Top Ten Documents You Need to Prepare for Your Divorce

Top Ten Documents You Need to Prepare for Your Divorce

A lot of divorce clients ask me, what documents do I need to get together? Here is a list of some of the most important documents you will need:

  1. Complete income tax returns, W2s, and other like documents for the last 3 years.
  2.  Year-to-date income information (such as pay stubs) for yourself and your spouse.
  3. Statements for banking and other financial accounts for the past 12 months.
  4. Statements for credit cards and other debts for the past 12 months.
  5.  If you have children, copies of the monthly out-of-pocket cost of health insurance and the number of people covered on the plan. If you have employer-provided health insurance, this may be on your pay stub.
  6. If you have children, copies of any work-related daycare expense.
  7. Deeds, appraisals, mortgages, or other like documents for all real estate.
  8. Your will and your spouse’s will.
  9. Life insurance policies for you and your spouse.
  10. Certificates of title or other ownership documents regarding any cars, boats, motorcycles, RVs, or any type of titled vehicle.
Upcoming Changes in Alimony and Taxation

Upcoming Changes in Alimony and Taxation

Under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), alimony will no longer be tax-deductible effective January 2019.  Currently, alimony or spousal support payments are deductible to the payer and taxable to the payee. This applies to all current divorce or support orders and any that are signed through December 31, 2018.  Effective January 1, 2019, in all new orders entered, alimony is not deductible to the payer or taxable to the payee.  The TCJA also specifically provides that the tax treatment of a prior alimony payment may be modified to take the new tax treatment into account, but only if the parties agree.  Modifications must specifically state that the TCJA tax treatment of alimony payments now applies.

With this deadline approaching, you may want to consider either proceeding with your divorce before the end of the year, or waiting until 2019, depending on how the taxation affects you. It may also be time for you to consider a modification of a prior order. Contact our office for a consultation if you think this applies to you.

Other resources on this issue:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-tax-law-eliminates-alimony-deductions-but-not-for-everybody-2018-01-23

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T055-C005-S001-under-the-new-tax-law-is-my-alimony-tax-free.html

What is Collaborative Law?

What is Collaborative Law?

What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is a method of alternative dispute resolution wherein the parties commit to resolve their dispute out of court. Because parties to a divorce often need to have a continuing relationship due to co-parenting of children, Collaborative Law is ideally suited to divorce and other family law matters.

How is Collaborative Law Different?

A key difference between Collaborative Law and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, is the parties sign a participation agreement that sets out the parameters, including voluntary disclosure of financial information, mutual respect, insulating children from the dispute, sharing of experts such as mental health and financial professionals, and no litigation. Each party is represented by their own lawyer.

What are the Benefits of Collaborative Law?

The benefit of Collaborative Law is that you and your spouse or partner control the process and make final decisions; whereas, in litigation, the Judge controls the process and makes decisions for you. You also control the timetable which is most definitely not the case when you are involved in litigation. Collaborative Law is also private and litigation is not.

Collaborative Law is just now starting as a process in the Mobile area but has been taking place around the country and in Birmingham, Alabama, for several years. You can check out collaborativepractice.com for more information.

If Collaborative Law sounds like it may be right for your family, please contact us for a consultation. You can reach us by phone at 251-432-7909.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation in Family Law Cases?

What Are the Benefits of Mediation in Family Law Cases?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates you and the opposing party, typically your spouse or the other parent, in negotiating a settlement in your case. There are several potential benefits to mediation.

Benefits of Mediation

Privacy

Mediation is confidential. No one will know what goes on at the mediation except for the mediator, the parties and their attorneys. If you are able to negotiate a settlement, you do not have to air your dirty laundry in court.

Flexibility

You and your spouse or the other parent can negotiate a plan that is tailor-made for your needs and situation. You probably will not get that result from litigation.

Cost-Effective

If both parties are serious about resolving their differences out of court and coming to a settlement, mediation is typically far more cost-effective than protracted litigation.

Reduces Conflict

Mediation does not have the adversarial nature of litigation and can often reduce the conflict level between the parties. If you have to co-parent with this person in the future, less conflict in divorce helps contribute to a better long-term working relationship. In addition, there is a wealth of information out there that indicates that children of divorce fare far better when the conflict between the parents is kept to a minimum.

Is an Uncontested Divorce Right for Me?

Is an Uncontested Divorce Right for Me?

People are often unsure of how the whole divorce process works. The term “uncontested divorce” refers to a divorce where the parties do not go to court, and the divorce is submitted solely on the written agreement of the parties. If you retain this firm for an “uncontested divorce,” it will be drafted and sent to you for review. Once you approve in final form, it will be sent to your spouse for their signature. Nothing is filed with the Court until the agreement is complete and signed by both parties, and the Defendant will not be formally served with anything.

This means that you and your spouse must be able to agree on 100% of the terms of your divorce, including custody and visitation, child support, the marital homeplace, and disposition of other assets and debts. If you and your spouse do not agree on these major issues, then an uncontested divorce is probably not for you. I have certainly had clients over the years tell me, “we agree on everything except custody of the children.” Well, child custody is a major issue!

An uncontested divorce also does not afford the opportunity to conduct discovery, so if you don’t know anything about the family finances, then an uncontested divorce is probably not right for you. That being said, a case can start out as contested, and then eventually settle once both parties have the chance to get the information they need.

In sum, unless you and your spouse have open lines of communication, and you have discussed the divorce with them and are fairly certain you can agree, then it may not be wise to invest your valuable time and legal expenses on an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse have discussed and agreed on the terms, and you feel you have enough information to make an intelligent decision, then an uncontested divorce may be the route for you, as it is typically the quickest and least expensive way to get divorced.