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Posted on in Family Law
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

The only constant in life is change. The recent overhaul of the federal tax guidelines are demonstrating the truth of this aphorism by turning old policies around and changing the way people pay taxes. In the realm of family law, the new tax rules affect how alimony payments are taxed. The new rules will apply to divorces in Illinois and other U.S. states starting in 2019.

Previously, an alimony payment was tax deductible for the person paying it. The person receiving it claimed the income and paid taxes on it. The new policy, applying to divorces finalized in 2019 and beyond, flips this rule on its head and does the opposite. The person paying will now lose the tax break and must include alimony with their taxable income. The person receiving is not obligated to dwindle the allotment further by paying taxes.

The federal government anticipates that the policy change will increase federal revenue by almost $7 billion over the next decade. The IRS has long reported issues with more deductions being reported than income being claimed. The change, it is hoped, will help turn the tables and increase available funding for the government.

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Tagged in: family law

For many, a marriage does not always go the way one initially expects. Although many start the journey to marriage with the idea of living together happily ever after, the reality is that many marriages end in family law court. Researchers have been looking into the facts surrounding divorce and have come up with the top 25 locations where couples typically end it. While no city in Illinois made the top 25, individuals living in the state are still likely to be affected by marital dissolution at some point in their lives.

The old adage is that half of all marriages end in divorce, but is this actually true? Recent statistics show that this really isn't the case. Since its peak in the 1980s, divorce rates have actually been declining. More people are waiting until they are older to marry, which some experts say can account for the decline in breakups.

Despite the decline, more than 10 percent of the U.S. population can expect to end a marriage at some point. A significant percentage of individuals, more women than men, say they never expect to remarry. Data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey looked at information about marriage from the 200 most populous cities in the United States. After collecting the data, the group of researchers found the top 25 divorce capitals.

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Tagged in: family law

Some individuals who pay alimony may be affected by changes in the new Internal Revenue Code, which appears primed for passage. Originally, the spousal support payments (alimony) were deductible from the payer's income, and the payee was responsible to claim the funds as income. The new legislation changes this, and it could affect family law decisions for divorcing couples in Illinois.

The news of the proposed change first indicated that the new rules would go into affect for any divorce or separation agreement made after Dec. 31, 2017. The new version says that the policy will affect new agreements made after Dec. 31, 2018, giving people one year to adjust and make informed divorce decisions should the legislation be enacted into law. Some experts have interpreted the legislation and have said that it seems to allow renegotiation of settlements after 2018 to include language that would let them opt out of the new tax treatment. As more leaders read and interpret the law, more details will become clear.

Critics of the alimony policy says it could reduce payments to lesser-earning spouses by making the payments more financially difficult for the payers. Payers will be less likely to offer the same amounts if they are not able to deduct them. The could possibly result in a reduction of spousal support or even child support payments, as they are sometimes calculated alongside alimony.

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Tagged in: family law

A recent article takes a look at the lives of individuals who separated from their partner after the age of 50. Current trends show that divorces in this age group are increasing, which means that more people in this age bracket in Illinois find themselves in need of family law advice. Some individuals, having gone through the process, look back and share their take on what they wish they had known in advance, and what they would tell themselves for encouragement.

Divorce can be a challenge for all - it can be emotionally painful, financially draining and the changes can ripple out to other relationships. All the challenges can lead to growth and a mature perspective. One person shared that she did not anticipate that the divorce would affect the older children as mush as it did. She remarked that the younger child actually had an easier time of adjusting. A common belief is that one should hold on for the sake of children, but this person's experience shows that there can be a benefit to making the break earlier because a resilient child can adjust more easily.

Another perspective offered was about the need for investigating work opportunities and the possible need for additional education. Going it alone can mean added cost of living, so a person who begins to prepare for the end of the marriage may benefit by starting to think of their career advancement. Funding additional education can be part of a divorce agreement.

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Tagged in: family law

Family violence and abuse are not a new issue in divorce cases. Many parents have had to fight to protect their children from a violent spouse. In contrast, parental alienation is a new concept in family court. However, some experts say the issue has been around as long as divorce (if not longer). Still, other psychologists believe parental alienation is nothing more than a clever defense for abusive parents - a way for them to control and punish an already beaten-down spouse. Sometimes, the latter is correct, but determining whether a case is a matter of family violence or parental alienation is rarely easy.

Parental Alienation as a Defense for Abuse

It is true that there are documented cases in which parental alienation was used as a defense strategy for an abusive parent. Retaliation and control are often the game, and the individuals who play it know how to win. They use every strategy possible. They hire bulldog attorneys that demonize an abuse victim. They propose family reunification camps that, to date, lack any evidence of efficacy. Some even issue threats to the child to encourage them to play along.

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