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.

Emotional Affairs: More Destructive Than Physical?

People today have more communication options than ever before. Text messaging, video calling, and the social media have all made it easier for two people to form a bond, whether in person or online. Friendships that develop at work, through a club or organization, or within social media circles may deepen over time due to shared interests, or, because of common problems.

Friendly relationships that grow deeper can lead to physical attraction, even when there was none in the beginning. Unhappy spouses may look outside of the home for comfort, or just to find a sympathetic ear. Innocently returned attention can lead to feelings of desire, and a spouse who may have never considered cheating could find it all too easy to stray once a friendly relationship shows any romantic prospects.

However, physical infidelity is not the only danger. Strictly platonic friendships that form strong bonds can still create difficult situations for married partners. A deepening friendship can create a safe environment where an unhappy spouse will find comfort and support. This can lead to an emotional relationship that may be viewed as an affair.

Can talking on the phone, exchanging text messages, or nurturing an online relationship be considered cheating? Most people today think so. In fact, the majority of women who were interviewed regarding the subject even believe an emotional affair is more destructive to marriage than a sexual one.

Emotional affairs have even become common reasons for divorce. According to the Today Show, a large percentage of the population believes that infidelity is no longer defined by sexual activity. The secrecy and betrayal created by emotional relationships are very often more devastating to couples than a one-night stand.

While a physical relationship is often short-lived, an emotional affair may create a more lasting connection that is harder to sever. An emotional affair can also create feelings of love between participants, while a purely physical encounter may not. Common interests, meaningful discussions, and shared difficulties form stronger bonds than sex alone.

Emotional relationships will drive a wedge between partners who are already experiencing marital difficulties. Instead of seeking ways to resolve problems at home, spouses may share their problems with an emotional friend instead. The resulting distance between married partners can grow wider when an unhappy spouse turns to someone else for support.

An emotional affair can destroy a marriage, even when there is no physical interaction. There may be signs that your partner is involved in an emotional affair, even when there is no evidence of physical interaction.

Please contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander for help or advice.

Alimony in Michigan: The Basics

If your divorce case, the first thing you need to know is that Michigan handles support on a case-by-case basis. Support is established to help ensure both people are equitably supported post-divorce. There are many factors involved in determining whether spousal support is appropriate and for how long it should be paid. Here’s what you need to know.

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Parental Alienation Is Getting Its Own Rally In Michigan

A lot can happen during a custody battle. Not only are parents wrapped up in their divorce, but they’re also competing over who gets access to their children. One parent may live in Grand Rapids while another wants to move out-of-state. During these disputes, parents sometimes resort to extreme tactics to maintain custody. These strategies can sometimes result in “parental alienation,” an issue that has lead to a rally later this month. Read more

Potential Effects Of Millennials On The Divorce Community

Making it through a divorce is no small feat. Separating from a spouse can leach a lot of emotional strength from a person. This can be particularly true for people who decide to stay at home to raise children. When a marriage ends, these parents may not have a job to sink their time into. However, there are many people who come out of their divorce with newfound insight and confidence. The JVS Trade Secrets event is an event that shares these stories of positivity to inspire people in Michigan. Although the event is geared towards women, the words of encouragement are universal.  Read more

Battle Creek Woman Turns Divorce Into A Modeling Career

Raising six children can be tough. Divorcing with six children can be tougher. This was the case for Leah Keene of Battle Creek, Michigan. Keene, however, seized the opportunity to redefine herself. At age 42, Keene became a model, actress, and voice-over artist. 40 years later, Keene is still proving that fame is not limited to fifteen minutes. Read more

Is Divorce And Excuse For Embezzlement?

Shannon Schelling first got caught embezzling money in Mecosta County, north of Grand Rapids, back in 2003. She was again caught embezzling from a different West Michigan company in 2009. She is now on trial for a third case of embezzlement from a third company. The difference in her recent case is that she is now using divorce and child custody as a plea for leniency. Read more

A Notable Michigan Representative’s Divorce Could Impact His Campaign

Democratic Representative John Conyers has been in the House of Representatives for 26 terms. Conyers was first elected to represent Detroit’s congressional district in 1965. He’s running for another term, but his pending divorce and the controversy surrounding his wife’s imprisonment might not be seen favorably in the eye’s of voters. Read more

Helping Children of Divorce

Trisha Short of Elk Rapids, Mich., knows the difficulties of being a child of divorce. Short has been working at helping children and their parents mend gaps in communication for over twenty years. Whether the parents are having issues explaining their divorce or their child is simply shutting them out, Short is one of West Michigan’s experts in the field.

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Michigan Boys Sent To Jail In Messy Divorce Case

In the midst of a five-year divorce case, three Michigan children refused to see their father for lunch, and have been sent to juvenile detention as a result.  Read more