not inclined to go through the battle to get it. Meanwhile, women’s attitudes toward paying their ex-husbands reinforce the idea that any man who can not support himself is a real loser. Forget the fact that stay-at-home dads gave up careers and educational opportunities while they ran the kids to soccer games and piano lessons for years. As enlightened as couples might have been when they made those parenting agreements earlier on, suddenly the old stereotypes crop up again when it comes to palimony.  

So, when higher-earning men face divorce, they go into it accepting the fact that alimony may likely be a part of the package. Higher earning women are much less inclined to be willing to let go of their earnings without a fight.

Spousal Support for Men Justified?

Regardless of gender, there are cases in which spousal support is clearly justified. Both partners presumably brought some level of value to the partnership, often at great financial cost to one person. Support is the logical outcome after a divorce.

Spousal Support for Men – California Law

In California, the court has many factors to consider when awarding spousal support, but gender is not one of them. More relevant to maintenance payments are the following issues:

  • Earning capacity of both parties;
  • Education and marketable skills of each party;
  • Earning levels of one party that were diminished due to domestic responsibilities;
  • The degree to which one party supported another in obtaining education or career opportunities;
  • Financial needs required to maintain the standard of living to which the couple has become accustomed;
  • Length of marriage;
  • Ability to pursue gainful employment in light of childcare responsibilities;
  • Age of each person;
  • Health of each party.

Continue reading →

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Spousal SupportDetermining Spousal Support. Divorcing couples often have questions regarding the financial obligations of a higher-earning spouse toward a lesser-earning spouse. In some instances, one spouse may not have held gainful employment at all, leaving him or her with potential financial woes were it not for spousal support ordered through the courts. This complex issue requires the consideration of multiple factors. An experienced divorce attorney can help you maneuver the paperwork and pitfalls of this and other matters you will encounter in the course of a divorce.

Factors Considered in Determining Spousal Support

Just how much financial support might the court order, and for what period of time? Factors examined will include:

  • The duration of the marriage/domestic partnership;
  • Necessities required for each person to maintain a similar standard of living;
  • Current and potential earnings of each person;
  • Other obligations, such as child care, that would impact the ability to work;
  • Health issues and age of the individuals divorcing;
  • Assets and debts;
  • Previous support from one spouse to another while getting an education;
  • History of domestic violence;
  • Tax issues.

How Long Will Spousal Support Payments be Ordered?

The courts will look at the above considerations and make a determination as to the amount and duration of payments. Generally speaking, payments will last for at least half as many years as the length of the marriage. Some marriages of lengthy duration may require support payments until the remarriage or death of the receiving spouse.

Changes in Support in Future Years

Either partner may request changes in the amount of support at a future date. There are some basic situations in which this might occur:

  • The financial status of one of the individuals changes significantly, giving the court reason to consider alternative arrangements;
  • The individual receiving support remarries or enters a domestic partnership;
  • The court issued a Gavron Warning during the initial divorce proceedings, indicating that the supported spouse must work toward self-sufficiency within a reasonable period of time, at which time support would be decreased or eliminated.
What if the Person Ordered to Pay Support Fails to do so?

If an individual ignores a court order to pay spousal support, his or her wages could be garnished. As a last resort the payer could be cited for contempt of court, and jailed for that reason.

If Wages are Garnished, can Employers Punish an Employee?

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees due to a court ordered garnishment. An individual who experiences retaliation or loses a job under these circumstances may have a legal case against his or her employer. Continue reading →

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