Changes in tax law under the Trump administration are likely to affect all of us in many ways. One of the more surprising ways, however, is divorce.
How so? Because the new tax law includes a provision that gets rid of the tax break divorcees currently receive for paying alimony. The change is expected to make divorcing couples less generous when negotiating alimony.
In fact, a poll conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that about two-thirds of matrimonial attorneys expect for divorce negotiations to become more acrimonious when the new tax law takes effect. That’s a pretty good indication that we can expect the divorce process to become more drawn-out and potentially embittered.
There is a tiny bit of a silver lining, though: the law only affects divorces finalized after the end of 2018. This means that people have the rest of this year to finalize their divorce under the old rules, something that could make alimony negotiations much easier – and more financially beneficial for both parties.
No one wants to endure a protracted, embittered divorce. It adds unnecessary pain and stress to an already difficult process. So if you’re thinking seriously about divorce or already in the middle of proceedings, it may be in everyone’s best interest to work out your differences with your former spouse and finalize divorce proceedings sooner rather than later.
How do you do this?
File a Joint Petition for Divorce
If possible, it may be best to file a joint petition for divorce. In this circumstance, the spouses (with or without legal counsel) have already worked out all the terms of the divorce and are simply asking the court to approve their petition to legally end the marriage.
Collaborative divorce (again, when possible) is typically a faster and more cost-effective process.
Be Honest with Your Attorney
The circumstances surrounding divorce can be painful and sometimes even embarrassing to discuss. However, to make your divorce process move as smoothly as possible, it’s imperative to be completely honest with your attorney. Rest assured that family lawyers have heard it all, and that as a professional, your attorney will not be judgmental.
Withholding information from your lawyer can lead to being blindsided in court, and even to sanctions for lying. Also, if you hide an asset worth $1,000 or more, your ex has the right to take you back to court.
Find a Good Therapist
A divorce is likely to bring on a whirlwind of emotions, many of which may keep you from behaving rationally as you enter negotiations. A therapist can help you process these emotions and channel them healthily so that you can enter negotiations with a clear head.
Take the High Road
It’s tempting to attempt to seek revenge on your ex-spouse, making sure that he or she “get what they deserve.” However, this approach is likely to lead to an ugly, drawn-out process that isn’t in anyone’s best interest.
Whenever possible, rise above any resentment you may hold for your ex-spouse and instead negotiate a deal that’s fair for everyone involved.
Put Your Children First
If you have children with your spouse, remember that they, too, are suffering a great deal of pain and stress due to the divorce. Put their needs first by ensuring that both parents get adequate visitation time, ideally arranging for joint custody (something Florida courts already try to do automatically).
Remember, no one is suggesting that you rush into divorce. However, if you’ve already been thinking about it, but putting it off for one reason or another, the changes that are going to be implemented starting next year make it worth thinking about more seriously. To learn more about your options, get in touch with one of our offices.