Family Law Blog

IRS Targets Tax Discrepancies in Alimony Payments

Friday, May 30, 2014

Those alimony payments that you have been receiving from an ex-spouse are soon likely to come under the microscope. According to the Internal Revenue Service, it intends to sharpen its focus on alimony deductibles and alimony claimed as income on tax returns.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which happens to be an Internal Revenue Service watchdog, recently conducted an analysis of nearly 570,000 tax returns for 2010. The Inspector General has released a report which seems to indicate that there is a very large gap between the deductions that are being claimed by alimony payers, and the corresponding income that is being claimed on their ex-spouses’ tax returns.

Overall, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration claims that over a five-year period, the volume of revenues that the agency has lost because of such discrepancies could be in the area of $1.7 billion. About 47% of tax returns that were analyzed indicated the presence of discrepancies between deductible alimony as well as alimony claimed as income.

The analysis also found that many people who claimed alimony as tax deductibles failed to provide the correct tax identification number for the receiver of the alimony. The Internal Revenue Service intends to target this area, and it has announced that it is adjusting the current audit filters that it has in place to identify high-risk returns, and is also in the process of developing other measures to address this gap in alimony taxes. The agency also has plans to make sure that penalties are levied whenever a taxpayer does not provide an accurate tax ID for a person collecting the alimony.

Most persons going through a divorce don't bother to consider the tax consequences of the divorce. However, it is important to consult with your tax consultant to understand how alimony and other aspects of your divorce will affect your tax returns.

Shared Custody of Children on the Increase

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fewer child custody arrangements these days involve the mother getting sole custody of the child. In an increasing number of cases, parents are settling for joint or shared custody of their children.

According to a new study which analyzed Wisconsin Court Records between 1988 and 2008, the number of mothers who were awarded sole custody of their children after divorce, dropped dramatically from 8% to 42%. During the same period of time, there was a significant increase in the number of joint custody arrangements.

Equal shared custody arrangements during the same time increased from 5% to 37%, and unequal custody increased from 3% to 18%. There was little difference in the proportion of cases that involved father-only sole custody. These cases hovered at approximately 10%.

The study's findings may be slightly misleading. They don't seem to cover children born into single-parent households. About 45% of American babies are currently born to unmarried mothers. The study only included those families that were split up after divorce.

In a shared custody arrangement, the parents decide to share medical, legal, financial, and other decisions involving the child. Physical custody of the child may be split approximately 50/50. It is not possible to accurately divide the amount of time that the child spends with each parent.

But the study does seem to confirm that it is no longer a given that the mother will be granted sole custody of the children during a divorce. Joint custody is far moving towards the center, and in the future could actually be considered the norm. For decades, mothers were awarded sole custody, because of the general belief that they were better caretakers. In recent years, the interests of the children have taken the forefront during proceedings to determine the outcomes of such disputes, and those interests very often involve time spent with both parents equally.

Stressful Marriage Can Increase Risk of Premature Death in Males

Friday, May 16, 2014

Men, who are in stressful or difficult marriages, may have a much higher risk of dying prematurely, compared to men in happy marriages. The surprising results of a new study find that men may be much more vulnerable to the stresses of a difficult marriage, compared to women.

According to the study which was conducted on Danish men and women, men who reported facing pressures from their wives were much more likely to die much before their time, compared to men who did not suffer such marital stresses. The results of the study prove several things. For one, marital stress, and conflict are incredibly stressful on a person, and contribute to negative physical, mental and emotional health consequences. A bad marriage can actually kill you.

It also proves that men may find themselves very ill-equipped to handle the kind of conflict that a demanding spouse can create. They may lack conflict management skills, and therefore, the stress may become simply too much for them to bear. Chronic stress is a risk factor for hypertension, cardiovascular problems, heart attack, and even stroke. All of these increase the risk of premature death.

Overall, married life is believed to be much more conducive to a person's physical, mental and emotional health. Married people are believed to be happier, more fulfilled, and even more financially successful than unmarried or even divorced couples. Overall, they're also believed to live healthier, and live longer lives. Successful people tend to be in satisfying marriages. However, if you are in a bad marriage, just the opposite can happen. A bad marriage could make you depressed, stressed, and develop a negative outlook on life. As the study shows, it could even kill you.

Divorce Risk Is Higher When Wife Gets Sick

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Many married couples probably do not take those vows to stick with your spouse in sickness and in health very seriously. Severe illness can put a strain on any marriage. However, when that illness involves the wife, the strain is much greater, increasing the risk of divorce.

According to a study that was conducted by researchers at the University Of Michigan, the risk of separation is much higher when it is the wife who falls sick during the marriage. The study was based on an analysis of 2700 couples. The researchers found that 31% of the marriages, in which one person fell sick, ended in divorce. However, the risk of divorce was much higher in those cases in which the wife, and not the husband, fell sick. The threat of divorce when the wife falls sick can be even higher, when the marriage involves senior couples.

The researchers analyzed couples in which one of the partners was at least 50 years of age, and analyzed for the presence of a number of diseases, including cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke.

They found that that 31% of the marriages ended in divorce, when one person was sick. Husbands were much more likely than wives to fall sick, and divorce was much more likely when the wife fell sick.

However, in all these cases, it may not be an unfeeling or callous husband who may be to blame. Very often, it is the woman who initiates proceedings for divorce. It is quite likely that women often feel like that they are not getting adequate support from their husbands, and therefore, rely on their family and friends for support during their illness. It’s also possible that men are simply not that comfortable in a caretaking role.

Marital Stress Linked to Depression

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Sometimes, a divorce is not just the most sensible decision to make, but also the healthiest decision to make. According to a new study, suffering marital stress may actually place a person at risk for suffering symptoms of depression.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University Of Wisconsin-Madison. The researchers found that people, who were experiencing marital stresses in their life, were less able to properly enjoy positive experiences. That is one of the classic symptoms of depression. These people were also much more likely to report other symptoms of depression.

Overall, marriage is generally reported to be a trigger for higher levels of mental health and happiness. Married couples do report greater levels of happiness, and higher self-esteem. However, when there are marital-related troubles, just the opposite can happen. Persons involved in marital struggles may suffer social stress as a result of their chronic marital conflict. Chronic marital stress could lead to depression.

There is no denying that a toxic and hostile marriage can contribute to negativity. As the marital struggles compound, spouses may begin to develop feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, and this could affect other areas of their lives. You could find that your marriage problems are affecting you at work, and your ability to take care of your kids well, or be attentive to your children.

In such cases, making a clean and effective break from the marriage in the form of a divorce may be the healthiest decision that you could make. If you’re not ready for a divorce, try out a trial separation, which allows you and your spouse to spend time away from each other, and reassess your feelings, before you make the decision to divorce.