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Proposed Tax Changes – Impact on Divorcing Couples

Major changes to the U.S. tax code have resurfaced as part of the nightly news during most modern election cycles. However, the new administration appears to be intent on pushing through some form of change, parts or all of which may soon come to pass. For couples who may be considering divorce, some of those changes could have far-reaching effects on one or both spouses.

The IRS has a post on their blog ominously titled “The Tax Consequences of Divorce.” Tax law is challenging enough before throwing divorce into the mix. A fair settlement is important, but divorcing couples need to carefully consider the effects of their actions on the long and short-term financial stability of both parents, and on their children.

The New York Times has a set of charts that help explain the proposed tax plan. Some of the potential changes to the current tax code will affect exemptions available to one or both spouses. The possible reduction in the number of tax brackets may also change the income level with which either partner identifies, creating financial strain where none may have previously existed.

One of the most important issues currently under consideration is tax implications of alimony. Under current tax law, alimony is deductible by the spouse who pays out the alimony payments and included as income to the recipient. Under the proposed changes, the payments would no longer be deductible. If the payer is also reclassified under a higher tax bracket their financial impact may be much more dramatic than expected.

Other tax implications, such as dependency exemptions and child support, may not be under consideration today, but that does not mean they will be completely ignored. Although child support is currently not taxable to the spouse receiving the payments, this should be carefully watched for any changes.

With or without tax code changes, there are many reasons to consult a West Michigan accountant who is familiar with divorce implications on taxes. It is also important to discuss the effects of current tax obligations and potential adjustments with a qualified Grand Rapids divorce attorney, such as Johnsen Wikander, before filing any paperwork.

Please contact Johnsen Wikander today and let us help guide you through the many challenges of divorce.

Social Media: A Leading Factor in Divorce

In the digital age, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have become a significant factor in divorce cases. It has often been cited as the direct cause of marriage problems by one or both marital partners. Any relationship can be impacted by suspicion, disconnected behavior and jealousy, but when the source of trouble is the computer in the next room, removing that source is difficult.

Grand Rapids marriages are just as likely to be affected by social media as any others. Some of the reasons behind social media driven divorces are obvious, such as interaction with old love interests. Although most connections with old girl or boyfriends may be innocent enough, there is always the chance that a spark may appear.

Old Friends, New Links

Even when a renewed friendship is completely innocent, it may not appear that way to a marital partner. Divorce lawyers may also review social media content for evidence in a divorce case. Inside jokes and old sayings can be seen as flirtatious, or can be taken out of context. Social media activity with an old flame can often lead to either physical or emotional connections and could be viewed as emotional infidelity or cheating.

Twitter, Instagram, and especially Facebook also contribute to marital instability in other ways. Social media has been shown to trigger some of the same effects in the brain as narcotics, which may lead to addictive behaviors.

Too Much Time on My Hands

The snowy West Michigan winters can drive people to look for entertainment indoors, and the Internet provides endless distraction. However, too much time spent on social media, especially Facebook, may leave a marital partner feeling less important or ignored.

Shared pictures have also been a source of trouble for many married couples. Inappropriate photos that appear in a partner’s timeline can lead to suspicion and distrust, especially when they come from an old love interest. Even if the pictures don’t appear in a husband or wife’s Facebook timeline, rumors and misconceptions can arise from the content when it appears in a mutual friend’s account.

Believe Half of What You See

Marital issues can also arise over mistrust when one spouse uses social media to monitor the other’s behavior. Fights over social media have become commonplace for many couples, often caused by use or misuse by either spouse and how that activity is interpreted by their partner.

It is easy to take what you see or read out of context and jump to conclusions that are not actually true. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have taken over as communication mediums, and even news platforms, but you must consider the source, or the situation, before buying into the story they tell.

Let us help with any questions or concerns. For more information or advice please contact Johnsen Wikander today.

 

Divorce Rates In New Study Show The Stress Of Michiganders

Wallethub recently released a new study that ranked how stressed 150 of America’s major cities were. Furthermore, the website ranked them in order of least to most stressed out. Although Grand Rapids ranked 119th, Detroit topped the list at number one. Although Michigan seems to be divided in terms of stress levels, Wallethub’s data may show why the two cities differ so greatly. Read more

Two Notable Men Help Women Survive Abuse Differently

Contestants on reality shows are often given 15 minutes of fame. Many of them use their publicity to endorse products or for launching businesses. However, one contestant from ABC’s The Bachelorette is using his notoriety for good. Derek Peth from the show’s twelfth season is raising money through online donations to help survivors of domestic abuse. Several organizations in West Michigan are striving to do the same, but by hosting a day-long workshop encouraging community members to better help abuse victims. For these women, divorce may be just a starting point. Read more