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Arlington Family Law Blog

What happens to a retirement account in a divorce

When a couple in Virginia gets a divorce, they might have a retirement account they need to divide. If it is an IRA, there may be certain regulations that need to be followed to prevent having to pay taxes and penalties. A person's distribution must be rolled into another IRA.

Dividing a 401(k) or another pension plan is a more complex process. It is necessary to get a court order known as a qualified domestic relations order to divide this without incurring taxes and penalties. This must be prepared carefully, and it must have the same intent as the divorce decree. The QDRO must be approved by the plan administrator.

How people can protect themselves in case of divorce

While thinking about divorce can be unsavory, couples in Virginia who are getting married might want to consider creating a prenuptial agreement. These agreements can help keep assets separate and specify what will happen to shared property if a split ever occurs. Another consideration is to get large assets valued. This will ease the property division process.

There are several other steps people can take to protect their finances as well. Although a couple may share a joint account, they should also have individual accounts. People should keep records from these as well as from retirement, brokerage and other types of accounts.

How fathers can increase the likelihood of getting child custody

Fathers in Virginia who are going through a divorce might want to get custody of their children. However, many dads feel at a disadvantage in court since custody is traditionally awarded to mothers. Nevertheless, there are a few things a father can do to increase the likelihood of getting custody.

The first step is creating a paper trail. A dad should keep a record of all the time he spends with the child and of all the related expenditures. The father should also be ready to undergo questioning from a judge about his parenting relationship. A judge will want to learn about both parents' relationships with the child to help in deciding what is in the child's best interests.

Prenuptial agreements help couples plan for marriage

Virginia couples planning for marriage may face the question of whether or not to get a prenuptial agreement. Some future spouses might feel that a prenup creates division between partners and helps to lay the groundwork for divorce before the marriage even begins. These documents can also make it seem as if one partner's family is undermining the marital bond. Despite the negative conceptions of prenuptial agreements, they can actually work to strengthen a relationship and build a more solid marriage.

Any relationship that's characterized by strong financial disparities can be complicated. By setting out a framework for clear and explicit discussion and understanding, a prenup can help to avoid under-the-surface issues. Family businesses and properties are some of the assets most frequently included in prenuptial agreements. In these cases, relationships between new spouses and in-laws are often a point of contention. However, a prenup can also be an opportunity to lay out boundaries regarding family involvement in decision-making in the years to come.

Pets are part of your family too, so what happens if you divorce?

If you are currently living in Arlington and preparing for divorce, you are definitely not the only one. No two divorce situations are exactly the same, albeit your circumstances may be similar to another. Many people in Virginia face obstacles in divorce when disagreements arise regarding custody of family pets. Whether you're a parent of human children, or childless but consider your fur-baby as near to a son or daughter as can be, custody issues can be problematic if you don't know where to seek support.

Long ago, most people approached determining what should happen to a pet when pet owners divorce as a property division issue. Nowadays, however, most spouses, and even most courts, treat the topic more as a custody matter. You undoubtedly want to achieve as swift and agreeable an outcome as possible, and the last thing you need is to be fighting over your puppy or cat in the months ahead when you're trying to build a new and happy lifestyle.

Tax law changes could impel faster divorces

In December 2017, the U.S. Congress passed a new tax law that made sweeping changes. As a result, a number of couples in Virginia and across the United States may be hastening their divorce plans before some significant modifications go into effect. Each year in the United States, approximately 800,000 couples finalize their divorces. This number could rise in 2018 as couples seek to avoid a provision in the tax law that will affect the way that alimony and spousal support are taxed.

The provision goes into effect for only those divorces finalized in 2019 and beyond. Many family law attorneys have already reported an increased number of inquiries, consultations and calls about filing for divorce and the impact of the tax law. This is especially the case for couples who may have significant assets and are already in a higher tax bracket. Under the system currently in place until December 31, 2018, the former spouse who pays alimony can deduct a portion of those funds from their taxes.

Tax return changes can accompany divorce

Financial considerations are often major considerations for people in Virginia who are headed toward divorce. The end of a marriage has severe financial implications for most divorcing spouses in addition to the emotional and other practical concerns that accompany a split. One financial aspect of divorce that is not always recognized is the changes that are necessary to deal with tax filings following a divorce.

The impact of divorce on taxation can become immediately clear the year after a divorce is finalized. Tax returns for the prior year are due by April 15; when a divorce becomes final prior to Dec. 31 of the last year, it should be reflected on that year's tax returns. However, if the divorce was not final by the end of December or the divorcing couple is only separated, they should continue to file as a married couple.

Dangerous myths about marriage

Some couples in Virginia might believe what could be damaging myths about marriage. For example, they might think there is a right and a wrong way to fight and that their way of fighting means their marriage is in trouble.

However, according to John Gottman, a researcher and marriage counselor, the technique called "active listening" does not tend to help couples. Among those it does help, most of them revert to old patterns of communication within a year. Married couples might also believe that it is normal for sex to suffer after marriage. However, research has shown that people in long-term marriages have sex more often than single people.

Post-divorce financial planning

Virginia couples who get a divorce should have a financial plan to ensure that it does not adversely impact their financial future. Each party's financial goals after a divorce may be drastically different from those they had during their marriage. When making financial decisions, emotions should be set aside and objectivity should be the focus. There are multiple financial planning strategies that can be used to make the best decisions after a marriage comes to an end.

Before signing a divorce settlement, it is important for individuals to evaluate their financial situation. They should review their assets, income and tax circumstances to have a clear of what they have been spending during the marriage and what they will have to spend when the divorce is final.

Preparation before filing for divorce

Many people in Virginia and elsewhere around the country choose to get divorced after the holidays. The number of divorce filings surges in January of each year. People that are planning to get divorced should do several things in order to properly prepare.

Prior to an appointment with a family law attorney, a person should first gather all of his or her financial information. This should include either W-2s or the last paystub of the year. People should also gather their bank account, bill and retirement account statements and their tax return for the past year. It might also be a good idea for someone to run credit reports for both him or herself and his or her spouse.

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