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Final Divorce Without the 12-Month Separation? It’s Possible Now

Final Divorce Without the 12-Month Separation? It’s Possible NowBig changes have come to the mutual consent divorce laws in Maryland. A new law, which takes effect October 1, 2018, will allow parents of minor children to file for a mutual consent divorce without the previously mandated one-year separation. Mutual consent divorce is not a brand-new concept in Maryland. In 2015, it became possible for couples without children to obtain an absolute (final) divorce without being separated for a year, as long as they had a written final separation agreement. The new rule makes it possible for couples with minor children to do the same. The new rules will make it much simpler for couples to obtain a “no-fault” divorce, removing the lengthy and costly year-long separation process that previously forced both parties to maintain completely separate residences and finances, while remaining in the State of Maryland. Couples now have much more flexibility to come to a mutual agreement…

Alimony Considerations with the New Tax Law

Alimony Considerations with the New Tax LawIf you are in the middle of divorce proceedings, the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) may give you a big incentive to move quickly and have your divorce agreement finalized and signed by December 31, 2018. Or it may give you a big incentive to do the exact opposite – wait until after January 1, 2019, to execute the agreement. It all depends on whether you’ll be making alimony payments, or receiving them. Alimony rules have been historically frustrating, mostly because every state has its own rules about the amount and length of payments. "There's not really a cohesive rationale for alimony," Mary Kay Kisthardt, a professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, told MSNBC. "In any given state, we're not sure what we're trying to do." One rule has been clear for all alimony arrangements, up until now. Currently, the payers of alimony can…

Divorce and Business: How to Protect Your Interests

MD Business LawyerIf you start a business with a person who is married, you may not realize that you have two business partners instead of one. Any property acquired during marriage belongs to both spouses (unless the property was a gift or inheritance to one spouse). Unless a legal agreement specifically limits one spouse’s interest, if a couple divorces, your business partner’s spouse has a stake in the business. And that could be a big threat to your livelihood. How to Prepare for the Worst In a divorce, if couples don’t already have agreements about division of property, the court will decide how to distribute assets. And in Maryland, courts are not obligated to divide assets 50-50. The distribution of marital property need only be “equitable.” An attorney in San Diego told Entrepreneur magazine that during the startup phase, owners should set up legal agreements that require their spouses to sell their…

How serious illness can influence divorce rates

Maryland residents will likely be aware that a serious illness can place a great deal of strain on a marriage. However, they may be surprised to learn that the chances of a divorce only appear to increase if it is the wife who becomes sick. Researchers noticed this after looking at how cancer, lung disease, heart ailments and strokes affected 2,701 marriages, but they were unable to determine if it was the husband or wife who decided to seek a divorce. The findings of the study looking into the relationship between serious illnesses and divorce were released in March 2015 and published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. While the rate of divorce increased by 6 percent when wives became sick, there was no corresponding higher divorce rate among couples when the husband developed a serious illness. Researchers at Purdue and Iowa State University speculate that ailing wives…

Having an amicable divorce, is there really such a thing?

Thanks to the recent split of Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin, news stations and social media have been questioning the reality of amicable divorces. As many Maryland couples who have been down this road before can attest, divorce isn't easy. Emotions are typically running high and finding common ground and creating a fair settlement often seems far from reach, especially if children are involved. It is no secret that children are affected by their parents' divorce. If the situation is tension-filled and seems bitter, children will notice and it can greatly affect their emotional state. There are some things parents can do to help their children through this difficult and often devastating process. First and foremost, parents who treat each other with respect and keep the fights out of the children's view will help children feel more secure with their new family dynamic. Creating a safe emotional environment…

Financial spring cleaning aids Maryland couples’ divorce efforts

Spring brings with it a renewed sense of purpose. As the weather turns warmer, it is not uncommon to get the urge to do a little spring cleaning. For couples in Maryland and elsewhere who are going through a divorce, it may be as important to do financial spring cleaning as it is to sort through cluttered closets. Here are some tips to get started. Organize the paper trail. During a divorce, many documents will be needed to keep the proceedings moving forward. If they are organized and readily available, it will make things easier for everyone involved. Get a credit report. As a single person, individual credit history could be important in the coming months. It is never a bad idea to be prepared by knowing what the official record shows. By the same token, keeping an eye on any joint credit cards is a good way to monitor…

Are divorce rates up or down for Maryland’s married couples?

For nearly the past 30 years, officials and statisticians have reported that the divorce rate is diminishing at a steady rate. This has been true for Maryland's couples as well as those living in other states. Well-respected studies and experts have proclaimed that the number of people going through a divorce reached its height at the end of the 1970s and has been going down ever since. This may not be accurate. A new study is challenging some frequently held beliefs. Its findings indicate that the divorce rate has not been decreasing over the past three decades as was commonly thought. Instead, the study says, the numbers have been increasingly steadily. Researchers compared a wide variety of sources before drawing their conclusions. They claim methods and sources used to gather and report data have multiple flaws and problems. They say these issues, which were present --- even in sources using…

Maryland business owners should protect assets during divorce

The end of a marriage is a challenging time for most Maryland couples. A lot of issues typically need to be addressed, from child support to property division. If one spouse owns a business and fails to plan ahead, those assets may also end up being split, jeopardizing the future of the company and the spouse's income. Taking preventive measures to protect the business may go a long way to minimize the potential impact of divorce. Before the wedding, a business owner can take steps to divorce-proof his or her company. This can be done through a prenuptial agreement that lists the business as individual property, exempt from the division of marital assets upon divorce. If it is too late for a prenup, a postnuptial agreement can accomplish the same goal. If there is no pre- or postnuptial agreement, there are still steps that a business owner can take after…

Valentine’s Day divorce not uncommon in Maryland

For many couples in Maryland and elsewhere, Valentine's Day is the holiday when roses and romance take center stage. They celebrate by going dancing together or out for a special dinner at a restaurant that may be a bit of a splurge. For some, however, Valentine's Day holds a different connotation -- it is the day they filed for divorce. According to officials, some people use the fact that it is Valentine's Day to make a special point about their marriage. They choose the day that is supposed to be the most romantic to mark the end of a relationship that they no longer see as such. It is a conscious decision meant to send a message that the romance, at least in this particular instance, is over. Valentine's Day is historically a holiday when a large number of people propose and set a date for their wedding. In fact,…

Avoid mistakes when claiming alimony post- divorce

Few things are less appealing than going through a divorce. Filing one's taxes, however, can come in a close second. For Maryland couples who are still in the midst of divorce or who have recently finalized the end of their marriage, tax matters can become complicated. Avoiding mistakes is key for those who wish to prevent an audit. The manner in which alimony is claimed on one's tax return is one of the leading causes of red flags at the Internal Revenue Service. The spouse who pays alimony can claim the expense as a deduction on his or her tax return. The receiving spouse is not taxed on alimony, but must state the amount of payments received on their tax return. When these numbers differ on the two returns, the IRS will often take a closer look at the discrepancy. The reason that divorced spouses often claim different amounts of…