New Tax Laws May Affect Alimony Settlements

The end of a marriage is one of the most difficult and stressful events anyone can go through. Many people have compared their divorce to the death of a loved one or the loss of a limb. Divorce is hard but entering into divorce proceedings unprepared will only make matters more difficult.

With the extra layer of uncertainty provided by our current political climate, it is extremely important to consider the effects that changing laws and tax codes may have on the outcome of a divorce. Any legal changes that affect personal finances, and how they are handled during and after a divorce, can be especially impactful.

Currently, proposed tax changes will end a law that has been in place for more than 70 years. Since 1942, alimony payments have been considered a deductible expense on personal tax filings. At the end of 2018, that law will be cut from the books.

The impact of such cuts on West Michigan couples could be far-reaching. Aside from the increase in cost to the payer, alimony may now become an even more hotly contested issue in divorce cases since it is likely to push either side in the case to disagree with the amount requested.

For the payer, the law means they will carry more expense for years to come. For the payee, the law could mean that they get a lower settlement in their divorce case, potentially affecting their quality of life. This major change has the potential to drive divorce rates up for the remainder of 2018.

For couples already struggling to find even ground in a rocky case, contesting an alimony request could add one more layer of turmoil and difficulty to their divorce proceedings. Before taking steps in any direction, spouses considering divorce should educate themselves on the changing laws and the potential effects.

Anyone considering divorce in 2018 should look to an experienced divorce lawyer for assistance and to become educated regarding the outcome of their decisions. Couples could easily end up fighting over a decision that may have been clear before changes to current laws. This could affect their ability to maintain a civil relationship once their divorce is final, which is an especially disruptive outcome for couples with children.

With any divorce, both parties should consider the importance of education and preparation. Please contact the experienced West Michigan divorce lawyers at Johnsen Wikander for help in understanding current and upcoming changes and how they could affect your case.

The Truth About Divorce Rates

We have been told for years that more than half of all marriages end in divorce. The entertainment news, friends, and social media spit out facts and figures that are often repeated until they become truth. But, what is the real truth?

We’re all privy to celebrity divorces when every detail is broadcast into our living rooms each night. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, etc; their struggles are discussed over dinner and in break-rooms across the country.

The real truth: divorce rates are falling in West Michigan, and nationwide.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Humans Services, Michigan divorce rates have declined overall by more than 25% in the last 15 years. Since the 1980’s, divorce rates have been declining steadily from their most recent peak.

Although the general marriage rate has also fallen since the 1980’s, it has also begun to increase again in recent years. However, today’s couples are waiting longer before tying the knot, and one or both partners standing at the altar may also have already experienced divorced.

There are several possibilities for the drop in divorce rates, but there is little hard evidence. With many couples embracing marriage for the second time, it’s possible that some “trial and error” may be a factor. Couples waiting longer to get married may have also worked out some of the uncertainty other new spouses face when sharing a home for the first time.

Marrying later may also mean that both partners have had time to mature. Compatibility is now a more important factor in partnerships as well, meaning couples are more likely to experience successful, loving partnerships longer, and later, in life.

No matter what the reason, the divorce rate has definitely seen its peak, and has begun its descent back to earthly levels. However, there is still a fairly high percentage of marriages that just don’t work.

If you are struggling to find the truth about divorce, please contact the experienced West Michigan divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander today. Let us help you navigate the uncertain path ahead.

 

Oddities in Divorce- a 2017 Recap

Divorce attorneys know that cases are as unique and varied as the individuals and families we serve. The opportunity to help people resolve their divorce, no matter the circumstance, makes every day a new challenge for our team.

Even with the knowledge that we should expect the unexpected, we still come across stories about divorce that grab our attention. Often times they are stories with a positive twist, and others feature headlines that seems too strange to be true. Here is a quick recap of some of those offbeat stories we have seen so far this year!

Unanswered Texts

A Taiwanese woman was granted a divorce over unanswered text messages. Over the course of six months, her husband rarely responded to her messages even though the phone showed he had read them. It took the woman being hospitalized after a car accident for him to send a message. The judge, however, found that the message “was about matters related to their dog and notified her there was mail for her, but he didn’t show any concern for her.” The court sided with the woman, citing the marriage was beyond repair.

Nearly One Million in Damages

This story started in 2014, when a Japanese woman admitted to breaking and entering her ex-husband’s home following their separation. It was not until this year, however, that the extent of her damage was discovered. Her ex-husband, a violin maker, had an extensive and expensive violin collection. She is suspected of destroying 54 violins and 70 bows while he was away on a business trip. The total damage according to police was $950,700.

Divorce Hotel Opens

The process is never easy, but a new Divorce Hotel in the UK hopes that a weekend away can help. Couples looking to divorce in a positive way can book a weekend at the hotel. They will stay in separate rooms but spend the weekend working with mediators and lawyers to finalize the terms of their divorce. Paperwork is typically filed before they leave, with the courts finalizing the process in the following weeks.

Though we do not have a hotel, we do know how beneficial mediation and Collaborative Divorce can be, and we have been helping Grand Rapids families through the process for years. If you want to learn more about how it can help you, contact our team of attorneys today!

Health Care Debate Putting Divorces on Hold

The news cycle has been dominated for weeks by the debate on health care in our country. Recently, financial planners and divorce attorneys have taken notice of a new trend: some separating couples are delaying their divorces due to the uncertain future of health care.

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Finding a Positive From Separation & Divorce

Ending a relationship, whether by divorce, death, or breaking up before marriage, is an incredibly difficult time. Every person heals differently, but certainly everyone has to navigate both emotional healing and significant daily life changes.

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