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Bingham Farms Divorce Blog

Requirements for deducting alimony payments on taxes

When two people in Michigan separate or get a divorce, one might owe alimony to the other. While alimony is usually tax-deductible, there are several conditions that must be in place for a person to claim that deduction. The parties must live separately, and the separation or divorce agreement must not specify that the payment cannot be taxed or deducted. The arrangement must end on the death of the person receiving the payments. Finally, the alimony must be part of the separation or divorce agreement.

This final point prevented one man from claiming a deduction on part of a sizable bonus that he paid to his ex-wife. The man received it the year before the divorce, and they signed an agreement about how it would be divided. However, the spousal support order only dealt with the monthly payments he would make to his ex-wife and a percentage he would owe if his income went above a certain level.

How to protect income and assets after a marriage

Today, women around the country make 78 percent of what their husbands make. However, it has become increasingly common for a woman to make more than her husband in a specific marriage. Regardless of which spouse makes the most money or has the most assets, Michigan married couples are encouraged to communicate about financial matters in an open manner.

A failure to communicate about financial or other important matters may breed resentment in a relationship. It may also be a good idea for people to keep some of their money in a separate account. This helps them preserve a sense of independence, and having something stashed away could be beneficial in the event of a divorce. It may even be a good idea to make sure that the other spouse cannot access the account.

Studies show shared parenting benefits the kids after divorce

Many Michigan parents who are ending their marriage may know that in the past the children would stay with the mother if the parents got a divorce. In some cases, the father's role in raising the children would become diminished, preventing him from being able to foster a positive relationship with the kids. However, evidence showed that children and fathers often wanted and needed more time together than they were getting.

Research shows that it was beneficial for the children when both parents remained involved in the kids' lives. In fact, it was found that children who lived with each parent at least 35 percent of the time tend to have better relationships with both parents. Further, they also tend to do better in school. They are also less likely to get drunk, use drugs and smoke. Further research indicates that children with shared parenting arrangements are generally benefited regardless of the parents' income.

Incorporating nesting into a custody agreement

Michigan parents who are negotiating custody agreements might be looking for more creative options outside of traditional shared parenting agreements. One arrangement that is becoming more popular with parents is the concept of nesting.

Nesting is based on the principle of shared parenting, where children spend about equal time with both parents. However, a nesting plan means that the children stay in the original family home while parents alternate living there too. The reasons for this is to provide stability for children during the turbulent times of divorce.

Tips for smart social media use during divorce

No one gets married thinking divorce might one day follow, but in truth, it often does, and the decisions you make during the transition can have substantial effects on how you fare in the proceedings. Nowadays, divorcing couples face problems that those who divorced years ago may not have, and social media usage is among them.

While it can prove tempting to amp up your online presence or reestablish old relationships as your divorce nears, doing so through social media channels has the potential to cause new issues. To avoid posting or doing anything online that could potentially lead to trouble, consider doing the following with regard to your social media use during divorce.  

How to establish paternity

Establishing paternity is important for both Michigan fathers and their children. By establishing paternity, children who are born to unmarried parents have the same rights and benefits as those born to married parents. Not only do they get to exercise the right to have a relationship with both parents, but children also get the benefit of financial support from both parents.

There are two ways paternity is established in Michigan. If the parents are married when the child is conceived or born, the husband is considered to be the child's legal father. If the parents are not married at the time the child is conceived or born, the unmarried parents can voluntarily establish paternity, meaning the parents agree that the man is the child's father. Unmarried parents can also ask the court to assist with establishing paternity. In these cases, a DNA test may be used to determine if the man is related to the child.

Can political differences end a marriage?

Michigan couples might be surprised to learn that disagreements over politics can lead to divorce. A study has revealed that since President Trump's election there has been an increase in couples fighting about politics and even getting divorced.

According to a study from Wakefield Research, approximately 10 percent of couples split up over politics. Millennial couples seem to be even more impacted by political disagreements, since they split up over politics at a rate of 22 percent.

Changing a custody agreement due to substance abuse

An estranged Michigan parent may become concerned that the other parent is abusing drugs or alcohol. If this is happening when a judge is making a decision about custody and visitation, the parent should take these concerns to the custody hearing along with any relevant documentation. This documentation should not just show evidence of the substance abuse but should also demonstrate that it puts the child in danger. The judge may also consider whether there is a history of substance abuse in making a decision about what custody and visitation arrangement will serve the best interests of the child.

If the parent becomes concerned about the substance abuse after a custody and visitation agreement is already in place, there are a few options depending upon how serious the situation might be. If the child is in danger, the parent may need toseek a restraining order and refuse the other parent visitation.

Protecting inheritances

Michigan residents can take certain steps to ensure that their wealth and assets are protected for future generations. They should discuss which estate-planning documents they should use with an estate attorney and should consider having the attorney draft the documents as well. Individuals may also want to have their estate attorney and their financial advisor collaborate with one another so that a plan can be created that can meet their exact needs.

Parents should speak with their children regarding the inheritance they will receive. The parents should be aware that their views and value about money may differ drastically from that of their adult children and should be prepared for the emotional aspect of the conversation.

Getting married without embracing a spouse's debt

Michigan couples who consider their financial positions prior to marriage could spare themselves turmoil in the future. A prenuptial agreement serves as a legal tool for two people to make declarations concerning the division of property and debt in the event of a divorce.

When negotiating the terms of a prenuptial agreement, both people should have independent legal representatives. The parties will consider issues such as student loans and credit card balances, and some or all of these debts might be designated as premarital and remain the responsibility of the individual who borrowed the money. Creditors, however, might come after a spouse for payment of the other spouse's debt, but a valid prenuptial agreement could enable the person to seek reimbursement from the other spouse. When financial concerns arise during the marriage, a couple could consider creating a postnuptial agreement. These contracts tend to attract greater scrutiny in court than a prenuptial contract, but they can address the assignment of debts, especially if one spouse is racking up bills recklessly or borrowing heavily to run a business. These agreements lay out who bears responsibility for paying each obligation.